Crosss, Petra Glynt, Michael Rault and Kings Quest closed out MEGAPHONO‘s final show Thursday night at the Dominion Tavern in the Byward Market.
Kings Quest playing at the Dominion Tavern during MEGAPHONO in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
The night began with an Ottawa band whose name lends itself so very well to a video game, Kings Quest. The wonders of Kings Quest lie within their very diverse vocal contributions. The band’s primary vocalists are two females, but there are also two other male members who contribute vocals, all of them are so different from one another but they work in such harmony. They mostly played songs off their latest release Fox Island, including the ultra catchy and excellent “Alana.”
Michael Rault playing at the Dominion Tavern during MEGAPHONO in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
Kings Quests name is medieval but it was Michael Rault that took us back in time. The Toronto-based singer, guitarist and songwriter was quite the flashback. The best way I can describe it would be the sound of people jamming to 70s and 80s rock and blues with a hint of psych coming out of a neighbour’s garage, and you just need to go visit. The songs that had me hooked right away was “Too Bad So Sad” and “Nothing Means Nothing.” Then there was the super fun “I Wanna Love You,” which reminded me of The Beatles’ cute love songs with some really sweet “oooohhhs.”
Petra Glynt playing at the Dominion Tavern during MEGAPHONO in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
Next up was the show stealing Petra Glynt. She was a super energetic solo performer playing smashing drums with experimental and atmospheric sounds layered with looping vocals. She made amazing use of all pedals, knobs, drum machine and the floor tom at her disposal. Petra Glynt is a solo project out of Toronto of artist Alexandra Mackenzie and it blew me away, and I was clearly not alone by the complete silence and focus of the crowd at the Dominion. A song that truly stood out was the tribal influenced “OF THIS LAND.” It was a mesmerizing experience and one of the highlights of a festival that saw many really impressive performances.
Crosss playing at the Dominion Tavern during MEGAPHONO in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
Having the responsibility and honour of closing out MEGAPHONO was Crosss. This very heavy doom rock trio, often described as futuristic grunge, brought that rock sound the Dom is much more used to. The Montreal-based trio is led by multi-instrumentalist, and only remaining original member, Andrew March. March was playing his guitar upside down, the low E string was at bottom instead of at the top, something you certainly don’t see very often. Often overlooked are drummers but the drummer makes Crosss. He is so solid and driving, dictating the flow of the impressive wall of sound created by a three-piece. It’s a good thing the festival ended, as my neck needed some time to recover.
The final day of MEGAPHONO began with some interesting panel discussions and speed meetings, where many of us were surviving on coffee and water. Shortly after, the small afternoon concerts at Pressed and Raw Sugar Café provided us with a comfy and relaxing atmosphere to rest our nutritionally deprived and exhausted bodies.
I got to Raw Sugar as the first act, Kristine St-Pierre, was finishing off her set. The crowd listened intently as she played, and her voice went from delicate lows to powerful highs. St-Pierre was accompanied by Marion Arthur Kiss on cello (from the band Saturnfly) as well as Simon Poirier Lachance (from the band Mastik), which added more sonic depth to her compositions.
St-Pierre sang proficiently in both French and English, and it was really nice to see artists like her represent both languages at MEGAPHONO. Her songs were simple but loveable and easy to connect with. She ended with the songs “Lake Superior,” “La réfugié,” and “Break In The Sky,” and had made the whole venue a little warmer with smiles on that cold day. I should also mention that St-Pierre is expecting a new baby very soon – congrats to her!
There were artists playing simultaneously at Pressed, but I decided to stick around Raw Sugar to make sure I didn’t miss any more music. Next on the bill was Jill Zmud, a local singer-songwriter that recently released her album small matters of life and death in April of 2014. I wish we had heard of Zmud’s album when it came out because it has a very interesting story behind it, and it helps explain the album’s title. A while back Zmud found an old reel-to-reel tape in her parents’ basement, a recording that she had never heard before nor that she even knew existed. It turns out that the dusty old tape was a compilation of songs that her uncle Ed Clynton had written many years ago and gone unheard for 40 years, salvaged by the timelessness of analog technology.
Zmud never had the chance to meet her uncle Ed Clynton, but she instantly connected with him through his music. After some research, it turns out that her uncle was in a band called Witness, Inc. in the 1960s and 70s, that had had some radio success and were opening for Roy Orbison. After some time with the band, Zmud explained that he decided to leave the group and embark on a solo career in folk and country music. The demos that she found on those tapes were Ed Clynton originals, and a sample of which can be heard here.
Ed Clynton (courtesy of jillzmud.com)
Unfortunately, she never got the chance to meet Ed Clynton as he was killed in a car accident in Northern Ontario a few years before she was born. However, this incredible story illustrates the power of music to connect people, and that we all leave a legacy behind after we die in one way or another.
Zmud played various songs from her new album, and enchanted the crowd with her stories and experiences with the record. She had some backup singers and a guitarist to add even more layers to her music, and the songs translated incredibly well live. The harmonies were intricate and executed perfectly, adding some southern folk flare to the performance. Catriona Sturton also joined her for a song in the middle of the set, and their styles complimented each other really well. Sturton even broke out her main weapon of choice, the harmonica, and added some more texture to the song.
She played some covers of her uncle’s demos, reimagined in her own way. My favourite was “New Jersey Turnpike,” a beautiful song that Ed Clynton wrote circa 1973. She finished off her set with “Willow With Me?” which is a composition inspired by a dream she had about her father who passed away not long ago. She heard him speak to her, “Will you willow with me?” – admittedly a question that doesn’t make much sense. However, it was a very powerful dream, and she converted into a song with meaning once she was able to move past the grief of her loss.
Last up was the wonderful Catriona Sturton, who released her new album Bumble Bee in January. She is a multi-instrumentalist with a somewhat modest stage personality despite her music that resonates so powerfully. Sturton has a distinctly southern Mississippi influence in her music, and she seemed to come into her own and get more comfortable after a song or two. I loved her stage banter, as she had some quirky anecdotes and stories for us between songs. She talked about getting the best poutine ever from a place near Maitland and Carling (not exactly the most treasured neighbourhood in Ottawa), as well as the story behind her song “Wheel of Fortune” which clearly involved a love affair between Pat Sajack and Vanna White.
Catriona Sturton playing at Raw Sugar Cafe during MEGAPHONO in Ottawa, ON.
She also played a few of my favourites from Bumble Bee, including her rendition of “Black is the Colour” which diverts from the traditional americana folk song in both style and lyrics. My brother Nico and I played the original with our grandma on a recording some years back, and it’s a song that has a lot of meaning for me. Hearing Catriona make it her own blew me away, her haunting guitar and harmonica made it that much more intoxicating.
I had a hard time keeping my excitement in when Sturton played “Heavy Weather”, which for my money is one of the coolest songs to come out of Ottawa in a while. Actually, when she started playing this song, my brother Nico (who was visiting from London, ON, and unfamiliar with her music) was sitting in the corner and couldn’t quite see the stage. He asked, “Woah, how many people are on stage?” To his surprise, the answer was just one. Sturton did it all, creating a full and multi-layered sonic environment that is not easy to do as a solo act playing in a quiet space.
It was a delicate and piercing performance, and one that many of us in the crowd won’t soon forget.
The snow storm that hit Ottawa Wednesday night seemed appropriate as we drove out to the Diefenbunker, an underground artifact of the Cold War, on the outskirts of town for another night of MEGAPHONO. It also seemed appropriate that some of Ottawa’s best underground bands were literally gathering under the soil to show their stuff in this unbelievable space.
One is greeted with a comically large nuclear bomb upon entry into the bunker. Once past that, one must wander down a long and intimidating corridor, which leads to the stairs. We were then invited to head several floors underground. We had two options – head right for the cafeteria or left to the vault. My night would begin in the caf.
Theaternia & Cabaal with visuals by Hard Science performing in the Diefenbunker during MEGAPHONO in Carp, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
The dimly-lit room was the nourishing hub for a bunker that was ready and stocked at all times of its operation with enough fresh food and rations to feed 535 people for 30 days. On this night, it was the stage for some psychedelic music. Theaternia & Cabaal got the ball rolling with some synth-fuelled dance pop. They were accompanied by Hard Science who supplied a very psychedelic light show projector upon them. An excellent way to get the night going.
Nightshades performing in the Diefenbunker during MEGAPHONO in Carp, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
With the first act concluding, it was time to venture down the other end of the hall towards the vault. This vault was created to hold the gold reserves of the Bank of Canada. On this night it would host a series of garage and punk rock performances. Kicking it off at the vault was Ottawa’s three-piece garage rock group, Nightshades. The room was cold and dark but it didn’t seem to bother anyone, especially not Nightshades. Hell, the drummer was using a stack of buckets he found lying around as a drum seat. The group played a great set featuring tracks from their debut EP The Beauty of Dreaming, including “Broken Bag,” as well as playing a roaring rendition of “Nightshade Nightmare,” the song they recorded for the Centretown Recording Alliance’s Halloween Challenge. The only down side to the performance had nothing to do with the band, it had to do with the photographer running around taking one million flash photos during the entire set. Be sure to catch Nightshades at Showbox’s next Mugshots show on February 20th along with Bonnie Doon and No Aloha.
Heat performing in the Diefenbunker during MEGAPHONO in Carp, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
After Nightshades finished, we moved like a herd of cattle back to the cafeteria for Montreal’s Heat. The rock group has an old school 80s underground vibe to them with Lou Reed-esque vocals from the days of Velvet Underground and some hints of Jesus and Mary Chain. Needless to say they fit right with our location built in the 60s and functioning until the early 90s. Lead singer and guitarist, Susil Sharma, couldn’t resist cracking a few jokes based on the setting. He greated us by saying “Welcome to the Thunder Dome.” And later added “Let’s tear down the wall… am I right?” while looking at the Berlin Wall graffiti in the far corner of the room. The band’s sound had me captivated, it was back to basics but it was fresh at the same time. Check these guys out and take a trip back in time without a time machine.
U.S. Girls performing in the Diefenbunker during MEGAPHONO in Carp, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
Back to the vault for the one-woman band that is Meghan Remy, a.k.a. U.S. Girls. The name suggests a group, but this solo performer from Toronto does it all herself and can really capture a crowd’s attention. The songs are this really funky, sometimes weird, atmospheric pop-driven by a synth and drum machine. There was just something about her all alone in front of a crowd of people gathered in a dark, cold bank vault that just made the moment so special. Then she introduced a song by saying “This is a song about if you had a lot of sisters, not like me, and you got married and your husband had slept with all of them first.” Musically the song was reasonably upbeat and positive sounding until the chorus where it took a sharp turn as she sang, “so I’ll hang myself, hang myself from the family tree.” Powerful stuff.
Boyhood performing in the Diefenbunker during MEGAPHONO in Carp, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
As U.S. Girls finished she urged us to head to the cafeteria to watch Boyhood, like anyone would skip out on them. Boyhood is the experimental brain child of Caylie Runciman which has grown into a four-piece and a fan favourite in town. With the overhead lights turned off and only targeted lights shining on the band they kept the strange and dance vibe going. Caylie was a little weirded out by the space the crowd was giving her and the lighting: “You guys want to move closer to us? It feels weird and the lights are all harsh.” The crowd obliged immediately. The music of Boyhood lives in the fringe and in the darkness with Caylie’s haunting voice, heavy bass and even heavier synth elements. It’s interesting to hear the lo-fi versions of the songs on Boyhood’s LP When I’m Hungry translate into booming, penetrating songs live. Two moments during the set really stick out, how awesome “Cheddar” sounded and how she changed the lyrics in one of “Post Poc” for the occasion. She sang, “I don’t think I can stand this cold… war,” instead of simply “I don’t think I can stand this cold.”
Steve Adamyk Band performing in the Diefenbunker druing MEGAPHONO in Carp, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
Wrapping up the Diefenbunker Doom Trip was Steve Adamyk Band in the vault. Missing guitarist Davey Quesnel for this show, the three-piece blasted through a high energy set of power cord charged power-pop. This was the loudest and most rambunctious performance of the night as we crammed into the tight spot for the local boys. They played a great set chock full of high tempo songs with perfect singalongs, like “Never Wake Up,” “Not For Long,” and “Katacombs.” Adamyk may have played the most appropriate song of the night though, when they delivered “I Fought For the USA,” while playing in a Cold War bunker. They concluded with “Automatic” and some sad news. The band will not be performing again until Ottawa Explosion this summer. Too bad for all those who missed out!
Another local band coming to a stage near you this afternoon for the MEGAPHONO Festival is the Mehdi Cayenne Club, an intense folk rock Ottawa outfit.
Mehdi Hamdad has been playing music since he was a teenager and he’s been organizing and playing shows for over a decade now. The Mehdi Cayenne Club was formed in 2009, on the day Michael Jackson died — June 25. Mehdi is the songwriter in both French and English for all the songs, but completes his pieces with the help of his bandmates Olivier Fairfield and François Gravel.
“I bring all the songs (they grow on me like fungi), but they’re always enhanced by the composing and arranging skills of the others, who are all accomplished creators in their own right,” says Mehdi. “Songs are mostly about problem solving and, well, who doesn’t have problems?”
A problem he doesn’t have is choosing which language to write in, since it all just comes naturally. In a constant state of output, Mehdi puts every impulse and idea into his craft. Although he doesn’t award any particular importance to his bilinguism, he sees it as a means to an end.
“The apparent dichotomies of my identity are well exemplified by bilingualism,” he explains. “I do think that this ambiguity can foster more understanding between people and cultures. There must be a way out of us vs. them, red team vs. blue team mentalities, and I think bilingualism is perhaps a minor metaphor for developing a sense of being ‘us’ and ‘them.'”
On top of being a band member he performs solo shows, poetry nights, theatre pieces and even MCs events. His wide range of venues, from TEDxGatineau to Hearst High School, exemplify his ability to walk onto any stage and bring his brand of honest joie de vivre easily. He plays so many shows a year he doesn’t know how many.
His dance punk, or folky pop rock with a twist, make him an easy listen. His lyrics, however, are sharp, sometimes sad things. Being as openly emotional on his debut LUMINATA as on his sophomore release NA NA BOO BOO, we can expect nothing less from his third studio album, set to be released in May. The Medhi Cayenne Club is currently in studio with their new songs.
When asked what his favourite accomplishment would be, he had this to say: “There isn’t a specific event more than others… Generally I am grateful for the synergistic exchange that happens every time we sweat together, every time we sing together. I am grateful I can be honest on stage, in my songs – that’s all I have. Prizes and achievements are nice, but the feeling of being vulnerable and honest while going all out on stage… it’s what I’ll take to my grave.”
The Mehdi Cayenne Club will play today at 4 p.m. at Pressed Café with Jeremy Fisher and Amanda Rheaume as part of MEGAPHONO Festival. Check ’em out!
Day two of MEGAPHONO took me to Hintonburg to venue hop between the Elmdale Oyster House and The Record Center to see Jim Bryson, Her Harbour, Winchetser Warm and Jack Pine and the Fire.
Jack Pine and the Fire kicking things off at Elmdale Oyster House during MEGAPHONO in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
The afternoon began at the Elmdale Oyster House for some delicious seafood and Jack Pine and the Fire. I settled in at the bar, ordered some delicious curry mussels, and watched some great twangy country music with deep roots influences. The slide guitar and stand up bass accompanied Gareth Auden-Hole’s vocals and acoustic guitar just right. The songs covered a wide range of country topics and it felt so right considering we were sitting in what used to be a tavern. Songs like “Credit River” about drowning in debt, “Home” about going back home, and my favourite “Lost in New Orleans,” about consuming all of the things you probably shouldn’t, as well as being about love.
Winchester Warm were the soundtrack to my delicious meal at Elmdale Oyster House during MEGAPHONO in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
As I worked my way through my final mussels (I am salivating just thinking about how tasty they were) another local group, Winchester Warm, took to the stage. The four-piece kept the great vibe going with their indie-folk. Winchester Warm played a bunch of solid tracks of their latest album, Belle Attente, including the title track, “The Great Fall” and “Like an Anchor.” With the big overhead light above him, lead singer and guitarist Jonathan Pearce said, “This light is very inquisitive… I didn’t do it.” What he did do was play a wonderful soft set and delighted a standing room only Elmdale Oyster House.
Just before making my way to The Record Center for Jim Bryson, I had to have some oysters, because when in Rome… My oysters arrived promptly, some from British Colombia and some from Massachusetts. With them came a plethora of options to top them; fresh horseradish, lemon, three hot sauces, three Tabascos, cocktail sauce, a house sauce with shalots, salt, pepper and garlic I believe, as well as a vinegar shaker with scotch in it. Do they ever do it right at the Elmdale.
Jim Bryson playing to a packed Record Center during MEGAPHONO in Ottawa, ON.
With some oysters in me it was time to run across the street to The Record Center and catch Jim Bryson. It was my first time there since renovations and did they ever do a great job. There is now a wonderful space at the front of the store where they can set up a band on one side and a DJ on the other, a very cool addition to the city. Jim Bryson also likes the place, but had one little criticism: “It’s really nice to play here, I bought my receiver here, I love this place. My only complaint is the microphone smells like a dirty bum. I mean a nice smelling mic is just regular maintenance I don’t expect a record store to do that to their mics,” said Bryson. He concluded with “So it’s not me , it’s the microphone.” Bryson has been playing solo for 15 years now and doesn’t grace a stage in Ottawa often enough in my opinion, so it was such a pleasure to see him live. Topping off the simple joy of seeing him perform, was the fact that he played my favourite track, “Constellation,” off the album The Falcon Lake Incident, an album where he teamed up with The Weakerthans. Bryson concluded his set with “The Depression Dance” a song where he masterfully used pedals to loop his guitar over itself giving the impression that we were watching more than just one man and a guitar in a record shop.
Her Harbour playing the Elmdale Oyster House during MEGAPHONO in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
Racing back to the Elmdale I was able to catch the last three songs of local gem Her Harbour. If you still haven’t seen or listened to Her Harbour you are truly doing yourself an injustice. Gabrielle Giguere’s powerful haunting voice reminds me of the voice of a siren luring you into her music. The music is dark, eerie and very emotional as Giguere strums her auto-harp and her band members add in just the right complementary subtleties. I walked in just in time to hear a new song, “Details of the Seaside” followed by the always wonderful “Cold Half Moon.” My afternoon of music concluded with a lovely song, “Bridge of Sighs” that had hints of a dark and haunted western to it.
Ottawa is full of great artists, but not all of them stick around forever. One artist that has several years under his belt is Mike Dubue, the primary songwriter and composer in the Ottawa pop band HILOTRONS.
HILOTRONS have been around since 2001, with Dubue as the only member that has lasted through many different incarnations of the band’s lineup. The band’s original formation stayed together for approximately 10 years, and has been shuffled around a bit until it established its current five-piece arrangement in 2013.
The band has not only established themselves as one of Ottawa’s favourite indie pop acts over the years but garnered national recognition with cross-Canada radio play over CBC Radio, as well as being nominated for the Polaris Prize in 2008 for their record Happymatic. In the past, HILOTRONS has shared the stage with such acts as The Arcade Fire, The Unicorns, The Von Bondies, and The Constantines, and collaborated with artists like Michael Feuerstack, Jeremy Fisher and Jim Bryson, Geoffrey Pye (Yellow Jacket Avenger), and Julian Beillard (Wooden Stars).
HILOTRONS (photo: M for Montreal)
HILOTRONS cannot be described with few word, as their sound and influences are varied. As Dubue explains,
“I like a lot of experimental music, classical music, and on the other side of things I like anything from later 70’s dance/new wave to Miles Davis. I also really love the afrobeat influence on new wave, so things like Japan, or Remain In Light-era Talking Heads, Drums & Wires by XTC. That era of post-punk was very influential on me. But then again I’m a huge Escobel fan, and I love movie soundtracks, too.”
Happymatic was released in 2008 and received much critical acclaim. The sophomore album was 2013’s At Least There’s Commotion, which was a deeply personal and introspective album for Dubue.
After its release, Dubue spent a few years composing and performing film scores including Metropolis,Nosferatu, The Rail Rodder, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari , Back to God’s Country, The Bear, Boy and Dog, Carry on Sergeant!, Man from Glengarry, Tim’s Tiny Tooth, Wireless Telephony, Graphite Mining in Calabogie and Night of the Living Dead.
HILOTRONS is set to release a sixth album To Trip With Terpsichore (pron: tûrp-sĭk′ə-rē or terp-sick-ree) in February 2015 in digital format, and on vinyl two months later. Since Dubue is now working with the “new band,” he wanted to keep things as fresh as possible.
“We recorded it live off the floor in about a day and mixed it in about a week. It’s pretty short and that’s how we wanted it. It’s sort of like Black Market Clash where the A-side is like an EP and the B-side has three remixes. It’s raw, dirty, off the floor, and nothing polished.”
The video for “Real Game Changer,” which includes some pretty psychedelic visuals by Arturo Brisindi (Hard Science) below is actually the take they used on the album which you can hear later this month.
Unfortunately, I missed AkoufèN as the show at St. Alban’s Church with Last Ex, Evening Hymns and Scattered Clouds went a little late. Then we skated to House of TARG, you can read about that show here. On the plus side, I got some exercise on the beautiful Rideau Canal and made it in time to see for the ghastly local Ouija rockers The Yips.
The Yips chanelling their inner deamon during MEGAPHONO at House of TARG in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
With the fog machine set to overdrive, people gathered near the front of the stage to get ready for The Yips. The band opened up with “Repeater,” the first song off their latest release Air Loom. They played a couple of other older songs like the crowd favourite “Pointe Dume,” “Blood Meridian” and “Sadie,” but this night was all about new material. I’m pretty sure I heard two new songs and really liked some of the subtle differences from the band’s previous stuff. The latest edition that really struck me was “Go Go Gaya,” which had some really interesting guitar work with a little Spanish/latin flare. It was also great to see some rave ghosts out in the crowd – three to be exact.
Fet.Nat bringing their frenetic sound to MEGAPHONO at House of TARG in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
With a new day firmly started, it was time for the weird, the experimental, and the frenetic stylings of Fet.Nat. If you are someone that is into strange and unconventional musical styles, then Fet.Nat will really strike you in the right way. They opened the set with a blasting saxophone solo and worked their way towards the whole band joining into the organized chaos that is “Destrier Destroyer.” Led by the energetic JF No and including members of Last Ex/Timber Timbre and Scattered Clouds, Fet.Nat penetrated our collective consciousness until we were all plugged in, and made us rethink everything we thought we knew about music. A few songs in the energy was so infectious and radiant that the large MEGAPHONO banner hanging behind the band fell during the frenzy. Members of Fet.Nat didn’t even acknowledge the occurence, they just kept up the tempo and hit us with “Cross-Check (Anatomique Voyage)” off of their latest album Poule Mange Poule.
What a first night for a festival in its first year of being. Can’t wait to experience the rest of MEGAPHONO.
St. Alban’s Church hosted the first performances of the inaugural MEGAPHONO Festival last night and what a way to start! Getting things going was Hull’s experimental psych-rock group Scattered Clouds. On this night they were a duo (usually a three-piece) with one on synth, knobs and various other technologies out of my scope, the other on a guitar going through many different effect pedals and both contributing vocals it was quite a musical experience. On a night where Last Ex was playing, which features two members of Timber Timbre, it was very fitting to hear Philippe Charbonneau‘s deep voice on songs like “People Walk,” as it kind of reminded me of Timber Timbre’s lead vocals. It really worked well in the dimly-lit church.
Evening Hymns playing St. Alban’s Church during MEGAPHONO in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
“Welcome churchgoers,” said Jonas Bonnetta, lead singer, guitarist and mastermind of Evening Hymns from Mountain Grove, Ontario. “Get a little closer now, we are going to play some new songs.” And so they did. The folk-rock four-piece played several songs off their upcoming album Quiet Energy, due out “this summer-ish.” New tracks that really stuck out were “Evil Forces” and “House of Mirrors.” Bonnetta claims not to be a joker, but he certainly doesn’t struggle with banter between songs. His skills were called upon on this night as early during the set there were technical difficulties with the bass and patch chords. He entertained with a story about a dirty joke he heard from a drunk uncle of the bride at a wedding, but didn’t tell the joke as that would be too rude. He also mentioned that “not that you’ll have much sympathy for me but I threw my back out snowboarding behind a Ski-Doo and, well, I am quite sore.” When they got back to music, Evening Hymns later played the very moving and emotional song “You and Jake” which Bonnetta introduced by saying “This song is about my brother… it is always nice to play it in a place like this, and I want to dedicate it to Jon Bartlett.” The set was capped off with Bonnetta alone on stage performing a solo rendition of the title track off Evening Hymns incredible album Spectral Dusk.
Last Ex getting all experimental during MEGAPHONO at St. Alban’s Church in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
After a short turnover, Last Ex took to the stage and simply put, melted my brain. They play a really cool and out there instrumental music that blew me away. This was the coolest and most captivating instrumental performance I have seen since Explosions in the Sky. They were a three-piece, guitar, drums and keys, for most of the set but a violinist joined them on some songs and took it up another notch. The entire set had me in a trance of delight and constantly wondering where they would go next. Wonderful job, gang. With no microphones to speak into, drummer Olivier Fairfield addressed the crowd by speaking into the microphone of his left-hand tom. As they were about to launch into their final track, Fairfield said “Thank you, this is our last song and let’s all go to TARG after.” For a better understanding of Last Ex check out their video for “Girl Seizure.”
With all the music done it was time to hit the Rideau Canal, don our skates and head to House of TARG for more music. We started as a small group of three, but caught up with some other MEGAPHONIANS on their way and grouped up. It was a lovely intermission before The Yips and Fet.Nat tore it up at TARG.
Several brave music junkies making their way to House of TARG via the Rideau Canal during MEGAPHONE Festival in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
AkoufèN are a Franco-Ontarian alternative metal band with a melodic flare based in the Ottawa/Gatineau region.
The four-piece formed in northern Ontario in 2008 and has made quite a name for itself in the francophone rock world. Their first album Le sixième sens (The Sixth Sense) debuted at #3 in the francophone charts on iTunes. The album features a lot of heavy guitar and drums, several possibilities for sing-alongs and no shortage of opportunities to headbang.
The band’s name AkoufèN comes from the French word acouphène which translates as tinnitus, “the medical term for ‘hearing’ noises in your ears when there is no outside source of the sounds. The noises you hear can be soft or loud. They may sound like ringing, blowing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, humming, whistling, or sizzling.” Rather fitting for a band delivering rocking French music coming out of Ontario and often pushing the boundaries of what so many think of francophone music.
Since 2012 the band has played 47 shows at francophone high schools in an effort to showcase French-Canadian music and show students that French music can be cool. Demonstrating that you can be proud of music played in your first language is important to the band’s members. Akoufèn has also played some pretty important festivals and competitions, including le Festival international de la chanson de Granby, L’Omnium du Rock en Outaouais (semi-finalists) and Landmark Events Battle of the Band (3rd place).
You can check out AkoufèN during MEGAPHONO tonight at House of TARG when they share the stage with one of the strangest and most original bands I have ever witnessed, Fet.Nat and Ottawa’s ghostly ouija rockers The Yips. For more information, check here.