Words by: Shain Shapiro :: Images by Lara Purvis
nero :: 01.12 & 01.13 :: Mavericks :: Ottawa, ON
In the world of reunions, band reunions are especially unique as they are made up of a family that shares no blood. A fanbase becomes a family through music initially. With certain bands, however, the music only plays one small factor in the grand scheme of things, as friendships develop next to the music, evolving into specific fan groups and touring partnerships, for example. nero is one such band. With nero, people fell in love not only with the music, but also with each other over the growth and decline of the band. The Ottawa, Canada trio (initially a five-piece) not only contributed to the community, but in many ways, they became the community. With nero, it was a gathering of friends just as much as it was a concert, regardless of where they played. nero symbolized the dedication and tenacity of Canada's small but staunchly proud jamband scene. Although the U.S. is constantly pumping in talent and Canada is too large to tour across and still make money, the growth of the jam scene under nero's leadership proved that dedication to music, community and friendship build success unilaterally.
Dave Lauzon - nero :: 01.12.07 :: Ottawa, ON
When nero packed it in after a 2004 > 2005 farewell New Year's Eve show, not only did a group of music lovers say goodbye to a band, they also said goodbye to an entire scene, as the jamband scene in Canada sputtered, and remains stagnant to this day. Plus, without nero to see consistently and age taking its toll, the community has moved on, grown up, got married, had kids and expanded their minds musically. Some moved away, including nero's bassist Chris Buote. All things considered, the scene had matured and was moving on to different pastures, one without nero or its once thriving social network.
Chris Buote - nero :: 01.12.07 :: Ottawa, ON
Yet, as nero blistered through two nights of rock heavy, instrumental expansiveness last week during a relatively impromptu reunion weekend, it felt as nothing had changed. The mirage was powerful, and each attendee gleefully bought into it. Much has changed in a year, but for two nights in frigid Ottawa, none of that mattered. Instead, a semblance of reunification, a feeling of collectiveness and a desire to return to the glory days of Can-Jam dominated. It was melancholic, often incomprehensible and sometimes confusing, but undoubtedly joyful, like a reunion should be. Plus, nero put on one hell of a show as if they had been secretly practicing all year, and the crowd, a hodgepodge of familiarity amidst a backdrop of noticeable change, lapped it up. Seeing friends was a treat; using nero as a conduit and soundtrack, was even sweeter.
After a short set from guitarist Dave Lauzon who now performs as a soloist, nero opened up the festivities in style with their most familiar number, "The 401 Theme." How fitting. While many nero originals swirl into one another via complex guitar melodies, distortion licks and funk heavy bass work, "The 401 Theme" is a solitary beast, a twenty-minute foray into metal, trance and acid-jazz that stands alone. One of the band's oldest and most popular numbers, the opening jam laid the scaffold down thick for the rest of the night, which like most nero shows, was a climactic, improvisational soiree that welded together the best of jazz, rock, metal, trance and pop. Furthermore, a surprising cover of the Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers" fooled everyone alongside standards "Tonto's Underwater Paradise," "Chocolate Monkey Machine" and "Breakline." Both sets flirted with heavier things, as drummer Jay McConnery, Lauzon and Buote milked every melody dry before feeding it to a thirsty audience.
Jay McConnery - nero :: 01.12.07 :: Ottawa, ON
The second night proved much of the same, the club packed with people turning the dance floor into one big communal lump of clay ready to be shaped and slopped together by nero's artistry. McConnery's new band, Elbeejay opened this time around, and after a brisk opening set, nero took up where they left off a night previous. Originals once again dominated the show, this time revolving around favourites "Darius," "Lemondust" and "Zedonk," as well as a cover of Pink Floyd's "Hey You," sung by the usually stage-shy McConnery. Once again, every melody was welcome, whether it was subdued or piercingly heavy, and after the final melody attacked the audience, each sweaty, swirling body demanded another ferocious ground assault.
Dave Lauzon - nero
01.12.07 :: Ottawa, ON
Looking back on the night, I wish I could better explain the emotion the engulfed Maverick's as the encore wound down, as the sublimity was thick enough to visualize, showcasing how much Canada still wants, cancel that, needs this band. nero was nothing out of their ordinary, and neither was the crowd. Too bad it was only a reunion, despite an entire community doing its best to deflect such probity throughout the festivities. During the set breaks and trips outside for a cigarette, stories of past tour dates intermingled with updates on the present. The amass of friends that used to gather frequently to see nero was left with one accelerated moment to rekindle, creating a maelstrom of emotion that, in retrospection, fed on the music. Each conversation was festive, but innately careful not to get too attached, as while nero made us feel everything was returning to the way it once was, it was only a reunion, a moment to reflect, get nostalgic and let loose, but resist getting attached to. Once again, nero was fantastic and the community lavished in the time sensitive celebration, reuniting a strong commonality that once was. But only for one weekend.
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