Student-led band Ashtray lights up debut gig

The band showcased its original music and shared hopes for future in the industry
Photo: Nathalia Lencioni
Darcy Gibbons, Oscar Ash, Ryan Hobbs and Matthew Benoliel (left to right) playing on stage at Irene's Pub and Restaurant on Feb. 19.

Ashtray lit up a gloomy Monday night, debuting a set of five original indie songs on Feb. 19 at Irene’s Pub and Restaurant in the Glebe, surrounded by a devoted crowd.

“Honestly, my favourite part was the clapping from the crowd,” said Oscar Ash, Ashtray’s vocalist. “The applause was really great.”

From the start of the first song, the Algonquin College student-led band had their audience captivated, receiving applause and encouraging shouts after each song came to an end.

The band, which received its name from its front man’s surname, is comprised of four members: Ash on vocals, Darcy Gibbons on guitar, Matthew Benoliel on bass and Ryan Hobbs on the drums.

“I think the use of acoustic guitar mixed with electric guitar sets us apart from other bands. You don’t see a lot of that,” said Ash. “I think the indie scene could use more acoustic guitar.”

“And we play all originals, we’re not a cover band,” Gibbons added. “We’re really well rehearsed, we have a real dedication to the indie music scene, and we really care about the music we put out.”

Ash, Gibbons, and Hobbs are students at Algonquin College, currently in their second semester of the music industry arts program, where they met and bonded over their shared passion for music, and started creating together.

Darcy Gibbons, Oscar Ash and Ryan Hobbs (left to right) performing at Irene's Pub and Restaurant on Feb. 19.
Darcy Gibbons, Oscar Ash and Ryan Hobbs (left to right) performing at Irene's Pub and Restaurant on Feb. 19. Photo credit: Nathalia Lencioni

Ash said the program taught him about the importance of promoting their music.

“Always push for opportunities and practise. The practice paid off tonight. I think it’s important to stay on that no matter what,” he said.

Benoliel said he was inspired to pursue music by Ash, who he’s played with for years prior to the forming of Ashtray.

“Seeing him [Ash] play guitar, he wanted me to get into bass and it went from there,” said Benoliel. “His style is also very unique. It’s very different from other live bands that I’ve heard and played with.”

All band members agreed that a goal for the future of the band is performing more often. Their debut show had previously been scheduled for the end of January but had to be postponed due to hazardous weather conditions.

“Playing more shows would be awesome,” said Hobbs. “We’d like to refine our set list, continue to play, and to be well-known in the scene. Come out and see Ashtray, wherever we’re playing, we put on a kick-ass show.”

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