My neighbourhood is a pretty small little section of town - just a cluster of homes in the suburbs of Quyon. Not much happens around here; it's usually pretty quiet.
But we do have a claim to fame, and that would be the band In Safe Hands, featuring Randy Frobel on vocals and guitar, Troy Cluff on lead guitar, Tyler Coté on bass, and Troy Kilbride on drums. Two of the current members (and one ex-member) of the punk-rock band originate from the Stanton Road area, and as far as I know, band practices are still held at the Frobels' house just around the corner & up the road. Oh, and "band manager" (and rockstar-wannabe), Bucky Fleck, is also a resident of Stanton Road.
I still feel a bit nostalgic when I get the opportunity to hear the guys play. It doesn't seem like all that long ago I was paying fifty cents to get into Patti & Randy's garage to watch the guys do their dance routines to Backstreeet Boys songs. Wait, that's not being fair to the Troys. The only In Safe Hands members who ever partook in those performances were Randy & Tyler. But I do remember Randy's mom Doris warning me, "You know, someday these guys could be famous, and you can say you saw it all begin right here in this garage."
Alright, so they're still far from the big time, but I must admit, they've come a long way. The last show I went to, they were very much an amateur band playing to a very small crowd at the RA Hall in Shawville. Then, about two years ago, I was invited to sit on a few practices at the Frobels', and they were working on some new tunes for their upcoming album. Since then, that album has come to fruition (and it's a professional, unique, and thoroughly enjoyable 5-song compilation of original In Safe Hands material), and the guys have continued to play shows in the Ottawa area. Friday night's Halloween extravaganza featured three other bands, with In Safe Hands as the headliners, and all proceeds going towards getting In Safe Hands back in the studio to record a new album for their growing legion of fans.
I arrived on the scene at the Lion's Hall shortly after 8 pm, narrowly missing the opening set from Harmonic Distortion, a band based out of Shawville, who give credit to In Safe Hands for giving them the inspiration to form their group and helping them get gigs. Then, a new band called Hopeside took the stage, and they were decidedly pretty bad. However, as Randy explained to me later on, they were once an up-start band that needed a few breaks, and there were bands who gave them a stage to gain experience and work out their kinks, which is exactly what the kids in Hopeside need right now, so kudos to the guys for allowing them to do so. And they did do a wretched cover of Hinder's "Lips of an Angel", and although it thoroughly sucked, at least I could sing along to a song I knew. (That's a rarity for me at one of these shows. Would you believe I'm not much of a punk fan? I like Fallout Boy and Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World. That's about as punk as I get.)
The next band to take the stage was a group called Lights Over Arkham (I think. I prefer to call them the Knights of Columbus, 'cause it's easier to remember). There were a few handsome boys in this band, once I looked past the punk attire and weird hair-do's. To be fair, they very much blended in with the crowd. I was the one sticking out like a sore thumb. Aside from a few parents, I was likely the oldest person there, and I just don't own any clothes suitable for blending in at an In Safe Hands show. Nevertheless, these boys were kinda cute. And their showmanship was excellent. Their banter between songs was hilarious, as they encouraged the young crowd to get their butts to the back to buy In Safe Hands merch and help get the boys back in the studio. And then one of the guys said, "But if you don't like their shirts, and you don't like their songs, just hand them fistfuls of cash, okay?" I wasn't a huge fan of the few songs they played, but they seemed like genuine guys with good hearts. Plus, I think the lead singer (who looked like Chris O'Donnell with bushy hair) was making eye contact with me. That set my heart a-flutter.
And then, it was finally time for the long-awaited set from In Safe Hands. In the spirit of Halloween, the boys had dressed as an '80's hairband, donning big wigs, bandanas, tight jeans & vests. Tyler wins the big prize for most daring costume - aside from his spiky black wig, he managed to wriggle into a pair of skin-tight leather pants and he went bare-chested beneath a shiny black leather jacket. For those of you who remember that I had a crush on Tyler not all that long ago...yes, this costume did delight me.
Thanks to having my copy of their CD "And the Memories Last Forever" in regular rotation in the Rav, I was able to sing along to a few of their songs, including "For Everything You'd Say" and "The Last Song". It was weird, because I was there to witness those songs being born a few years ago at their practices at Frobels'. Now those songs are staples at their live shows, with many of the kids in the crowd singing every word. I was also excited to hear a few of the new tracks that they're going to have on their new album. Quite appropriate for their wardrobe selections, they closed out their set with a high-energy, crowd-pleasing cover of Motley Crue's "Kickstart Your Heart". (And it was great to see the guys of the Knights of Columbus standing on the sidelines near the front, leading the crowd in the over-the-head-clapping thing).
I may be a bit biased, but of all the bands I heard play, In Safe Hands were definitely the most polished and professional, and they have a radio-friendly sound that really resonates. They're not quite mainstream, but I don't think they want to be. That being said, I can see why they've gained respect on the local music scene, and while they may never be a huge hit, I think they'll only garner more popularity with their upcoming disc and more shows in the Ottawa area.
I also truly admire the fact that this show was an all-ages alcohol-free event. It allowed many younger kids to attend - including my little neighbours Brittany & Cowan - and gave them something exciting to do on a Friday night. In Quyon, there's not a whole lot of excitement for the kids who are too young to get into Gavan's (and even then, calling it "excitement" is a bit of a stretch). Many of the kids came in costume, and the hall was decorated for Halloween, which added to the atmosphere. I was one of the lucky winners of a bucket of candy, and I also coughed up $15 for one of the new In Safe Hands t-shirts. Overall, I definitely had a good time & I was really glad I went.
Check 'em out on-line: www.myspace.com/insafehands