Published Dec 05, 2009The one-year anniversary of Toronto upstart Telephone Explosion Records, this proved to be one fine night of vaguely insane, occasionally psychedelic garage rock mayhem.
Detroit's Human Eye ended up cancelling at the last minute, which would have been disappointing if every other band wasn't so damn good. Who needs Americans? Seriously. Toronto locals the Bang Bangs kicked off the night with some real organ-swirling madness, mixing beautifully caterwauling guitar washes with gorgeous, focused female vocals. Sometimes it was slow, sometimes it was fast, but there was always a lot of organ, which ruled.
Ottawa's Holy Cobras followed up with a genuinely insane set that mixed driving, straight-ahead garage rock with bat-shit-crazy reverb, noise, and samples. The band's set veered from literally playing minute-long, heavily-tweaked and distorted samples of classic pop songs while just standing around on stage to totally unpretentiously kicking it like the Stooges. It was weird, but it managed to avoid being self-indulgent and instead made for a varied, funny, and totally rock'n'roll 40 minutes.
Toronto's Teenanger, comprised of ex-members of Quebexico and the two guys behind Telephone Explosion, provided a perfect closing statement for a powerful night. Balancing an equal interest in rocking out and being too drunk to get excited, the band's swaggering MC5-esque tunes perfectly matched the moods of a very drunk audience; they were bluesy and totally punk, and threw a bunch of beer tickets intro the crowd.
As a label, Telephone Explosion's first year has been dedicated to some excellent lo-fi cassette-only garage rock. In a crowded field, they're releasing original music in an original way, and this show proved the perfect way to celebrate that distinction. Here's to more years of swaggering punk and analog albums.