Megaphono festival underway in Ottawa: pics & report from day 1 w/ The Acorn, Emilie & Ogden, more
The Acorn / Emilie & Ogden / Patchostars @ Megaphono 2/2/2016
The second annual Megaphono music festival kicked off earlier this week in Ottawa, Canada. Focusing on the Ottawa music scene, the industry event has brought delegates from North America and abroad in a large swath of capacities from booking agents to publicists, managers to music publishers. And even a photographer from New York. I’ll be filing dispatches from the four-day festival here in Canada’s capital and we get started with the first day of the festival from Tuesday (2/2).
The opening night of Megaphono began in the gorgeous St. Alban’s Church and a keynote speech by rock critic Jessica Hopper. Her book, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, was released last year. Hopper’s keynote address was brief, 20 maybe 25 minutes tops and touched on the state of women, and their treatment, in a male-dominated music industry. Disappointing was the lack of Q&A after the address. The forum to have a conversation was an opportunity lost – especially in the wake of last month’s flashpoint and fallout over the Heathcliff Berru allegations – and would have dovetailed nicely with the Safe Spaces panel taking place the next day.
The evening’s showcase was headlined by The Acorn. Rolf Klausener returned with last year’s Vieux Loup and he and his band performed a dreamy set of electro-folk pop numbers and, being the only full band of the night, their sound filled the church as holiday lights adorned the stage at their feet and lights projected overhead danced and into the chapel behind them.
The first two bands of the night – both solo artists – were a contrast in styles: the thumping sampled-beats-over-airy-vocals of Pipahauntas (Sam Pippa) and the sparse, lovely melodies of Emilie Khan and her harp, Ogden – together making up the duo Emilie & Ogden. On record Khan’s voice and harp playing are complemented by multiple instruments, but at St. Alban’s she held the sold-out crowd’s attention with just her her voice and instrument.
From the church we headed to the later showcases at two venues next door to each other – Black Squirrel Books and The House of Targ – a subterranean dive bar complete with pinball machines and noted for their pierogi (which were excellent.)
At Black Squirrel I caught November, the solo project by Gregory-Yves Fénélon, and Heavy Bedroom, a project by Alex Maltby. Heavy Bedroom was tipped as one to see by the locals I had chatted with earlier in the day. I enjoyed their brief set of lo-fi rock with songs that structurally seemed to teeter on the brink of collapse. This was heightened by the slightly rough around the edges performance and the revelation that he had rounded up his drummer and bass player to learn the songs in just three weeks.
I finished the evening at House of Targ where I saw solid set by Montreal’s Congo-born francophone rapper Patchostars before calling it an early night with panels to attend early the next morning.
Stay tuned for more coverage of Megaphono. More pictures from Day 1 are below…
Emilie & Ogden