On Friday night, after being bombarded with endless assignments, readings, and long lectures, I was invited to attend a concert at Gallery in the Attic (140 ½ Hunter Street). Being a musically-diverse person, I am always open to listening to just about any genre of music, especially when it involves local budding musicians.
However, being a worshipper specifically of hard rock and metal bands such as Pink Floyd, Billy Talent, Iron Maiden, and Pearl Jam, I was surprised to find out that there was an absence of bands of this genre in Peterborough. Nonetheless, I was more than open to attend the event.
It was my first time going to Gallery in the Attic, so I had no idea what to expect. Would it consist of a relaxed, tranquil, indie-loving environment? Or, rather, would it be a mosh pit-crushing, head-banging crowd (like I was used to, being a metalhead)?
Well, there turned out to be a happy medium between the two: a tranquil, musically-impassioned crowd. Surrounded by the elite, posh, art-appreciating members of Peterborough, I sat back and enjoyed the warm and cozy atmosphere that reflected Peterborough’s artistic identity.
Alex Unger, otherwise known to the world as ELMS, started this solo musical project as a departure from his previous work with Burnt Norton and The Dead Elm Society of Canada. He writes and records at the House of Wands, a small farmhouse in the Ontario countryside. Unger describes his music as “existing in a constant liminal state between the cold distance of electronic experimentation and the personal narrative of popular song,” a true insight into the philosophy of his musical identity. His performance at the Gallery in the Attic highlighted the release of his new EP, Divorce.
Unger’s musical style is what I would describe as a cross between new wave electro and pop. He used a soundboard equipped with hundreds of different sound effects, which he blended seamlessly into his works of musical genius. His fingers nimbly played with the knobs as he sang his heart out to the audience. His passion for music was clearly expressed just by the way in which he held the microphone to his mouth and gazed out into the eyes of the audience. His music was euphonic and sheerly exhilarating at moments. The brick and mortar walls acted as a insulator for the powerful bass which produced a deep pounding sensation in my body. Although he managed to maintain constant intensity with every song, the highlight of the night was the performance of his hit song “I Gave Up (On You)” which sent blood rushing through my veins and chills down my spine.
It is safe to say that ELMS has truly refined the talent and technique of his previous work, and has made it more compelling. I encourage everyone to check out ELMS and to embrace the local talent of Peterborough. His tapes are available for purchase at Bluestreak Records, located at 444 George Street North.