As one of the most popular seasonal hangout spots on campus, OAP (a.k.a. The Greatest Place On Earth) is a prime showcase for local McGill and Montreal musicians. The Engineering-run pub acts as both a high-energy starting point and a classic stage to come home to, offering new bands a chance to play local and build a fan base and veterans a friendly and familiar atmosphere. Unlike Gerts and its often-glitchy sound system, OAP has a knack for putting together the right mix of clear tunes and slightly intoxicated university students, an ideal gig for members of the McGill music scene. But who are the bands that benefit from this sweet setup?
According to the members themselves, the McGill music scene is admittedly small, and heavily draws on projects from Music students. However, this size only helps create a tight community from which new acts can emerge, with OAP as a great beginning gig for bands looking to move into the Montreal venues that welcome young musicians.
OAP is not only a venue for McGill bands. The pub opens up its stage to bands outside of McGill: dullboy got invited to play because lead singer Ben Cardilli was a high school substitute teacher for an OAP organizer who invited the band to play. So, while it remains a central stage for McGill bands, OAP brings in a taste of Montreal music outside the McGill bubble.
Not just a great way for bands to meet other McGill and Montreal groups, OAP also exposes them to potential production collaborators. McGill Masters students in Sound Recording are always looking for new projects (such as McGill bands) – a win-win scenario for both the recording engineer and the group
OAP is one of the few opportunities for McGill (and Montreal) bands to perform together for a McGill audience, and one of the only events that sheds some light on the McGill music scene. In case you were in line for beer or left when the rain hit on Friday, and didn’t get to see the scene in action, here’s a closer look at three of the groups that played OAP in 2014.
Busty and the Bass
With a nine-member line-up – Scott Bevins (trumpet), Mike McCann (trumpet), Chris Vincent (trombone), Nick Ferraro (alto sax), Louis Stein (guitar), Milo Johnson (bass), Julian Trivers (drums), Eric Haynes (piano and keyboards), Evan Crofton (keyboards, synths, “hype”) – Busty and the Bass is literally one of the largest bands in the McGill music scene. When applied to funky pop covers, their size explains why these guys have no trouble getting a crowd to dance, which the members admit is the goal of most of their songs.
The members, all McGill jazz majors, met three years ago during Music Frosh and quickly began playing together. What started as house party collaborations between jazz musicians quickly expanded to larger shows and more experimental styles, primarily funk. While all the members draw from their appreciation of jazz, guitarist Stein stresses that as Busty they also explore other styles, finding inspiration in groups like Snarky Puppy and Disclosure.
Busty has recently been focusing on expanding their audience in Montreal and beyond, with recent shows as far as New York City and six new videos set for release. Coming up, the band will be releasing an electro-funk EP titled Bustified, and are competing against other university bands in the CBC competition “Rock Your Campus.”
SHYRE formed just last year as a project of McGill jazz student Sarah Rossy, when a McGill recording engineer offered her free studio time. Rossy enlisted the help of some fellow McGill musicians, and the studio time turned into a series of YouTube videos. The videos were well-received, and the band began playing shows last March, leading to a tour up Quebec’s coast over the summer. The tour solidified SHYRE’s core six members of the group, allthough the performance lineup in Montreal venues can include as many as nine.
Rossy describes SHYRE as chamber-pop: a mixture of pop and classical to create what she calls a “cinematic soundscape.” The band will be releasing an EP, Winds, sometime in the next month, and is recording a full-length album this year. With the help of Bekah Wineman, a Masters student at McGill in Sound Engineering, the album will feature a full orchestra on various tracks. This might just be the next cinematic soundtrack you can’t get out of your head.
The only band featured here that is not made up of current McGill students (though guitarist and back-up vocalist Chris See Hoye is an alumnus), dullboy began a few years ago as a project of lead singer and guitarist Ben Cardilli, and just this year settled into its current four-man lineup: Cardilli, See Hoye, bassist Kevin Brunelle, and drummer Pascal Beauregard.
Cardilli compares their sound to nineties rock with elements of modern pop and folk, looking back to bands like Incubus and Audioslave for inspiration. As for the name dullboy, Cardilli explained that the band has often found themselves working too hard, and, as the proverb goes: “All work and no play makes jack a dull boy.” The name is a constant call for balance: they have to work hard, but let the band be a source of fun in their lives.
dullboy recently released a new self-titled album, available through iTunes. If you’re feeling nostalgic for the 90s rock of your wee years and are looking for new Montreal bands, give it a listen.
For more info on these bands and all the others that played OAP 2014, head to the OAP Facebook event. TVMcGill will also be posting footage of several of the performances.