Frog Eyes / Fotocrime / Hello, Blue Roses Makerspace North, Ottawa ON, May 20
Published May 21, 2018After announcing their breakup earlier this year, Carey Mercer's long-running experimental indie outfit, Frog Eyes, embarked on a farewell tour that found the quartet traveling across parts of the U.S. and Canada, including a Victoria Day weekend stop in the nation's capital.
Held at Makerspace North, a open space for the city's project creators that often doubles as a modest live music venue, the festivities kicked off with an appearance from Hello, Blue Roses. A duo comprised of Vancouver visual artist Sydney Hermant and her partner Dan Bejar, this evening's performance, however, featured just Hermant on guitar and vocals. Standing on a portion on the venue's concrete floor, Hermant made great use of her looping pedal, creating gorgeous layers of guitar and voice while soaring through a set that drew heavily on her 2015 LP, WZO.
Added to the bill was Fotocrime, the new project from R (aka Ryan Patterson), formerly of Kentucky metal band Coliseum. Decked out in black garb, R requested the house lights be completely shut off, as the three-piece relied on a handful of dim blue LED lights, flash bulbs and an overactive smoke machine to set the mood. Supporting their J. Robbins-produced debut, Principal of Pain, Fotocrime grinded out a near-hour-long set that found R (supported by a guitarist, bassist and a menacing drum machine) switching between his effects-drenched electric guitar and mini synthesizer, growling through pre-heroin-era Ministry-style goth rock while deservedly gaining much appreciation from the crowd.
As the small, 25-person crowd inched closer to the front, the final lineup of Frog Eyes entered the stage area, as frontman Carey Mercer seemed in good spirits, jokingly asking the crowd in their opinion on tuning guitars. Opening with "Little Daughters" from their recently-released LP, Violet Psalms, Frog Eyes sounded sonically tight and noticeably loose. Playing another track from their latest album, Mercer and his band launched into the well-received "Two Girls (One for Heaven and the Other One for Rome)" from 2015's Pickpocket's Locket, which culminated in some additional humorous banter between Mercer and the crowd.
Unfortunately focusing too much on new material, the band finally reached back into their catalogue to play another fan-favourite, "Claxxon's Lament," that found Mercer playing off of the slow-building energy of diminutive crowd. Following it up with a lengthy (and hilarious) story regarding a teenage encounter he had with then-Prime-Minister Jean Chretien, Mercer informed those in attendance that they would be ending their set after only 45 minutes, and that their 2002 The Bloody Hand track, "Sound Travels from the Snow to the Dark," would be their last of the evening.
After some external protest, the band decided to treat the audience to another three tracks, included Mercer's stark solo rendition of "Violent Psalms." As the four musicians closed out their set by bowing to the crowd, Frog Eyes' farewell to Ottawa wasn't exactly the sendoff they may have expected, but this intimate performance, held before some of their most hardcore and fervent fans, nonetheless seemed like a bittersweet close to this successful chapter in their lives.