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NIGHTSHADES. Photo by Peter Maur, from the band's Facebook page.

Marvest: Ottawa punk trio, Nightshades opens up before rumbling into Marvest

By Alessandro Marcon on September 8, 2015





Marvest is an offshoot of the CityFolk festival that runs between September 16th and 20th, at the Aberdeen Pavilion, and along Bank Street. These mostly free shows feature local bands, and we’ll be profiling some of those bands.

Spawned in the fecund fields of Ottawa’s Rock Camp for Girls, where original bassist Sarah Grant, and guitarist Mallory Gilles were working as guitar teachers, aptly-named Nightshades has blossomed into a trio of driving guitar chords, heavy-hitting drum rhythms and spiraling melodies of enigmatic yet inviting lyrics. A genre buff would likely slap a label of alt-garage rock or garage-punk on this brand of tunes. And for good reasons. The tracks chug along like a railcar rumbling – a railcar strewn with latched-on vagabonds whose bruised, white-knuckles tell stories of battling through trials with a ripe pugnacity.

Nightshades formed slowly. With an initial seed planted in the fall of 2013, it harnessed energy through the cold winter months, eventually rearing a solidified tuft in the spring of 2014. A thrust of momentum shot through the growth with the addition of drummer and old-friend Geoff Clarke. As explained by Mallory, “Geoff moved in directly above me. It sounds cheesy, but it felt kind of like fate. We could hear each other playing music through the walls of our shitty apartments, and eventually it just kind of happened. Once Geoff joined the band, the three-piece felt completely complete. He was the perfect fit, and had a knack for ‘getting’ my sometimes off-time guitar patterns.” More recently, folk artist Tyler Roy has taken over on the low-end for Sarah Grant. “Ty brings something to the band that is very interesting” says Mallory, “He’s got a calm groove, and a real unique vibe about him.”

Although Mallory describes themselves as “baby band” reflecting the nascency of the project, Nightshades has already played a number of festivals and shows, including an evening that saw them share the stage with Toronto’s hardcore heavyweights, Fucked Up. Performing live, Nightshades draw from their two ep’s: 2014’s The Beauty of Dreaming, and this year’s Wendy. While The Beauty of Dreaming was more of an individual effort from Mallory, containing emotionally-driven tracks written first on a classical acoustic guitar, Wendy, which Mallory describes as “darker musically” but more “playful lyrically”, came out of a more collaborative process. “Geoff slowly became a very natural part of the writing process,” she notes, “but more than that, an incredible guitar coach.”

This year’s Folk Fest, Cityfolk in the Marvest schedule, will include Nightshades for the first time, giving audiences the chance to hear tracks from both ep’s, and likely other treats, belted out live. Talking about participating in Marvest, Mallory says, “We’re surprised to be included! Hopefully we don’t hurt anybody’s ears haha. But ya, we’re super looking forward to playing. We’ve played with The North Fields before, and it’s gonna be a great gig.”

Something “slower and grungier” might emerge from Nightshades in the future, but now, for most days, punk’s still tasting sweet. It’s a flavour you can bite into for yourself at the Original Burger Joint, September 19th. Check out the video for “The Beauty of Dreaming” below:


Nightshades perform an all ages show with Jonathan Becker & The North Fields and Jack Pine & The Fire at the Original Burger Joint (873 Bank Street) on September 19. Doors at 8pm. No cover.