The weirdo psychedelic blues of The Valiha Experimental Orchestra opened  Sunday night’s festivities. The VEO has gone from psychedelic Malagasay fans to Bob Log III worshipers, and now appears to have condensed their sound into a a ramshackle psyche blues sprawl. Drummer Will, sporting a nasty shiner, kept a moderately steady beat (and offered a few brief bleats from a tiny plastic saxophone) while Dave and Charlie droned and crashed their way through some vaguely bluesy manouevres on their guitars (and occasional flute).

It’s hard to say exactly what they do, but they certainly made a positive impression on the audience, and on Ian Svenonious, the front man of the night’s headliners: Weird War.

Weird War began with Michelle Mae and Svenonius, both well known for their work in political soul garage rockers the Make Up, and Neil Hagerty of Royal Trux and Pussy Galore fame. Hagerty has since left, but his vital contribution has been ably replaced with guitarist Alex Minoff.

Minoff’s Parliamentary guitar style is the perfect replacement; if he sounded any more like one of George Clinton’s funky guitarists, Svenonious would have had to say the band was from Chocolate City instead of Washington D.C.

While bassist Mae and drummer kept up a steady but simple rhythm, Minoff released a succession of extra-skunky links.

Svenonious has a well-deserved reputation as an adept frontman; introducing every song with a wide-eyed spiel and frequent declarations of “I like this music!”, he alternately hopped and lounged around the stage, punctuating the psycho-political lyrics of the band’s sophomore album 'If You Can’t Beat Em, Bite Em' with his trademark squeal.

The band dispensed with an encore, going out instead with their tribute to the AK-47.

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Commenting On: Dominion Tavern, Ottawa, 4/4/2004 - Weird War with the VEO

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