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Ottawa’s female-led bands form the Next Wave

By Kelsey Sunstrum on April 29, 2015

This content originally appeared in Scene, a free newsprint prologue to the National Arts Centre’s Ontario Scene Festival. Scene was created collaboratively by Guerilla, Apt613, and Herd Magazine.

Between the four female-led musical acts to be featured in Ontario Scene’s Next Wave: Ottawa Music Spotlight, there are Pizza Sharks, Ouija rockers, legal discussions with a certain legendary Canadian astronaut, and, of course, plenty of dance-worthy beats.

Ottawa’s diverse and fun music scene will be showcased at Next Wave, just around the corner on Thursday, April 30 and taking place at the lively SAW Gallery beginning at 9pm. On the roster are local favorites Roberta Bondar, The Yips, Bonnie Doon, and DJ Gina Vanelli. This line-up guarantees a high-volume, spirited night to remember—or try to, at least.

Originally a joke between two friends and nudged along using the most tropical of makeshift instruments—a set of coconuts—Bonnie Doon was “born under the full moon in the eighth month of the twelfth year of the pizza,” according to the band members, who prefer to speak in a collective voice. As a keen astrologist myself, I can reveal with confidence that this translates to a loud, often unsettling (in the best way possible), and always eccentric sound.

One of the descriptions Bonnie Doon has offered for their music is “waggle rock,” something comparable to pizza. (Okay, so I’m already the biggest fan of waggle rock.)

Explains the band: “It is sloppy and all up in your mouth. It’s kind of loose and surfy, with lots of whammy bar action.” Date night suggestion: head to your favorite Italian joint for a pie prior to the show. You know, just to keep in theme.

Keen supporters of local musicians, Bonnie Doon members point to mentorship as a key component in the pursuit of any artistic dream, noting that Ottawa is home to a group of passionate women responsible for mentorship initiatives, such as Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls.

Still, they are quick to eschew the “all-girl group” label: “There still seems to be a perceived novelty aspect to a band comprised of women,” says Bonnie Doon. “We want to see more women on the stage! More women in tech roles! There’s room for improvement. It’s still challenging to navigate feminism in 2015.”

Packed with talent, Next Wave is sure to be colorful, literally and figuratively. This night of purely homegrown artistry is presented in conjunction with the opening of Ottawa-born visual artist Michael Deforge’s first major solo exhibition. The collection can be admired at SAW Gallery starting April 30 until June 21. Deforge’s trippy, alternative comics are featured, as well as sculptures, a limited-edition chapbook, and a comic-strip mural commission.