Amidst growing fears over COVID-19 in Newfoundland and sweeping cancellations of concerts and gatherings worldwide, St. Patrick’s Day was still celebrated heavily in downtown St. John’s on Saturday, March 14.
While dozens of Irish bands playing to hundreds decked out in green on George Street, nearby on Duckworth Street, there was a very different sound coming out of an unlikely venue – punk rock music from Lucy’s Bar.
The much-beloved dive bar is typically a quiet pool joint, playing classic rock or country tunes to a very consistent clientele.
Walking through that room and climbing to the rarely used second level was like entering a badass kind of Narnia – a truly genius location for Conditioner’s EP release show.
Featuring a small corner stage, a large dance floor and a second bar, this venue is a hidden gem.
Birch Beer kicked off the show at 10:40, only 10 minutes after the listed start time – an impressive feat in the late-night local music scene.
The hardcore/punk band played a somewhat short set – in true hardcore fashion, their six-song EP, “Human Garbage” runs just over seven minutes in its entirety.
Formed in 2019, the four-piece group has some really fun and heavy breakdowns, making for a particularly magnetizing set to see live.
Property was second on the bill. A trio when they formed in 2016, the band recently replaced their drum machine with a drummer – a nice addition giving their fun pop music an added depth.
The band played selections from 2019’s “How to Be Human” and 2017’s “Privacy,” and recently teased that recording is in progress for a 2020 release.
The main act played next, with Conditioner hitting the stage around midnight.
The four-piece band released their sophomore album, “Low Point” on March 4, through Must Be Nice Records.
Though somewhat quiet on the recording front since their self-titled debut came out in 2017, the band has continuously kept busy playing gigs around town, bringing their garage rock and pop/punk blend to bars and skate parks.
With bass, two guitarists/vocalists, and the rare treat of a drummer vocalist, Conditioner played a spirited set to a high-energy crowd – a seemingly successful album launch.
Those purchasing a physical copy of “Low Point” received the cassette in a vinyl cassette case, the DVD sized box containing an 11x17 poster and lyric Insert, as well as a pin.
The show wrapped up with Swimming, a three-piece emo band on the scene since 2018. Playing math rock and pop-punk, the band served as a great closer for the Paddy’s Day punk show, with most sticking around until the end of their set before heading off to other bars.
Arriving on George Street at 1 a.m., hundreds of people were still out and about, dancing, drinking, chatting, and hanging out – your average Paddy’s Day weekend downtown.
You’d never think a pandemic was currently ravaging the globe, causing death and illness, threatening quarantine, isolation, and discouraging large public gatherings.
Generally “memorable yet blurry,” I think Newfoundlanders will remember the 2020 St. Patrick’s Day weekend festivities for years to come.