Putting together and tying up the loose ends of an eventful 2022, this year’s offered its overdue share in local festivals, band performances, album drops, and gave rise to new local scene dwellers. As we recall how we all collectively went into a long hiatus starting from the tip of 2020, it’s been three years since we’ve accessed these local spaces.
But 2022 gave out all that it can chew with time, as we saw a rise within the GTA’s DIY culture of music scene. This transition back into live performances came back with full force. Independent “Do it yourself” shows are bringing back the essence of community within these pockets of music. Coming from behind the scenes, local DIY Tkaronto is setting us all up for what’s to come as we move further into 2023.
Bringing the locals together in an attempt to hold ground and support people worlds apart at arm's length, we saw a rise in benefit shows this year. To name one of many, it was a pleasure to stand in solidarity with the Philippines, after having taken the opportunity to catch a live show sponsored by ANAKBAYAN and Canada-Philippines Solidarity Organization (CPSO).
In great efforts, our DIY Tkaronto locals put together an immediate aid and call for resources (medication / sanitation kits / non-perishable foods / etc.) for citizens of the Himamaylan region (Philippines) whose lives are threatened by militia forces under the modern-day Bongbong Marcos regime. Gathering immediate support, we watched as Tkaronto welcomed a select few of many local bands to the floor. The DIY community turned a small cozy bar (Bar Orwell) located on 1595 Dundas St W into a full house of rowdiness, but all in good warmth and measure. Here, we saw an incredibly noisy set put together by these sick local bands:
Final Gastornis (avant garde / noise band)
Ningas Kugon (punk)
Please Don’t Crash (emo)
Boxcutter (skramz / emo)
Final Gastornis, a 4 piece neowave and avant-garde girl-band, opened the floor up with some eccentric droney tones paired up with some splitting vocals. Drawing elements from the genres of neowave and emo, Final Gastornis’ lyrical work resonated like an intimately poetic confession between them and their listeners. Put together we have two powerful vocalists, the drummer, and the person behind the transient drones- on the synthesizer. The four band members take an unconventional approach to their sound as their vocalists stray away from the conventional song structure consisting of tune and melody. Instead they infuse their songs with harsh expressions of spoken word backed up with throat singing acting like the ground for foundation between the two vocalists. While the synth work sets the atmosphere, the drummer ties everything together with rhythmic intensity.
Ningas Kugon, whose lead vocalist as well as primary bassist attacks their sound with a classic touch of old-school punk. Mostly politically inclined and driven, Ningas Kugon keeps their presence radically controversial. As the four musicians wring out their instruments, and vocals with the intention of opposing conservative Filipinx structures through the resonance of old-school sounds of punk. With songs like, Diktadorangama Mo! (Your Father’s a Dictator)- which can be found on bandcamp; this noisy-four piece band dabbles with fuzzy and distorted guitar sounds that resemble old Filipinx punk bands like, Dead Ends and The Wuds who came out during the Philippine-punk movement in the 80s. Ningas Kugon not only infuses their songs with politically charged lyrics and imagery, but also keeps their sound classically gritty and punk . The four, though loud and radical, infuse their music and tones with a ground pounding consistency, held up with solid rhythms- that they keep their mosh-pitting audiences aggressively entertained. Ningas Kugon is a side project of a growing indie band, Terrible Numbers! Make sure to check out both!
Please Don't Crash / PDC:
For those who find home in noisy-emo arrangements and chord progressions, a band like, Please Don’t Crash (PDC) exceptionally dishes out intricately structured elements of rhythmic and melodic surprise. Wittingly setting the tone down for something particularly moody, and satisfyingly unpredictable. Standing together, we have a small three-piece band whose size in capacity surpasses the assumption of what one would make of a “small sound” expected from a band sized like this one.
Though for the most part, melodically driven, Please Don’t Crash unconventionally shifts their focus to instrumental use of guitar, bass, and percussion as the three deviate away from traditional vocal work. Making exceptional use of alternative-sounding chord progressions, walls of thick distortion, well-put together by funky time signatures; PDC exchanges a dark resonating conversation between them and their audience. With a working EP under the radar, Please Don’t Crash is looking to make their comeback some time in May! PDC’s backbone is the strong-sounding chemistry shared between the three, as they play to compliment each other’s individual-sounding role. Driven by clean sounding melodic progressions, their bassist adds a deeper depth with a grumbling fuzz for chords that emphasize an underlying harmony. While their percussionist keeps the melodic elements grounded with one another with irregular time signatures. Please Don’t Crash is what it would be like to observe the heavy oceanic waves crash against a rocky shoreline- moody and cathartic.
Boxcutter / Boxxy:
Our headliner, Boxcutter does not guide its audience by hand. Instead, Boxxy pushes them into an emotionally intimate exchange of sound and raw lyricism. Unapologetically dabbling in the genre of skramz and emo, our three-piece band viscerally wrings themselves out with vulnerable lyricism backed up with a cunning edge. Consisting of the vocalist who plays the rhythm guitar, the bassist, and percussion, Boxcutter delivers a gut punch that feels and sounds extremely unconventional coming from a seemingly “small” group like this one, as they infuse their work with heavy temperament. With one of their written songs titled “at 6:45 PM I saw your ghost by my bedroom window”, Boxcutter sets their audience up with looming uncertainty in the same way their sound is infused with immeasurable rhythmic exchange and extremely moody chord progressions. All topped off with the vocalist’s raw ranging screams of their intimately written lyrics. Boxcutter, almost like a dual-ended sword, satisfies both one’s need for catharsis, and one’s craving for a specifically carved out tune from within the varied genre of emo and skramz.
Intentionally sharing the overbearing weight of personal identity, the vocalist sheds a harsh light on this conversation through some of their songs like “girl is a knife”. Saturated and infused with whiny and bending guitar chords, raw vocals, and a grounding pillar for percussion; Boxcutter keeps their audience in the dark of what is next to be expected from one song to the next. For those easing their way into the varying extents of skramz, Boxcutter draws a similar “scream-scape” to that of the band Hawak.
These DIY local pockets of music continue to make space for newcomers, especially for tune listening enthusiasts and exploring musicians. Make sure to support your neighboring artists to keep yourself caught up with new shows happening in the city, and to keep up with new album and ep releases! You can find these bands in the links we’ve attached, and can also explore more of their music on spotify and band camp. To further support the cause, make sure to check out the latest updates with ANAKBAYAN.
A special thanks to Kai Lumbang and David Estañol for supplying photos of the show!