Photo By: Justin Friskie

Niagara-based band Wild Side are headlining at the Niagara Artists Centre (NAC) this Saturday, Sept. 25, where they’re bound to create fireworks with their spectacular take on hardcore. 

The band released an EP back in 2014 and have been going strong ever since, playing both in their local Niagara area and across Ontario. The group’s last full-length project, 2019’s Who the Hell is Wild Side?, which was released on Triple B Records, presented a fusion of punk sensibility with chugging riffs and guitar solos that could be found on a thrash metal record. 

The ambition of the record shines through in each track, with the band seamlessly combining different styles of rock. The fourth track on the record, “On and On,” is a clear standout. It’s a blitzkrieg of fast-paced drumming and pessimistic lyrics on the painful predictability of day-to-day life. The closing track, “Past, Present, Future” is a treat of snarling lyrics, varied tempos, and epic power-chords. 

While reflecting on the two years since their last album, vocalist Brandon Macfarlane hints at what to expect on the next record. 

“The next record we do will be more magic, it’s going to have everything you could ever dream of. No one’s done anything like it before and no one will do anything like it after,” said Macfarlane. “Everything is always molding, it’s always changing.” 

The band features a talented group; the prodigious Shane Tyrer on the drums, both Emmet Morris and Drew Stark on guitar, providing their signature seering solos and rapid-paced riffs, Matt Caldwell keeping it grounded on bass, and Brandon Macfarlane as the lead vocalist and frontman of the group. 

The members noted how the harcore scene in Niagara has dwindled in the last few decades, with shows mainly happening in Toronto now, something the band attributes to the “death of the guitar” and the rise of electronic music in the 2000s. 

“I think dubstep came out and a lot of people migrated towards creating electronic music. You can do it independently, there’s a lot of freedom in it that way. You don’t see new rock bands getting signed, it’s more new pop groups. Although, guitar music may come back at some point,” said Tyrer. 

Though guitar music has lost its seat on the throne in the last few decades, the band remains confident in what they do and the message behind it. 

“Wild Side’s gonna bring it back,” said Macfarlane in response to Tyrer’s comment. 

The band is aware that being a hardcore outfit comes with certain generalisations, such as being non-conformist, juvenile, and so on. However, punk has much of its roots in progressivism and its transgressive side has historically been in pursuit of social equality, whether it was The Dead Kennedys’ icy irony against hypocritical liberal values during the Vietnam War or the Clash’s criticisms of social security nets falling in London under the policies of Margaret Thatcher. Wild Side, though not explicitly political, are aware of the underlying message of connection in their music.

“We want equality and rights for everybody,” said Macfarlane. 

An admirable message from the band, as they look to keep their ethos of “Peace, Love, and Wild Side” alive and well in the Ontario underground scene. 

Wild Side will be playing at the Niagara Arts Centre on 354 St. Paul Street this coming Saturday, Sept. 25, alongside The Fact. Doors open at 7pm and tickets are $10 or pay what you can.