These Guelph natives offer up everything from subdued electro-infused baroque pop to bluegrass-ish rave ups to sonically saturated alt rock. Though their songs can span an array of genres, they’re held together by an intensity and focus that proves songwriter Colin Harrington is a master controlling this comprehensive sound project. Focusing on the intimate as well as the space age, Adverteyes’ scope is as broad as their genre-hopping ambitiousness. As Guelph’s premier live sound wizard, Harrington has taken his expertise and created something expansive and impressive.
The aptly-named Toronto heavies bring rawk n roll to an epic level, never shying away from the shredding wails and pounding rhythms that still make rock shows exciting. Biblical are like the bastard, leather-clad offspring of Motorhead and Kyuss, and will be making their debut in Guelph, following the release of the dense, hard rock monster, “Monsoon Season.” This unabashed celebration of crushing guitar riffage, heavy bass, and snarling vocals will rumble the foundations of the Lady Immaculate itself.
A Guelph institution, Jenny Omnichord, brings her beautiful, dark, and precious project, Bird City, to Kazoo! Fest for the first time. The gentle tunes are imbued with a rawness and sincerity that brings to mind canonical songstresses like Joanna Newsom and Sibylle Baier. Jenny has been a centerpiece of the Guelph music community for the past decade, contributing to the Barmitzvah Brothers, the Oil Spills, Burning Hell, and The Glitter Bombs. As a seasoned touring artist, and Guelph’s new karaoke queen, Jenny Omnichord owns the stage and commands the attention of everyone lucky enough to experience her live.
Bleet is Guelph’s premier heavy instrumental band, full of blistering drums, angular guitar and ripping bass. It’s pure riffage of the highest degree. Crowds can expect a huge sound from these three, and this may be the last chance you’ll get to be blown away by Bleet’s intensity. These guys will join two other Ontario rock crushers at their home venue, The Jazz, to bring the most unrelenting rock heaviness of the festival.
Guelph’s own poet laureate, Bry Webb weaves together the honest sentiments that get us all through each day. A seriously affecting singer/songwriter, Bry’s peaceful and sincere performances are full of celebratory, nostalgic and touching songs, delivered in a way that makes you understand why he’s been so influential in Canadian music for the past 10+ years. The Constantines frontman’s solo work is as powerful as it is infectious (just listen to “Asa” if you need proof), and his low, dynamic croon will touch every heart in the room.
The buzz around COUSINS has been building for years and this year they are set to break. Cousins was once Halifax’s best rock band, but they have since become one of Canada’s must-see acts. Period. Mixing garage rock with sophisticated songwriting, and some throwbacks to classic ‘90s college rock and grunge, Cousins are road warriors that have been steadily gaining hype throughout North America. With a powerful and dynamic live show, COUSINS continue to blow away unsuspecting audiences. True tone dogs, the drum and guitar duo are set to release the much anticipated follow up to 2012’s The Palm at the End of The Mind in May before hitting the road with Chad VanGaalen this summer. Catch them before you can’t.
Dan Bejar is Destroyer, Vancouver’s long-running, poetic romantic, who saw his most recent LP, “Kaputt,” become the most critically acclaimed Canadian album of the past five years. Bejar has been charming audiences worldwide with his powerful but subdued performance for the past few years, and this one-off Ontario date will see something very special, with Bejar playing a 350 person church in Guelph. Bejar’s lyrics can be both depressing and life-affirming, challenging but traditional, and sleazy but beautiful. Bejar also contributes songs to West Coast contemporary classics, The New Pornographers, and before he goes into hibernation to create his next magnum opus, Bejar will be joining us in Guelph for a one of a kind evening. Raise your hands and believe.
With members from Destroyer, Hidden Cameras, Sarah Harmer, and Andre Ethier, DIANA is a tone-savvy super troupe and a sonic force to be reckoned with. Guided by the vocals of frontwoman Carmen Elle, the epitome of poise and prowess, DIANA evoke memories of dreamy summer days and lush, steamy midnights. Meticulously arranged, the band’s sound is equal parts simple and complex. Looking to the 80‘s for inspiration, they create a rich atmosphere, injected with swoon-worthy rhythm and a healthy dose of smooth sax. When DIANA hit the stage, just you try and keep your hips from swaying.
With a head full of dreams and a workshop full of curling cables and handmade instruments, Eden Segal-Grossman is truly the heir apparent of Guelph’s experimental music scene. His interest in all things electronic has seen him creating everything from synths assembled out of old toy parts, through small videos, screensavers, and programs, to wickedly weird and wonderful sonic experiments. With only 14 years under his belt, he has a precocious understanding of free-form music and sound. Get ready for a set packed with intricate improvisation and DIY electric noise.
EONS is the breathtaking acoustic project of Bruce Peninsula members Matt Cully and Misha Bower. With a live performance that is intimate and memorable, that feel as though one is being let in on an age-old family secret, audiences of Toronto’s EONS witness the bare bones of beautiful songs carried by two voices and a guitar. With their haunting new record, Arctic Radio, Matt and Misha conjure the sparsity and loneliness of a sprawling northern landscape, sharing bittersweet songs of human experience enriched with the warmth of harmony.
Led by the wailing and often jarring voice of Danny Fury, The Furys are Guelph’s garage heroes. Disjointed tunes move as slow as molasses, but the crowd will still fight to keep up with the Furys’ insane energy and cave-surf stomp. The Furys are Guelph’s coolest band in every way; their songs, their look, their attitude, their name—they just have it. A Kazoo! Fest favorite, The Furys are a must-see and feel experience.
These Toronto garage rock kingpins offer up timeless melodies brimming with psychedelia and ‘60s sunshine pop. With the release of 2013’s Gravez, Hooded Fang cemented themselves as Toronto’s most infectious band with tunes that stick with you for days. There’s something about Hooded Fang’s sound that will compel you to grab your drink, walk to the middle of the dance floor and let loose with absolute abandon. They are headlining night one of the festival at the eBar and, boy oh boy, we’re kicking this thing off with a fire starter pistol.
Isla Craig is a Toronto-based singer offering beautiful songs that still retain a sense of experimentation. The songs are rich and full, complete aural explorations that brim with melody and meaning. Anyone that has ever been lucky enough to see Isla Craig live has been completely floored by her vocals-only composition, and Isla’s songs are best experienced when she’s joined by the Soul Sisters Supreme Redux Vol. 2 (who appear on the new Owen Pallett record), which will occur at Sunday’s Pancake Breakfast. This dazzling force will make you drop your pancakes in awe.
Montreal’s Jef Barbara is an electrified new wave dancefloor-packing master. Recalling New Order, David Bowie and even the more playful side of Owen Pallett, Barbara brings a unique personality to his electro-pop experiments. Barbara has been gaining popularity over the past 3 years, becoming known as a singular performer – you won’t find this anywhere else in Canada, that’s for sure. Making his Guelph debut on Kazoo’s opening night, Barbara will give anyone in the crowd something to dance to and an unforgettable performance.
JESSY BELL SMITH
Jessy Bell Smith will re-string your broken heart with smoky tunes full of slide guitar and sweet sepia vocals. Everyone’s favourite girl-next-door, this Guelph native has added her captivating voice to many projects over the years from Skydiggers to the Skeletones Four. She launched her much-anticipated second album, The Town, this February on a frozen evening and has entranced devoted listeners from as near as the fine folk of the Royal City to as far away as England. Her soulful twang will bring back wistful memories of Patsy Cline on the radio, and of canned peaches on summer porches.
Sporting slick hairstyles and tight jeans, local surf-rock heroes Legato Vipers will be performing a special cover set that will feature vocal performances from some of the festival’s hottest personalities. This gang of bad boys consists of some well-seasoned players from bands Del Bel, Bibilical, The Magic, Gregory Pepper and His Problems, Skeletones Four, and Common Grackle. Since their formation in 2011, this instrumental throw-back has been advocating the all-coolness of switchblades, flasks, and Brylcreem (Mr. Brooks has been overheard saying, A little dab’ll do ya!) and have been one of Guelph’s most exciting projects. This show will certainly sell out, so line up with your lawn chairs early and get ready to jump, scream, and lose your toupee.
KELLY MCMICHAEL & THE GLOSS
As an ex-Guelphite who recently relocated to St. John’s, Newfoundland, Kelly McMichael has always been a live force, and with The Gloss, she has reached another level. With an excellent new EP, Liminal, that is jam packed with carefully-structured power-pop tunes that recall Land of Talk, it’s the Gloss’s live show that will make you a true believer. There is a reason why we picked Kelly McMichael to open this year’s festival and we couldn’t be happier.
An improvised afrobeat band? It’s hard to imagine, but that’s exactly what Guelph’s own Manatee are all about. They use funky West African rhythmic patterns as the foundation for improvised melodic experiments. Guided by a series of hand signals, the massive horn section shifts, turns and evolves as each piece takes form and then dissolves into a new pattern. Manatee invite the audience to become a part of each performance by picking up the cues and messages of the hand signals and encourage the audience to shape each live performance.
THE MEDICINE HAT
The Medicine Hat is the sound of falling in love: magical, uncompromising, and a bit ridiculous. Born in a cold basement after folk songstress Nabi Loney and her partner Tyler Bersche realized that they had written enough songs about each other to make a record, The Medicine Hat became the soundtrack to the first of hopefully many love stories. The couple enlisted old friends Elliott Gwynne and Michael Boyd, and were later joined by their schoolmate Aaron Hoffman. With the five members residing in Toronto, Guelph, and Rockwood, The Medicine Hat pleasantly infuse big-city hooks, small-town crunch, and countryside charm into their fuzzed-out folk rock.
Michael Feuerstack, a Canadian institution and exceptional songwriter (with a Juno under his belt, no less), has served time in many of this country’s dearly beloved bands, including the Wooden Stars, Snailhouse, Bell Orchestre, The Luyas, and Julie Doiron. Now residing in Montreal, Feuerstack has recently released his debut solo album, Tambourine Death Bed, showcasing a collection of truly stunning, fragile and carefully-crafted songs. His live performance is singular, unforgettable, and under no circumstances to be missed! And when one late night you find yourself needing to consult the Great Canadian Existential Record, Tambourine Death Bed will be waiting for you.
NIHILIST SPASM BAND
Canadian art and music history collide in this once-in-a-lifetime performance by the legendary noise group Nihilist Spasm Band. Formed in London, Ontario in 1965 by a gang of hotshot young members of the London Regionalism movement, the band has built an international following and has influenced noise icons such as Sonic Youth and Hijokaidan. Their membership has remained consistent since the ‘60s, consisting of John Clement, John Boyle, Bill Exley, sculptor Murray Favro, and Art Pratten. Previous members also included Hugh McIntyre, Archie Leitch, and painter Greg Curnoe. The band pits cooking pots, guitars, thumb pianos, and homemade instruments against clever deadpan vocals for a raucous improvised sound. They might have taken away the scale, key, repertoire, category, and tossed away the rule book, but the Nihilist Spasm Band’s experimental squall is definitely something you can believe in.
Noah 23 is a name known throughout North America as an indie rap innovator and MC of the highest caliber. Having made his name in the early to mid- 2000s, Noah 23 has not slowed down, releasing albums almost every year while calling Guelph his home. From his distinctive flow and wordplay to his boundary pushing hip hop experiments, Noah is well known for both his technical prowess and his ability to move the genre forward while never losing sight of hip hop’s roots. Guelph is lucky enough to be home to Noah 23, and he is making a rare hometown appearance with young buck Vic NS.
Petra Glynt is the dreamy, operatic, synth-based alter ego of Toronto-based artist and musician Alexandra MacKenzie. Cutting her teeth as a vocalist and creatrix with punk trance bands Pachamama and Dentata, Petra Glynt is MacKenzie’s solo project, drawing on both her wizardly mastery of looping electronics and her intense alto vibrato tempered over years of traditional vocal training. Her maximalist acidic aesthetic drips with neon and flickers with opulent GIFs blares through both her visual art (on view at her Kazoo! Festival exhibition at Ed Video) and her deeply textured atmospheric sound.
All the way from the dry heat of the Southern United States, Postcommodity (Raven Chacon, Cristobál Martinez, Kade Twist, and Nathan Young) is an interdisciplinary arts collective and performers of experimental noise music and free jazz. Originally drawn together by a shared love of noise cassettes, the group’s art and music function as a shared indigenous lens that engages in both the experimental and the activist. Heavy fuzz, burbling frequencies, drums, and antler synthesizers create a blistering sound stitched through with animal calls into ecstatic futuristic hunting songs.
Piping hot off the musical presses, Shopkeeper is open for business with this dream team new project of three of Guelph’s most talented frontspeople. Bill Killionaire’s seasoned songmaster Scott Haynes is joined by the bass might of folk queen Alanna Gurr and Esther Grey’s renaissance woman Steph Yates on drums. Long in the works, this project sees Haynes fully realizing his songwriting powers with bare bittersweet vocals reminiscent of Will Oldham or Bill Callahan. Stocked to the rafters with equal parts folk and rock, melancholy and enthusiasm, Shopkeeper is about to become your new favourite band.
With grunge pop jams performed at breakneck-speeds, Solids take elements of artists like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. and concoct it into something that is truly their own. With their debut album, Blame Confusion (Dine Alone Records/Fat Possum), coming out in February of this year, this Montreal duo are in the middle of a large world tour and are slated to make their Guelph debut at Kazoo! Fest. Crowd surfers, this is your band.
Here come a trio of tall chaps in crooked smiles—hey, it’s the Soupcans! Based in Toronto, this heavy, spastic, cheeky, pogoing, in-your-face band has been garnering much fervent love in bars and basements alike across North America. Rooted in a dirty patch of art punk, this band brings new meaning to raw and raucous with their driving and jolting live show. Playing guitar like a cartoon in your most confusing nightmare, the Soupcans’ frontman lurches and convulses in a manner that is truly captivating. Our only hesitancy in booking them was wondering, can the Jimmy Jazz actually contain the Soupcans?
From the rumbling belly of the Ward, Guelph’s Start Something are a three-piece post pop-punk band made up of lifelong pals and guitar brothers. 4-year old dreams coming to life. With simple and driving guitar lines, pounding drums, and melodically yelled vocals, Start Something’s jams make obvious nods to acts like Husker Du but they do so with their own unique spin. With a debut 7-Inch record coming in this spring, their tight as sin live show is sure to be a highlight of this year’s festival.
Playing hits from the radio dial that brings you Guns ‘n’ Roses, Skid Row and Judas Priest, the Toronto supergroup that is VAG HALEN are set to bring their unique approach to cock rock at Kazoo! Fest. Featuring members of The Bicycles, The Phonemes, The Organ and Ohbijou, this all female, queer feminist cover band are the party band at this year’s festival. Get into it.
This Guelph up-and-coming MC is a must-see at this year’s festival. Lyrically gifted with a good mix of playfulness and braggadocio, Vic the North Star can be seen as a traditionalist with his eyes firmly set on the future of rap. Having something in common with newish US rappers like Earl Sweatshirt, Vic NS exudes the youthful energy of hip hop while embodying a sophistication far beyond his years. We’re very excited to have this young MC playing a free show with Guelph’s GOAT (greatest of all time) MC Noah 23 at Sapphire.
With less than forty years between them, youthful Peterborough duo Watershed Hour pack an energetic punch matched only by veterans of Ontario’s gritty punk rock scene. Natalie Resimes’ onslaught of booming bass riffs and clamorous vocals are matched perfectly by drummer Laura Klinduch’s thumping motorik style beats. Reminiscent of local favourites Bleet in their early days, and London bangers I Smell Blood, Watershed Hour carry on a tradition of small-town Ontario two-piece rock bands. These young women have already appeared on stage at ALL CAPS festival on Toronto Island, and opened for Kazoo! Fest peers Vag Halen.
Arty, spastic, dynamic and entirely unique, you won’t find another band like WHOOP-Szo. With a cast of members roaming in and out of Guelph, this band of creative counterparts combines sound collage, disjointed parts, complex arrangements, and supreme momentum to weave sonic stories, all at once disorienting and enjoyable. Their most recent release is a double-album entitled Qallunaat/Odemin (out on Out Of Sound Records), which was recorded during a purposeful visit to the village of Salluit, QC. Sipping on the psychedelic sound of WHOOP-Szo, one can delight in a far-reaching rainbow of tones. Mmm, delicious!
Hamilton’s heavy noise rock troupe WTCHS bring their brand of jarring discord to the line-up this year. Feedback drenched, jangly guitars pierce through driving post-punk, math laden beats and monotonal vocals resulting in a captivatingly cacophonous aural experience. Often in the red, WTCHS’ live show is turbulent and transcendental, offering the audience a peek into the burgeoning southern Ontario punk and metal scene of the early 2000’s. The Hamiltonian powerhouse has worked with Out of Sound, Buzz Records, and are a mainstay on frontman Jag’s own label and zine series Perdu.