Editorial – Amber Waves; Photography – J.J. Deogracias
Whenever a festival releases a line-up, there are bands that will immediately jump out at media outlets and music critics as the “must-see” draws. The bands that the organizers are counting on to pull in casual fans and widen appeal of the event. Edmonton dance punk darlings Shout Out Out Out Out were easily one of those key acts for Canadian Music Week 2013.
Ironically, they were the worst act I caught during the fest.
While the mad throng of hardcore fans pulsing near the Horseshoe’s crowded stage certainly seemed pleased with the performance (although one wonders how much of that was due to the frantic consumption of booze, pot and pills), I found the entire event wanting. Granted, I am not a huge fan of electronic music proper, but I do thoroughly love the genre when it commands my attention and pulls me in. Lyrics aren’t always necessary to speak truths; instruments have their own language. The trouble is, Shout Out Out Out Out is a broken record: everything sounds the same. I noted to a friend that their sound could be epitomized by Barenaked Ladies’ hit track “It’s All Been Done” or better still, Metric’s “Dead Disco”.
Granted, the band can craft a melody line laced with bitchslap bass that’s excellent to dance off the Cosmo calories to, but there’s no emotion evoked, not even one of lighthearted freedom, as I often experience with mainstream pop. It was like an endless workout tape with a muffled instructor calling out the next moves. I may have lost a pound moving with the masses to stay alive in the mosh-dance pit, but by the end, I was unable to say how many actual songs were played, being as they all blended together. That’s annoying and lazy composition to boot. Given the band’s billing as “dance-punk”, I was perplexed: what is punk without a message? If a tree fell in this sonic forest, who would notice, let alone give a shit?
The fangirls can keep this one; I’ll stick to true masters of punk, the ones with something to say.