Megaphono fest day 2 pics/review: Duchess Says, Andy Shauf, Boyhood, Michael Feuerstack, Merganzer & more
Andy Shauf / Duchess Says @ Megaphono 2/3/2016
I was told throughout the week that the Ottawa winter I had entered was mild by their standards. And rushing past the sad, completely empty Rideau Canal - usually bustling with ice skaters - on the way to the keynote address on Day One drove that point home.
So, waking up on Day Two of Megaphono and seeing a dusting of snow, the streets and sidewalks already slushy from the morning commute, was a reminder that snowy and bitterly cold are very much synonymous with Ottawa and Canada in general.
After participating in panels and networking events during the day, my show-going began at Pressed Cafe, a coffee and sandwich shop and the Folk Music Ontario-presented showcase featuring three singer-songwriters: Danielle Allard, Amanda Lowe, and Michael Feuerstack. Megaphono is heavily focused on Ottawa talent and thus I had only heard of a few bands heading into the festival and seen only one of them previously and that was Feuerstack.
Leading off the afternoon session was Danielle Allard. Through most of her set, especially the ones where she was playing guitar, I kept thinking how much she reminded me of Ingrid Michaelson, with an engaging voice that lies somewhere between Michaelson and Jenny Lewis. Allard's humor and self-effacing nature made her set a winning start to a long evening of shows.
Sri Lankan singer-songwriter Amanda Lowe was next and played sweet and sad songs about ex-lovers. Feuerstack rounded out the afternoon singing smartly-worded songs over hushed acoustic guitar melodies. "You turn your head for half a second / And someone's carrying them away to make somebody stay," he sang on "Flowers in the City." It was good to see him perform again having last seen him at Pop Montreal a few years ago.
From there it was back to St. Alban's Church where I caught former Timber Timbre violinist Mika Posen and her new solo project Merganzer. The church was the perfect setting for her haunting experimental pop, backed with a band and her own mellotron-like "mikatron" providing loops and samples.
Headlining the sold-out showcase was Andy Shauf, a singer-songwriter whose easy-going '70s soft rock is layered with a pleasing voice that drifts heavily toward Elliott Smith. I could have stayed but I wanted to catch Boyhood over at the Dominion Tavern so I ducked out a bit early.
Arriving at "The Dirty Dom" they were near capacity as Boyhood, led by Caylie Runciman, powered through scruffy alt-pop songs with her band. It was a slightly ramshackle but completely winning set and I enjoyed it immensely.
I escaped the crowd for a bit, heading next door to Zaphod Beeblebrox to catch The Pep Tides, an effervescent collective glammed-up in B-52's-esque outfits singing theatrical pop songs. I stayed for a few numbers. It was fun but I wanted to make sure I had a decent spot for the last show of the night, Duchess Says, so I headed back over to The Dom.
BV's given Duchess Says a lot of love over the years and I'd somehow never managed to catch their live set. Annie-Claude Deschenes was more ringleader than frontwoman, cajoling the crowd to get down on the floor, covering them in a clear plastic tarp at one point, she hopped into the crowd at another and took a swig out of someone's beer. People danced on the stage as Deschenes screamed and howled and made terrifying faces. In a dive like the Dominion Tavern with the crowd pressed up close, it was intense and feverish and a great end to the second day of Megaphono.
Pictures and recap of Megaphono's first day are HERE. More pic from day 2 are below...
The Pep Tides