INDIEFEST: Independent music shines during second night of concert series, Bobnoxious delivers pièce de résistance

Bobnoxious performed at the Stubborn Mule for INDIEFEST on April 27, 2013
Bobnoxious performed at the Stubborn Mule for INDIEFEST on April 27, 2013
Bobnoxious performed at the Stubborn Mule for INDIEFEST on April 27, 2013

Photography courtesy of INDIEFEST.

INDIEFEST was back over the weekend on Saturday, once again at the historic Stubborn Mule, in the independent music concert series’ second adrenaline-fueled night in as many weeks.

This time around and in a bit of contrast to last week’s classic rock feel with local rockers The Riot Within and Toronto’s Blurred Vision, the metal gods were in the house this past weekend, Apr. 27, with outstanding local talent That Dirty Racket along with notorious London rockers Zealots Desire and music veterans Bobnoxious who was on hand to celebrate 10 years in rock and roll.

After a successful outing on the concert series’ first night last week, organizers remain optimistic about their ambitious new startup venture that celebrates the often overlooked music of up-and-coming and established independent musicians, locally and abroad.

“We’re very excited about all the support we’ve gotten from sponsors and the community,” remarked co-organizer and basement143 honcho Kevin Thorne.  “It’s been a really amazing experience so far.”

Like the previous week’s inaugural launch of the concert series, it was clear that everyone was there for a party, but also to come together as a community for a great cause and to have a good time with friends.

Kicking off the night was local hard rock standouts That Dirty Racket whose funky, hard-edged chords and strong riffs gave the energetic crowd a mix of hard driving arena rock anthems and catchy lyrics with a style and vocals reminiscent, in some inflections, of Robin Zander and, in other moments, Gordon Downie Jr.

That Dirty Racket performed at the Stubborn Mule for INDIEFEST on April 27, 2013
That Dirty Racket performed at the Stubborn Mule for INDIEFEST on April 27, 2013

To be sure, for an ensemble of musicians who have only played together for a mere year, That Dirty Racket definitely lets their music do the talking and the message was loud and clear – this band means business.

In Sarnia, traditionally speaking, it’s almost going against the local grain – or even sacrilege in some circles –  to be an independent music artist instead of a cover band.  Bass guitarist and touring veteran Kellan Lindsay acknowledged the difficulties of being independent in Sarnia, but pointed out that it’s hard to be independent anywhere.

“It’s tough being independent and taking your own path but it’s like that anywhere,” remarked Lindsay.  “If you want anything bad enough, you have to be willing to do the hard work and whatever it takes to reach those goals.”

That Dirty Racket was unquestionably tight and polished with a performance that clearly fed off the energy of the crowd and gave it back in spades with such high-octane tracks as Very Long Time, Get Back Baby and The Gleam.  These guys convincingly proved, just like The Riot Within did a week earlier, that Sarnia is breeding some of the best Canadian musical talent available today.

After That Dirty Racket left the intimate but hearty crowd wanting more, it didn’t take very long for the next band – London rockers Zealot’s Desire – to fill the proverbial void promptly taking the stage just after 10:30 p.m.

In three short years, Zealots Desire – comprised of guitarist and lead vocalist Joshua Cunningham, bassist Ryan Daniels, lead guitarist Matt Babineau and drummer Dan Hunt – have ingrained themselves as a staple in the regional music scene and, by and large, invoke the same loyalty, fervor and excitement from their fans that you’d expect from much more established artists.

Zealots Desire performed at the Stubborn Mule for INDIEFEST on April 27, 2013
Zealots Desire performed at the Stubborn Mule for INDIEFEST on April 27, 2013

It took almost no time for their signature hard-as-nails style of rock and roll to turn up the heat in the venue a few more notches, getting people off their seats and moshing on the dance floor reminiscent of much larger shows.  Most notably along with the metal power chords and catchy hooks, lead vocalist Joshua Cunningham’s natural charisma and fun stage presence was outstanding and accentuated the entire performance.

When asked about the two bands opening up for the main event, co-organizer David Burrows remarked, “These are two above average bands who have bright futures in the music industry.”

Burrows added, “It’s an incredible honor to have these rising stars come out to support what we’re doing; and selflessly doing it on their own time and their own dime.”

As 11:30 p.m. hit, it was finally time for the keynote entertainment of the night – perennial hard rocker Bobnoxious was in the house and ready to raise the roof with the vintage, over the top, bombastic musical spectacle that their devout fans have come to crave over the past 10 years.

There’s not many independent bands out there today that have reached the heights and mainstream success that Bobnoxious has aptly demonstrated, success that’s being exemplified this year as they celebrate 10 years of phenomenal hard-edged rock and roll.

When asked about the night’s main event, organizer David Burrows remarked that Bobnoxious – who’s noted for outselling international stars in regional music sales and inciting near-riots from rabid fans – has “worked very hard to gain the respect of fans from far and wide with success that’s been well deserved.”

Bobnoxious headlined INDIEFEST on April 27, 2013
Bobnoxious headlined INDIEFEST on April 27, 2013

The crowd loved it, continuing to drink and mosh until the small hours of the morning to anthems like Big Cannons, Burn, On My Own and Won’t Go Quietly.

In a recent interview, Bobnoxious lead vocalist Bob Neil remarked that Sarnia’s one of their favorite places to come and play, especially since the last time they performed at The Industry two years ago on Dec. 16, 2010.

“We had to fight like hell [through a snowstorm beleaguered by whiteouts] to get there and the crowd was incredible,” he said. “ We’ll never forget it.”

After the two back-to-back weekend outings, INDIEFEST’s next Indienight is May 18 with another eminent lineup of independent artists including Everglo and Running Red Lights along with special guests Markurs and Leigh Coltman.

Tickets for the May 18 show are on sale at Cheeky Monkey and Sarnia Rocks at a cost of $10.

For more information about INDIEFEST, the performing artists involved or becoming an event sponsor, visit or contact organizers Kevin Thorne or David Burrows at (519) 491-0449 and (519) 490-4617 respectively.

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