It’s not often you get to experience a live show so bizarre in its entrapment as to be ridiculous to describe to others, but on this hot summer evening that’s exactly what occurred. The second event in a series of shows where the bands are recorded live and then pressed to a split LP featured folk-rock quintet Summering and the psych-grunge stylings of Outside Dog. As perhaps one of the most professional BYOB shows of the season, the underground venue known only as Eagle Time Recording—or, “that place with the eagle mural above the door”—was one of the kindest hosts I’ve come across in a long time, even if they did borrow a bouncer from a local strip club to run the door.
Packing 150 people into a space the size of the Astoria’s bathroom is no small feat, but even with the regrettable run-off from Friday night bar-hoppers there was nothing but smiles and cheering in the tiny makeshift environ. Openers Summering have quickly become one of my favourite bands in the city—and with only three shows under their belt so far, that’s saying something. Frontman Paul Stewart, perhaps better known for his solo work as a soft-spoken acoustic musician, was electrifying behind the helm of a three-guitar ensemble, carefully filling the palm-muted verses with bedtime crooning before the band would explode behind him in heavy, post-rock-verging jam lines. For a band so gracious in their presence, the spontaneous bursts of energy and overdrive were gratifying in the extreme. Although buried behind the stringed instruments, the set highlight had to lie in drummer Zachary Treble’s magnificent, if understated, performance. Careful viewers took note of him conducting the band during the precious quiet moments between verses, and it was this tight back-and-forth that let Summering flourish.
Sometime between the end of the first set, and the start of the final one featuring Outside Dog, the crowd finally began to recognize just how much body heat so many people in so confined a space can generate. Thankfully, neither band summoned the will in anyone to break into dance, but even motionless, the miniscule venue was a veritable sauna by the time the second band came on. Outside Dog were notably more laid-back, donning sunglasses, tank tops, and shorts to match their chill psych vibes. With Zachary Treble again returning to the drum-kit, the band launched into sun-soaked, lo-fi guitar songs caked in sweat.
It was, admittedly, a little hard to find much to write home about in the group’s gazey licks and bass chops as, despite having fewer instruments than Summering, the small space seemed to eat up their twangy Fender tones and reverb washes. Without the loud-quiet-loud dynamic of their opener, Outside Dog was much more about grooving over Treble’s impeccable musicianship than it was about crafting intricate medleys, but the crowd found that just fine.
Eagle Time Recording is one of those underground spaces worth not giving up so freely. Despite the hazardously small main room, the stellar organization and unique offerings make up for its “ask around” entrance policy. Long live the DIY music venues of No Fun City.