Festivals in Ottawa are like OC Transpo busses. If you don’t like this one, just wait a few minutes and another one will come along. While most of the local spotlight is taken up by the bigger names out there (Bluesfest, CityFolk, etc.), one of the best kept secrets is the annual Hopped and Confused festival hosted by Mill Street Brewpub, with the fourth edition this coming weekend.
As always, the festival is held in the parking lot in front of the Brewpub, tucked away at the corner of the Portage Bridge and Wellington Street. The cozy location boasts some amazing elements that most of the big festivals can only wish for. An intimate setting where you can get up close to the stage, a full service restaurant in addition to the outdoor booths (which includes a taqueria this year!), a massive selection of craft beer, as well as a selection of Brickworks Ciderhouse, and maybe most importantly: indoor washrooms.
On stage, Hopped and Confused, in association with Dine Alone Records, has established themselves as one of the best showcases for Canadian talent. Past headliners read like a who’s who of Canadian Indie Rock: The Sheepdogs, Wintersleep, Monster Truck, The Glorious Sons, The Trews, Yukon Blonde, Hollerado, Tokyo Police Club, Said The Whale, etc. This year adds to that illustrious list, with another pair of well-known headliners in Toronto’s July Talk and rock veterans Sloan.
In part one of our preview, we focus on Friday’s lineup, with a second part tomorrow featuring an interview with Saturday headliners Sloan.
The Montreal power-punk trio NOBRO (6:30pm) will be kicking things off with their high-energy set. If you aren’t familiar with them yet, check out “Paranoid” off their 2016 Stoke Level: High! release, or ‘The Kids Are Back’ below. Catch them here, then brag you’ve seen them before when they open for PUP at Bronson Centre this fall.
Next up is Vancouver Island’s Alexandria Maillot (7:30pm) who will be bringing a slightly more brooding brand of rock. The lead single from her upcoming sophomore album “Messed It Up” highlights her emotional vocals, and might hint at a move away from the indie pop sound of her first album.
Taking the stage next will be Toronto’s Weaves (8:30pm). Their quirky brand of indie rock can start off fairly straightforward, but then take an unexpected turn into an extended jam or an offbeat bridge. “Walkaway” is a good starting point to ease yourself into their catalog with a catchy single, before exploring their more experimental songs.
Closing out the night will be July Talk (9:30pm). Every time they come to town, the Toronto indie rockers blow fans away with their energy and stage presence, in particular the interplay between singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay. The last two appearances were especially memorable, as they first stole the show at Bluesfest in 2017 (and featured a crowd-surfing Dreimanis playing guitar), and then followed that up with their most ambitious stage production opening for Metric last April. While that performance included an intricate light show (and a glowing 10-foot inflated moon balloon – as discussed by Dreimanis in our interview with him last spring), the add-ons didn’t get in the way of July Talk’s magic – incredible energy and passionate performance. This Friday, on a festival stage devoid of the bells and whistles their arena tour provided, fans can expect them to be at their purest, and likely most interactive.
Try to pace yourselves folks – you’ll have to recover for Saturday’s great lineup. Come back for Part 2 tomorrow… and hydrate!
Hopped and Confused will be held at Mill Street Brewpub, 555 Wellington Street, Friday August 23rd and Saturday August 24th. Doors open at 5pm each day. Some tickets still available here, for $40 per day, or a 2-day pass for $65.