Each year the National Arts Centre of Canada, the city’s premiere theatre space and home of the capital’s orchestra, presents a collection of theatre, music, dance, literature and art selected from one of Canada’s provinces or territories. This year around British Columbia got the nod, and several performing combos (along with assorted chefs, wood carvers, poets, tap dancers, ukulele builders and others) crossed the country to demonstrate their craft at venues around Ottawa.

On the musical side, the offerings ranged from such high brow entertainments as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to more proletarian outfits as Black Mountain. Somewhere in between is trio NoMeansNo, which has been blending jazz and punk for 30 years.

The opening band, Potty Umbrella, was something of a diversion from the B.C. Scene’s stated purpose since the quintet hails from Poland, but the jazzy underpinning of the psychedelic trance rock – which sounds remarkably like Motorpsycho with a couple of extra keyboards - does give them a sort of musical connection with the headliners; it isn’t the first time the two bands have toured together. The assembled punk rockers kept a safe distance from the band’s instrumental short set, which ended with a cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Higher Ground’.

The following outfit was more to their liking: Bison B.C. is a collection of street punks and skateboarders turned heavy metallers, and their music sounds like the offspring of Black Flag and Black Sabbath or in other words a lot like High on Fire.

The band has already developed a loyal following in the capital, and their thundering riffs once again found a welcoming crowd who moshed and threw up devil’s horns to such popular favourites as ‘These Are My Dress Clothes’.

Finally it was the turn of NoMeansNo. The band has been touring around the world since forming in 1979, and the silver-haired trio does less than just about any combo still going to conceal it: “I don't know what the average age of this audience is, but I think we've raised it,” joked singer and bassist Rob Wright before the band launched into ‘Old’.

But so what if drummer John Wright needs to turn down his hearing aid before donning his jammies and taking his place stage left ? Along with brother Rob, he can still kick out the rhythms of songs like ‘Oh No! Bruno!’ with fierce precision.

And despite the fact a good chunk of the audience hadn’t been born when the band formed, they moshed and slam-danced along with considerable enthusiasm.

After briefly concealing themselves behind their amps in a mockery of most band’s pre-encore disappearance, they finished things off with ‘Rags and Bones’ and ‘Lonely’.

Now that’s some good culture.

NoMeansNo Set List :

Oh No! Bruno!
The Day Everything Turns Into Nothing
All Lies
Everyday I Start to Ooze
Mondo Nihilissimo 2000
The Hawk Killed the Punk
Hello, Goodbye
Self Pity
Madness and Death
Happy Bridge
Kill Everything Now
Slugs Are Burning

Encore :

Rags and Bones
So Low

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