Let's Stop Pretending Ottawa has a Music Scene


Does the fact that half our writers tabled this topic mean something?

We think it does. Admittedly, the music situation in Ottawa was much bigger than I originally thought when I started involving myself in it. But, it is hardly a scene. 

When my band played with groups from Montreal the out-of-town bands wanted to make sure the show was over by ten thirty. “Ottawa is a go to bed early town.” I couldn’t stick up for my city, he’s right. Hell, my band had our slot changed from eight to ten one gig and we had a conniption. All the bands were in a pissing match for who didn’t have to headline. We all needed to get home for bedtime. A band from Toronto said to me, as more of a statement then a question, “there’s no music scene down here, right?” This may come across as an unpopular opinion, but when I asked a local musician what he thought the problem was, “if it’s not synth it’s not cool”.

Now, it’s nothing against the instrument itself, but more a comment towards the cliques that have pocketing over the past couple of years. Ottawa is not short of bands for any genre. It is just the same bands doing the same things with the same people. There’s no room for expansion. All the bands are the same, and in on the wrong ways. Nobody is out checking out bands they don’t have a friend playing in anymore, if they ever did at all. There’s no bands making the citizens of Ottawa buzz and gaining any heat. Bands don’t want to play shows because they’re worried about (what I believe is the most ‘eye-roll emoji’ inducing word ever), “pull”. “Pull” is supposed to be a band’s ability to draw a crowd, but that isn’t what it means in Ottawa. We discussed how the Tragically Hip dealt with playing to completely empty venues on tour. There's no bands in Ottawa that love music enough to bond over that.


Attending a rock show on a Saturday night isn’t enticing, it’s annoying. We all must get to our Government of Canada Department of… jobs in the morning. Playing a rock show on a Saturday night isn’t enticing, it’s annoying. Especially when it falls within a month of a different show. No band is gaining a following playing once a month.

Who loves playing simply for playing? Isn’t playing music live enough for anyone anymore?

We don’t have an Ottawa music scene, we have an Ottawa music burden.

Is Ottawa rock and roll dead as Sparks Street at ten on a Friday night?

We wonder what group is at fault for the burden. Is it the musicians or the fans? Or a different entity – we haven’t even got to promoters yet.

Let us know and get the hell out to a show, please?



Mike is a University of Ottawa honours graduate with an English background. Currently a student in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College, he also writes for Breaking the Trend and Spotlight Ottawa. Mike strives to increase the publicity of the Ottawa music scene – which he is a part of through his band, Lost Acres.

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