Ce n’est pas un secret : le mois de juin est rempli à craquer de festivals de tout genre qui se déroule aux quatre coins de la région de la capitale nationale. Question de vous aider à y trouver votre compte côté musique, voici 10 festivals qui en valent le détour.
10 festivals à ne pas manquer en juin
Festival Folk et Guitares d’Aylmer
Du côté d’Aylmer, leFestival Folk et Guitares est un petit bijou pour les mordus de guitares à la recherche de sons folk et blues dans une atmosphère intime. Plus de 40 spectacles gratuits seront présentés à quatre endroits différents le long de la rue Principale les 7, 8 et 9 juin, incluant Zébulon en formule acoustique, Gareth Pearson, The Wildwood Family, Mike Biggar, Outside I’m A Giant, et Rebecca Noelle, finaliste à l’émission La Voix l’an dernier.
Westfest, c’est un festival annuel gratuit qui se déroule dans le quartier Westboro d’Ottawa depuis 2003. Axé sur la vie de quartier, les arts et la famille, cet événement se veut inclusif et festif pour tout un chacun. Cette année, il aura lieu du 8 au 10 juin, et le gros de l’action se passera au parc Tom Brown avec plus de 100 artistes canadiens dont plusieurs locaux comme Bear Witness du groupe A Tribe Called Red, Silla + Rise, Julie Corrigan, Cody Coyote et Rita Carter.
Rockfest de Montebello
Déjà à sa treizième édition, le festivalRockfest de Montebello est considéré le plus gros festival de rock au Canada. Du 14 au 16 juin 2018, les amateurs de punk, rock, hardcore, métal et ska seront comblés grâce aux nombreuses prestations de groupes comme Weezer, Rancid, Comeback Kid, Groovy Aardvark, Les marmottes aplaties, Propagandhi, Lagwagon, et les Stone Temple Pilots entre autres.
Le Festival franco-ontarien
Pour ce qui est des festivals à caractère plus familial, on trouve leFestival franco-ontarien qui se déroule du 14 au 16 juin au parc Major dans le centre-ville d’Ottawa. Toujours avec une programmation bien équilibrée pour petits et grands, la 43e édition offrira une fois de plus des spectacles pour enfants avec Ari Cui Cui et Les Petites Tounes, ainsi que des spectacles en soirées de Damien Robitaille, Dumas, Mehdi Cayenne, Julie Kim, Valaire, Jacobus et plus.
Vous n’avez jamais entendu parler duGlowfair? Eh bien vous manquez assurément quelque chose de trippant! Ce festival extérieur gratuit, qui se déroule le long de la rue Bank du 14 au 16 juin, offre non seulement des spectacles de musique, mais aussi une séance de yoga fluorescente, une soirée de discothèque silencieuse et des installations d’art et de lumière.
Ottawa Explosion, c’est le festival DIY sans prétention à la Pouzza Fest qui met de l’avant des groupes et des artistes punk, rock hardcore et métal de la scène underground et émergente. Du 13 au 17 juin dans plusieurs bars et restos d’Ottawa, on pourra assister aux spectacles de Corridor, Peach Kelli Pop, The White Wires, Scattered Clouds, Tough Age, Victime, et Future Girls, pour n’en nommer que quelque un.
Le festival des bateaux-dragons
Depuis maintenant quelques années, lefestival des bateaux-dragons d’Ottawaoffre une série de spectacles gratuits à l’extérieur. 2018 ne faisant pas exception, il sera possible de voir les têtes d’affiche Sam Roberts Band, Broken Social Scene, Wintersleep, Hollerado et Matt Mays au parc Mooney’s Bay les 21, 22, 23 et 24 juin prochains. Seul bémol : c’est une programmation où l’on retrouve très peu de femmes.
Le Festival de jazz d’Ottawa
Du 21 juin au 1er juillet en plein coeur de la capitale, c’est place auFestival de jazz d’Ottawa. Ce rassemblement annuel est un vrai rendez-vous pour les adeptes de musique qui souhaitent voir et entendre de grands noms du jazz, du soul et du funk comme Herbie Hancock, Chris Botti, Chaka Khan, Dee Dee Bridgewater, ainsi que des artistes de la relève tels que Kellylee Evans, Moon Hooch, The Soul Motivators, FET.NAT et Duchess.
L’Outaouais en fête
Depuis plusieurs années, les francophones de la région se donnent rendez-vous au parc des Cèdres dans le secteur Aylmer de Gatineau pour souligner la Saint-Jean Baptiste à l’occasion dufestival l’Outaouais en fête. La programmation de 2018 en mettra pleins la vue et les oreilles grâce aux Cowboys Fringants, aux Hotesses d’Hilaire, à Mike Sawatzky du groupe Les Colocs, au collectif Alaclair Ensemble, à Célèste Lévis et aux Trois Accords, entre autres.
Le Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival
Quoi de mieux pour accueillir l’arrivée de l’été que lefestival autochtone du solstice d’été qui se tient du 21 au 24 juin au parc Vincent-Massey, à Ottawa. C’est aussi l’occasion idéale d’en apprendre davantage sur la culture, le savoir et le mode de vie des peuples autochtones du Canada, comme il y aura un pow-wow, des mets d’inspiration autochtone, ainsi que des prestations musicales des artistes Holly McNarland, Digging Roots, Silla + Rise, Lyle Odjick & The Northern Stream et encore plus.
Friday night was full of punk rock nostalgia, as Pennywise, Strung Out, &Modern Terror swung through Ottawa on their tour. The show was presented by Spectrasonic, and people showed up in droves to sing songs of punk’s past at the top of their lungs. Our photographer Aidan Thatcher was there to catch all the action, have a look at his gallery below.
Ottawa rock and rollers Saint Clare have released a brand new video for their single “Haunts” off of their recently released EPIII, and we’re giving you the exclusive premiere right here on Showbox.
“Haunts” is a searing track off the EP, which begins with a flourish of keys and bellowing horns and then explodes with Matthew Saint Clare’s soaring vocals and layers of frenetic guitar work. This song is a treat that slaps the listener right in the face, and I can’t help but hear influences of The Pixies. You’ll find yourself watching this video five or six times in a row. In fact, just put it on repeat.
The video itself utilizes spooky imagery that includes close ups of masked vocalists, a scintillating blue-red-white colour palette, and chaotic video overlays that all add to the eerie nature of the song. At its climax, the video will have you mesmerized and unable to look away.
“Haunts” was directed by Montreal’s Hart, and features Hart & George, with support from Christina Maynard and Julien Lindwall. For more information on Hart’s work check out his website here.
Saint Clare’s next show will take place on Saturday, May 26th at 5:30 PM, at Ottawa, Ontario’s City Hall as part of the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend 2018, with other local support from Chigurh and Slo’ Tom and the Handsome Devils. More info can be found here. Be sure to check this band out live, as their explosive sound is sure to fill the streets of downtown Ottawa and enthrall crowds.
Since taking the reigns as Executive Producer of the NAC Presents series a year and a half ago, Heather Gibson has had the vision of bringing something new to the table. She recognizes the NAC’s importance in developing emerging artists across Canada and supporting the Ottawa/Gatineau region’s local arts scenes, and to that extent, has lived up to her word and is building upon her vision. The NAC is becoming a more accessible stage for local artists to cut their teeth, as well as garner more exposure and develop their audiences.
Moreover, her work in challenging the music industry’s problem of unbalanced opportunities for women and marginalized people has allowed the NAC to be a shining example of how music programming should be conducted. She is steering the ship in the right direction, and demonstrating that achieving diversity and gender parity isn’t rocket science.
Upon the announcement of NAC’s 2018-19 season programming—which includes over 55 shows—I spoke with Ms. Gibson on the phone about these topics, and the new theme of Changing Landscapes.
Interview with Heather Gibson
Can you speak about the theme of changing landscapes and what that represents?
I didn’t book with a theme in mind, it’s just the theme that came. We wanted to book the artists that we wanted, and then the theme of “changing landscapes” is what it ended up being. It represents many things—changing of landscape here at the NAC, changing direction, the idea that Canada isn’t one thing and that it’s a collection of art and influences. That’s how they all kind of fit into that theme.
What role do you see the NAC playing with respect to gender parity and diversity in the grand scheme of the Canadian Music industry?
I don’t think gender parity is hard. It’s really challenging to understand why people will program an entire festival where there’s one female artist over nine days or something. With all respect due to my colleagues, I think that they either don’t have the same goals or aspirations as the National Arts Centre, or they just don’t know how to do their job very well. Gender parity and diversity is part of doing your job as an Artistic Director—in any kind of art. So, the role of the NAC is far deeper than presenting a diverse program, it’s about getting to the root of the issue and what the NAC can contribute to changing that. I don’t find it difficult to book like that, but I hear a lot of my peers saying that it is difficult to book diverse acts at a headlining level.
There are arguments to be made that there’s a short list of women who will perform for $100k or $50k, but then there needs to be a focus on booking women in a secondary role, underneath the headliners and on the B-stage. Bringing up the development of women like we have been with guys for decades is important. We have a responsibility at the NAC to ask the tough questions, like why are there so few female conductors? We need to figure out how we can develop female conductors. Or if there are only a handful of indigenous artists who fit the bill, then how do we make sure there are more of them in the future?
It’s difficult, and a lot of those conversations are systemic. There’s a whole ecosystem here that hopefully we can influence, and the audience is involved in that. If they want to support diversity, then the audience needs to come to those shows.
Traditionally the NAC Presents and the NAC Orchestra have been their own separate entities. Can you speak to how that collaboration came to be this season?
Yeah, the series is called Sessions. Part of the challenge is that the Orchestra is booking into 2020 right now, so when I first got here and expressed interest in this collaboration, they were very keen on the development of Canadian arrangers and composers, as well as audience development. On my side of things, I’m interested in artistic development of singer-songwriters. With people like Lynn Miles, we’re doing a full-commission project from start to end with her, so archiving great Canadian songwriters is important as well. Through the years you’ll see more and more of that, and Lynn is actually the first one.
It was a conversation we’ve had, and the NAC Orchestra and Andrew Shelley (Music Director) have been very supportive of this idea. They’ve been keen on seeing what we can do. We have a mash of things this year, Lynn Miles and Tom Wilson are doing the first one on October 4th. Tom is coming with his book and doing the show he did with the Hamilton Philharmonic, and Lynn is being commissioned. We’re doing six or seven with her on this first one, and then eventually over a series of shows she’ll have a full one in a year and a half. And then Stars are a full commission in December, and that is giving us the opportunity to work with a lot of great Canadian arrangers, and probably a new Canadian conductor.
There are a lot of different parts to it, Patrick Watson has a lot of these symphony shows under his belt and I think there will be an opportunity to do a lot of neat stuff with him as his compositions have been getting more and more intricate. It will be interesting with the band in front of the orchestra. The Johnny Reid Christmas show is allowing us to work with local choirs and have him front this thing that will seem like a community Christmas concert. It’s allowing us to do new things and open doors. It will allow us to break down some things and have a different conversation about the NAC Orchestra and how they fit in the context of music, not just contemporary or classical.
How has focusing more on programming with local artists—mainly on the Fourth Stage—been beneficial to the NAC?
I think as long as I’m here this is something that will continue. On the local side of things, we live and breath here in Ottawa. There’s no reason why we wouldn’t be part of the local music scene. For a year and a half since I’ve been here, we’ve been trying to figure out what that looks like, and we certainly don’t want to be a glass institution where once you’ve reached a certain level, you get to play a show at the NAC every once in a while.
I very much want to be part of developing careers. Our next big challenge is how do we move beyond just being a presenting venue, and move towards developing artists’ careers? We 100% have to look at that locally, and the scene we have here—whether that’s Pressed, Bar Robo, LIVE! on Elgin, or the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield—we all have an important role to play. A band like Hillsburn will play at the NAC, and then go play a place like LIVE! on Elgin, and then come back here. The whole time they’re building their audience in the community.
It’s integral to me that emerging artists are involved in our program. I really don’t want to have a program where we wait until you can sell 900 seats and then we’ll put you in the Theatre. We need to be part of the development, and artists need to have the opportunity to have access to our gear, crew, and lighting, and I think emerging artists need the opportunity to play on this kind of stage. Then they go back out into the world like they do on tour, and then we’ll do it again in six months. We have to be a part of that.
CityFolk returns to Lansdowne Park once again September 12-16, 2018, for their 25th anniversary, and they aren’t pulling any punches with this year’s lineup. The festival normally does a good job of balancing the old and the new, as well as mixing in different genres to appeal to wider audiences. The five-day festival will see many stand-out acts hit the stages—most notably of whom is David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. Byrne is bringing his American Utopia tour to the capital for the first time since he played Ottawa Jazz Festival along with St. Vincent in 2013. Known for his stage antics and stunning visual performances, the much anticipated return of Byrne to Ottawa is sure to bring out the crowds. Let’s just hope the thunder and lightning stay away for his set this year.
Other well-known acts playing this year’s CityFolk are Hozier, Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker), Belle and Sebastian, The Decemberists, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Steve Earle & the Dukes, Lindi Ortega, Tune-Yards, Whitehorse, and Andy Shauf, among many others. There could be more acts announced, too, so we’ll update this post as more information gets released.
Also returning this year is the free local music programming, called Marvest. While that lineup has yet to be announced, we can certainly expect a lot of great Ottawa acts to be playing this September.
Pre-sale tickets go on sale May 24 at 10 a.m. and regular passes for the general public go on sale on Friday, May 25. More ticket and festival info can be found on the CityFolk website.
Ev has synesthesia, and they incorporate their sensory experiences into music reviews. Synesthesia is a condition in which the brain links a person’s senses together in a rare manner, prompting unusual sensory responses to stimuli. People with synesthesia, for example, might see a certain color in response to a certain letter of the alphabet. Those who experience synesthesia “hear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes” in a remarkably consistent fashion.
Black Squirrel Books, among being a cafe and bookstore, is also a known music venue. Hosting an array of genres, there is always something for everyone to come see and enjoy. On April 19th, the cafe hosted an unforgettable lineup, one I deem to be for the books.
Katy Perry Double Feature opened the shows with such volume that it was certain to pull the crowd in. Despite the show being their first, their good humour and light banter made it all the more natural. Shrill screams, muddled guitar, cool drumming, and bass played absurdly low on the neck, Katy Perry Double Feature was something else entirely.
Distorted and fuzzy, the guitar came out as uneven and the tone is full of feedback. Riffs muddled into the background, almost robotic in nature and muffled by all else, the guitar pierced through the air and pulled the audience through a world of assorted hues. It droned on and kept a steady and bitter pace while other times it transitions to steady Sonic Youth-like riffs. Combinations of chords and notes struck creates a deeper and more immersive soundscape.
The bass wasn’t the expected deep resonant rumbling but rather played up the guitar neck. Creating odd yet suitable bass lines, it was not what would be expected of a noisy, and static rock band. Almost playing with a guitar-like sound, the bass blended itself into the mass amount of noise. Heavy and high, sounding muffled and distant, it sets a new tone to the songs played.
The drumming is cold and distant, almost as if detached from the rest. It echoes and presents as a bone fragment of the drum kit. Carefree and fun despite sounding shallow, hallowed out, and removed, it added a strange backbone. Sounding like it’s playing through some strange warped jukebox made it all the better.
Torpor played next and absolutely brought their all, packing a punch with each and every song they played. Chaotic, loud, and a whirlwind of emotion and energy, they gave the performance their all.
The guitar dominated with incisive power chords. The guitarist played with combining high and low octaves to create a space and pulled the listener into the vivid setting it paints. Rapid and rambunctious, all while maintaining a well-known aggression, the sound came out muffled and muted. Despite this, there was still a resonance that loomed in the air. The ragged and unclean nature of the playing creates feedback which drenched the atmosphere in a murky magenta. The contrast of higher notes and prolonged feedback splash yellow through the rest of the colour.
The bass was an absolute fucking powerhouse. The knock-your-socks-off, heartbeat-in-your-ears, feel-it-in-your-chest awe-striking bassline. The tonal range met is not the thing that’s the most prominent or striking, but rather the rage and energy placed in every single note. It melds deep and rusty oranges and blends them with rich earthy greens, overall producing a rare warmth.
The drumming was hollow and cold cold cold. It swept the crowd with an unspoken energy that got the body moving while being the personification of anger. It was abrasive and harsh, played relentlessly and lacking any form of mercy. Tangled within the acute sound created through the guitar playing, the drumming added spikes of icy blue and bright teals to the mix of colours the band created.
Raw, emotionally charged and delivered with a high in-your-face intensity, the vocals cut through the air like a knife. While they intertwine with each instrument, they depersonalize themselves as well. Higher pitched and angry, they packed a punch while drawing themselves out across the sound. Painting the atmosphere with vivid magentas and obnoxious purples, the vocals radiated an energy I found unmatched.
The last band to play was NYC’s Decisions. The band tore the floorboards apart with the sheer ferocity of the buildup of each song. Weighted and a sort of Frankenstein patchwork of aggression and awareness, the band spread messages important to their core values.
Filled with aggravation and bitter resentment, the vocals found their way to the front. They pushed the messages the lyrics give into your space. They rammed into you full force without room to stagger and riot against police brutality, among other pressing social issues. They’re ragged and fucking ripped with a passion pit into every last word. Lazily dragged out for a vocal effect, shaky but rather impactful, every scream was accentuated further due to it.
Built up and upon, the guitar playing was raw. Dirty melodies and slow contortions into power chords that sounded like they were played through a cheese grater, the playing is masterful. The riffs aforementioned lead to relentless releases of frustration that held a weight. Take the green spray paint and go to town with tagging because that’s what the guitar sounds like.
The bass was punchy and hollow, heavy, and warm. It jumbled itself with the rest of the instrumentals and gets buried within, yet it protruded. The bassline pronounced itself through the shake of the floor, through the ghostly and echoing sound. Adding rich chestnut to an array of hues painted through the air, the bass packed that earthy hallowed out sound.
The drums were frigid and dead as dust. Colder than the Arctic, but booming nonetheless. Their true potential was released when each beat falls in rapid succession to one another. Riding the ride cymbal all the way through the set, it was like a best friend—the tool most used and quite frankly used so effectively that people threw their bodies to and fro.
Each band brought something special to drive the crowd wild. Whether it was spunk in form of warped jukebox sound, uncontrolled relentless feedback, or playing so aggressive it got shred through a cheese grater before reaching our desperate ears, every band absolutely smashed it. Given the chance, I would urge you go see them perform. They all know how to move and mosh with the crowd.