From shaking lakes to rocking rooms, Yellowknife’s music scene emerged loudly at the Elks Lodge on Saturday, with performances by Loren McGinnis, Brenden MacIntosh, Parts, and, the headliners of the hard rock event, Gnarwhal.

Gnarwhal hosted ‘Emerging Loudly’ as a way to bring the community together and showcase their song-writing talents as the group had been “jamming and rehearsing” since the pandemic started.

“It’s great,” said Benji Straker, Gnarwhal’s guitarist. “It’s exciting to be able to finally play for people some songs we wrote.”

Benji Straker on guitar, left, Mark Kilbride on vocals, and Jeremy Straker on bass perform as Gnarwhal at the Elks Lodge on Saturday, April 23. Ethan Butterfield/NNSL photoEthan Butterfield/NNSL photo

Gnarwhal formed during fall 2020 after Benji, vocalist Mark Kilbride and bassist Jeremy Straker began playing.

Though the band went through a couple of lineup changes from 2020 to 2021, the three remained consistent over this period until they would find their drummer in Layne Rybchinski last summer.

Layne Rybchinski plays drums for Gnarwhal. The band performed both originals and covers at the Elks Lodge on Saturday night. Ethan Butterfield/NNSL photo

The group chose the name Gnarwhal as a means of poking a bit of the fun at the “northness” of the city — trying to come up with “the most Yellowknife name ever.”

“It kind of stemmed from just making light of, kind of Northern-themed names, not just band names,” Benji said.

The group’s sound, as Benji describes it, isn’t the easiest to pin down, given that the band a “mishmash of the influences of all the members.”

“I’d say the most generic would be hard rock band,” he said, in regards to the group’s style. “There’s influences of stoner rock, punk rock, a little bit of metal in there. Our drummer’s roots are kind of in like a fast kind of skate punk stuff. So yeah, it’s a bit of a bit of everything, kind of mishmashed together.”

Yellowknife-based Gnarwhal performs live at the Elks Lodge on Saturday, April 23. The band will be heading into studio next month to record their first album, which will be released later this year. Ethan Butterfield/NNSL photo

They officially released their first single, The Outlier, on Feb. 11, having originally recorded in December 2021.

“That’s our first single, just kind of getting a taste for recording,” said Benji. “We’ve been writing music for the last year and will actually be going into the studio exactly a month from now to record an album.”

The release date will be announced later in 2022. However, one or two more singles are expected to come out before the album’s release.

Gnarwhal has compiled nine tracks so far.

“We wouldn’t mind maybe writing one or two more,” Benji said. “(It) all depends on how much we think they’re ready to go.”

Gnarwhal is set to play at Folk on the Rocks this summer, and is hoping to put on one more live show before then. However, Benji doesn’t want to “over saturate” themselves, and is looking for a good balance.

“You kind of want people to be excited to come out instead of playing every other week,” he said. “So we’re kind of talking about, maybe, something again (in) early June. It’d be nice to get another live show under our belt before Folk on the Rocks, just to kind of get a little bit more stage ready for that.”

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