On a cold and snowy night in a strip mall in Ottawa’s suburban west end, there is a rock concert of-sorts taking place.
Every Thursday night at 9:30, The Dad Band plays live on Periscope.
It all happens at First Fret Music School, which is owned and operated by Dad Band guitarist and vocalist Adam Vrieling.
The small venue sits at the end of a dark hallway on the mall’s second floor, nestled beside a chiropractor’s office and a few other small businesses – all of whom have gone home for the night.
As show time looms, the other members of the band – bassist and vocalist Lucas Gibbons and percussionist and sometimes-kazoo player Ryan Hall – settle into a small room. Each member positions himself in front of the monitor displaying the lyrics for the songs they will be playing.
There are no original songs by the Dad Band at this point. The whole idea is that those who are watching can rhyme off requests that the band will play.
“It’s an excuse to get together and play on Thursday nights,” says Gibbons.
Gibbons and Vrieling used to be in a band together called Buckshot. The support for the Dad Band is far beyond anything they’re used to. “We’ll get about a couple thousand viewers a month,” says Gibbons.
The huge response is in stark contrast to the days of Buckshot. “There were a lot of times we played in front of like four people,” says Gibbons. “I’d be surprised if we had a thousand total viewers for all of our shows [back then],” Vrieling joked.
These three, along with a steady cast of other musicians, have been doing this for a few months now. It all started when they decided to play a show for Vrieling’s sister’s stag. Once the gig was over, they realized that playing was so much fun that they couldn’t just stop.
So Gibbons suggested that they broadcast their weekly jam sessions live on Periscope, and the results have been surprising.
“We get anywhere from 500-800 viewers per week,” says Gibbons. “It’s gotten out of control.”
The Dad Band has followers from far-flung locales like Brazil and Russia. “They love us in Russia,” Hall jokes.
But despite the suddenly high-profile gigs, the guys maintain that they do this just for fun, and don’t see it going anywhere bigger.
“It’s what Dad’s do. Dads need to get out of the house and we’ve found a conduit through which we can do that,” Vrieling says.
Follow along on Twitter: @thedadband | Instagram: @thedadband | Facebook: Dad Band