Singapore Sling have something of a history with Ottawa. The Icelandic rockers' appearance at the 2003 Ottawa Bluesfest was one of their earliest shows in North America, and they repeated at the festival in 2004. So while local audiences had seen them before, this was their first opportunity to catch the group in a club setting.

A decent-sized crowd turned out despite the chilly evening and the holiday (Thanksgiving in Canada) to catch the gritty and glowering group in the appropriately gritty setting of the city’s premier rock dive.

Ottawa post rock instrumental group Expatriate opened the show. Their Tortoise-on-steroids rhythms seemed heavier and more focused than an earlier performance I saw at Club SAW where they opened for Cerberus Shoal. The group’s heavy thump could almost be called post-stoner rock, and one of the songs was appropriately entitled 'Sabbath'.

At Singapore Sling’s first Ottawa showing, the youthful group seemed slightly ill at ease, with only bassist Toggi Gudmundsson getting into the physical side of the performance. A year and a half of gigging has made a huge difference with the whole band swaying and shaking to the groups Jesus and Mary Chain-influenced narcopsychedelia (though drummer Bjarni Johannsson was stuck behind his kit, he rolled his eyes up into his head for extra zonked-out effect).

Band mastermind Henrik Bjornsson’s flat voice added shades of Lou Reed’s affectless drawl to downbeat rock noir lyrics.With three guitars and a tambourine player rounding out the group’s sound there was also more than enough volume to go around  - grinding drones and guitar jangle coincided like Spacemen 3 on a bad trip.

After a very brief break the group returned to the stage for an encore performance of their cover of The Standells’ 'Dirty Water' and 'Listen' from their first album, 'The Curse of Singapore Sling.'

A fine performance from a much-improved bunch of performers.

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Commenting On: Dominion, Ottawa, 10/10/2004 - Singapore Sling

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