By Zoë Agripoulos-Hunter
Photos collected from the community
If there’s one thing I have learned in life, it’s that goodbyes suck. Bittersweetness is not only hard to swallow, but also hard to accept. While saying goodbye can be painful, ugly, and emotional, it’s important to recognize that it is a necessary step to encourage growth and change.
On October 21, 2016, glittery feedback droned and gnawed between the ears of a live audience for the last time at Capital Rehearsal Studios, famously known as Gabba Hey. The Last Show, featuring Birds of Paradise of Montreal, Moon Eyed from Toronto, and Ottawa’s very own Telecomo, marked the beloved warehouse’s retirement as a concert venue.
I owe more to Gabba Hey and the wonderful individuals of its behind the scenes network than what I can sloppily express in a few words. My personal experiences with Gabba Hey can be mashed together into the plot of a coming-of-age movie—it’s where my high school band played our first show, met some of my closest friends, saw the most amazing live shows, and most importantly, watched artists, musicians, and creative individuals of all ages come together over their mutual love of music.
This may sound like a quintessential after-school-special but, in Ottawa’s DIY music scene, Gabba Hey is more than just a venue. As cheesy as it is to say, it is a second home and undoubtedly cherished by many of us for significant reasons.
I’ve been chatting with friends about their experiences at Gabba Hey over the past few years. Like the sappy, gushy, anecdote-overflowing exchanges between guests at funerals, these nostalgic conversations were honest and heartfelt. As a community, Ottawa’s music scene has watched Gabba Hey flourish from the city’s best kept secret to a ritualistic weekend hangout spot, in what feels like a blink of an eye.
To commemorate how this homegrown paradise has been good to us, Ottawa Beat collaged together our community’s favourite memories from Gabba Hey. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this special piece by submitting their words and photos.
“When Gabba Hey was starting, I slipped the word out on my site on where it was located. I was told to take that down until it was legit.”
— Ming Wu
“Playing at gabba hey was the first time i felt like i was among my people.”
— Connor St. Michael
“Those old couches; the green room; the constant sound of muffled guitar, and going out for a cigarette or some fresh air in-between bands with the people you love and also the people you’ve just met… it’s like nowhere else. I think I speak for everyone who’s ever been when I say that Gabba’s shows are going to be sorely missed, and undoubtedly cherished.”
— Zoe Naidoo
“I’ve been going there since January 2014. There was nothing like being 18 years old and feeling that I was somewhere that I belonged.”
“My ears rang for three days straight after I saw Perfect Pussy at Gabba Hey.”
— Sacha KW
“Gabba Hey was the first place I went to a show in Ottawa and didn’t feel invisible. It was a place where I knew I could be loud, where I lost my shoes moshing, where I always took toilet paper. It was simply the best.”
“After the last Pregnancy Scares show, Nick Martin said to me, “A regular show in Montreal is like that.” However, a show in Montreal, especially one on an evening Sunday, has yet to match the shameless all-consuming happiness Gabba Hey shows gave me.”
“The funniest night at Gabba Hey was when we pierced [my boyfriend’s] ears, and then he moshed too hard and got kicked out. I think it was the first Weed Mom show.”
— Charlee Heath
“When people ask me what Gabba Hey is, I tell them that it is the epitome of being a teenager: listening to local music, socializing with friends, hanging out on the couches in the back room, hiding away from the cold of winter. It may have been extra blistery up on that ramp, but I miss you so warmly, Gabba.”
— Renee LeBlanc
Gabba Hey saved my life.
— Malaika Astorga