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Photo: Alex Wilson

Gig Pick: Bonnie Doon at Bon-Fire—08.17.18

By Jared Davidson on August 16, 2018

Punk rockers are known for pushing boundaries, but until Bonnie Doon, I’d never seen a video featuring a pregnant musician dancing atop a car whose decor suggests one theme: death. New life meets a death car. That’s pretty punk.

Also punk: the band’s song about reviled/beloved local restaurant Pizza Shark. Released back in 2010, the song enshrined Ottawa’s most popular drunk-pizza place, which is both famously bad and amazingly good, depending on who you ask and how many beers they have had. The video for this song was shot in the actual Pizza Shark on Gladstone Ave. Apparently, all they had to do was ask.

Lesley Demon, frontwoman and guitarist for Bonnie Doon (who play Friday night at Arboretum’s Bon-Fire), employed a similar strategy for “Now or Neverish” (from last year’s Dooner Nooner). This video features an ensemble of cars, which came together through Demon’s Ottawa contacts, and some happenstance.

Demon says she was riding down Bank and saw the car that is most often referred to as the “Grim Reaper Truck”. After the lit up, decorated car that tours The Market at night, the Grim Reaper Truck is probably Ottawa’s most notorious vehicle.

“I was like… ‘I’ll never be this close to him again,’” says Demon. She approached the driver, got his info, and after carrying it around in her pocket for two years, the video finally happened. And it was glorious.

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The Doon seem to have a proclivity towards spontaneous magic like this. Their music is all written live by five women jamming and contributing to the creative process.

“We tend to write bits of stuff, then string it all together,” says the member known as The Drummer. “I usually come in last.”

What results is Bonnie Doon’s unique form of punk rock, with fuzzy guitars, surfy chord progressions, and a fuck-you attitude. Everything about this band is just pure personality.

So who is this elusive Bonnie? Well, it depends who you ask. Bonnie Doon is a neighbourhood in Edmonton, but it’s also a winery, a cookie, and a river in Scotland. The band says they were conscious of the confusing nature of their name, and like to play it up. Sometimes, when people ask them which one of them is Bonnie, one of the women will take on the role. If Bonnie Doon were a person, she’d probably be…

She’d probably like pizza. And cars. Bonnie sounds pretty cool.

Bonnie Doon play Arboretum Festival’s Bon-Fire at Rideau Pines Farm (5714 Fourth Line Rd) on Friday August 17, 2018. Weekend passes range from $49.99–59.99 and include a shuttle bus to/from downtown Ottawa. Weekend and day passes are available online. Visit for the full schedule.