live music

4 music shows to see in the Ottawa area this week

Brandon Allan & The Bad Decisions, Feefawfum, Thesis Sahib, Christo Graham stand out among the long weekend of local live music.

Brandon Allan & The Bad Decisions, Feefawfum, Thesis Sahib, Christo Graham stand out

Brandon Allen (of Brandon Allen & The Bad Decisions) plays amidst the pinball machines of House of Targ Thursday. (Ming Wu)

Brandon Allan & The Bad Decisions, Moon Destroyer at House of Targ, Thursday

Ottawa is a city with a wealth of bands whose names refer to "Somebody & The Somethings." When we talk about Brandon Allan & The Bad Decisions, though, the moniker feels unique — and that's because it seems to capture the essence of the songs Brandon writes. They're intensely personal and often tell stories of getting wrapped up in something that can't be controlled.

We're reminded of that feeling of being out at a party or a bar and wishing we could be anywhere else, but we've seen a certain bike outside or made eye contact with someone across the room, and suddenly "hopeless is my new name," as Brandon sings in the song Babylon

It's honest roots music with a twangy vulnerability, as if Michael Feuerstack scored Crazy Horse as his backing band, so it's a pleasant surprise to see the unexpected pairing of Brandon Allan & The Bad Decisions' set with the spaced-out rock of Moon Destroyer, who are also on the bill Thursday night. 9 p.m., $5-10 (sliding scale).

Feefawfum, Awa, H. de Heutz at Le Temporaire, Friday

Montreal's Feefawfum graces Vieux-Hull with their presence on Friday. (Feefawfum)
Over in Vieux-Hull on rue St-Redempteur is a red brick building that serves as an arts space. It's called Le Temporaire, and it hosts a variety of performances and art installations. On Friday, it's where you can catch a stimulating Montreal trio called Feefawfum.

Now, I could tell you all about how Feefawfum is a baffling concoction of experimental jazz, prog-rock and art-punk and how the band somehow pulls off a combination of complex time signatures and pained vocals with the poppiness of a day at the circus. I'd rather leave you with how they describe themselves, though: "Kind of non-virtuosic outsider prog, like Captain Beefheart meets Deerhoof, but not funny at all … Or, with a kind of funny that's actually sad."

Feefawfum are performing alongside Awa, from Peterborough and local art-rock masters H. deHeutz, who are holding Friday's show to celebrate the release of their new 7". 8 p.m., $8 (PWYC).

Thesis Sahib, Sole, Poetic Elements at Raw Sugar Café, Saturday

Thesis Sahib performs some circuit-bending hip-hop at the Raw Sugar Café Saturday. (Thesis Sahib)
Keeping things on a cerebral note, Saturday's show at Raw Sugar is likely to get your neurotransmitters firing — not to mention your mojo working. Just picture yourself as evening starts to fall, settling into one of the cafe's cozy chairs, cutting into a date square, and embarking on a night of quality underground hip hop!

One of the guys who'll be taking the stage that night is Thesis Sahib, whose real name is James Kirkpatrick. Calling him a hip hop artist doesn't feel quite descriptive enough, seeing as he likes to incorporate pop and rock styles into his music along with some heavy electronic experimentation.

Thesis Sahib does a lot of circuit-bending, meaning he uses rewiring and short-circuiting to compose entire songs on things like old electronic children's toys and Gameboys. That kind of creativity extends to just about everything Thesis Sahib does: besides making music, he's a well-known graffiti artist around his home base of London, Ont., and his shows often incorporate an attention to visual elements like masks and costumes.

Besides Thesis Sahib, Saturday's show at Raw Sugar also features Sole, a highly-respected underground hip hop musician coming all the way from Portland, and Ottawa's own Poetic Elements. 8 p.m., $5.

Christo Graham at The Branch, Saturday

Christo Graham hits a favourite venue, the Branch in Kemptville, on Saturday. (CBC Music)
Having covered a downtown show on Saturday night, here's a drive-worthy show for those of us with access to wheels. A young guy named Christo Graham will be performing at The Branch in Kemptville, not too far from his hometown of Bishop's Mills.

Despite being only 20 years old, Christo has been making music for several years now and is a Branch favourite. In fact, he released a live album in April that was recorded there in front of what was, by the sounds of it, a large, loud, extremely appreciative audience.

That album followed an earlier release this year called Muppet Christ Superstar and it's exactly what it sounds like: Christo Graham doing The Muppets, doing Jesus Christ Superstar. Need I say more?

Probably my favourite thing about Christo Graham is the fact he pairs an effortless flare on the piano keys with an extremely charming personality and ability to make his audience laugh. He also does an amazing Kermit the Frog impression. 9 p.m., $8.


Thursday, Aug. 28

  • Brandon Allan & The Bad Decisions @ House of Targ w/ Moon Destroyer. 9 p.m., $5-10 (sliding scale).
  • Bluesfest Bluesprint Series @ Festival House w/ Fiona Noakes Band, Farewell Davidson. 7:30 p.m., $5.
  • All-Stars Blues Thursdays @ Irene's w/ John Yemesky9:30 p.m., free.
  • Sandaraa @ Black Sheep Inn w/ The Visit. 8:30 p.m., $15.
  • Linda Marie & The GMC @ The Rainbow. 4 p.m., free.
  • Rory Tailon @ The Rainbow. 9:30 p.m., $7.

Friday, Aug. 29

  • Feefawfum @ Le Temporaire w/ Awa, H. de Heutz. 8 p.m., $8 (PWYC).
  • School Damage @ House of Targ w/ Neck, Bonnie Doon, Slim & Popular. 9 p.m., $5.
  • My Favourite Tragedy, Cody Allen @ Irene's. 9:30 p.m., $8.
  • Klezmer Company Orchestra @ Black Sheep Inn. 8:30 p.m., $15.
  • The Gothsicles @ Cafe Dekcuf w/ For All the Emptiness, Hatz. 9 p.m., $15.
  • Dynamite Motel @ 8 Locks Flat. 7 p.m., free.
  • The Frank James Experience @ The Rainbow. 4 p.m., free.
  • Pearly Jenkins & Lucky Strike @ The Branch. 9 p.m., $10.
  • The Lost Chord @ Avant-Garde w/ The Ven Dreddies, Slick Nick & The Bandits, Doc Yates. 8 p.m., $6.

Saturday, Aug. 30

  • Thesis Sahib @ Raw Sugar Cafe w/ Sole, Poetic Elements. 8 p.m., $5.
  • Christo Graham @ The Branch. 9 p.m., $8.
  • The Red Rails @ House of Targ. w/ Eagleson, Bristol Hum. 9 p.m., $10.
  • Chuck & The Karnivores @ Irene's. 9:30 p.m., $10.
  • The Gnarlys @ Atomic Rooster. 4 p.m., free.
  • Frank James Band @ Atomic Rooster. 10 p.m., free,
  • Garrison Creek @ Pressed w/ City Limits, Kaiser, Giscar. 8 p.m., $5.
  • Ty Hall @ The Rainbow w/ JKDB. 9:30 p.m., $10.
  • Lucky Ron @ The Lafayette. 4 p.m., free.
  • Archaic @ Avant-Garde w/ Elevenstar, Atticus, Project Mayhem. 6:30 p.m., free.

Sunday, Aug. 31

  • Cashmere Cat @ Ritual. 10 p.m., $12.
  • Rod Williams Band @ Atomic Rooster. 6 p.m., free.
  • Tariq Anwar @ Atomic Rooster. 10 p.m., free.
  • The Birdie Whyte Show @ The Lafayette. 6 p.m., free.
  • Nationless Mind @ The Rainbow. 8:30 p.m., $5.

Monday, Sept. 1

  • Huntersfield @ Zaphod's w/ Archy & Mehitabel, Made Noon, Rota Park. 8 p.m., free.

Tuesday, Sept. 2

  • Funeral Circle @ House of Targ w/ Spell, Droid, Barrow Wight. 9 p.m., $5.
  • Reef the Lost Cause @ Babylon w/ Robbie G, Eddie Quotez, Bastards, Happy Killmore & L'RXN_STEEZO, Ceerouse, Sumo. 8 p.m., $15.

Wednesday, Sept. 3

  • Murder Murder @ The Rainbow w/ Sea Change, Old Cabin. 9 p.m., $5.
  • The London Quireboys @ Obsession Live Lounge. 7 p.m., $30.
  • Will Gillespie @ House of Targ w/ Chrissy Lovingood, Chrissy Steinbock. 9 p.m., $5.
  • The John Carroll Show @ The Lafayette. 8 p.m., free.