Perhaps what has kept the music of Julie Doiron feeling so fresh over the decades is her ability to deliver such divergent facets of her musical persona. Teaming up with punk troubadour Eamon McGrath, alongside bassist Jaye Schwarzer and drummer Mike Peters from hardcore band Cancer Bats — aka the Wrong Guys — Doiron has returned to the loud and noisy sounds explored during her time as bassist and co-vocalist of Canadian indie royalty Eric’s Trip, and she brought them to Ottawa’s 27 Club last night (December 15).
Competing with the city’s first weekend cold snap of the season and an outdoor NHL alumni game on nearby Parliament Hill, the venue looked roomy and bare by the time local openers Saint Clare hit the stage. Boasting both a trombonist and synth player, the sextet smeared together a smattering of genres that ranged from early ’00s Midwestern garage to heartland rock and (inevitably) ska, holding things together admirably throughout their 30-minute set.
Mushy Gushy, another Ottawa act, looked even more confident and sanguine as the four-piece delivered a set of classic indie rock, musically referencing everything from the Feelies to Lee Ranaldo-led Sonic Youth to Parquet Courts, giving the slowly growing crowd a taste of their brilliantly constructed and intricately written songs.
Entering the stage with her iconic eye-covering bangs and black jeans, Julie Doiron and her new bandmates opened the set with the high-voltage “Love and Learning” from their self-titled album, which found Doiron straining her voice to shout out the song’s post-chorus, “But I can’t stay, no I can’t stay!” Following up with the half-spoken, half-shouted “You Wanted What I Wanted,” Doiron showed off her best Kim Gordon impression, pogoing in front of her mic.
As the band ran through their debut, the crowd lovingly absorbed the tender and powerfully building “Tracing My Own Lines,” which saw McGrath move over to keyboards and Schwarzer to guitar. They played tracks from her solo career, too, including the fitting “The Wrong Guy” from 2007’s I Woke Myself Up, which benefitted well from Schwarzer’s anchoring chorded-bass playing.
Closing the set off with a stunning rendition of “Farther From You” that saw McGrath take co-lead vocals and the Eric’s Trip sound-alike “Hope Floats,” Doiron looked completely in her element — even though she’s never allowed herself to be defined by any sort of element.