I walked up the stairs to the Mansion’s Living Room Wednesday night with no expectations.
I stumbled down them three hours later, completely impressed by the distinct sound brought forth by London bands Wild Domestic and Lonnie in the Garden.
Each band brought something fresh to a Kingston alternative rock scene that has been chronically post-punk or folk. They are both fundamentally driven by the distorted alt-rock guitars of a generation that grew up listening to Nirvana and Sonic Youth alongside Floyd and Zepplin.
However, Lonnie in the Garden played an incredible and eclectic set that defies classification.
Frontwoman Lynne Craven’s mature vocals are what made Lonnie so innovative. Her confidence and theatricality reminded me of Nina Hagen, both gutteral and operatic.
Those comparisons were remarkable when Craven looped vocal harmonies to create a choral effect. But just as I fell in love with her artificial choir, Craven kicked the pedal. From then on, she was singing solo while the other band members hardly touched their mics.
The looping left a void in the vocals: Craven is an unbelievably powerful singer, yet the harmonies were missed once she shut the pedal down.
She later told me about her background in choral singing, which made complete sense — even with the rest of Lonnie providing some great instrumental backing, her melodies were at times lonely.
The rest of Lonnie was generally a fantastic and technical band. There was one specific moment when Craven wailed over lost love while the band road a rhythmic wave complete with intense climaxes and Mars Volta-esque time changes.
Wild Domestic is a self-described post-rock group, meaning they’re largely instrumental and rhythmically experimental. They brought along an enormous and dynamic sound on their Ontario tour — part psychedelic-rock and completely jam band.
Two kits and drummers created a captivating core to their sound. The sum of their interplay was much more dynamic and consistent, which made their uniform groove all the more impressive.
I’m not sure if the lacklustre bass playing was part of the package of being shoe-gazing post-rockers, but it certainly didn’t get in the way of the astounding technical and melodic guitars.
Even in a small room of barely two dozen listeners, Lonnie in the Garden and Wild Domestic presented a passionate and fresh brand of alt rock to Kingston listeners.
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