Ottawa Explosion Weekend, Glowfair take over downtown

Monday might be the official start of summer, but this weekend's shows and festivals welcome the season a couple days early.

CBC Ottawa music columnist Jessa Runciman's weekend picks welcome the start of summer

Toronto duo Phèdre performs on Friday night at St. Alban's Church as part of Ottawa Explosion Weekend. (Dimitri Karakostas)

Yes We Mystic @ Pressed on Thursday, 8 p.m., $10

Winnipeg's Yes We Mystic headlines a show at Pressed on Thursday. (Brian Van Wyk)

The two founding members of Yes We Mystic were at high school in Winnipeg when they first came across their future band name. It was written on a bench at a bus stop — and despite not exactly making sense, it made an impression.

Years later, as a five-piece, Yes We Mystic has given that phrase a meaning of its own by way of airy vocal melodies and bewitching crescendos.

The band returned last month from a European tour but they're already on the road again — this time across Canada to support their new album Forgiver. For Thursday's show at Pressed they'll share a bill with Sounds of Stories.

Ottawa Explosion Weekend @ various venues until Sunday, $80 festival pass

To quote the organizers of Ottawa Explosion Weekend: "Weekend is a state of mind, man." That's why they're taking five days to feature more than 80 acts at a handful of venues across Ottawa's downtown.

What started as celebration of Ottawa's punk and garage scenes has expanded over the years to include a variety of electronic and experimental acts, always with a focus on building musical bridges between here and other cities. This year's lineup includes local faves like the Steve Adamyk Band, Boyhood, Fet.Nat and Crusades — plus must-see visitors like Texas punks Radioactivity, Toronto duo Phèdre, and Brooklyn's Worriers. There's even a kids' zone.

A full festival pass is $80, or you can pay per show at the door. For more information on the festival lineup and venues, click here.

Glowfair on Bank Street b/w Slater and James streets, Friday & Saturday, free

Meanwhile, Glowfair is back for a third year. The two-day, free street party is set to light up nine blocks of Bank Street on Friday and Saturday between Slater and James streets.

Halifax's Rich Aucoin performs Saturday night on Bank Street as part of Glowfair. (Vanessa Heins)

Each block has a theme — from stepping into Bank Street's past between Gloucester and Nepean, to a two-block kids' area between Nepean and Cooper, to an enchanted forest between Somerset and MacLaren, complete with glowing trees and fortune tellers.

Then, there's the music. The Bank Street BIA has lined up the likes of Caveboy, Young Galaxy, Gang Signs and Rich Aucoin (to name a few) to play the main stage at the north end of the festival.

Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival @ Vincent Massey Park, Friday-Sunday, free

There's another free festival at Vincent Massey Park. That's where the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival kicks off three days of programming on Friday, marking the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day in Canada.

The festival's annual Competition Pow Wow is always something to behold, but it's worth making time to take in the range of family activities, food offerings and handmade crafts on offer.

Geronimo Inutiq performs at Vincent Massey Park on Saturday as part of the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival. (Robert Geoffrion)

With Canada's national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, as this year's festival co-host, there's a strong focus on Inuit programming — like Nunavut circus group ArtCirq, and young throat-singing duo Tarniriik, who performed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's swearing in ceremony.

A main-stage highlight is Montreal's Geronimo Inutiq, a veteran DJ and producer whose left-field instrumental creations combine electronic sensibilities with influences from his Inuit heritage.

About the Author

Jessa Runciman

Associate Producer

Jessa Runciman is an associate producer with CBC Ottawa, and an avid music fan and show-goer. You can follow her on Twitter @jessarunciman.