Arboretum Festival: First Line-Up Annoucement
Kevin Drew (of Broken Social Scene), Constantines (on their reunion tour) and Chad VanGaalen are just some of the most excellent bands that will be gracing Ottawa in late August during the third edition of the Arboretum Festival.
The Arboretum Festival, Ottawa’s new music and cultural showcase has done it again. They assembled another great line-up full of some of my favourite local bands (Steve Adamyk, The Yips, New Swears, Pony Girl…) and great out of town talent. What is most exciting, is that this is only the first round of announcements.
The festival takes place outdoors August 18 to 23 on the historic grounds of downtown Ottawa’s Arts Court. But the ever growing festival is also expanding region-wide to include programming in over a dozen venues, clubs and restaurants around Ottawa-Gatineau.
Take a look below and have a listen to all the wonderful talent coming to the Arboretum Festival this year.
Roberta Bondar’s Tape Release at Café Alt
Roberta Bondar brought their dark noise rock to Café Alt Friday March 22, for their tape release party .
Yes I said tape, as in cassette. If you have never seen Roberta Bondar, you are missing out on some of the best dark garage rock in town. Roberta Bondar, not to be confused with Canada’s first female astronaut, played powerful songs with flares of danceyness and pristine moments of organized chaos. Lidija Rozitis has an amazingly chilling voice that pairs so well with the sound the band pumps out. They blasted through a set full of great songs in front of a packed house, including one of my favourites, STD.
At the end of the set Lidija invited everyone to, “come party at the jail with The Yips, that is where we are going!”
Before Roberta Bondar, the crowd was treated to a no-holds-barred noisy rocking set by Hamilton’s WTCHS. Stopping only to take a sip of beer, this foursome let their music do the talking. Great rock and very tight transitions teamed up with eery backing vocals and driving drums make WTCHS a must see. Call me sexist or chauvinist if you must, but there is something about a female drummer that makes me weak in the knees, and she sure can whale. If you like non-stop no bs loud rock, check out this band.
Opening up the night was Couples, from Montreal. Their set started off with some slower tracks, but by their third song it was clear that they were only going to get better as they went on. As per the theme of the night, they played straight forward no filler garage rocking tunes. Lead singer, Adam Fiore, thanked the crowd for showing up for their early set. “If this was Montreal no one would be here, so thanks for coming out early.”
Café Alt has a great artsy feel to it with stained glass hanging in front of the overhead lighting and rocks with pieces of glass on them hanging from the ceiling deflecting light. They have a psychedelic colours and images playing on some projection screens and top it all off with $3.50 Kichesippi beers.
I just wanted to give a little shout out to whomever was playing the music between bands, great choices!
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Wild Domestic Breaks Loose
London, Ontario’s Wild Domestic is a band that has an ability to draw you into their music, captivate your senses, and then leave you wanting more. The band is with Out Of Sound, a London-based label with bands like WTCHS (Hamilton), Lonnie in the Garden (London), and Say Domino! under their purview. I sat down with them before their show at Pressed on Saturday to discuss their music, the band, and what they have up their sleeves for the coming year. They are currently on a short tour with Lonnie, expanding their horizons beyond London and proving that just because you come from a smaller city doesn’t mean your audience has to be small.
“I think it’s really easy to over saturate the market. You don’t have a very wide demographic to present to. In London especially, there’s a bureaucratic and political aspect to being in a town with a big university and college.”
“Those institutions and student organizations have the money to bring in big acts, and it often stifles other core urban venues. On the flip side, because things are so insular, you really get to know the people you like to work with (Like Savanah and Adam from Out of Sound). With the idea of over saturation, you have to be careful about playing too much. We played as much as we could for a while and we unknowingly over saturated the scene in London. Even in Sarnia, we over-played it and the same thing happened. Now we play every 4-6 months, the magic combination. We had a music teacher that specifically told us not to get stuck in London. Even though there is great support there, it’s so easy to get stuck. We have bigger aspirations.”
The band is actually from Sarnia, Ontario, and the guys were all childhood friends but didn’t start playing as a band until they moved to London. Once together, they began writing material and playing coffee shops and other local establishments. Like many groups, they have taken many forms, and even one time called themselves Kid Skeleton – a 7-piece outfit with a trumpet. In this evolution, they honed their skills as each member brought different abilities to the table.
“There’s a lot of people in the band, and frequently it so happens that someone comes with a riff or a groove in mind – just as a base – then we kind of build from that.”
“Sometimes that ends up being the infrastructure of the song and go with that, or it may just be one of the steps, or we might get rid of a bunch of things and what’s left is what we go with. It usually stems from one or two people. But it’s always a collaboration.”
Now a 5-piece, the band took the stage at Pressed and played several tracks from their 2011 debut self-titled release. One thing that is pretty cool about them is their instrumentation. With every member taking on an instrumental role, most of their songs are driven by the music and not lyrics. It’s one thing that really made Wild Domestic stand out for me – their ability to create layers of instrumentals and sounds that keep you listening. Sometimes instrumental tracks can get boring or repetitive, but their songs tend to come in waves. You get a wave of heavy percussion, then a seamless transition into a more dreamy/reverb-driven guitar part, and so on. The opening track “Universally Known/Already Forgotten” on their record is a perfect example of this dynamic.
“For us the instrumentation always comes first, it’s what we work on the most. It’s an unspoken, unconscious thing for us that we want to get the instrumentation as strong as possible. So that approach sometimes doesn’t leave room for vocals because it would muddle things up a bit.”
“I think a lot of the music we’ve written doesn’t have space for putting words in. It just wouldn’t fit well. Sometimes we think lyrics could go one place or another, but we don’t want it to feel forced. It’s not worth it for us to force something into the music.”
Something else that stood out to me right away was their use of dual drum kits. The song “What Once Ran Wild” begins with the two of them simultaneously unleashing on the drums, and as the song progresses, guiding the buildup and climactic parts, and then bringing things back down again. It was especially interesting to see Nate and Devon move as exact mirrors of each other on stage, then move into separate parts, and then come back together as if they were pre-programmed to do so.
“Our big dilemma was there was already three guitar players so we had to figure out who was playing what. So we decided to go with two drums, we weirded things up almost by necessity. We had to do something differently with so many people.”
It’s exciting that these guys will be looking to write more in 2013. I feel as though their style can really accommodate a lot of experimentation and incorporation of new arrangements and sounds. Right now they’re pretty stoked about a 7” split they are included on, which is the second edition that Out of Sound Records has released.
“It’s a great opportunity to get a good bill together and get a bunch of artists on one release. Fairly short, easily consumed so to speak.”
The 7” split includes Wild Domestic (London), Bleet (Guelph), I Smell Blood (London), and WTCHS (Hamilton) – all great bands on the Out of Sounds label. Keep an ear out for new music and more tour announcements, as the band is hoping to get an East Coast trip under their belt. Going out west is a goal of theirs too, and they want to make 2013 that year.
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