Festival Preview: Winterlude Sub-Zero Concert Series (Jan 30 – Feb 13)

After a successful first weekend of the Rideau Canal skateway, many in Ottawa are gearing themselves for this year’s Winterlude. Organizers are attempting to build a bit of heat for this year’s festival with their Sub-Zero concert series, taking place over three weekends at Confederation Park. Beginning on Jan 30th there will be live music on Fridays and Saturdays with a variety of Canadian artists. In typical government fashion, several bases of diversity are represented – you’ve got your strong female singers with Terra Lightfoot and Whitehorse; racial diversity with A Tribe Called Red; and linguistic duality through Misteur Valaire.



Saturday, Jan 30 A Tribe Called Red
Friday, Feb 5 Terra Lightfoot
Saturday, Feb 6 Misteur Valaire
Friday, Feb 12 Hilotrons
Saturday, Feb 13 Whitehorse

*All shows begin around 7:30 PM at Confederation Park

The thing about outdoor winter concerts is that dancing is pretty key to avoid frostbite. So rather than a chronological preview, each musical act will instead be ranked through their anticipated warmth factor using the spicy Scoville Scale.



Ottawa success-story A Tribe Called Red are a sure bet to keep the dance-floor moving, with infectious beats and a dedicated local following. In lieu of their usual month Electric Pow Wow, they’ve kept busy in recent months with a spotlight at the NAC’s #FOMO 5th Anniversary Party and other high-profile shows. While they haven’t had a studio album in a few years, they’ve released a few tracks and an EP in 2015, keeping their material fresh.

Scoville Scale heat ranking: 100,000–350,000 SHU


The only band in this line-up that isn’t from Ontario is Montreal’s Misteur Valaire. Making waves on Quebec’s music scene, the band are instantly catchy and are sure to put on a great show. Boasting a repertoire of modern danceable beats held together by a little synth, they have several members who play instruments and will find a range of musical fans. Their songs vary from EDM inspired funk to rock-rap. Also, their mix of French and English lyrics will captivate audiences speaking both languages.

Scoville Scale heat ranking: 100,000–350,000 SHU


The melodic folk-rock of Whitehorse might not inspire a dedicated dance-floor, but the well-composed tunes will certainly encourage the audience to bob their heads along.The moody folk-rock mixed with an occasional upbeat piece will reverberate beautifully onto the McKenzie King bridge and the Rideau Canal, providing a fitting end to the concert series.

Scoville Scale heat ranking: 30,000–50,000 SHU


Terra Lightfoot and her band have a few different styles – they vary between catchy guitars riffs where I want to sing along, to slow melodic songs with poetic lyrics that pack an emotional punch but might have the audience dissipating on a cold night. That being said, the indie-rock-blues front woman is all sorts of badass and she sure can carry a tune.

Scoville Scale heat ranking: 10,000–25,000 SHU


Local veterans the Hilotrons will be rocking on the upbeat with heavy bass and solid instrumental synergy. They’re funky and will get some people moving, but their slightly off-center music would probably fare better in a dark concert hall than a cold outdoor venue.

Scoville Scale heat ranking: 1,000-20,000 SHU

Featured image: C. Robinson