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Neon Dreams // Live @ Rainbow Bistro // 11.18.16

Article and Photos by: Adrienne Row – Smith

Ottawa, Ont – Halifax natives Neon Dreams played an incredible 2 band show promoting their newest EP To You at Otawa’s Legendary House of Blues The Rainbow Bistro. While most of the shows I’ve seen have featured more than 2 bands, both Neon Dreams and their support act Tribe Royal were able to shoulder and decimate the responsibiltiy of providing a show.


First up for the night was Ottawa natives Tribe Royal. The four piece folk -rock band played songs from their first release Samadhi and recently released follow up Colurs of the Sun, which when first heard could fool the listener into believing that the music comes straight from the 60/70’s rock scene with a tinge of 90’s alternative rock vibes. With that in mind, most notable songs from the set would have to be “Partake in A Dream”, and “Sunset Band” as those songs really captured their chemistry between all members. Beyond their song selction, the band also had an amazing stage presence, with vocalist/ guitarist Terry O’Brien being the most energetic of the band. O’Brien added the rockstar flavour to their set, featuring hair flips, domination of the stage and great interaction with his fellow members. His vocals were on point and really characteriszed the lyrical content of their songs. Fellow vocalist Chris Kerwin was not to be outdone by his counterpart and provided a great contrast to O’Brien by providing more soulful and moody stage presence. While he interacted with his fellow members, there was a different aura in his interactions, that really played off the energy provided by O’Brien. Not to be outdone by O’Brien and Kerwin, bassist Bram Al – Najjar also provided vocals and had his moment to shine as well. Al – Najjar provided a wicked bass solo into one of their songs, and his vocals helped to harmonize the contrasting vocals between O’Brien and Kerwin. Finally, drummer Mike Giamberardino rounded out the strings with great rhythm work. He was also his own personality providing great faces and energy, defintely rocked behind the kit and made sure that attention to his work was well – deserved. On the whole, the band provided a great show from at times providing songs that created an aura of love (that led to some crowd members to be quite affectionate to one another), to also providing some choregraphed singles to liven up the show and get attanders dancing. While their set was plagued intially with some technical issues – the band itself was able to overshadow those delays with an incredible, captivating performance. Be sure to check out Colours of the Sun and Samadhi if you’re looking for a throwback band to sunnier ways in the alt/folk – rock genre!


Following the soulful rock set of Tribe Royal, main act Neon Dreams provided their audience with something completely different. Featuring a blend of Pop – rock and EDM, Neon Dreams are defintely not a band to mess with. Starting out with a quick DJ mashup of popular hits such as Uptown Funk by DJ/vocalist Corey LeRue, the band was able to get most of the audience hyped for their set, and defintely threw me a curveball in what to expect. After the impromptu Dj set, the band launched into their main set featuring an explosion of blended music from their releases remixed with popluar songs. Most notable was their popular song “Marching Band” which features Kardinal Official (who was not present at the nights event), but lead vocalist Frank Kadillac and LeRue made up for it and still provided the audience with a memorable number. The band pulled songs from their body of work, including The Last of Us such as “Shadows” and also their brand new release To You. While LaRue and Kadillac provided soulful vocals, guitarist Matt Gats and drummer Adrian Morris were not to be ignored. Gats dominated his part of the stage, featuring head banging and incredbile guitarwork that was hard to ignore. With each breakdown he was able to amp up the crowd with his antics before jumping up and smashing into a guitar breakdown. The same energy was provided by Morris, who was given several minutes to impress the crowd with standing drum antics before smashing into the next song on their setlist. To give you an idea of how intense and energetic this band was, Morris got so into the set that he actually damaged a cymbal. While Neon Dreams had a strong body of work to draw from, but for their first time in Ottawa they made the smart decision to draw on popular songs to get the crowd into their set. This included an epic cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” with slight alterations to fit their EDM vibe.


All I can say about the Neon Dreams show was that it is not anything you would expect from a band featuring a drummer and guitarist. They defintely break the mould, in fact they smash that mould with their artistry and understanding of how to properly blend genres. They are the textbook defintion of transgressing musical boundaries and I highly reccommend that you check them out as soon as possible!

Adrienne Row-Smith
Adrienne is a photographer based in Ottawa, Canada and has been photographing local bands since she was in high school. Her passion to support her local scene, as well as the bands that come through Ottawa, is matched only by her devotion to philosophy and satirical writing. Instagram: AdrienneRSPhoto Twitter: AdrienneRSPhoto