Coombs-born Jakob Rehlinger reached a milestone last night.
The guitarist and his experimental rock group Moonwood played the North By Northeast (NXNE) festival in Toronto. They were invited to perform in the Smiling Buddha bar on June 17 by artist-run concert promoter Wavelength Music Arts Project.
“It’s a nice thing that Wavelength is doing,” said Rehlinger, who now lives in Toronto and works as a graphic designer by day.
The promoter booked the Smiling Buddha for five nights in order to showcase the city’s underground music. Yesterday Moonwood played alongside a handful of other bands on Rehlinger’s record label Arachnidiscs Recordings, which he described as “mostly weirdos making weird music.”
Moonwood, which started as a solo project when Rehlinger lived in Nanaimo, fits that description perfectly.
The group — which now also includes Jacqueline Noire on vox and synth, Matthew Fava on bass and Luca Capone on drums — plays “improvised, psychedelic space rock,” the guitarist said. While they use some basic structures, the musicians mostly just make up their songs as they go and focus on creating a mood as opposed to a melody.
“Sometimes it confuses people,” Rehlinger said. “It’s pretty experimental.”
As such, Jakob said Moonwood hasn’t gained much mainstream success.
“It’s very fringe stuff,” agreed his father Nick Rehlinger, who added that he and his wife Linda were “always amazed” by Jakob’s talent.
The lack of mainstream attention doesn’t worry the band members, however.
“(We play) because we have to. It’s like breathing,” said Jakob.
According to Nick, Jakob pretty much lived and breathed guitar once they purchased for him a cheap electric guitar with a distortion amp while he was young.
Moonwood is one of hundreds of bands set to play during NXNE, which runs from June 17-21. According to the festival’s website, the roster includes everyone from “hotly tipped buzz bands and soon-to-be-discovered gems” to international touring acts, and the shows are spread throughout Toronto. NXNE also features plenty of film, comedy and art.
In all, the website said NXNE draws over 350,000 attendees and generates approximately $50 million for Toronto.
The 2015 festival marks the NXNE’s 21st anniversary.
If you would like to learn more about Moonwood and their upcoming album Desert Ghost, you can visit moonwoodpsych.wordpress.com.