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Image: "Go With You" by Rebecca Noelle (YouTube)

11 show picks from the MEGAPHONO lineup—until 02.09.19

By Stewart Wiseman, Josh Lemoine, and Greggory Clark on February 4, 2019









Every winter since 2015, MEGAPHONO has welcomed music industry professionals to Ottawa-Gatineau for a showcase of the region’s music scene. Organizers have booked more than 80 acts this year—roughly half of which are local bands—who in turn will play 80 shorter-than-usual live sets. A staggered schedule, the close concentration of venues, and short set-times are meant to make seeing bands easy.

80 shows in three days

With the festival’s FO’SHOWS Pass in-hand you can bounce around venues; and catch 15 minutes of 15 bands (if that’s what you want to do). The adventure Apt613 contributors choose will for sure involve several venues and far too many bands to count. So today we’re picking artists out of the crowd—some we’re extra curious about—but when the shows start this Thursday night, February 7th, so will our discovery of many new acts.

25 downtown venues

The festival unfolds in Vieux-Hull on opening night; at four venues within walking distance (Bar Minotaure, Le Troquet, Triple 7, Brasserie de l’Île).

On Friday the shows are in Centretown (Pressed, Bar Robo, Shanghai, Bronson Centre, NAC, Live on Elgin) and the ByWard Market (27 Club, The Dom, The Rainbow, Mercury Lounge).

Saturday afternoon is in Hintonburg (The Record Centre, The Elmdale, House of Common, Origin Arts, Happy Goat, Vimy Brewing). In the evening, listeners are invited to Old Ottawa South (Irene’s, Black Squirrel, TARG, Industria) and there’s an afterparty on Bank Street at Babylon Nightclub.

Apt613 Contributor Picks


This Ottawa-based 4-piece released their debut album in the first half of 2018. Lead by lead vocalist and guitarist Felicity DeCarle, they have a knack for lush harmonies that won’t necessarily grab you by the collar, but will wash over you, like walking into a lake on a warm summer night. Sparklesaurus will impress you with a solid set of original music, with tunes you’ll realize are still in your head days later.

📍 Le Troquet (41 Rue Laval)
🗓 Thursday Feb. 7, 2019
🕓 9:30pm


Made up of musicians from well-known Canadian bands (Patrick Watson, Pawa Up First, Boogat, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra), the band shot up after a performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival in summer 2018. Taking their name from a Japanese urban legend, TEKE::TEKE is in their element playing Japanese Eleki surf-rock; and mix that with elements of modern psych rock music as well as Latin and Balkan influences. In a 7-piece fomation, they play traditional Japanese instruments in tandem with a jazz-fusion rhythm section. There’s nothing like it.

📍 Bar Minotaure (3 Rue Kent)
🗓 Thursday Feb. 7, 2019
🕓 10:45pm

Buck N’ Nice

Veterans of the Ottawa music community SawBuck and DJ So Nice teamed up to produce a record in 2014, and when Us Vs. Them dropped, Buck N’ Nice caused waves in the hip hop scene. The duo has been invited repeatedly to play festivals like House of Paint and RBC Bluesfest and built up some serious momentum with multiple releases leading to EMAG in 2018, their second full-length album.

Update: Buck N’ Nice had to pull their show due to a family emergency. They’ll be missed!  

Rebecca Noelle

It comes as no surprise that the Ottawa-based soul singer is headlining a show at MEGAPHONO. Known for her exceptional three octave range, Noelle has been in rotation on BBC Radio, CBC Radio and Sirius XM. She’s toured much of Europe by now, and as a lead singer in The PepTides and The Commotions conquered much of Canada.

📍 The Rainbow (76 Murray St.)
🗓 Friday Feb. 8, 2019
🕓 11:30pm

Silla + Rise

After a long night of shows, we hope you’ll wind up at the Mercury Lounge to see Silla + Rise in the 1:00am late-night slot. At the intersection of traditional Inuit throat-singing and futuristic dance music, this project is a really dope collaboration between Nunavut duo Cynthia Pitsiulak and Charlotte Qamaniq, a.k.a Silla, and an Ottawa-based Juno Award nominated dj and producer who goes by Rise Ashen. CBC Radio’s Afterdark program has been spinning the Silla + Rise debut record a lot lately!

📍 Mercury Lounge (56 ByWard Square)
🗓 Saturday Feb. 9, 2019
🕓 1:00am

Scary Bear Soundtrack

Known for their dreamy synth-pop and layered vocal harmonies, Ottawa’s critically-acclaimed group were a national finalist in CBC’s Searchlight competition. Their song “Fault Lines” about gender-based violence made it to the top 4 in CBC’s talent search for Canada’s Best New Artist. The local dream-pop band has three records (with one upcoming in 2019), once collaborated with Canadian media artist Timothy I. Smith to compose an original soundtrack of instrumentals, and has one of the best Shot In The Dark sessions found on YouTube.

📍 The Record Centre (1099 Wellington St W)
🗓 Saturday Feb. 9, 2019
🕓 1:00pm

Thanya Iyer

Formerly of the TEA Band with Ada Lea and Emilie Kahn (Secret City Records), Thanya Iyer has quickly become a must-see act upon her visits to Ottawa. An incredible multi-instrumentalist equally at ease on violin as on piano, Iyer crafts ethereal melodies that “empower listeners to embrace mindfulness, aesthetic beauty and the interconnectedness of all things”. Now playing as a five-piece band, Thanya Iyer will showcase songs from her recently recorded album Kind, to be released in Spring 2019.

📍 Origin Arts & Community Centre (57 Lyndale Ave)
🗓 Saturday Feb. 9, 2019
🕓 5:00pm


Although they officially have only one song released to their name, Pottery is quickly becoming one of Canada’s most buzzed about bands. Following acclaimed Fall performances at M for Montreal and opening for Parquet Courts in Toronto and Montreal, Pottery looks to build on a successful 2018 with their first show of the year at MEGAPHONO. With echoes of a psychedelic MC5, Pottery’s high-powered performances have a manic energy to them that modern recording equipment may not yet be entirely capable of harnessing. Along with sets by Bleu Nuit and The Monotymes, the staff at Happy Goat better prepare for what will surely be one of the festival’s most raucous sets.

📍 Happy Goat (35 Laurel St)
🗓 Saturday Feb. 9, 2019
🕓 8:00pm

Ada Lea

Saturday night at Black Squirrel Books promises to be one of the more memorable shows of MEGAPHONO, as Ada Lea is paired with Ottawa’s Moonfruits (filling in for respectfulchild). Influenced by artists ranging from Angel Olson to Mazzy Star, Montreal’s Ada Lea returns for a night of dreamy art-pop melodies rich in dynamism and feeling. Trained in jazz double-bass, Ada Lea’s most recent release, Bored, showcases her seamless transition to guitar and shines an increased focus on her emotive lyrics. Also recognized as an accomplished painter, be sure to stop by Ada Lea’s can’t-miss merch table to pick up some of her artwork!

📍 Black Squirrel Books (1073 Bank St)
🗓 Saturday Feb. 9, 2019
🕓 9:00pm

Kimberly Sunstrum

Kimberly Sunstrum is an Afro-Canadian singer-songwriter from the Ottawa-Gatineau region, and has become a favourite of the Ottawa festival circuit. With a voice powerful enough to fill any room she’s in, her lyrics are catchy, brave and honest, tackling topics like family, race, feminism and queerness, all to rhythms that are often infectious (her set list is bound to have some earworms). Go see her.

📍 Irene’s Pub (885 Bank St)
🗓 Saturday Feb. 9, 2019
🕓 9:30pm


Foxtrott will close out this year’s Megaphono with a late-night show at Babylon Nightclub. Meditations I-II-III was released in October and finds Foxtrott (a.k.a. Marie-Hélène L. Delorme) return to the pulsing pop melodies of her Polaris Prize nominated debut A Taller Us. Featuring drumming from Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff, hypnotic new songs “Wait” and “Take Me I’m Here” showcase the addictive irresistibility of Foxtrott at her best. The MEGAPHONO Closing Party will also feature performances by Keynes Woods, Garçons, and Lex Leosis.

📍 Babylon Nightclub (317 Bank St)
🗓 Sunday Feb. 10, 2019
🕓 12:30am

Safer Spaces Policy: Attendees, performers, and event and venue staff are expected to act with respect for equity and inclusiveness, including but not limited to a zero tolerance for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism. The MEGAPHONO safer space policy is intended to make this event a supportive, nonthreatening environment. People who have perpetrated inter-personal violence, assault and/or harassment are not welcome at the event unless they are actively engaged in an accountability process and currently in compliance with all the terms and/or demands of that process (according to the facilitators, the survivor, and/or whomever’s been designated to monitor the agreements emerging from the process).