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.
The Famines are a Montreal-based noise garage music duo made up of Raymond Biesinger (who also happens to be an incredible illustrator) and Drew Demers. But they are not just a band, the duo is also a “DIY-minded experimental record label thing” called Pentagon Black.
In early 2016 Pentagon Black released it’s first compilation containing 23 unreleased songs from bands from across the country as a 20×30″ double-sided newsprint art poster with download code. They had 17 compilation release shows including 30 bands at various locations across the country for it. In April 2017, they did it again with compilation number 2, once again on 20×30″ double-sided newsprint art poster with a download code.
Pentagon Black are back with another compilation, and while they stayed true to their other compilations, they changed it up a little. Pentagon Black Compilation No. 3 is a “phone comp.” It is named as such as 16 diverse bands between Edmonton and Saint John recorded original unreleased tracks live via phone (no multi tracking allowed). This time they went with a smaller format of a 6X6″ postcard with download code.
Eric took some time to discuss with drummer Drew Demers about being a band and being a record label, as well as the story behind the compilation and the inclusion of bands from Ottawa.
Interview with Drew Demers of The Famines/Pentagon Black
What inspired/motivated the two of you to not only be a band but be a label?
Drew Demers: After releasing music on vinyl for the better part of a decade, we realized that it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage/produce. Turn-around times don’t work in anyone’s favor. We were sitting on a recorded full length and didn’t want to have to wait an additional 4 or 5 months just to get a test pressing back. On top of that, the cost was just too great for us to be enthused about it anymore, so we decided that we would just produce things as cheaply and quickly as we could on our own.
[…] we weren’t really trying to establish anything specific. We are a punk band, and so we typically play with like-sounding artists.
Subsequently what pushed you to put out these trans-Canadian compilations?
Drew Demers: We had already released a single and a record on the newsprint poster format, the latter as Pentagon Black and the former in partnership with Psychic Handshake in Montreal. We were discussing what to do next, and the idea started as a split record with The Famines on one side, and then another band on the other. The problem was, we were at odds over whether it was going to be Century Palm or Kappa Chow. We played a show with a ton of pals at this crazy fest called Strangewaves outside of Hamilton.
The lineup included a ton of bands that ended up on the first compilation, and it was beautiful because there was hardly anybody at the show outside of band members. We all just got up and played for each other and there was this sense of communal spirit behind everything. It took us maybe one day to realize that we needed to make something bigger and connect more scenes together, and the first compilation was born out of that notion. BTW, the lineup for that show: Strange Attractor, The Famines, TV Freaks, Mick Futures, Century Palm, Kappa Chow, Lizzie Boredom, and Flesh Rag.
How did you select the bands and decide how you wanted the first two to sound?
Drew Demers: The first compilation was an amalgamation of friends we’d made on tour. There really weren’t that many artists we didn’t personally know on the thing. The second time around, we wanted to focus on hitting specific zones we hadn’t traveled to in a while, and so we enlisted some close friends to give us suggestions on who we should talk to that might be interested in a project such as ours. There are a small handful of people involved in the second compilation we’ve actually never met.
In terms of the sound that we were going for, we weren’t really trying to establish anything specific. We are a punk band, and so we typically play with like-sounding artists. There is an obvious tonal undercurrent that runs through all three of the compilations, but there are significant departures happening on each of them as well.
What makes this third compilation special?
Drew Demers: This third compilation is all about spirit. The songs are rough, in many cases unfinished, and in all cases under-produced. It’s exciting to think that sonically it’s an even playing-ground for each of the tracks. For the most part, it sounds like all the bands recorded in basically the same room with the same gear. It’s also special because it’s the first time we’ve outsourced the art side of things. Historically Raymond has taken care of the art side of Pentagon Black/The Famines, but this time we placed the project in the esteemed hands of Lisa Czech. We explained the project to her and she absolutely nailed the chaos with her cover art.
This has been our most inexpensive and rapid turnover for a compilation. The postcards cost basically nothing to print, and all of the bands recorded their tracks in a three week time frame. Also of note – this one was released not too long after our second compilation, and it came out as a surprise. We were originally planning on dropping it the day of our showcase at Ottawa Explosion, but instead we just decided to jump the gun because we felt like it this week, and a project like this allows us the freedom to do that.
I am excited to see Ottawa bands on all three comps, what drew you to the Ottawa bands you selected ?
Drew Demers: We have a ton of respect and admiration for The Yips, and knew that we couldn’t release our first comp without them involved. Bonnie Doon are officially Pentagon Black royalty. They were on the first two comps, and played both the compilation releases with us in Montreal. Deathsticks are actually fairly new acquaintances of ours, but we feel connected by the sisterhood of two piece bands. They were suggested to us via our pal Karol aka garbageface in Peterborough. We can’t wait to play with them and hang out with them in Ottawa next weekend!
If you track Raymond or myself down in person, we can become pen pals and send you a postcard.
If you’re a little more adventurous, you can head to a show in your town featuring any of the 48 bands we’ve worked with and ask them very kindly to dig one out for you.
What do The Famines and Pentagon Black have planned next?
Drew Demers: Famines have a couple things up our sleeves, including but not limited to writing material for a full length album to come out under Pentagon Black sometime in the next decade. Ottawa Explosion is actually the only show we have booked right now, and it’s exciting facing a blank canvas. As for Pentagon Black, we intend to keep things fast and easy. After releasing the PRIORS record, we realized that we’re open to the idea of putting out music for other bands and want to move forward with that in the future, however that will work.
Some people think we go to 10 shows a week. Rest assured, that is not true. But we try and pick em well, and 2015 was another great year for live music in the capital. We saw some really incredible shows in unique spaces that may never happen again. We saw some of the best local bands tear it up at festivals as they always do. We saw some bands call it quits and others come crashing out the gates with their first gig – and in one instance, this happened in the same show. Sparks flew – literally.
Although this is by no means an exhaustive list of the great shows that happened, it reminds us that Ottawa continues to grow and cultivate the right conditions for a strong music culture to exist. With energy flowing on and off the stage, here were some of the best shows that happened in Ottawa in 2015.
Weights and Measures at Arboretum
“I can’t overstate how impressive Weights & Measures were live. Even after 11 years apart, their riveting guitar riffs, thunderous percussion, and penetrating bass lines blended together as the crowd watched in awe. Everyone that was there now understands this band was so well respected, as they made their complex and intricate arrangements seem easy.”
“Ottawa’s party punks extraordinaire delivered in a grandiose fashion, as always. It was business as usual – the guy in a giraffe costume shooting confetti into the crowd, their fun upbeat songs like “See you in Hull,” “Paradise” and “Two Darts” stirring up a mosh pit, band mates playing on each others’ shoulders, making a human pyramid, playing bass while standing on the crowd, climbing up the fire escape of the warehouse to keep playing and being joined by Bruce Springsteen on stage.”
“The 11-piece chamber ensemble were stellar in their first performance outside of their hometown of Toronto. They are not your typical cover band. They take a look back at the last one hundred years of popular songs with focusing on songs of importance to the queer community, and revealing the backstories and personal narratives behind much of this music.”
“This performance was everything I’d hoped for. Starting out with “Run the Jewels”, “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”, and “Blockbuster Night Part 1” (one of my faves) they had the crowd (me included) freaking out. Halfway through the set, Killer Mike paused and told us all if we had glasses on or phones out, to put them away because our shit was about get fucked up.”
Underground Railroad to Candyland at Ottawa Explosion Weekend
“It all started with me seeing a guy walking down the street in a tiger costume. I figured that it must have been a fan of New Swears who played later on, since those guys always have something up their sleeve. But no, that was not the case. URTC got up on stage, one member wearing the aforementioned tiger costume, another in a shark onesie, and another wearing a superwoman-style Canadian flag as a cape. Did I mention that Congelliere was wearing a sweet Chippendales shirt? The blistering heat outside was cooking us, I don’t quite know how they managed to pull off such a great set with all that attire.”
“The band capped off their set with the always fun and super interactive “Wolfpack Presley”. I mean how often are you encouraged to howl like a wolf at the top of your lungs? The crowd was having so much fun they wouldn’t let Steamers leave without one more song.”
“Was it the lighting through the haze and $3 beers that created ghostly looking shadows dancing on the inside of the tent, or were the ouija rockers channelling spirits before their set? We will never know.”
Lisa Leblanc’s intimate session at The Record Centre
“It’s all fun and games with LeBlanc. As she finished up soundcheck, the atmosphere was relaxed and smiles filled the room. With the spring sun shining bright, the trio of LeBlanc and her two companions filled the store with tunes. The set was a great mix of French songs off her 2012 self-titled debut album and English songs off Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted.”
FRANK TURNER & THE SLEEPING SOULS WITH CORY LEVESQUE @ RITUAL
“There are very few musicians out there that genuinely look like they are having as much fun and exude that much energy from behind a guitar and a microphone. His energy is contagious. You can’t help but sing along and clap at every opportunity, and with Turner, there are plenty of opportunities to be heard and participate. There was something extra special about this show, not only was it the first of his little mini-tour, it was the first proper show with a band of 2015 for Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls — quite the honour for Ottawa.”
PREGNANCY SCARES’ FINAL FRIGHT WITH SUBSISTENCH, SICK NURSE & SAILOR JUPITER
“The zenith was reached during during the final song of that last performance.
Energy from the crowd clashed with the band’s and culminated into a chaos of people getting on stage while Pregnancy Scares blasted away. It was taken to a whole other level when a man on the side of the stage wearing safety goggles and a bandana over his mouth started an electric grinder inside a steel Ottawa Senators trash can. He showered the stage and musicians with sparks and Davey, loving every minute of it, went as as close as he possibly could.”
MEGAPHONO: COLD WAR ADVENTURES IN THE DIEFENBUNKER WITH STEVE ADAMYK BAND, BOYHOOD & MORE
“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.”
MEGAPHONO: LAST EX, EVENING HYMNS & SCATTERED CLOUDS @ ST. ALBAN’S
“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. ”
“As Hey Rosetta! hit the stage, the lighting came on and dazzled us all. The foil backdrop also enhanced the lighting effects as it offered distorted reflections. The atmosphere couldn’t be better, and there was an air of excitement and good vibes in the room. […] The band maintained a constant push/pull of energy, keeping the crowd attentive yet engaged and moving. Songs like “Gold Teeth” would fill each corner of Southam Hall with a vibrant energy, while others like “What Arrows” would take it away and take a quiet hold of us all.
Although the night was ephemeral, the memories will remain with us. Great bands, a wonderful venue, incredible sound, and a vivacious crowd – what more can you ask for? Without a doubt, this show was one of the best of the year in Ottawa.”
I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT: FLEETWOOD MAC’S RUMOURS at St. Albans Church
“The wonderful thing about Rumours is that it every song allowed for a different member to shine. For example John Hynes kicked things off leading “Second Hand News,” while Caylie really showed her vocal chops go far beyond what we have heard from her in Boyhood when she delivered on “Dreams.” Rolf then took lead on “Never Going Back” and teleported us all to a different time. Mike passionately blew everyone away when he sang “Songbird,” showing why many people think he has one of the most special voices in town.”
About the Beer: Ahhhhh pumpkins… The seasonal berry (yes, a berry) that everybody goes crazy about this time a year. You will find pumpkin spice in your lattes, desserts, whiskey, and of course beer. But the folks at Big Rig Brewery actually spiced and roasted local pumpkins to give Tales from the Patch its rich flavour. This beer will warm you up as you prepare for the hordes of trick or treaters anxiously awaiting at your door.
Tales From The Patch is a chocolate-hued pumpkin porter that uses real pumpkins the brew team picked from Miller’s Farm in Manotick, ON. “We came back to the brewery and spiced and baked them, then put the roasted pumpkin right into the brew,” Lon Ladell, Big Rig Brewery brewmaster, explains. Vanilla beans and creamy milk sugar were also added to create a rich, smooth porter that mimics the fresh, cozy nature of the fall season.
About the Beer: In the beginning of my beer crusade, breweries were going for strong drinkable beers. The trend in the last few years is to bring down the ABV so that we can enjoy a bit more beer and still be able to walk without compromising flavour. Lumbersexual is a prime example. At 3.5%, they were able to get the iconic IPA bitterness with only 23.6 IBU’s (International Bitterness Units).
If you are reading this, or know of Ottawa Showbox, you most likely know what a Lumbersexual stands for. We all have noticed that beards are the facial hair trend du jour. And dressing up like a lumberjack without having picked up an axe is bleeding into our urban landscape. I’m enjoying this movement as I fall in this category. I finally fit in! But I do swing an axe. I also stream Netflix nightly and have a 7.5 hour a day sit-down job.
Like its namesake, the session IPA is not what it appears to be. At first glance, you’ll be drawn by its scent – a pleasant hop flavour and aroma, mimicking that of a big, bold IPA. On closer inspection, you’ll find that the hops provide approachable bitterness. It has a refreshing, low alcohol content while maintaining a certain calculated ruggedness. This urban woodsman is a very palatable, easy drinking summer beer.
It’s hard to believe that another year has passed and the RBC Bluesfest 2015 is upon us. Bluesfest has been getting better and better at including great local acts in their programming on the big stage, which for many artists is a dream come true. This year is no exception, as the festival has gone one step further to bring in more artists that are sure to rock the grounds at Lebreton Flats. Let’s dive right in with some previews of Ottawa-area musicians playing this year’s festival.
“DJ ACRO has opened for and shared the stage with a number of major artists including the likes of The Beatnuts, Mac Miller, Onyx, K.R.I.T, M.O.P, Smoke DZA, XZIBIT and a slew of other up coming and iconic Hip Hop artists.”
Bella Cat’s unique musical style has roots in soul and blues music, fusing genres and creating a sound that is distinctly her own. Her music will appeal to a broad audience, spanning all ages and tastes.
A must-see for fans of: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
If there’s one band in Ottawa that transcends genres, combines a myriad of musical styles, and has engaging and intelligent lyrical content, it’s BlakDenim. This eight-piece ensemble exudes energy on stage and are fan-favourites at Bluesfest, having played the festival in the past. Infusion of hip-hop, funk, rock, soul, and jazz.
A must-see for fans of: A Tribe Called Quest & The Roots
B&C is a three-piece high-energy, crunchy riff-driven roots blues band that are from the nation’s capital, but could just as well be from the heart of the Mississippi Delta. If you’re into raw vocals and let-loose blues instrumentation, these guys are the ones you want to see live.
A must-see for fans of: Jimi Hendrix & John Lee Hooker
Saturday, July 11 @ 3:30 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage
If you follow Showbox, you’ll know that this group is one of our local faves. Since enlisting some of Ottawa’s most talented musicians and reforming as a full band, this experimental “future folk” group has captured the hearts and minds of many in Ottawa. Pure brilliance.
Brandon Allan writes simple, heartfelt songs about everyday feelings and experiences. His brand acoustic folk/country rock is the kind that you can turn on and close your eyes to, as his soft yet searing melodies and lyrics leave nothing uncovered.
A must-see for fans of: The Weakerthans & The Tallest Man on Earth
Saturday, July 18 @ 3:30 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre
Brea Lawrenson’s music will appeal to lovers of pop country, which is a lot of people here in the Ottawa Valley. Her voice can go from soft and warm to powerful and penetrating on a dime, so keep your ears out for her at the Flats.
This hip hop duo consisting of SawBuck and DJ So Nice has beatmaking and production of crowd-pleasing bangers down to a science. If you’re familiar with the club circuit or hip hop scene around Ottawa, you’ve probably moved your body to one or both of these guys.
A must-see for fans of: Jurassic 5 & Run the Jewels
Sturton has made a name for herself nationally as a musician and worked with artists such as Joel Plaskett, Al Tick, Rolf Klausener, John Carroll, as well as members of Sloan and Blue Rodeo. From Japanese garage rock venues to American juke joints, she’s got a pretty interesting rap sheet.
On top of being a very strong singer and songwriter, Sturton has become well-known for her proficiency playing the harmonica – she derives her style straight from the Mississippi of old, cutting her chops at local blues establishments and learning from harmonica masters such as Larry “The Bird” Mootham and Carlos del Junco.
This veteran has been making music since 1989 and has recently started writing new material after a hiatus. Raw blues rock inspired by the Chicago greats is the only way to describe the kind of music that Nelson makes.
This band is a truly special part of Ottawa/Hull’s music scenes. The band consists of members of Timber Timbre, Last Ex, and Scattered Clouds, creating disoriented and experimental art-punk with fractured arrangements.
A must-see for fans of: music that pushes boundaries, free jazz/post-punk
Calkuta, Bender & Patience have done it again, demonstrating why they’re one of the top hip hop acts in Ottawa. Their latest album, the 18-track High Priests of Low-Life, is another example of how talented this group is. Their music has an underground aesthetic with samples and production that are anything but amateur.
A must-see for fans of: Immortal Technique & Atmosphere
Wednesday, July 15 @ 8:15 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage
Grantly Franklin a.k.a G.Grand is a Showbox favourite. We just can’t get enough of his rhymes, especially when he collabs with his partner-in-crime producer Jeepz or other incredible Ottawa MC’s like Hyf the Gypsy Sun. If you’re into smooth, intelligent, and beat-laden hip hop then G.Grand is someone you don’t want to miss.
Shannon Rose has been making music for a few years now, and her full-band project – now called Gold and Marrow – is making serious waves in Ottawa. Rose has proven herself to be one of the foremost songwriters in the region, alongside others such as Amanda Rheaume or Catriona Sturton.
A must-see for fans of: Feist
Tuesday, July 14 @ 7:15 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre
Callum Runciman and his band Grime Kings prove that music runs in the family – his sister Caylie’s band Boyhood has also turned heads in Ottawa. Grime Kings’ brand of lo-fi esoteric, fuzzy experimentations pushes the sonic limit and defies genre boundaries.
There is no other way to put it – HILOTRONS are a quintessential Ottawa band. Lead songwriter Mike Dubue’s influences are as diverse as they are obscure. The end result is album after album of relentlessly funky and imaginative songs, proving that Dubue is Ottawa’s musical mastermind.
A must-see for fans of: Talking Heads
Thursday, July 16 @ 8:15 p.m.
The man behind the epic FRENZY parties at Babylon, Iggy Smalls knows how to get things going. Don’t miss him play Diplo/Skrillex’s afterparty at Ritual tonight (July 8).
Joe Gaspar and his band put the “blues” in Bluesfest. Drawing on blues rock influences from the ’70s such as Cream and Led Zeppelin, the Joe Gaspar Band plays songs containing heavy riffs and intricate guitar solos of that era.
A must-see for fans of: Jimi Hendrix, Cream & Led Zeppelin
Ottawa-based singer-songwriter Kaleigh Watts finds beauty in simplicity by writing emotional and intense songs that create a truly incredible soundscape. Watts, who has been mentored by Juno and Canadian Folk Awards winner Lynn Miles, blends intricate acoustic fingerpicking with stirring vocal melodies.
“2009 Ottawa Red Bull Threestyle Champion, 4 Time Ottawa DMC Dj Battle champion, First title coming at the age of 15 years old. 2006 Canadian Team DMC Dj battle champions ( w/ Stylusts ) and competed at the DMC World Championships in London, England.”
“Kira Isabella has been performing her brand of up-tempo country music across Canada for more than a decade. Kira began dabbling in guitar and writing about love, life and boys. Initially, Kira delved into a variety of music, but when she discovered the likes of powerhouse country vocalists Shania Twain and Faith Hill, she knew she was hooked on country.”
Blending jazz, blues, and folk, Lucas Haneman has created his own sound and won many awards for his compositions. As an acclaimed fingerstylist and songwriter, Haneman and his band will be sure to get crowds moving at Bluesfest this year.
The best way to describe Lynne Hanson’s music is gritty, raw, and honest. It’s no surprise that she’s played shows in places like Memphis, Nashville, and Austin. With vocals that are on-point, songwriting that strikes to the core, and instrumentals that capture the soul of roots music, Hanson fits perfectly in such a stacked local lineup at Bluesfest.
A must-see for fans of: Caroline Herring
Thursday, July 9 @ 6 p.m.
Claridge Homes Stage
DJ Matt Tamblyn
Matt Tamblyn creates parties. If you’re one that scours town for places to get down, you’ve probably seen Tamblyn behind the decks at places like Parliament Pub or Mugshots. His repertoire includes SILK, Open Air Social Club, King of the Beach, and more.
MonkeyJunk are a Juno Award-winning modern blues rock band, proudly representing the nation’s capital across Canada. They have garnered a strong fan base internationally, touring Canada, the US, and Europe relentlessly. In just seven years, this band has become a Canadian staple.
A must-see for fans of: The Black Keys & Muddy Waters
This band takes neo-classical folk to another level, and have made a name for themselves internationally by creating beautifully textured and emotionally charged songs. Musk Ox create a rare brand of atmospheric, evocative, and harmonious music that resonates with our very core. This is a powerful, must-see chamber folk act.
This band plays the delta blues that would more typically be found in the deep heart of the Mississippi. A whaling harmonica, twangy hollow-body electric guitars, and raspy vocals – these guys are another band that keep the blues in Bluesfest going strong.
A must-see for fans of: John Lee Hooker & RL Burnside
Ottawa’s #1 party punk band, when New Swears perform mayhem ensues. Blow-up dolls, crowd surfers, whipped cream – these are all typical sights at a New Swears show. Do yourself a favour and strap on your seat belts, because this is one ride that’ll give you a concussion if you’re not ready.
These Ottawa veterans kick out serious jams, perfecting their crunchy proto-punk and garage rock sound that explodes from the stage. This three-piece band take us back to the CBGB’s era of early punk rock gods, and describe them selves as a cross somewhere between The Who and The Buzzcocks.
A must-see for fans of: Iggy & The Stooges, Fugazi
Another favourite of ours, Pony Girl creates intricate and consuming soundscapes. This is art-rock at its finest and it’s difficult to imagine a higher caliber of musicianship in this band. They will be playing many new songs from their upcoming epic Foreign Life, which has been about 10 years in the making.
A must-see for fans of: Broken Social Scene, The XX
Saturday, July 11 @ 7:30 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre
This power trio is yet another Ottawa Valley blues rock band that is making waves in the region. I first heard of this band when I came across their cover of “Dust My Broom,” the perennial classic tune written by blues legend Robert Johnson (and also happens to be one of my favourite blues songs). Get your blues fill with RCJ.
The layered and intricate instrumentation, high-energy orchestral nuances, and Matthew Saint Clare’s unhinged vocals that can only be compared to those of Frank Black of The Pixies. All of this melds into the distinctive sounds that Saint Clare create together. However motley a crew they may seem, their heterogeneity makes for a potent combination when such strong band chemistry exists.
If you want catchy, sexy, danceable rock music, then Silvergun & Spleen is the band for you. With an electric stage presence and an attitude that will smack you in the face, this band is ready to let loose and take on the big stage for the first time. Get close, but not too close – S&S will set the stage ablaze.
The Haig have a sound that is not easy to describe, and that’s why we love them. It’s a little bit of ’90s alt-rock/grunge mixed in with a twisted horror film. Their full-throttle rock has taken Ottawa by storm and propelled the band to great heights.
A must-see for fans of: Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead
“Formed in 1989, The Jivewires have jumped many musical and national borders. Taking their music from the jazz and satire of the ’40s and ’50s greats Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway, Wynonie Harris, and Louis Prima, The Jivewires throw a new spin on the Jump Blues tradition.”
A must-see for fans of: ‘Swing’, Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five
The Reverb Syndicate are Ottawa’s premier, and maybe only, instrumental surf and go-go band. The band’s bio perfectly describes them as “reverb-drenched surf/spy-fi sounds to accompany ’60s spy films, westerns, sci-fi films and old school video games that don’t exist.” You have to see to believe.
“A rock band with few genres barred, The Superlative mix their rock with reggae, ska, pop, punk, funk, blues and more. They consistently surprise crowds across Canada with their genre-bending shows. The band embrace the rock elements many of us know and love, while putting a unique new spin to each song they write.”
“The Visit is Heather Sita Black, a vocalist unchained, and Raphael Weinroth-Browne, a powerful cellist. Together they form a self-described defiance of genre, so terms like chamber or polystylistic don’t really fit the bill. The closest long-winded definition might be experimental/avant-garde classical.”
Thrifty Kids are one of the most exciting new bands in Ottawa, and have received high accolades for the few releases and shows they have played so far. Their atmospheric and relaxed sound makes them a perfect summer band, the kind of music you want to listen to when the sand is between your toes. Keep an eye out for this band, as they are getting set to do big things.
If there’s a list of bands that keep deep Ottawa’s folk roots going strong, Winchester Warm would be on top. Following in the footsteps of local greats such as Snailhouse, Jim Bryson, and The Acorn, WW’s beautiful vocal harmonies, irresistible arrangements, and heartfelt lyrics make them another addition to this city’s incredible list of folk greats.
The Yips are another favourite of ours, playing loud and fuzzy “ouija rock” – a term they coined for their distinctly creepy, overdriven garagy sound. The Yips’ shows are wild, with “rave ghosts” always appearing with sheets over their heads and letting loose. Don’t miss out on what one of Ottawa’s best bands has to offer.
A must-see for fans of: FIDLAR, Thee Oh Sees
Friday, July 17 @ 6 p.m.
“Specializing in soul music from the past, present & future from the world over, Zattar has been moving ‘soles’ since the dawn of the 21st century. Syncopated drums with a touch of nostalgia are his sounds of choice. Bringing many years of music knowledge and crate digging to every gig, expect the unexpected.”
Bonnie Doon kicked things off as the darkness of night had fully descended upon the front courtyard of SAW. They took the stage and warned that they had not sound checked. They opened with the heavily distorted and noisy “Pizza Shark” as neon balloons were thrown into the crowd. Once finished they said “that was a good soundcheck,” and continued with their set. The thing you notice right away at a Bonnie Doon show is that no one can deliver pterodactyl-like screams like Lesley Marshall can. The local four-piece played an excellent set overall, but what really stuck out for me was the song “Ghost Story” which I had never heard before. The song features Marshall talking more than singing as she tells story. Calmly telling a story over chaotic music while the smoke machine filled the tents with smoke, it right away made me think of Lou Reed and Velvet Underground. I loved it!
Bonnie Doon kicking things off at the SAW Courtyard (Photo: David Forcier)
The Yips were in the middle of the Doon and Bondar sandwich and they put on one hell of a show as always. Opening with “Sadie” and transitioning into “Orbit” as the smoke machine began to spew. The smoke machine was complimented by cigarette and created quite the dancy haze, it was a total Yips party. Was it the lighting through the haze and $3 beers that created ghostly looking shadows dancing on the inside of the tent, or were the ouija rockers channelling spirits before their set? We will never know. One thing we do know is The Yips were in top form after their mini East-Coast tour. They closed out with unrecorded track “GoGoGoya” and the crowd favourite “Pointe Dume.”
The Yips at the SAW Courtyard (Photo: David Forcier)
Bondar, formerly Roberta Bondar, closed out the night. I have seen Bondar play many times, but this was the first time seeing them with a guitarist, not called Alex Maltby, and the addition of keys. They rocked some of their great older stuff like “STD” early on their set, but the songs almost sounded like new tracks with the new members. Very cool to see songs you like getting a rebirth. Through out the set there was mostly black and white visuals behind the band with the occasional explosion of colours. They were really cool and provided by Brandon Ng. The clips ranged from ferocious wolves to scenes from the terminator. Bass player Gary Franks, being the showman that he is, moved off the stage into the crowd at one point to allow the fans up front to strum his bass, Lesley Marshall and Alana Why couldn’t resist the offering. Bondar clearly had no care for the 11 p.m. curfew, starting their last song, “Palm Bay” at 11:10. As their guitars dangled in front of their amps for added distortion at the end of their set, Bondar started the count down to Ottawa Explosion. See you all there in six weeks!
Bondar finishing off the night at the SAW Courtyard (Photo: David Forcier)
Next Wave was presented as part of the opening of the exhibition Michael DeForge: All Dogs Are Dogs, on view at SAW Gallery from April 30 to June 21. Find the whole photo gallery by David Forcier here.
Ottawa’s ghostly Ouija rockers The Yips and grungey psych-pop band Organ Eyes have teamed up for a banger of a four-track split on Bruised Tongue.
The first two tracks belong to The Yips. They kick off the album with a long time favourite of mine, “Let Go.” The very dancey track has me constantly thinking of Heath Ledger’s Joker as the chorus repeats “why so serious, so serious?” It has given me thrills every time I listened to it live and it is great to finally get a recorded version. Now I can get chills as I walk to work or cook supper. The second track “Obsession” really puts singer Kerri Carisse‘s vocals on display as the song gradually grows in intensity. The Yips keep impressing as they evolve musically and as a band, but still manage to stay true to that eerie vibe that attracted so many in the nation’s capital to them.
The second half of the split tape is when we hear Organ Eyes‘ contributions. “Expectations” takes a lot of the ethereal, spacey sound we love and applies it to this more upbeat, skippy beat. Organ Eyes aren’t typically a band whose music you’d be able to dance to, but this song is an exception. The back and forth vocals between Sam Pippa and Cam Steacy make for a good balance and discourse in the song. Organ Eyes are one of those bands that makes you wonder how a band from one of the coldest capitals in the world can make listeners feel like they’re lying on a beach. The song “Turtle Speed” is anything but, as it starts off with a feel-good lo-fi guitar riff and then bursts into Cam’s rapid vocals. The song gets increasingly frenetic but never loses its catchy pop underpinnings, even as Steacy’s guitar lets loose as the bass and percussion fill out the rest.
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.