This past weekend marked the 2014 edition of the Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls, and we were lucky enough to make it out to the main event on Sunday night. ORC4G is a non-profit organization that brings in girls aged 13 to 17 to learn instruments (bass, guitar, drums, or keyboard), practice with experienced teachers, form a band, and learn a song with fellow campers at Capital Rehearsal Studios (aka Gabba Hey!). After the workshops, lessons, and practice sessions, the final showcase event is where all the bands play their songs in front of a live audience. The camp, run by female volunteers/mentors, hopes to promote confidence and give these young ladies the tools they need to realize their potential through music.
It’s so great to see this kind of event garner support year after year, and continue to achieve their goals through active participation of both volunteers and students alike. For us in the music community, I think it goes without saying that learning these skills at a young age and becoming involved in a music community is one of the most fundamental aspects of building a strong scene. Without excited, young people picking up instruments and starting up bands in their garages, the music community weakens and eventually fizzles out. ORC4G is a door to a whole new world for these girls, and perhaps that first step to having them recognize that they can rock out on an instrument (or many!), meet other talented people, form a band, and who knows… maybe one day release an album! It’s all possible, and we all know because we were teens once – sometimes we just need that extra push.
Before I get started on reviewing each band, I have to say how impressed I was as a first-time attendee to the showcase. These girls were genuinely stoked to be there, and they kicked some ass on stage. I mean, come on. They have one weekend together to learn, practice, and play a song before the showcase. That is hardcore, and I was genuinely proud to see these young ladies get on stage and own it. And also a big shoutout to the volunteers for being the perfect role models, I could see how dedicated and proud they were to be involved with this organization. Check out some great shots by Bruce Gordon on his photoblog called wildscotsman! Without further ado, here is a rundown of the night’s performances.
Band #1: Screaming Muppet
Song: “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill
Band Members: Bronwyn, Brynn, Camille, Ella
Thoughts: As the first band up, it must have been a little nerve-racking. But Screaming Muppet got on stage with confidence and absolutely blew us away. What better way to begin by singing “Rebel Girl,” as Kathleen Hanna is one of the best out there. The band captured the spirit of the song and the songwriter, and set the tone for what was an exciting night of music. The band was clearly well-rehearsed and knew their stuff, and one could really see how much fun they were having on stage. This band had such good chemistry, I got the feeling right away that they had been playing together for a few years.
High-fives: For nailing the group vocals on the chorus!
In the future, I could see this band opening for: The Kills
Band #2: Moist Ice
Song: “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash
Band Members: Enid, Ally, Joy, Kasey
Thoughts: As the band was setting up, they decided to break some of the awkward silence by telling a few jokes. “What’s Michelle Obama’s favourite vegetable?” asked the drummer. “BARAKOLI!” We were all laughing with Moist Ice, which, as organizer Laurie pointed out, happens to be what we commonly know as “water”. This is a tough song, and the girls kept up and played this classic that we all know and love. Who doesn’t love The Clash? They are definitely one of my all-time favourite bands, and it made me so happy to hear them start playing those chords. Their harmonies were right on, and the rawness that The Clash were known for was emanating from the stage. Pure punk rock.
High-fives: For playing a difficult song and sticking with it, and for a performance that would have made the late Joe Strummer proud. And having the most clever band name.
In the future, I could see this band opening for: Rancid
Band #3: Lumpy House
Song: “Stompa” by Serena Ryder
Band Members: Vanessa, Willa, Jessica, Kassi, Natasha
Thoughts: Although I’m not too familiar with Serena Ryder’s music, I think we can all agree that this song is super catchy and funky. She’s also one of the most prominent and talented female musicians out there right now. The challenge for Lumpy House was to keep all the pieces of this song together, and try to hold onto that energy that Serena is known for. Well, they did that and more. Everyone was blown away by how well this band played together, playing in unison and nailing almost every note. The singing and instruments worked together to really create a live music atmosphere.
High-fives: For getting everyone out of their chairs, onto their feet, and clapping along. Hell, they almost got a mosh pit of moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas going!
In the future, I could see this band opening for: The Black Keys
Band #4: Last Death
Song: “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow
Band Members: Victoria, Halle, Marin, Vero
Thoughts: It was so fitting that the band with the darkest, most emo band name got stuck with the most light-hearted pop song ever written (the band is not to be confused with early 2000s child rapper Lil’ Bow Wow). Irony aside, I can honestly say that I liked Last Death’s version better than the original (I’ve always considered the original a complete rip-off of Bo Diddley.) The band was a powerhouse, with incredible vocals, near-perfect drumming, and with the bass and guitar making us all want to go pick up our surf boards and drive to the beach. There were even a couple solos in there! It was nice to have an 80s New Wave band included in the mix (and Bo Diddley too!) – it’s really important that the younger generations learn a wide range of genres and bands. There’s no better way to learn about music and eventually find out what your favourite band or genres is. There was clearly a lot of talent in this band, and the energy was exploding from the stage.
High-fives: While all band members deserve multiple high-fives, the drummer did an exceptional job at playing the difficult “Bo Diddley” rhythm so well and helping me enjoy this song more than I ever have.
In the future, I could see this band opening for: The White Stripes (if they ever get back together)
Band #5: Sassy Droplets
Song: “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar
Band Members: Madison, Megan, Bailey, Rah-Rah (Saira), Renee
Thoughts: This song is a classic. Pat Benatar is on the level of Joan Jett as far as “most badass” female musicians go. Anyone who thinks women can’t rock as hard as men should have seen the Sassy Droplets take this song to another level. The lead singer’s vocals were very strong, as she hit all the right notes and added some Benatar-esque flare. They had the attitude, the talent, and the confidence all in one. They really worked well on stage, and I was really impressed with how all the band members kept the song together – both vocally and instrumentally. Their stage presence was memorable, and they owned it.
High-fives: Again, the whole band deserves high-fives! But a few extra ones for singing and playing drums AT THE SAME TIME, and for a wicked guitar solo in there.
In the future, I could see this band opening for: Joan Jett (or The Runaways)
Band #6: Sparkly Waffles
Song: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
Band Members: Madi, Evelyn, Leah, Frances
Thoughts: The final act of the night delivered a real treat to all of us who have some recollection of the 1990s. They played “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, which became a worldwide phenomenon (much to the displeasure of Cobain) and virtually became an anthem for a generation of disaffected youth… myself included. I was so happy to hear one of my favourite bands being played by a new generation of musicians. The drummer had the song nailed down, and was a mini Dave Grohl up there. The band captured the darkness and apathy of a former generation while on stage, and it actually reminded me of the music video with all the youngsters up there going crazy and getting into it. Mind you, missing were the anarchist cheerleaders, a thick haze, and an eventual riot. What’s even cooler is that one of the girls is named Frances, the same as Cobain’s daughter Frances Bean. A possible sign? Only time will tell…
High-fives: For really letting loose and making us feel like we were actually in a Nirvana music video… plus the guitarist nailed the solo!
In the future, I could see this band opening for: Death From Above 1979
Here’s some great pictures from this year’s camp!