Local Ottawa artists, Ontario bands showcase their talent at Black Squirrel Books

For local indie artists, concerts can come in all shapes and sizes.

That was the reality for local Ontarian bands on Saturday, Feb. 25, as they took to the stage in a dimly lit enclave of books to perform for a small crowd of fans. The concert, hosted by the Indie Scene Concert Promotion, took place at Black Squirrel Books in Old Ottawa South and showcased five indie bands.

The evening’s lineup featured the likes of the Tar Sands, Certainty, and Romancer from across southern Ontario, as well as The Superlative and Double Experience from the National Capital Region.

In an interview with the Fulcrum, Charles Lepointe, J.P. Lepointe, Kiel Burwell, Zach Lachange, and Alex Tait, members of The Superlative, all emphasized the uniqueness of this intimate concert environment.

“It had a little bit of everything: music, literature, graphic novels, coffee, tea” said Burwell, who plays the guitar and provides vocals for The Superlative. “I think it was a really cool environment overall.”

Having initially formed their band in 2009, The Superlative has picked up momentum and released three extended EPs since then. Their success has ensured that it hasn’t been too hard for the band to find gigs, but it hasn’t always been that way.

“We jumped the gun (in 2009) and got on stage with people who weren’t ready to do (it professionally),” explains Burwell. “Sometimes that can be a hard sell for you.”

Nonetheless, the band was adamant that hopeful artists should “get out there and do it.”

For some bands, it can be as easy as reaching out to the right organizers in a professional way.

Matt Spafford, co-owner of the Indie Scene Concert Promotion, tells the Fulcrum that “there’s a certain way that you have to compose yourself.”

Spafford looks for professional outreach that tells him “where you’re from, what genre you play, (and contains) a link to your Facebook page and a link to your music.”

While organizing the Indie Scene is relatively new for Spafford, having started the organization in 2014, he has been playing music by himself and with bands since 2008.

Spafford believes that the experiences that he has had as a member of multiple bands have given him some insight on the competitiveness of the Ottawa music scene.

“I think (that) it is difficult. You need a lot of aspects to your music and you really need something special about your music in order for people to remember it,” said Spafford.

For both Spafford and The Superlative, that “something special” isn’t something that should discourage would-be bands. It’s something that should motivate them to push themselves.

“My biggest line with it is: take constructive criticism to mind, not to heart,” said Burwell. “Because you’ll never excel, you’ll never do better if you think you’re the best.”

While the Indie Scene has booked Black Squirrel Books three times for their promotional concerts, they also use other locations and have other concerts multiple times throughout any given month.

With that in mind, there are lots of opportunities out there if you have a band and want to give Ottawa’s music scene a shot.

According to Lachange, the drummer for The Superlative, all you have to do is just “get out there and do it.”

For more information, you can find The Superlative on Bandcamp, or check out Black Squirrel Books’ official website.