Ottawa·LIVE MUSIC

Ottawa-Gatineau music picks for Labour Day weekend

Your best bets for live music on Labour Day weekend take you from Ottawa across the river to Gatineau, then a little further to Wakefield, Que.

Jessa Runciman shares her music picks taking you from Ottawa to Gatineau to Wakefield

The Beatdown from Bandcamp from Montreal headline the Ottawa Ska Fest at House of TARG on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. (The Beatdown from Bandcamp)

Ottawa Ska Fest at House of TARG, Friday and Saturday

If you need proof ska is alive and well, look no further than House of TARG. This weekend, the local pinball 'n' perogie venue is hosting a whole festival devoted to the up-beat.

Over the course of Friday and Saturday night, the aptly-named Ottawa Ska Fest features a variety of ska bands from Ottawa and elsewhere, including The Sentries, The Cardboard Crowns, Suits 'n' Toques, and an homage to Operation Ivy's album Energy courtesy of local band Brain Damage.

Look out for Friday headliner The Beatdown. The dynamic Montreal trio just released an album that's seen them team up with punk singer Hugo Mudie on vocals, and aside from their signature reverberant, dub-infused jams, it offers a few unexpected gems (including their ska treatment of a Weakerthans song).

On both Friday and Saturday night, doors to Ottawa Ska Fest open at 9 p.m. ($5 or $7 after 10 p.m.).

Yes We Mystic at Raw Sugar Cafe, Friday

Yes We Mystic caught a lot of ears with their debut EP Floods & Fires in 2013, but just as the Winnipeg band was gaining momentum, one of its founding members decided to take an exit.

Yes We Mystic plays at Raw Sugar Cafe on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. (N & D Photography)
In the couple of years since, the group has been in a state of reassessment, rejigging its lineup with the addition of new members and perfecting a more confident, polished sound. 

Vestige, a two-song 7-inch released in May, is evidence of this progression; it's a series of dramatic, lush crescendos between quieter moments.

It'll translate to an intense live show when Yes We Mystic performs at Raw Sugar Cafe on Friday night, with Ottawa's own Pony Girl as the perfect opener (8 p.m., $10).

Bondar, Boyhood and Fet.Nat at Le Temporaire, Saturday

Saturday night is worth a jaunt across the river to Vieux-Hull, where one of the city's hardest-working, most envelope-pushing music organizations is hosting a bit of a party.

Bondar will be one of three bands at the Debaser mix-tape compilation in Gatineau, Que., on Saturday. (Kathy Roussel)
Debaser started out as a community radio show and in just a few years has become an emblem of progressive local music culture in the truest sense: as a name behind local shows, public discussions and collaborations with the likes of Weird Canada.

On Saturday, Debaser launches its first mix-tape compilation in style, with a show by three of the Ottawa-Gatineau bands you'll hear on the release. With Bondar, Boyhood and Fet.Nat on the bill, expect one of the most stimulating local shows to happen in weeks.

The show takes place at Le Temporaire, an art space on St-Redempteur (8 p.m., $8).

Gary 'Slim' Moore at Black Sheep Inn, Saturday

Another option for Saturday night is to stretch that jaunt a little further, into Wakefield.

Gary "Slim" Moore plays at the Black Sheep Inn at night on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 in Wakefield, Que. (Marlow Records)
That's where you can find a show by a charismatic Ottawa singer who has been helping to put our region on the map when it comes to authentic, zero-kitsch soul music.

Whether with his band the Mar-Kays or on his own, Gary "Slim" Moore's charisma infuses songs that are equal parts danceable and personal with lyrics that offer a commentary on issues like mental illness and racial discrimination.

Consistently front and centre is Moore's versatile, powerful voice, capable of inducing chills down the spine when he wants it to. There's a good chance it'll happen if you see him at the Black Sheep Inn on Saturday (8:30 p.m., $7).

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