By: Penelope Stevens

Every band has a shtick, a flavour, if you will. The flavours are as diverse and plethoric as those little tree-shaped car fresheners, and often as bizarre and irrelevant. I don’t mean a palatable flavour, necessarily — although most bands would taste awful due to musicians’ generally questionable hygienic standards and the hideous realities of life on the road. No, I mean some inexplicable and philosophical flavour, an aura that allows us to metaphysically differentiate between bands in similar genres. It’s like trying to differentiate between hummus and babaganoush. They’re basically the same idea, come from the same geographical region, but one is just slightly more digestible and has a catchier name. Babaganoush lives to love another day.

The difficulty in reviewing musical acts is that — unlike the culinary world in which flavours are tangible and mathematical, created with recipes and measuring cups — explaining a band’s particular flavour is as difficult as explaining to a child what being old feels like. I will try, but unless you were at the show, you’ll never really understand the experience of:


Operatic, melodramatic, erratic, at some points even aquatic, 2-piece Construction + Destruction made me question everything I had previously known. Their palette is splattered with all that is haunted, oaky, and sea foam green. Colleen Collins and Dave Tranaman, the gaunt and ghostly captains of this musical ship, create a tonal atmosphere of unease and irrelevancy. Their musical dynamics vary from the precisely poppy to the Phantom of the Opera in a single chorus, and use volume attacks to create a sense of alarm and mistrust in the audience; I was obligated to cough up all of my attention, because I simply couldn’t guess what would come next. Not only were there multiple instrument change-ups, but unconventional drumming techniques, slurry guitar phrasing, and drab fashion sense created a visual feast of contrasting flavours. Awkward as a high school talent show, the two muttered uselessly between songs, scripting pleasantries as though the audience was irrelevant; they were here only to play music, not to make a show of themselves. I respect that.
They emitted a vibe almost alien in quality. The duo had relatable moments in their more mellow songs, yet made it very clear that they were entirely ‘other’ when they skipped seamlessly between 4/4 and 3/16 time signatures or banshee screamed a cappella. Their performance was a good balance of songs written by both members, and showcased their overall skills through refusing to create a homogeneity in their music. The songs written by Colleen were eerier and quirkier, while I found those written by Dave Tranaman to be more intricate and polished. Each song was separate from the last entirely, yet they maintained a persistent dogma, common threads weaving through the performance.
Construction + Destruction are compelling because every song is a little work of art, created so naturally and effortlessly that it seems to be a way of life more than an external composition. In short, Construction + Destruction could be compared to a snack of soda crackers, cream cheese, olives, and oysters. All the pieces separately are kind of weird and gross, but when you put them all together, it makes a surprisingly sweet treat.

Oh, and what about:


It’s hard to explain, but Sackville ex-pat Julie Doiron’s music is like somebody that you always want to have around. Her lyrics are whimsical and hopeful but not overbearingly so, as though she’s inviting you to imagine. She accepts that the world is a weird and scary place, yet still allows herself to admire and create beauty in simple situations.
Julie began her set with a solo a cappella performance. As she finished, a giggle escaped her as if embarrassed to have bared her soul so soon. From there, her understated approach to guitar playing allowed her lyrical wit and conversational amity to shine through, which is by far her greatest gift.
Her songs are endearing because she creates the illusion that you are her daughter, her father, and her best friend simultaneously. The intimacy that Julie Doiron creates through her painfully honest lyrics allows the audience to step inside of her deepest fears and regrets, while celebrating with her in victory.
As the band (Construction + Destruction and guitarist Chris McLaughlin) joined Julie for the remainder of the set, things took a step up again. The guitars slipped and slid around key signatures while Colleen’s drumming startled and surprised. The band built from restrained folk progressions to booming airplane sounds and punk-inspired beats. Julie took time to show her soft side, but made it clear that she has also a louder, dirtier, less refined edge. The balance between the two was delicate and prone to wander, an inspiration to any modern woman.

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