Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani.
How best to decide what to see at this week’s Ottawa Explosion punk fest? Start by listening to the tracks streaming here and consult the schedule. There are dozens of bands ranging from scrappy upstart rawkers, to three-chord wonders, to bands that sound like they listen to the Buzzcocks too much (c’est possible?). The bands are from Ottawa, the rest of Canada, and the U.S., and play various downtown venues daily until Sunday.
What to see? Here are some Ottawa Magazine picks with hyperlinks to past Sound Seekers’ profiles to help you plan your schedule.
-We like the psychedelic leanings of The Shakey Aches (playing Friday at Club Saw)
-Revel in the chick-power attitude of The Johnnies (also at Saw on Friday)
-Soak up the experimental tendencies of Eraserheads (playing Babylon on Friday)
-Head nod along to the bonehead-simple lyrics of And What Army (playing Friday at Mugshots at the Ottawa Jail Hostel)
-We’re also liking the pop leanings of the Mean Jeans from Portland, Oregon. They’re fun and you can dance to their music, but it doesn’t sound like the mall punk aimed at tweens — it’s still gnarly enough (Saturday at Maverick’s). The Mean Jeans are on the Dirtnap Records label, which also releases stuff by Ottawa’s Steve Adamyk Band, who is playing Friday at Maverick’s.
By the Numbers: Background Deets on the Festival
2: This is the second year of the Ottawa Explosion festival, which grew out of three annual GaGa Weekends, organized by Ian Manhire of the band White Wires. Emmanuel Sayer and Luke Martin took over the booking of this festival.
15: That’s how many years Martin has been organizing shows in Ottawa, back when he booked his bands The Cruds and The Detrimentals into Bumpers on Bank Street. Remember Bumpers?
7: That’s how many venues Sayer and Martin used when booking the Rock ‘n’ Roll Pizza Party event which ran from 2006-2010. The concept was simple: rawk and pizza on a Thursday night in Ottawa. Show up, eat, and wear ear plugs.
1: Number of booking agents Sayer and Martin dealt with for the festival. “It’s not about big headlining acts,” Martin says. “For us, the Ottawa Explosion is about who’s new and good. This isn’t an industry thing the way other festivals are (see: NXNE, SXSW, CMW, other acronyms). Frankly, we’re turned off by how the industry works. We want to work with people because it’s fun, not because they want to be famous.”
170: Number of musicians playing the festival, in 76 bands.
250: Number of passes being sold. Organizers didn’t want to flood the market and risk having more passes than club capacity, resulting in lineups and angry tweets à la Junofest.
200: Amount bands are paid. “We look for bands that tour around in a van, play for 50 people, and put on a good show,” Martin says. “We say, ‘Hey, come play, we’ll give you guys $200 and some beer and you’ll get to see some cool shows.’”
Ottawa Explosion runs until June 17 at various downtown venues. Wristbands are $46, while individual tickets run from $5-$10.
ALSO HAPPENING THIS WEEK:
TimeKode, the monthly sweatfest favoured by hipsters and their friends, takes place Friday, June 15, with DJs Chris International, Zattar, Eric Roberts, and Memetic. The vinyl slaves play the new stuff, the classic stuff, and only the good stuff. Cover is a fiver and it really kicks up after 11 p.m. However, there’s always a lineup, so best to get there earlier. Eri Café, 953 Somerset St. W.
The Night Light Collective is planning an AV onslaught for Saturday. That’s when a handful of artists will redefine the space at Raw Sugar Café into a dreamland for the artistically inclined (or for those who are merely high) with music and art being created on site. Hear music by DJs CPI and Memetic and by electronic music duo Raas, who project video art during their sets. Painters Carmela Marrese and Stefan Thompson will be showing and creating works. Thompson’s green leanings are most interesting. 8 p.m., 692 Somerset St. W.
Vancouver band Brasstronaut (hazy nu-jazz) is wrapping up a 20-date tour with their Icelandic guests Útidúr (10-piece choral indie rock). They swing through Ottawa Wednesday. Maverick’s, 221 Rideau St.
Gigspace — the tiny venue inside Alcorn Music on Gladstone Ave., beside the EBA — hosts a guitar festival on Sunday afternoon with performances throughout the day and a chance to meet luthiers (someone who makes or repairs lutes and other string instruments). While there, check out John Sekerka’s playable art. The artist and former Ottawa Xpress writer is showing 19 old, unwanted, discarded, or neglected guitars that he has picked up and repaired. “I go to work on ‘em a lot,” Sekerka says. “I re-shape using saws, some I just paint. The idea is to resurrect idle music instruments and bring them back to life as art pieces. You can play them, or you can hang them — preferably both.” www.hipcrank.com/guitars.html
SAVE THE DATE FOR…
Polaris, Canada’s music prize, announced its 40-album long list today in Vancouver. Throughout the year, some 200 music writers (myself included) debate the merits of current Canadian albums, and then submit our votes for album of the year. Votes are tallied until the majority determines a winner. The short list is announced on July 17 and the final prize will be revealed in September. Long list bands with Ottawa roots include Kathleen Edwards and A Tribe Called Red.
You’ll have a chance to hear all your favourite tunes from back in the day (and to make a fool of yourself) at a night of hip-hop karaoke being hosted by MC Atherton and Dee Jay So Nice on June 21 at the Ottawa Jail Hostel.
It’s like a book club for music nerds: The Wellington Record Club hosts a monthly listening party of classic albums. The rules are simple and strict: don’t be late, shut up, and listen — then discuss. The first one takes place July 3 at the Wellington Gastropub with Radiohead’s OK Computer. Advance registration required. Deets via their Twitter account.