The Ottawa indie rock collective has been going strong for just shy of ten years now. They formed early in 2009 and released Expansion Forces in 2010, a full-length debut. Onto the scene arrived Loon Choir, this seriously entertaining synth-rock ensemble with five vocalists, strings, and a super upbeat rhythm section.
I first heard Loon Choir perform at a Kingston music festival in 2013 (Scattered Clouds played as well) and then, playing in Pony Girl, I joined up with Loon Choir for three nights on tour. Pony Girl played in an eight-piece formation that weekend, which I now know is ridiculous for any indie band just starting out. Iconic Canadian rock collectives like Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene do it with the financial backing of so so many supporters. Nevertheless, I’ve seen up to nine Loon Choir members on stage at a time—the live experience is incredible. Let’s remember Loon Choir were already at it for about three years by this time. They are clearly an exception to the rule. We sold out The Blacksheep Inn, a proud first for either band. Loon Choir had the idea to rent a school bus to shuttle friends to Wakefield from downtown Ottawa.
It was 2012 when the local band found themselves shortlisted for a CBC Radio 3 Bucky Award (!) for “Rookie of the Year”. Their sophomore record, Fire Poems, was a breakthrough that charted at campus radio stations in Ottawa, Sackville (music fans know which Sackville I’m referring to) and in Windsor, Ontario. That’s probably what gave Loon Choir the confidence to tour further distances in 2013. By now, they’re regulars on the east coast circuit and in Ontario.
Loon Choir’s 2015 release, All of This and Everything Else, was then named a “hidden gem” by CBC music writers and had not one but two singles crack the CBC R3-30 chart. They’ve toured the country since—which is a remarkable accomplishment for most bands, let alone a band of this size.
According to their social media, Loon Choir are close to the finish line on a fourth studio album, which could be released this year. They’ve strongly hinted at debuting a brand new set of unreleased songs at Irene’s on Saturday.
Loon Choir is playing at Irene’s Pub (885 Bank St) on Saturday January 26, 2019. Doors open at 9pm and John Aaron Cockburn starts the show at 9:30pm. RSVP on Facebook. Cover is $10 at the door.