Listen Up Kid delivers nice-guy grunge rock

Local band preps for Friday concert at The Toucan

Listen up Kid at their studio in Kingston.

Grunge rock and hospitality don’t usually mesh—but when Listen Up Kid invites you to their rehearsal space, it’s the exception. 

Located behind a thrift shop, the hallway entrance to the rehearsal space is a maze of milk crates leading to the distant beat of drums, and someone strumming on a bass. In the rehearsal space, a string of yellow light bulbs hang from the ceiling and a neon purple light glows in the corner beside a dismembered mannequin. 

Posters cover the walls; recording equipment and instruments fill the room. 

Settling into the space, lead singer Dennis Clark sat down with The Journal while other members of the band warmed up for their jam session. The band was preparing two songs, “I Wonder” and “Scream-it,” for Friday’s show. 

Clark wrote “I Wonder” in one night after hearing a melody written by guitarist Charlie Thomas. 

“It’s about a break-up and wondering what could’ve been. It’s about regret and it’s vague. If you’ve ever had your heart broken, you wonder what could’ve been if it kept going,” Clark said. 

The song’s melodic, emotional musing is a dramatic contrast from the second song they played, “Scream-it.” 

More on-brand for a grunge rock band, “Scream-it” is loud and heavy. When the band starts performing it, they scream the nearly indecipherable lyrics, and earn the song’s title. All the while, Clark sang and head-banged, waving his guitar as he played. 

The song’s lyrics are intentionally vague to relate to more people, according to Clark.

The two songs were polar opposites: “I Wonder” is one of the band’s few soft songs breaking up their alt-rock repetoire.  

The departure was a long-time coming for Listen Up Kid. Though the band was formed in 2012 its current four member line-up have only been working together for a year. Their current songs are all originals, indicative of the act setting their sights on the future. 

There’s around 30 of them, all displayed on a billboard in the band’s rehearsal space.

Originally formed in 2012, the band’s first line-up got their song “Make Up” on the National Top 200 list. It was a dream come true, according to Clark. 

They’ve since become a recognizable name in Kingston, even working with The Glorious Son’s producer, Terry Benn. 

Recent developments aside, Benn and Clark first became friends in high school. 

“I’ve always looked up to him, I watched his studio grow throughout the years. I was really stoked to work with him because he’s super pro,” Clark said. 

Remembering the time he spent working with Benn, Clark said their experiences together are “captured on that album like a time stamp.” These memories—like Justin Kennedy’s bass slamming Clark’s nose—form a foundational part of their sound.

“That probably wasn’t my favourite time. It made for good footage though,” Clark said. 

Regardless of the memory, they can all agree The Toucan is one of their favourite venues to play. 

“It’s pretty sweet because they pay well and it’s a free show so a lot of people come out,” Clark told The Journal. “They’re more drunk and they’re happy they didn’t have to pay $10 just to get in.”

With no cover, there’s nothing like watching an energetic band scream for free. 

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