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Five lesser-known picks for Ottawa Explosion Weekend

By Lee Pepper on June 17, 2015



Unless your knowledge of punk, garage, and associated genres is truly encyclopedic, Ottawa Explosion Weekend can be a pretty overwhelming prospect. The annual music festival has been growing steadily since its inception, and this year, the “weekend” runs from this Tuesday to the following Monday, and features over eighty bands from Ottawa and around the world. You can see the full schedule here, or pick up a copy of Small Talk for a more legible paper version.

However, if you’re still feeling intimidated, we’re here to help with some tips on interesting events around the periphery of Ottawa Explosion Weekend. You might not be ready to dive right into the mosh pit, but OXW brings lots of creative and talented folks into town, and is a great showcase for established and up-and-coming artists in Ottawa.

1. Check out some music-themed local art on Elgin St.

The Manx and OZ Kafe are hosting parallel exhibitions of OXW-related art.  The opening parties for both were on Tuesday, but the art will be up for a while. The Manx has photos by local music photographers David Forcier, Nick Von Shaw, and Darryl Reid, while OZ has an exhibition of show posters by local artists.  It’s a great excuse to revisit these Elgin Street institutions and enjoy some local art.

2. Take a quiet moment at the zine reading

If you’re feeling a little overstimulated or your tastes run to quieter activities, OXW is also hosting a zine reading on Saturday afternoon at Club Saw. You can hear readings by two out-of-town zine writers, Jeff Miller, whose zine Ghost Pine is coming up on its 20th anniversary, and Legs Florentine, whose band Poor Form is playing OXW, as well as three local readers, Isz Janeway, SADBOY, and Jennifer Whiteford.

A sample page from the OXW colouring book

A sample page from the OXW colouring book

3. Teach your kids about punk rock

This year, Ottawa Explosion is offering a Kidzone where parent volunteers will take care of smaller music fans while their adults are busy enjoying the shows.  Participating kids will get a limited-edition colouring book of OXW bands that’s making many fully-grown music fans jealous.

4. Debate with your friends who the Mystery Band will be

There will be an at-time-of-press-as-yet-unannounced Mystery Band playing Saturday night at Club Saw.  Speculation on the event’s Facebook page has been rampant.  If you like surprises, Saturday night is the night for you.

5. Save some energy for the Monday night bonus round

If you’re a true die-hard, or you haven’t been up absolutely all night for the past five nights, stop by Black Squirrel Books in Old Ottawa South for the OXW Bonus Round. Local band Creep Wave will be playing their first-ever show, along with Tenement, from Wisconsin, and Big Zit, from Chicago, plus you can browse the shelves.


Lily Pepper is an Apt613 contributor and editorial assistant, as well as the drummer in Gaycation, who are also playing at Ottawa Explosion: catch them Sunday afternoon at Club Saw.