A small crowd gathered inside the dimly lit room that is Turbo Haus. It was the fifth installment of Blatant Localism, a monthly show exhibiting local talent. Pay what you can. Hang up your own coat. Although past editions of Blatant Localism featured three bands, only two bands took to the stage that Thursday: Godbless America and Dark Circles.
Having seen both these bands before on separate occasions, both within the context of Turbo Haus, I knew what I was signing up for. I made sure to bring along two pairs of earplugs, hoping they would provide some protection against the distortion and feedback.
First up was the bizarre band of oddballs known as Godbless America. It’s hard to properly describe their particular sound; it’s discordant and erratic, like a demented carnival cacophony. They recently recorded an EP at McGill University, which isn’t the kind of sound you would expect to come out of such a prestigious institution. Most of the audience’s attention was directed towards the lead guitarist, who wore a half-mask and a bright yellow shirt with a marijuana leaf on it. He danced in a strange manner that suited the music he was playing, while the rest of the band played their instruments in the shadows. The lead singer spent a lot of time running on and off the stage, yelling incomprehensibly. There was no audience interaction between songs, which added to the mystery of the band.
The room filled up with more bodies as Dark Circles began setting up. Within minutes, all our ears were collectively attacked by a wave of noise. Even my earplugs were no match to the heavy distortion, which shook me to my core. As demonstrated at previous shows, Dark Circles prefers to play in as little light possible, giving their performance a macabre atmosphere. Beyond the pounding drums and harsh vocals, there was a sense of raw emotion in the sound, inciting the audience to tightly close their eyes and slowly bang their head, as if in a meditative state. This is what makes Dark Circles god-tier crust punk. On the last note and final farewell, the lights went up again. We grabbed our coats and walked out into the cold night, our ears ringing and faces curled into sadistic grins.