On Thursday night, crowds escaped the damp, rainy Ottawa streets and piled into a dimly lit Bronson Centre to witness an evening of ambient, atmospheric music. Headliner Timber Timbre visited Ottawa for the fourth time in 6 years along with support from Ottawa’s own Boyhood Scattered Clouds.
Scattered Clouds took to the stage first, rising out of an ascending red fog. Performing as a 2-piece band with Jamie Kronick on drums and Philippe Charbonneau on guitar, keyboard, and vocals, this band was the most surprising act of the night. In terms of style, Scattered Clouds describe themselves as “dark, experimental, and post apocalyptic.” These characteristics could not be more fitting. Beginning their set with a heavy presence of baritone guitar and an emphasis on drums driving the synths, the band achieved a sound that could easily be equated to a modern day embodiment of a Joy Division b-side album, with an “Ian Curtis- esque” vocal tone. The second half of the set however, transitioned into an emphasis on synth and a precision in instrumentation. Creating an atmospheric 80’s dance vibe, the band achieved a type of lo-kfi sound that left the audience in a state of euphoria. Waking from this set with the harsh Bronson Centre lighting was like waking out of a heavy, romantic dream.
When the lights dimmed again, our good pals Boyhood took to the stage. Clad in flared pants and turtlenecks, Boyhood did not fail to deliver their staple moody, noisy sound. As always Caylie Runciman delivered raw and airy vocals that harmonized beautifully with her band, and provided an emotional and unpolished set completed with songs that morphed and melted into one another. Giving us a taste of what is to be expected from the upcoming album Bad Mantras, which will be the bands first album since 2012, the set featured the bands catchy “Drivin’” and “He Don’t.” Beginning with keyboard, Caylie swapped over to guitar midway through the set where she went to town in an emotional and raw guitar solo. It’s easy to get lost in a Boyhood set, and this was no exception.
Last but not least, Timber Timbre finished the night in almost total darkness, with only subtle lighting sweeping the stage. A glass of liquor sat idled on an amp to the right, Taylor Kirk began playing what seemed like it would be the entirety of his most recent work, Sincerely Future Pollution. However four songs in, the set took a detour towards an intermingling of a huge sample of his work, ranging from his self titled back in 2009 to his most recent. Detouring the set with Hot Dreams, the band’s instrumentation, and deep, sultry vocals, the song was delivered with a raw, sensual and emotional demeanour.
This specific Timber Timbre performance was unlike many others. His previous shows in Ottawa, which included a performance in Ottawa’s first Baptist Church in 2011, a set at Folk Fest in 2012, where he performed alone with a kick drum, and even his set at Jazz Fest in 2015, stuck pretty tightly to the delivery of the songs on the album. However, this set tended to use the style in the albums as backdrops for experimentation and improvisation with melody and pace during the performance, providing unequivocal authenticity. Most notable in this performance was the “Curtains?!” jam session that lengthened the song by about two extra minutes with intense instrumentation. The night ended with a 3-part encore beginning with “Grand Canyon,” that delivered an expressive and theatrical but emotive and raw finale.
This show captured a unique energy that seems to have been strengthened by the uniqueness of all the bands but also the ways in which they played off of one another. They each brought an atmospheric sound and seamless instrumentation, as well as a hard punch in the heartstrings with their raw vocals, lyrical movements, and honest and authentic delivery. The perfect ambiance to fit the creepy environment that is the Bronson Centre on a rainy evening, this show was not one to miss.
Back in May, we celebrated our five-year anniversary with a couple of shows at The Record Centre. That was a whole lot of fun, but we’re not quite done yet. Because why stop there?
Over the past five years we’ve had the opportunity to meet countless musicians in Ottawa, go to hundreds of shows, and really dig deep into the music landscape here. These artists continue to impress us, inspire us, and keep us doing what we do. It’s been our mission and raison d’être to support these musicians through coverage of new album releases, interviews, live reviews, and much more.
We’ve put together a compilation called Five Years – Ottawa 2012-2017 which contains music that has impacted us since Showbox started in 2012. This span of five years, in our mind, was a crucial period in the Ottawa music scene. More DIY musicians than ever before came out of the woodwork and made albums, and many were released independently without labels. Some music was underground, some wasn’t.
Different types of music pervaded throughout this period, demonstrating Ottawa’s potential hub in the Canadian landscape. Our hope is that this compilation will act as a snapshot of a strong and robust local music scene in Ottawa between 2012-2017, and allow folks to have a view into the music that came out during this period. It goes between garage, punk, hip hop, folk, and
While we could have double or tripled the size of this compilation with all the incredible artists out there, we kept it modest and capped it at 51. So while this list is encompassing, it’s certainly not meant to be comprehensive by any stretch. Please enjoy a free stream and download of the Five Years – Ottawa 2012-2017 compilation below.
A huge thank you to all the artists who contribute their music to this compilation, and to Pascale Arpin for designing such a good album cover. Enjoy!
The compilation is PWYC, and any proceeds will be donated to Girls+ Rock Ottawa in memory of Jean Sebastien Belleau. A special fund in his name has been established for the maintenance, repair and preservation of their growing instrument library, made in the spirit of honouring JS’ much deserved legacy as a passionate supporter of the Ottawa music scene.
This year’s edition of Arboretum Festival was something special. Each year the organizers find new ways to captivate audiences and provide the ultimate community-oriented experience. Whether on Albert Island surrounded by the humbling rapids of the Ottawa River, or bringing Sloan and their ravenous following under one tent, Arboretum Festival has given us music fans some memorable moments over the years.
The organizers tried something completely different this year, and it was unlike any other festival most of us had ever been to before. First of all, the location moved once again. The wonderful people at Rideau Pines Farm welcomed the idea of hosting Arboretum on-site with open arms and were tremendously accommodating. Just twenty minutes outside of Ottawa in North Gower, ON, Rideau Pines Farm proved to be a near-perfect choice as a site.
While Ottawa prides itself on being a hub for music festivals of all kinds—large or small—one might get the sense that there are too many festivals trying to do the same thing. Well, that wasn’t the case with Arboretum Festival,
Art installations, neat lighting, and multiple stages in interesting locations made country folks out of us city dwellers for a couple nights. Although the Pond Stage got washed out with mud, the Bang Bang Barn (yes, in an actual barn) and Forest Stages filled that void nicely. There were even a few secret shows by Her Harbour and Toronto’s Giant Hand in the hang out area behind the food truck, both of which were intimate and set appropriately under the shade of umbrellas and trees for all to experience. People picked fruits and veggies, stoked their campfires, and soaked in the breathtaking sunset on the horizon over the fields.
They also scaled back the lineup and food options. Having a single food truck with rotating vendors kept things simple, and on Saturday night I had the opportunity to gorge myself with a Pork & Octopus hot dog from two six ate and two portions of delicious perogies from House of TARG. I’m a big guy, ok? Oh yeah, and the farm’s corn was the best I’ve had in years. While the food was top notch, one improvement would be for them to have more food options or at least one more truck. Many of us got caught watching TOPS and Deerhoof in line waiting (albeit with a great view) as the prep couldn’t quite keep up with demand. Props to the workers for handling the pressure well, it was worth the wait.
Beyond The Pale was the local beer sponsor, and I couldn’t get enough of the Pink Fuzz. While beer prices were a little higher than years passed ($7/$8 for a tall can), those who enjoy delicious cold craft beer certainly get what they pay for. It might have been nice to have a few options that weren’t as hoppy for those who enjoy a lighter ale, but most people seemed to keep coming back for more.
The lineup featured some incredible musicians, too. A transcendental and unforgettable performance by NYC’s Le1f was a highlight of the entire weekend. Toronto’s Yamantaka//Sonic Titan cranked up the energy and dawned on the stage with typical face paint, electrifying audience members for the entire set. Cedric Noel and Gianna Lauren were backed by some members of Pony Girl at the Forest Stage, and blew minds as folks arrived off the shuttle buses. Boyhood took the barn by storm by playing a rare and powerful set which included new songs never before heard. Deerhoof lived up to their legend, playing a jaw-dropping headlining set which featured incendiary guitar parts and complex arrangements across the board. These are just some of the sets that stood out—each brought something exceptional to the experience as a whole.
All in all, this was the Arboretum which organizers had envisioned from the start, and that fans had been craving. This quaint, yet exciting gathering of individuals felt good, really good. Let’s do it again.
Check out our photographer Els Durnford’s gallery from both nights below.
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been five years since the first Arboretum Festival went down at Arts Court. The first edition that took place back in the summer of 2012 amazed us all, and featured artists such as Cadence Weapon, Jokers of the Scene, Ohbijou, and local powerhouses Steve Adamyk Band, Crusades, Boyhood, Bondar, and more. Since then, Arboretum has grown and featured artists such as Sloan, Constantines, Austra, Mykki Blanco, U.S. Girls, Tim Hecker, just to name a few. However, the festival is scaling back the lineup this year and focusing on the experience as a whole.
Creative Director Rolf Klausener and Managing Director Stefanie Power have always envisioned Arboretum Festival actually keeping true to its name – having it take place in the wilderness. The original conception will become reality August 18-20, 2017, as this marks “year six in the sticks” and will be the first time the festival moves outside city limits and into the countryside. It will happen at Rideau Pines Farms in North Gower about 25 minutes from downtown Ottawa. While on-site accommodations won’t be an option for attendees this time around, the organizers have made it clear that shuttle transportation will be made available for attendees living in Ottawa.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled about Rideau Pines Farms” says Power. “Hosting the festival on a rural site, close to downtown, has always been our dream. We love the idea of escaping your own city, but being surrounded by familiar faces. This smaller, more intimate setting is likely be the closer to our original vision for the festival when we started in 2012.”
“Our first meeting with Rideau Pines was one of mutual admiration and excitement. We’ve known their head farmer Matt ‘Spicoli’ Vandenberg since he headed our corn roast at our 2013 edition behind Arts Court. He’s ebullient, charming, and deeply passionate about his work, as are all the Vandenbergs. The farm is a family run business as is ARB, really.”
The 2017 lineup includes Deerhoof, Le1f, TOPS, DIANA, Cadence Weapon, Un Blonde, L.A. Foster, as well as local powerhouses Claude Munson, Future States, Isaac Vallentin, Boyhood, Gianna Lauren, and FEELS DJs. More will be announced in the coming months, but this is a strong start.
“We made a conscious decision to create a really tight line-up of friends and dream shows,” says Klausener. “LE1F (NYC queer rap trailblazer) has been a dream booking for a while, and we’re expecting his headlining show to be a ridiculous party. We’ve been mega-fans of Deerhoof (Oakland art-punk legends) since their 2003 album ‘Apple O’, and are basically an incendiary case study on lifelong, uncompromising artistic expression. TO/Edmonton hip hop icon Cadence Weapon and electro-pop friends DIANA come back, and represent past artists we really admire as both creators and leaders in their own communities.”
Even more, the organizers have announced that there will be a hand-built stage, swimming pond, forest dance parties, intimate barn shows, all-night cinema, vast fields of pick-your-own fruit and vegetables, concerts in the fields, local cooks, farm-to-table food, communal meals, and plenty of room for the kids to run around.
“The main stage area is an intimate clearing, stockaded by tall evergreen, featuring a sweet hand-built wooden stage,” explains Power. “Beyond the main site are vast fields of fruit and vegetables, with 200+ varieties. Festival-goers will be able to buy pick-your-own baskets from the farm store, and pick their own fresh food all weekend long. It’ll also supply the hot meals prepared by our restaurant partners. Beyond the fields is a small red-clay pond, beside which smaller solo-ish acts and late-night DJ’s will play. And then there’s a gorgeous barn with a back slatted wall that let’s the light – perfect for late afternoon sets.”
Arboretum Festival has always been more than just a music festival. The organizers have made a point to incorporate many names in Ottawa’s food and cooking community, affording attendees the opportunity to try out food from spots in town they might not otherwise visit. Being on a farm, the festival is truly embracing a farm-to-table approach this time around.
“The fact that Rideau Pines supplies so many of the great cooks and restaurants we’ve worked with in the past isn’t lost on us,” Klausener explains. “I don’t think I know of any music festival where you can literally pull meals out of the ground. I remember when I was five, eating my first carrot pulled fresh from a neighbour’s farm in the Laurentiens, and my taste buds exploding. It’s a chance for us to really give the city a fun way to connect with the wild abundance that surrounds Ottawa.”
While Arboretum takes steps towards a new experience for festival-goers, it stays true to its core values – staying a strong supporter of Ottawa’s music scene and local businesses, as well as working hard to represent marginalized communities through diverse and boundary-less programming.
Full weekend passes are available online now for $75, and includes “Pizza Bus” transportation to-and-from the festival or a parking pass. Day passes are not yet on sale, but keep your ears open for more announcements soon.
Caylie Runciman a.k.a Boyhood has released a new video for “Drivin’,” the first single off her upcoming album Bad Mantras.
Bad Mantras will be the first full length by Boyhood since 2012’s acclaimed album When I’m Hungry. While the details of the new album are not yet known, “Drivin'” is a good snippet for those of us frothing at the mouth for more.
The majority of the video is set – you guessed it – in a car. Runciman cruises through icy streets of Hull on a cold Canadian winter’s night. The dreary, black and white shots are telling of the solitude that many of us feel during the long winters in the Great White North. Alone in her car, she sings and she cruises. The destination is unknown.
“Drivin'” was filmed by Ottawa videographer Travis Boisvenue, who has worked with Boyhood in the past, and has also shot music videos for The Yips, Bondar, The Acorn, Pregnancy Scares, Alaskan, and Steve Adamyk Band.
“The video is something Travis and I threw together pretty quickly, as is usually the case when we work together. I drove in to grab him and we headed to Hull in the cold,” explains Runciman.
The track has a classic feel to it, and her effortless vocals flutter melodically throughout the whole song. The distinctive heavy bass that we have come to love in Boyhood songs is the backbone, a gritty pillar for us to groove with. As it carries on, the track grows in intensity with more guitars and keys offering a heavy foot to put that pedal to the floor. Clocking in at just over 3 minutes, the song fades out just as a car would fade into the distance as it drives away.
“The song is fun and pretty positive in comparison to the rest of the album, which focuses mostly on the dark place I was in this past year,” says Runciman. “Drivin’ was written about a month ago and is more a testament to where I’m at now. The second single will be out soon! Just getting to work on the video. I can’t wait to release the album.”
With much anticipation, we wait for more material from Bad Mantras to be released over the coming months. Watch the video for “Drivin'” below.
I arrived just as Everett was starting their set. Co-pilots Elsa and Fraser comprised a different lineup from last time I saw them play, at Ottawa Explosion Weekend last year; where I think the band played as a 4-piece. Their sounds has changed considerably as well, filing things down to a slow-burning, atmospheric kind of droning grunge sound. Appearing cool as a cucumber, despite the past week’s controversy over the implications of the Queers’ show her petition to have the show cancelled (which it was, then soonafter was back on again), Elsa gave a shout out to her friends in Babely Shades, mentioning that things had been difficult for them in dealing with the backlash of harassment they are facing post-petition. She led the crowd in a rowsing chant of “Queer is beautiful!” and Everett played their last few songs. I enjoyed the set and I’m stoked for this band to record because they are preparing to soon (or so I’ve been told…).
The other bands were great too, and I’ll get to them in a moment. But first, I want to mention that right after Everett finished (in the seconds between when the band stopped and the house music came up), I heard someone yell from the back of the bar “At least The Queers are good!”. I looked back just in time to see the guy finishing the sentence then quickly turning back to whoever he was talking to, totally hiding from all the heads turning. Elsa fired back on the mic with “Get the fuck out.”
I don’t know if she found out who it was, and I don’t know this guy personally, but I recognize him from many other nights at The Dom, and he was in Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter (a 2001 Ottawa-made film, whose title is pretty self-explanatory). That heckle sounded to me like: “That sucked, and you suck.” Was he trying to say that she and her work are not welcome here? What did he mean by that? And what impact does this have on Elsa’s safety and that of her band and her collective? Or anyone else speaking out about marginalization and fighting for equality in our communities?
One thing I took away from the Making Safer Spaces panel talk (which was earlier this same day) was that changes have to come from all angles; not just from activists, artists and promoters in marginalized groups, but from everyone. Especially white people in positions of power or authority in the scene and the greater community. Part of what was discussed at the panel was Safe Space training for venue staff, as well as festival volunteers and other people working in nightlife and service industries. Of course, said staff would need to be open to it and genuinely supportive of the movement, and somehow I’m not sure this this heckler is quite there, but I try to think people like that are the exception and not the rule.
Something else discussed in the panel was the fact that businesses will always have fire exit signs, and warn patrons of wet floors, and that kind of thing. Why? For the safety of the people inside their establishments. So, then, it should follow that corresponding proactive measures ought to be developed and implemented to ensure their patrons’ safety from sexual violence and other forms of harassment and marginalization. Such programs could take example from the The Queer Mafia’s Safe(r) Spaces Policy, and they would be key components in spreading awareness of these issues and learning how to be proactive and constructive about them.
But this guy… just perpetuating the threatening, malign-infested attitude towards this marginalized group speaking out about their reality. Not cool.
Well, the show must go on, and up next was Boyhood. I’d only ever seen Boyhood as a solo performance where singer Caylie Runciman worked with a synth and few effects pedals (last year Boyhood played a Megaphono set in the Deifenbunker). But this was a 4-piece band, and a bigger sound than I’d heard from Boyhood before. It was kinda dark and dancy, melodic and a little manic in how they went from brighter sounding keys and effects to some creepier organ sounds. The creepy parts reminded me of the cheesy organ you’d hear on tapes or CD’s of Halloween Music, but they totally fit here and sounded rad.
Fet.Nat took a few minutes to get going, amidst a momentarily missing drummer and some difficulties with the PA, but they dove headlong into their set and their frenetic brand of spaz-jazz had people moving in no time. From a crowd-pleasing cowbell, to some impressive circular-breathing on a tiny soprano saxophone, this band is just on point. The sheer size of this sax would’ve been hilarious if this guy wasn’t wailing on it the way he was. A couple of times, he would just bust out these insane solos to transition between songs, while the guitarist and drummer held solid eye contact to stay in sync. This was my first time seeing them, and I’m not likely to miss them again.
Duchess Says closed the night and boy, did they deliver. I’d heard about this band being somewhat of a collective, rotating lineup over the years, and that the singer is also in Pypy. You should follow that link, seriously, Pypy are way cool. DS were awesome too! The singer’s energy was infectious and intense, slinking and dancing nearly the whole time. She struck the air, highlighting the accents and rhythms behind her, and just getting visibly stoked. Not just excitement, but as if she was actually a fire being stoked and growing more intense and captivating. Man, 80’s synths and dirty fuzz-bass guitar with a disco drum beat behind it is just irresistible. She even hopped offstage a couple of times to bounce around the crowd and get things going. During an instrumental breakdown, she got a large portion of the crowd to sit down on the floor as she pulled out a huge roll of plastic and proceeded to have audience members unroll it above themselves, all the way across the room. People started playing parachute with it (reminiscent of some elementary school games), but once the band kicked back in, and everyone jumped up dancing with the plastic catching the lights in every direction. It was just the best. Moments like that give me a chill sometimes, and this made the set for me.
In its second year running, MEGAPHONO has upped the ante and significantly expanded its scope and size. The festival, which takes place February 2–5, 2016, brings industry professionals to Ottawa and gives local artists and delegates the rare opportunity to connect with those who are working in the music business.
Last year saw the release of the Connecting Ottawa Music report on the city’s status in the music industry, which presented some revelations about the challenges Ottawa faces with respect to its lack of music infrastructure and connectedness to the wider industry in Canada and North America. We at Showbox were very proud to contribute to this report by providing important data on 2014 album releases.
This unprecedented report not only outlined the barriers that are preventing Ottawa from moving forward as a “music city,” but it also offered a glimmer of hope by providing recommendations and a strategy based on core principles. One of the most critical recommendations from the report reads as follows [p.65]:
3. Connect Ottawa’s music community to the global music industry.
Advocate for Ottawa’s music community at national institutions
Facilitate exchanges with more prominent music clusters
Lead delegations to trade shows and festivals (e.g. MIDEM, SXSW)
Promote Ottawa’s music cluster to outsiders
MEGAPHONO is doing something that has never really been done in Ottawa before. Not only are the organizers tirelessly reaching out to important industry personalities in places like Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, New York City, and London (UK), but they are actually bringing them to Ottawa over the course of the festival. This affords Ottawa artists the opportunity to have an audience with the people that might be able to advance their careers – or at least get on their radar. This includes booking agents, record labels, music publishers, film/TV music supervisors, managers, publicists, and more. Like any other business, music is about connecting with the right people, and just as the report recommends, Ottawa needs to bring industry personnel together so that coalescence can happen.
“MEGAPHONO is about getting the right people in the room to see our artists,” says festival director Jon Bartlett. “The best way to tell the story of Ottawa music is to drag industry folks here to see and hear it for themselves. If we put our best artists on stage with key music people in the room, I’m confident good things will happen.”
Attendees will enjoy four solid days of music, with all performances open to the public. Over those four days, 60 artists will be performing in Ottawa at various locations, 47 of which are local acts.
Noted music critic and author Jessica Hopper (MTV, Pitchfork) will kick things off at the launch on Tuesday, February 2nd with a keynote speech at St. Alban’s Church; MEGAPHONO will also screen a film this year called Terminal Device, directed by Ross Turnbull, edited by U.S. Girls‘ Meg Remy and with music composed by Slim Twig.
Additional panels and networking opportunities with industry reps are available to those purchasing a delegate pass. Fan festival passes are $50; delegate passes run for $100. Both are available at http://www.megaphono.tv/passes/.
Highlights of this year’s festival include:
MEGAPHONO Meltdown — MEGAPHONO after party in Hull, QC at AXENÉO7
PANELS — daytime talks focusing on music industry-related topics and conversations focused on our local music community
FREE SHOWCASES — Wednesday & Thursday afternoon showcases in the Centretown & Hintonburg neighbourhoods
Over 30 visiting delegates from LA, NYC, London (UK), Toronto & Montreal
Tuesday, February 2nd
4:00 – 6:30pm
MEGAPHONO FESTIVAL OFFICIAL LAUNCH
w/ keynote by JESSICA HOPPER
@ ST ALBANS CHURCH Event Link
THE ACORN / EMILIE & OGDEN / PIPAHAUNTAS
@ ST ALBANS CHURCH Event Link
THE VISIT / HEAVY BEDROOM / NOVEMBER @ BLACK SQUIRREL BOOKS
We couldn’t be more stoked to be co-presenting the next instalment of the I Can’t Believe It’s Not series with Arboretum Festival on December 3rd. This time around, they have chosen to perform the seminal 1977 Fleetwood Mac classic Rumours, and what better way to do this album justice by getting together some of Ottawa’s best?
The familiar lineup includes Caylie Runciman of Boyhood, Rolf Klausener of The Acorn, Martin Charbonneau of Fevers, Mike Dubue and Pascal Delaquis of Hilotrons and Jon Hynes. The last show in the ICBIN series was covering Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, so this one is a total departure from that. Previous shows in the series also included The Strokes – Is This It and Nirvana’s Nevermind, and it seems to keep getting better and better. There will also be a pre-show screening of the Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense, which is an essential one to see for any music lover. Don’t miss your chance to hop on board and see this incredible album played live at the beautiful St. Alban’s Church.
We’re giving away a pair of tickets, so now’s your chance to score some free passes!
How to enter
Tweet at @OttawaShowbox and @ArboretumFest with the hashtag #ICBIN the title of the Fleetwood Mac song you’d be most likely to belt out at karaoke. If you don’t have Twitter, just email your answer to music [at] ottawashowbox.com and you’ll be entered into the contest. Only one entry per person.
Winner will be announced over Twitter at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 25. We will contact the winner via whichever medium they entered the contest.
Good luck, and see you there!
Thursday December, 3 / St. Alban’s Church
$10 adv. / $15 at the door
All Ages/19+ / Licenced / Fully Accessible
questions/concerns, please contact email@example.com
Day two of Ottawa Explosion got off to a rocky start thanks to the fact that it was raining sideways, but Mother Nature pulled through eventually and ultimately delivered another beautiful night for punk rock.
Boyhood not letting the rain dampen their spirits at Ottawa Explosion Weekend in Ottawa, ON.
Getting things started outside despite to downpour was Ottawa’s very own Boyhood. Led by Caylie Runciman, Boyhood are experimental and dark, and perfect fit for the gloomy evening. Boyhood played a great set with some pretty sweet beats and cosmic sounds, and this was most apparent during the performance of their new song “Sooner Than You”. If that song is sign of the band’s direction and evolution, then I am thrilled. The ’80s synth undertones, as well as the grimy and funky bass lines by Luke Martin made people forget about the rain and get lost in music. It was also great to hear them play songs off the 2014 release When I’m Hungry, like my favourite “Fresh Meat”.
The rain continued to fall as I made my way to Mugshots to see the kids in Weed Mom. The band unfortunately had to deal with some sound problems outside of their control, but they persevered. The band is young, fun and finding its place. The subject of their songs made me laugh as they went from one song about making out with your friends to another song about the pains of having sex with someone with a big dick. As the sound started to improve, Weed Mom played their debut single “Plum Tree”, which I really like. To top everything off, guitarist and singer Sasha pulled off drummer Tyrin’s shirt and ate sushi off his chest. Oh Weed Mom, I am excited to see you bloom.
It was an emotional show for Ottawa’s Nightshades. On one hand it was positive, as it was the band’s tape release party for Wendy, their second EP in less than a year. But it was also sad because it marked the last show that bass player Sarah Grant will play with them as she is about to leave to travel the world. The band is in good hands, as Sarah said, “CBC learned about me leaving and have offered Shad to replace me… it will now be Nightshads.” In all seriousness, they have another bassist lined up and Nightshades will go on. They played a set filled with music off of both albums. They also had to struggle through some sound issues, we could barely hear the guitar and sometimes could not hear the backup vocals. Highlights were “Broken Bag”, “Teenage Fool”, and their new single “Wendy”. Sarah – we at Showbox wish you the very best going forward!
With the tears wiped from our eyes it was time to summon daemons, dance with goblins, and draw pentagrams with Black Tower. Ottawa’s three-piece got the rain to stop thanks to their pact with the devil. They opened with their latest single the solo-laden and driving “Death March” to set the tone. No moment of the set better summarizes Black Tower than when bassist Scotty said, “This song is called ‘The Dark Lord’, it is about the Dark Lord.” Lead singer and guitarist, Erin Ewing, has an intense and haunting voice, perfect for their metal-inspired punk rock. She has moments of guttural vocal fills, with the occasional incendiary high-pitch screaming part that ignited the entire courtyard.
Lightening things up was new wave punk band Century Palm from Toronto. It was hot, sweaty, and packed inside Mugshots for their set. Their music is really fun and was a great change of pace from Black Tower and the rest of the heavy bands I was about to see. During their set lead-singer Andrew Payne asked the crowd, “we cool?” The crowd cheered and he smiled. All I could think was, “we are not cool, my sweat is sweating it is so humid in here.” The band treated us to a new song off their upcoming album which was pretty cool. But what really made their set was when they pulled a saxophone out of nowhere and I fell in love.
Coliseum slaying it at Ottawa Explosion Weekend in Ottawa, ON.
Back outside it was time to take it up a notch with Coliseum. I was sure it was going to be a good show as local artist and all-around great guy Jordan went straight to the front of the stage. When Jordan is up front and dancing, you know you are seeing a great band that it takes it to the next level. It was equally sweet to see the lead-singer and guitarist give him props after the first song and say, “I remember you.” The band played a killer set full of awesome songs like “Used Blood” and “Black Magic Punk”, as well as songs off their latest album Anxiety Kiss. But their music was not the most important part on this night. The was the comment made by singer/guitarist Ryan Patterson: “It is so great to see so many women involved in front and behind the scenes at this festival, unlike some jock shit like at Rock Fest.” He continued, “Gender inequality is not just a punk issue, but a human issue and it is a beautiful things you have here.” Well said, sir.
Now inside SAW it was time for Meat Wave from Chicago. They played fast short songs and once again Jordan danced so you knew it would be good. This noisy three-piece was strongly endorsed by Big Dick, as both members Johnny O and Dave Sec sang, cheered, and clapped loudly. Meat Wave’s lead-singer and guitarist, Chris Sutter, shared a little information with us: “This is our first time in Canada, home of Rush, Nomeansno, and hockey… sorry about that last one.” Burn. Really glad I saw these guys and discovered another cool band.
Closing out the night was one of my must-see acts, Obliterations, a hardcore band from LA. The band play fast, intense, and in your face. Which is doubly entertaining as the lead-singer’s face reminds me of Weird Al. They opened with “Scapegoat” and blasted straight ahead playing other greats like “Sick Feeling” and “Narcissist”. Unfortunately they experienced some pretty serious technical difficulties with the guitar amp and head crapping out. Eventually someone came to the rescue with a new amp and head and we were back in business. They picked up were they left of, just slamming through the set, capping it off with lead singer Sam James Velde walking through the crowd and standing on the bar. Don’t miss these guys.