Arboretum Music Festival, the late-summer sonic showcase that turns 5 this year, returns Aug. 17-20 with an impressive musical lineup. We spoke to Rolf Klausener, Arboretum’s creative director, for a run-down of the acts:
What makes the festival special?
The people that attend it, and the people that create it. What we’ve heard from the community at large is that Arboretum Music Festival embodies Ottawa’s new wave of culture that’s been taking shape over the last decade. We’re inclusive without being overtly touristy; we’re fiercely local while embracing national and international programming. Without being too immodest, we avoid the easy sell, and try to provide Ottawa-Gatineau with an experience that stands-up against any boutique festival of comparable size — whether in New York, Toronto, or other major centres.
First and foremost, that this is happening in Ottawa, but also, the variety of experiences we offer and the depth of our programming. From all-night parties and radically transformed outdoor concert spaces to internationally-acclaimed artists, Arboretum Music Festival curates new and emerging artists, food, and cultural talks with a level of accessibility usually reserved for bigger, commercial festivals.
Any recommendations for this year’s fest?
Impossible to choose, but some highlights include: underground hip hop from rising stars Junglepussy (Aug. 20) and Mykki Blanco (Aug. 20); Sloan (Aug. 19) performs their classic album, One Chord To Another, on its 20th anniversary; our new Beau’s Beer Garden and City Night Bazaar; acclaimed experimental musician Tim Hecker (Aug. 18) performing in a church; and our massive array of day-parties and club shows.
A healthy dose of Heavy Medicine Band (Aug. 17); Arcade Fire’s drummer Jeremy Gara (Aug. 18); Montreal’s Operators, led by Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner (Aug. 20); Toronto art-rock outfit Hooded Fang (Aug. 19); Sloan (Aug. 19) will, of course, bring out “the good in everyone.” Locally, check out Her Harbour, aka songwriter Gabrielle Giguere. Finally, for something local and louder, check out Ottawa-born noise rockers METZ (Aug. 19).
City Hall’s outdoor space is intimate and convenient — ideal to host a festival village and multiple stages. This is the fest for new discoveries; showcase venues around the city offer a must-do scavenger hunt of the city’s live music scene. The inclusive outdoor and indoor festival also offers provides space to local artists, chefs and craft brewers with special events, vendors and venues. For more, check out the festival’s site.