Last weekend I took the train from Montreal to Ottawa for Ottawa Explosion. For full transparency, my band Blood Beach was playing the Clock Tower parking lot gig Saturday afternoon, but I’ve been meaning to check this festival out for a while. This was my first time in Ottawa, and I’m still trying to process all the warmth I was met with. Here are some personal festival highlights, in some kind of order:
BBQT @ the Clock Tower Parking lot
“This song is about being dumped on Valentine’s day,” lead guitarist Amery Sandford said before playing OK CUPID from BBQT’s new EP ALL FOR SHOW. When she said that, I felt it, and that’s what BBQT is all about: feeling and sharing. These are more than pop songs, they are vulnerable anthems we can all relate to. The highlight of the show was when they played PEPSI from their first self-titled EP; everyone knew the words, or found it so catchy they pretended to.
Future Girls @ Clock Tower Parking lot
Halifax’s Future Girls started their set with the song Bowing Out from their newest LP Motivation Problems. My favorite lyric of the song “And why does everyone around me always bum me out?” made me feel like Matty Grace has a knack for writing lyrics that come from her heart and can empathize with others’ anxieties. Bassist B even covered their other band, Goldbloom’s song. Future Girls dish out a little bit of everything.
Martha @ Babylon Nightclub
I saw Martha play twice on Saturday; earlier at the Clock Tower Parking lot and later at the Babylon Nightclub. They were electric and energetic both times, playing almost an entirely different setlist for each show. I was eager to hear my favorite track “1967, I miss you, I’m lonely,” which they played at both sets, and each time the crowd sang along to every word. Martha are as sweet as they are political; their lyrics make you feel seen and encouraged.
All ages scene @ The Clock Tower Parking Lot
This is a side note but an important one; Ottawa Explosion put a lot of energy into making the Clock Tower Parking Lot an all ages venue. They even had a daycare downstairs where you could take your little bud for a break or a quick babysit! I can’t tell you how heartwarming it was to see kids rocking out with huge protective ear muffs along to Martha. The inclusion at Ottawa Explosion seems effortless.
Martha at the Babylon Nightclub
STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Stephanie Muise