Old Girl, Homo Monstrous, Banshee, Summer Babe @ Copper Owl (Victoria, BC) 8/5/2015

We were the lucky few that night. A small but appreciative crowd at the Copper Owl got to witness a unique combination of acts, the likes of which you just know you’ll never see again. Frankly, if you weren’t there then it sucked to be you.

It was unfortunate that I only caught the tail end of the performance by locals Summer Babe because they were laying down some serious, noisy and fuzzed out rock, including a raucous version of The Beatles’ “Baby, You Can Drive My Car”.  Grimy, grinding fun. 

Next up, Banshee from Edmonton blew us all away with their intense set. The tight knit group consists of drummer Stacey Hyde, a compact bundle of energy, guitarist Reinhold Holtzmann, who shredded the fuck out of his axe on a few occasions, and lead singer Jackie Nuc. The front woman does not particularly shine the spotlight on herself (and at the Copper Owl this was actually literally true) but her strong persona demands your attention as she vents with vitriol on topics such as betrayal and disappointment. Their music is a sludgy mix, with its roots in grunge but delivered with post-rock flair and intellect.

Oddly enough, the headliners Homo Monstrous did not play last, but there was method to this madness (see below). The experimental duo came out second-to-last and intrigued the room with an exercise in revulsion/attraction. It was like witnessing a car accident (except on the auditory level, not the visual) – the sensory input is almost too much to bear but your fascination gets the best of you. Leo Keiser and Jaye Kovach blasted us away with a barrage of feedback-drenched guitar and electronic noise, but then drew us back in with intensely personal lyrics, primarily about the trials and tribulations of being transgendered in our society. Highlight was the mini epic “Emily Haines”, in which Keiser kept up a metallic drone while Kovach hunched over her microphone, giving a heart-wrenching and painful vocal delivery.

Local solo act Old Girl (aka Nasstasia Ellefsen) finished things off nicely. The evening’s onslaught of distorted guitars had been enjoyable and rewarding, but admittedly Ellefsen’s upbeat synthy vibe was a nice change of pace. Her beat-oriented electronic music was nicely complemented by her sweet voice. The banter between songs was genuinely engaging, as she was clearly relaxed and comfortable. It was magical. She held the precious few of us present squarely in the palm of her hand.