Ev has synesthesia, and they incorporate their sensory experiences into music reviews. Synesthesia is a condition in which the brain links a person’s senses together in a rare manner, prompting unusual sensory responses to stimuli. People with synesthesia, for example, might see a certain color in response to a certain letter of the alphabet. Those who experience synesthesia “hear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes” in a remarkably consistent fashion.
Taken over by punks, The Dominion Tavern hosted a show fueled by love and unmatchable energy. Electrifying, sweaty, and energetic, the night wasn’t one to be forgotten.
With a delayed start, Power of Fear captured the audience’s attention with their primal and carnivorous energy during their first ever show. Messy and loud beyond belief, they were a conundrum of sounds, riffs, and violent drumbeats.
The guitar playing was violent and fervent; it painted a scene of deep and agitated reds. Rapid and fiery, the guitar chugged with raw force. Reminiscent of garage punk with its own flavourful twist, it brought on a sense of nostalgia for the earlier days of the genre. Heavy, it howled through the soundscape, and while it was dirty, it resonated wildly.
The bass was dry but growled, bursting past other sounds created. It rumbled deeply and painted the room burnt oranges and lovely terracotta hues. Loud and forceful, it drove through everything else and founded itself as the backing structure to the songs while maintaining a primary role. It rang in your chest and shook everything in the vicinity. The way it was played made the bass sound full and round and it tied everything together with a bow.
The vocals were deep and unclean. Lyrics screamed into the microphone with a brutality that seemed sure to tear up one’s vocal chords. It was ragged and as rough as everything around it. Shouted into the mic without a second of mercy, the lyrics fell hard upon the crowd and maintained control despite the wild air that the band gave off.
The drumming fell nothing short of frigid, tainting everything around it with violent splashes of ice blue that bubbled through the reds cast by the guitars. Hollow and tight, each beat fell precisely but sounded resonant while remaining flat and boney. It allowed room for a rage to seep through but more so it served to accentuate the emotion behind each instrument. It was essential and fostered its own anger.
The Fucking Machines rocking out at The Dom in Ottawa, ON.
Fucking Machines played shortly after, and much like the last time I saw them, they ripped the stage apart. Weighted with aggression, the band put on an unforgettable show. Drawing from old school and kicking it new school, the band knew how to deliver. Think Reagan Youth raising from the dead only to collaborate with Black Flag.
The solo work was the topmost layer and dominated the songs when it would emerge from the murky power chords and rapid pick slides. Gain maxed out, volume up to an 11, and distorted to hell, the guitar work held nothing back. It was clear that heart and passion seeped into the riffs, the guitar drenched the room in irritated reds.
The bass burst through from underneath layered guitar work. Buried but booming, there was no subtlety coming from the bass. It ripped across the sonic environment and came out as a murky mass. Tight and saturated, the blitz of the bass matched the ruggedness of the vocals. Accentuated by guitar solos, the bass tied all the sound together.
The drumming was shallow but with resonance. It boomed and made itself known through loud statements and offbeats. Rolling in and out of fills, the drummer aided in accentuating the screams that would follow. An onslaught of crashing from the symbals assaulted the ears of those in the vicinity all while leaving you wanting more.
Screams far from typical, the vocals were layered. They provided contrast to the deep rumbling of the guitar and bass. Creating emphasis on certain lines that were screamed, the layered vocals provided accentuation to the lyrics. Coming at the crowd from all angles – or so it seemed – the screaming was higher in tone and added a refreshing feeling to the songs.
DOXX ripping at The Dom in Ottawa, ON.
Soon after, DOXX took to the stage. With each song, they brought a new ferocity. DOXX get bodies moving in ways unbeknownst to the nature of punk. Provocative, aggressive, sporadic, and chaotic, DOXX did not let down.
Distorted and overdriven, the guitar ripped through the air. The pace skillfully shifted between a muddy and slow one to a rapid and aggravated ferocity. Virtually flawless, the transitions felt just as they belonged. Balanced out with the drumming, the hostility brought out the headbanging and the electric energy. Warm and earthy, each chord rang through, crashing into the next.
Delivered with a careless and I-don’t-give-a-fuck vibe, were the vocals. While some parts Sof dragged out with an iconic eye roll, other lyrics were belted out with the fury of a Roman army. Exaggerated enunciation and actions only added to the performance, solidifying the political messages hidden in the screaming. Relentlessly delivered and literally in your face, the lyrics balanced between growls and strained singing.
The drumming was harsh and cold, quick in succession and booming. Alongside the guitar, the drumming rocked the stage and accentuated the bass. The snare was – along with the crash and ride cymbals – most prominent. The aggressiveness of each fallen beat managed to capture the relentless emotions.
Resonant, deep, and warm, the bass provided support. Seemingly playing a game of cat and mouse with the guitar while backing it, the two complemented each other. A fuzzy and golden distortion added to the round sound of the bass, yet it still maintained its belligerence. It would split away and come back in and out of unison with what the guitar progressions were. Both pulled your ear in.
Leather Jacuzzi at The Dom in Ottawa, ON.
Headlining from Calgary, Alberta were Leather Jacuzzi. Easy on the ears punk full of well-timed noise and soul, they provided something that was easy to headbang and dance to. Their playing was melodic while the pace remained quick and rhythmic.
Soft and raw vocals dominated and intertwined themselves through muted strumming and intricate solos. Loud and proud, lively and tireless, the band did not fail to entertain and get the crowd on their feet. Some growls would occasionally find themselves drawn out, finding just the right moments to emphasize. The vocal technique shifted between ragged and alto to cleaner and more soprano. They tainted the air shades of indigo and deep magenta.
The guitar was distorted and upbeat, faded pinks and muted purples emanating from the guitar work. Bent every so often, the solos were played lower on the neck, producing higher pitched notes. They radiated a certain amount of wildness that the live performance only managed to enhance. Muted, the chords fell rapidly in succession to one another. Let loose during the choruses, the chord progressions unleashed a creative chaos.
The bass solidified the chords and added depth and dimension. Almost as a backbone but standing solidly on its own, the bass rumbled and sprang forth through the raging guitar work. Having painted the backdrop maroon, it bubbled and burst through the rest of the colour. Full and fat, the bass added completeness to each song.
The drumming was cold, rigged, and staccato. Bursts of a cold blue found themselves poured into and across the scene. Crashing and shallow, the drumming was hard to ignore yet easy to follow. The toms provided a contrast to the cold and shallow cymbals, having felt full with every beat.
If ever given the chance, go see these bands, some you may not have the chance to see for a while, while others are locals guaranteed to provide you with a good time.
On March 24th, packed with punks, was Ottawa’s very own House of TARG. Legends made a comeback alongside some of the finest hardcore punk bands in the community. The sets warmed everyone up on the brisk spring night and made a good end to the day.
Merciless, absolutely brutal, and loud enough to tear the floor up with nothing but the roaring of the guitars are Ottawa locals, Wire Cuffs. So weighted that it pulled us in, the sound beat through our chest. Particularly prominent basslines, punch-packing power chords, and vocals that rip through the stuffy basement air.
The raged vocals tied into the aggression of each song, creating an unclean and raw energy. A release of energy so unconstrained that when unleashed, it got everybody moving erratically, the lyrics seem to not only draw screams from the band but that crowd as well. Quite literally ripped from the throat, as opposed to the diaphragm, the vocals were unfiltered and pulled from within. They’re what you’d imagine the shredding of vocals chords sounds like, but in a way that encompasses frustrations and angst.
The guitar and bass were steady but rather abrasive. Both complimented one another, equally heard. They were the source of the steady flow of rage. They held a sharp and cold edge to them that resonated with bitterness the closer you listen. They chugged on, almost playing a game of cat and mouse with each other, dissonant and seemingly off key from time to time. Overwhelming, the two instruments fill you with emotion and allowed you to release them due to the tempos they set. Earsplitting and turbulent, the guitars shocked us with the sheer power of their anger and strength of emotion they convey. The riffs were structured and quickly executed, like second nature to the guitarists. They stood out on their own and pull your ear in.
The drumming was cold and thrashing, with heavy use of the ride and crash cymbals. Booming and rattling away, with a partially open high hat it acted as the metronome but far more emotionally driven. The drummer went all out and didn’t hold back. Crashing mercilessly into each part of the drum kit, there wasn’t a sense of playing carefully despite the precise timing. The drummer got into this as the crowd got lost in his performance, fueled by raw power, irritation coming across in each beat. This comes across prominently in Alien Vampire Invasion.
With a new ferocity and new tunes, DOXX took to the stage next. Opening with a new song, as opposed to Human Waste CEO, the band sunk their rage into the crowd and got their fists pumping and bodies moving in time with the rhythms set. They were boisterous, enraged, and provocative, the band only gets better with each release—and heavier.
The guitar riffs Brit played appeared to be layered, the effect of being split into two parts prominent through their newer songs. The guitar appeared to have it’s own voice more so than before and tore through the crowd with its roar. Merging high and low notes to create a new dynamic, the guitar chuggedwith weighted chords to radiate an abysmal provocation of anger within the crowd. Sharp and expeditious, Brit didn’t hold back, putting tremendous energy into each song that rips from her guitar.
Jeff’s bass playing shook the floor with its sheer power. Prominent but leveled out with the guitar, it seemed to not back the guitar but in fact, drew more attention to itself and Brit’s playing due to the contrast in tone and octaves. The bass roared, and due to the slight distortion and delay, there was a fuzz to it. It backed the beat but has a mind of its own, split away and adding a depth to the songs.
Kieran’s drumming was hard and fast. Thrashing and crashing he got the crowd into it—high energy and booming, the snare became a prominent aspect of each song, later joined by the cold and vehement cymbals. Besides the bass, the drumming shook the core with its sheer power. It set the merciless tempo and conveys the emotions through each abrasive beat.
Sofia’s vocals not only get better with each performance, but manage to convey more emotion each time. The delivery is relentless and in your face, only mellowing out to be able to emphasize the growls that rip themselves from her throat. Sofia’s vigor is wild and the screams that she built up are warm yet venomous. They ranged from higher screams to ones drawn from deep within, the control behind each of them was unfathomable.
After Doxx, Asile took the stage. Ottawa locals took a twist on the night, spitting out lyrics in French instead of more commonly used English. Asile dominated and put forth a ferocious energy that encouraged some headbanging and fistpumping. It was pure hardcore punk that incorporates guitar solos and riffs that remain brief and punchy.
The vocals hardly needed to be strained, the screams were unified in nature and remind me of D. O. A, they drive the spirit of the songs forward. Even if incomprehensible to those who don’t speak French, the delivery was so raw and driven with passion that it still catches peoples attention and gets them riled up and ready to mosh. It’s not so much about the lyrics themselves, but rather the delivery.
The guitar was wildly overdriven and generated such strength in intensity that it became nearly impossible not to listen for all the little technicalities—at least for me. From the few pick scrapes, to tremolo picking, and of course the precise hammer-ons and pull-offs, the guitarist knew no bounds. The riffs in C’est Qu’on Nous Dis, in particular, stood out as cold and paint the warm backbeat blue. Like a magnet, the solo work pulls you in due to the contrast it sets to the pieces.
The bass is by far one of the most prominent features. It’s deep and literally shook the floor, rattling in your rib cage as a result. It held a steady flow of feedback while pounding into our ears. It’s the backbone, the steady support that bursts through obnoxiously. It’s the crackling fire—angry, warm, and comforting. It glowed and radiated a distinguished and eloquent fury.
The drumming was fervent and rolled in with such severity that it nearly blew our eardrums out the second it began. It was the cause of the overwhelming hot-cold thrashing beats. Mauling with a sheer force of power was a great contrast between the warm sound of the toms and the chaotic and frosty cymbals. Each beat came in quick succession of the previous one, they ended up rolling into one another. It radiated a sheer unstoppable force that is difficult to match. The drummer showed no mercy to the drum kit, seemingly releasing every emotion into it. With the cold that comes with the cymbals, there was the bit of harsh yellow that peaks through as the crashing resonates.
The headliner of the night was Ottawa’s very own The Fucking Machines. A decade-long wait for a new release has come to an end. With rumbling screams, heavy-handed power chords, and shallow but resonant drumming, they wrapped up the night. They brought forth the spirit of D. O. A. and Reagan Youth all at once. The quick pace and progressions really drew from old school punk from the 80’s and 90’s.
The vocals were unconventional and not quite what one would expect, but they complimented and created an opposition to the deeper and heavier guitar and bass playing. The mesh between the two vocalists added dimension to what was being screamed and accentuated the lyrics for a more forceful delivery. While the screaming wasn’t the deep and booming screams you associate with hardcore of today, it added a refreshing flavour to the mix, holding more traditional and spoken screams as opposed to ones linked melodically.
The guitar was ferocious and incorporated the rushed progressions that resemble ones of punk bands from the 80’s. It was played with heart and passion, no holding back. The pick slides are essential to this band and they add to the songs and performance so that it doesn’t remain as constant. The guitar wailed and groaned, overdriven and furious.
The bass rumbled below the guitar and became increasingly prominent underneath solo work. It held a fat sound that was distorted by the rest of the soundscape, however, it still pushed through boldly. Muddy but tight, it supported the guitars and burst through the sheer strength and volume the drums hold. Be mindful—it’s heavy and absolutely booming, and may be concealed, but could burst your eardrums over all else.
The drums had a washy and full feeling to them. They were booming and warm, enveloping each song in the beat. The fills came in spurts, incorporated without using the typical structure, they added emphasis before screams or before the guitar flows back into it’s odd. The drumming sounded shallow, but the booms of the drumstick hitting the drum itself was so forceful that it resonates through House of TARG.
All in all, the bands are ones to look out for. Their delivery is immovable and so forceful that you feel the emotions conveyed from them to you. With new releases from them, and comebacks, it would be a shame to not keep your eye out for their shows. I guarantee that whether you’re sober or had one too many drinks, you’ll enjoy them if hardcore punk is up your alley.
The idea is excellent. Who wouldn’t want to go to a punk show in a decommissioned Cold War bunker? The Diefenbunker is a place that captures the imagination, and it has a certain amount of mystique. The night of punk rock, zines, and crafts at this historic site had been building anticipation for a few months.
Granted, it’s not easy to get there. The museum knows this, and provided a free shuttle to and from downtown Ottawa. No excuses!
Here’s how the night went down:
Back of the bus
30 minutes is a reasonable distance. I’ve travelled longer for a concert.
It’s a similar distance to the Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, though the countryside offers different things. Outside the window was a rural-industrial landscape—I was particularly taken with the sign advertising “culverts.” It may not be a covered bridge, but it’s arguably more important to be exposed to the outlying areas of a city, especially if you like tap water and well-maintained infrastructure. (I do.)
There was slight miscommunication with the transportation company, which led to the shuttle attendees waiting an extra half hour for the buses to arrive. Still, everyone was very patient. I am not a punctual person myself, which means I’m not allowed to be annoyed when I have to wait.
Finally, a blue wayfinding sign indicated the Diefenbunker was near. The anticipation builds.
It could be the most unique entrance to a venue in this town.
Strolling down the blast tunnel into nuclear safety, I couldn’t help asking the delighted visitor next to me — “Have you been here before?” It was curiosity, not a pick-up line, and she she was literally bouncing.
“This is my favourite place in the world!” she said, “I’ve been here almost ten times.” Her friends confirmed that she does, in fact, talk about the Diefenbunker frequently.
After turning a sharp corner and greeting the staff, we descended 70 feet underground.
The Blast Tunnel. Photo by Shawn Katuwapitiya.
The cafeteria is the largest room in the Bunker, and the linoleum tiles provide a historic ‘50s feel. The hall is quaint and well-maintained.
That evening, visitors could make their own pins, enjoy beverages and $1 pizza, and contribute to a zine being prepared by Possible Worlds, which is a gallery and workshop space in Chinatown. Someone at my table was gluing a picture of a sea mammal to a page. “I came for the zines,” she said to me. “I’ve been reading them for a while but I’ve never made my own.” I later heard from a musician recovering from a knee injury, who also appreciated the alternate activities, because it meant that he didn’t feel any pressure to stand for the entire evening.
I spent some time flipping through the zine library on display, but I admit – I was there for the music.
The Mess Hall. Photo by Shawn Katuwapitiya.
Built to protect the Bank of Canada’s gold reserves in case of emergency, the vault is a safe pretending to be a room. There is a sense of danger and protection while inside. It is metal and concrete, with nothing to absorb sound. The sound technician was uneasy and explained that minimizing the reverb would be a challenge.
For each performance, the atmosphere was unique and exciting. The setting enabled us to suspend our disbelief, and I was pleasantly surprised that each band had representation by grrl rockers. Turns out, punk pairs surprisingly well with both feminism and nuclear destruction.
Bonnie Doon made quite an entrance in hazmat suits, engaging the audience with tight riffs and tales of the outside world. They are fixtures on the Ottawa music scene, but I’d never seen the group before. Their stage presence and accessible melodies will capture the casual listener, and they invited audience members to spray paint them after the show. Would recommend.
They were followed by DOXX, who were more hardcore and also louder. I could feel the sound tech starting to sweat, but luckily I had earplugs. I’m a person who is often drawn in by lyrics, and while I couldn’t identify many words during this set, I still enjoyed it. Punk has a certain rawness that is especially evident during a live show.
Nightshades were up next, and I enjoyed the first song. However, the idea of making my own crafts was at that point more appealing to me than listening to music, and I stepped out of the vault and sought out the button-making station. It was creative magic.
Nightshades make some noise in The Vault. Photo by Shawn Katuwapitiya.
What is it about the intrigue of the Cold War era that feels like a good fit for the Diefenbunker?
I spoke to a self-identified ‘retired punk rocker’, who provided his opinion on the location. “It’s an iconic and triumphant moment for punk rock. We’ve taken over a government sanctuary.”
I further inquired about the philosophy behind the punk movement. According to him, punk is about “not letting anything you are born into – be it race, wealth, gender, not letting that define you. It’s about finding individualism in a world that is trying to tell you who you are.”
A cold Friday night, good friends, an incredible line-up, and an unlikely venue made this show one of the most unforgettable nights. The Legion was nearly empty when I showed up but by the very end of the night, the floor was packed with punks.
The show opened with Tightlip ferociously taking the stage after a screeching sound check. They blew the doors wide open and allowed people to warm up to the vibe that would overtake the night. The band didn’t hold back from bellowing bass lines, frantic guitar riffs, staccato drumming, and vocals that cut through the air in the form of screams. The elements combined all set the pace for the night and brought a rage to the scene.
The vocals were unfiltered, unperfected, roaring, and raw. They were filled with emotion, emitting frustration and anger outwards and filling the crowd to the brim with energy.
The drumming was heavy with use of the snare and cymbals. Each beat came in an extremely quick succession of one another–something that each drummer that night pulled off skillfully. Sometimes the crash of the cymbals and screams were synchronous, adding a layer to the songs played that only contributed to the harsh soundscape. Both the bass and the guitar melded together, having frantic and rushed conversation that squalled back and forth. Outbursts came from both ends, sometimes even so intense that guitar strings snapped.
Tightlip brought a tight-knit aggressive sound that burst with anger and radiated energy. They created this musical mess that dominated all while emanating a frantic sound that the crowd warmed up to and got lost in.
Toxic Thoughtsbrought forth a theme as heavy as their sound. Their music resonated with anger and aggression reflecting the struggles of being in one’s own body. The songs were held up by the drumming and supported by the bass line. Together these two components packed a punch that got the crowd roaring.
The guitar playing and controlled feedback added to the emotion of each song. Following closely with the bass line, the band incorporated it into the mass of pure noise and allowed the listener to really feel the emotions behind the music and vibrate within them.
Vocalist Felix Lahbabi-Granger threw himself around and thrashed about without regard as he bellowed into the microphone. Watching him provided a visual to the lyrics and it showcased a very real struggle that people deal with.
Starting with a slow progression and gaining volume and hostility as their set progressed, Toxic Thoughts kept the crowd stomping right along until the end.
DOXX brought a frantic and sporadic sound to the table, deconstructing the compositions to sew them back together loosely around Jeff Hurter’s bass line. Even the structure of the guitar solos danced around the heavy-handed bass. It’s dirty and messy but with a handle on chaos.
The band played with emphasis, accentuating heavier parts by slowing the otherwise quick pace. Through Kieran’s drumming, in particular, one felt the build-up to the release of tension and aggression. They were absolutely hostile and cold but completely balanced. The smooth progressions between that slow and heavy pace to the quick and bitter rage that overtook it was virtually flawless. Britt’s skills on the guitar kept the emphasis on the ferocity of each song. Even the shifts in pace felt smooth as opposed to feeling forced and out of place. It was an organised mess that added a depth to the songs that one may not expect.
Sof’s lyrics had strong socio-political views but they were delivered in a series of screams that carried a controlled tonal range. A rumbling grit that emerges from deep within and transitions to high pitched—it clawed at us and dragged us in. Her vocals played with the contrast of smooth and gritty but they carried a sound so impactful that you didn’t need to try and listen to it, you just had to let it hit you.
Refreshingly infuriated–that is the sound that Cell introduced to the crowd. It was pure noise with little to no differentiation between the bass or guitar–but don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing. The bass and guitar turned into a dynamic duo, thundering through the room.
The guitar was ferocious and echoed the bass, loose feedback kept a constant through the set. Through bleeding the guitar and bass line together, the solos really packed a punch and stuck out like sore thumbs. I found that through this technique, there was a deeper appreciation for all the solo work that was done.
The screams came out in bouts of fury. They were careless but well thought out, they progressed from calm to infuriated. It was high energy, fueled by what seems like pure anger with a twist of carelessness. The distorted vocals seemed to tear a sense of warmth through each of the songs. Don’t let that fool you though, the punch was packed into the screams that seemed to paint the room green and overturn the warmth. They held the old school punk feel, creating this nostalgia all while channeling an inseparable aggression and bringing something completely new to the table.
GAZM, a punk band from Montreal, delivered a full-blown performance without a single falter in the energy they emitted. Due to my synesthesia—the ability to see sound as colour—I noticed that GAZM painted the atmosphere all shades of oranges with hints of red speckled throughout. They sent off anger in waves but never burdened the crowd with it. Instead, the crowd too released the deep-rooted emotions, but in the form of a mosh pit. The sound that emitted is abrasive and aggressive but held enough warmth to envelop you in it and draw you in with ease.
The vocals were ragged and torn, ripping through the crowd without mercy. The lyrics, in combination with the cold drumming, the buzzing guitar, and the weighted bass created this burst of looseness and prompt people to open up a mosh pit. You begin to understand how the emotions and tension are released once you get sucked into one.
The quick succession of each drum beat prompted the thrashing and shoving, each instrument building and adding fuel to the fire. There seemed to be a release of anger in it. The band created noise that brought together shrill bends on specific notes that occur almost melodically. GAZM brought a sound to the room that is warm, save for the drumming, and you could hear it in the notes that are played.
They’re a band that can bring out emotion without leaving you with a burden to carry them past the present moment.
Each of the bands were loud, aggressive, and pack a punch which left a positive impact on those who attended. The show itself was one for the books, so next time these punk bands play a show, grab a friend and head on down. And remember, if someone falls, pick them right back up.
DOXX ripped the stage apart on Wednesday night at Pressed when they opened with “Human Waste CEO” and that set the tone perfectly for the rest of the night. Fast paced, loud, aggressive, and high energy the bass lines Jeff plays are enough to shake the floor. It’s quick, timed, and it dominates. It demands your attention and doesn’t let it go. No two baselines are remotely the same.
Britt’s guitar playing is distorted, messy, and angry much like Sofia’s screaming. It adds a depth and sometimes choppiness to the songs but in a way that doesn’t make a song seem cut off. It completes it instead.
The guitar combined with Kieran’s drumming is what gets the crowd head banging, and moshing to the music. The drums come out as hostile and dynamic with much use of the snare and there isn’t a song that doesn’t use the loud crashing of the cymbals. This creates a balance in each of the songs.
Sofia, lead singer of DOXX, in the zone at Pressed in Ottawa.
Sofia’s vocals are impressive not only because she screams the songs, but because they’re rough around the edges however still maintain a smooth finish to them. She puts all the emotions she can muster into the words and what comes out of her is an incredibly big sound despite her being “short and stompy”. The lyrics hint at socio-political views that tend to be skewed and then rage against them in fashion that isn’t all that contained. The bitterness and resentment is clear but it’s presented in a fun and enjoyable manner that gets everyone eager to hear the next masterpiece that’s to be belted out.
DOXX is a must see Ottawa band that’s sure to kick some energy into you and get you thrown into a pit of punks. They don’t fail to amaze and they certainly bring a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to the shows they play. Ultimately, if you’re looking to enjoy some raw emotion, and a band that can pack a punch within their music, DOXX is the band you want.
John of Radiation Risks going full zombie or passing the mic to a fan to sing with him…you be the judge.
Radiation Risks knew how to play not only their instruments, but the crowd as well. They drew everyone in from the second they stepped on stage, and despite being more behind the scenes when off stage, they own a heavy stage presence. It’s hard not to pay attention to them. They tore open the crowd by getting right into their songs, no elaborate intros, nothing. Raw exuberance flowed through lead singer John and into the crowd. Every scream, every staggered movement fueled the crowd and got them more excited.
The guitar contrasted itself between heavy and light, high and low notes, solo work and chords and this was certainly a key aspect in putting the rhythm in people’s feet. It’s intricate but sometimes sloppy, melding with the deep warm thrum of the prominent baseline. There wasn’t a note that was missed which was incredibly impressive considering Nicky would constantly be moving and jumping around.
The baseline shakes you and you feel it in your heart. It jumps out of the music and stands out, begging to be noticed. There isn’t a single way you could miss the bass. It’s violent in a subtle way and it’s messy, blending in to the noise. The best way to describe it is pounding, and it rattles your heart right in your rib cage really making you feel what’s being played.
The drumming is rushed, slurred but clear. It makes perfect sense and of course there’s the thrashing sound of the cymbals, cool and cold. A variety of rudiments and beats play through one song interchangeably which adds a dimension that isn’t often found and better yet, it helps meld each song into the next. How that could possibly work is up to you to determine when you hear their sweet tunes.
Lead singer of Fried Egg delivering the goods at Pressed in Ottawa.
The last band to take the stage, with much spitting, was Fried Egg. Their sound is heavy and distorted all around and everything flows together to create a harsh edge to the sound produced. The vocals are choppy, fragmented and loud and they fall nothing but short of deep and raspy. The screaming is impressive and it tugs at my curiosity as to how the singer hasn’t torn up his vocal cords. Of course, this isn’t at all what I would have expected from a band called Fried Egg, but I guess everyone gets a surprise every now and then.
Irritated and cold power chords cut through the air and make their way to the ears of those listening. It’s enough to feel it in your feet and to get people trashing around, especially when in combination with the bass and drums. They’re in harmony with the fierce baseline but also tend to veer into their own world filled with pick scratches and wild effects that you’d only find at a show such as this one.
The bass picks up quickly and can only be described as progressive and fiery. It’s heard above everything when it’s being played and it creates a warmth within the song so that it can provide a counter to the cold that the guitar brings.
Setting the high energy and fast pace are the drums. With beats being played and quick and well plotted fills adding space and urgency to the music, the drumming couldn’t get better. The drummer goes hard and I’m surprised that the drumsticks hadn’t broken that night while he was playing. The drumming commands the beat that your body moves to, it’s the soul of the songs.
Whether you’re spectating from the sides or right dead in the middle, you’re going to get at least somewhat thrown into the mosh pit despite your best efforts to steer clear.
All the bands set the standards of punk gigs high and they certainly didn’t disappoint. They all radiated sheer talent that they’ve managed to contain and let out in a constructive and creative way that everybody can enjoy. They wooed the crowd and made every performance intimate and personal and they made a point to get a little too close for comfort. If ever you see the scribble of “Fried Egg”, “DOXX”, or “Radiation Risks” on a poster around town, or on a Facebook event, cancel all plans and make your way down. You’ll probably have a better time with them anyway.
Downtown Boys, C.H.U.D.s and DOXX tore it up at Zaphods playing one of the best shows of 2016.
To me, this show was everything that is right about punk. Songs highlighting almost everything that is wrong with our culture delivered with in your face intensity and dedication. Shows like this move me and rekindle my undying love for punk shows and all the people at them. Great show, great crowd and much respect.
Downtown Boys ripping it up at Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa. Photo: Ming Wu
Downtown Boys are an amazing punk band from Providence, Rhode Island led by the energetic, intense and captivating Victoria Ruiz. Anyone who wasn’t sure what they were in for was quickly shown what Downtown Boys is all about as they opened with “Eat The Rich,” followed by “Wave of History.” I love that they had no fear to play songs in Spanish, like the song “Santa” which they introduced by saying “Kiss the patriarchy good bye.” One of the coolest parts of the show was when Victoria gave a shoutout to DOXX and even quoted one of their songs while on stage, that’s one of the biggest compliments I have ever seen from a headliner to a local opening act. Victoria is also very up to speed on Canadian politics as she remarked “Canada never should have made and an arms deal with Saudi”and launched into the powerful song “Future Police” which doesn’t hold back any punches. The other awesome element of the band is their sax player. Yes this punk/hardcore band has a sax player that blasts along adding depth to the chaos. As I write this, I find that no matter the words I use I can not properly capture the absolute wave of energy and emotion that Downtown Boys evoked. Just see them anytime you can and as soon as possible.
C.H.U.D.s lead singer Imogen Reid spending the entire set in the crowd at Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa. Photo: Ming Wu
Before Downtown Boys was Ottawa’s own C.H.U.D.s. I believe C.H.U.D.s stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller like the early 80s horror movie, but don’t quote me on that. Local photographer, Imogen Reid leads this three-piece. She spent the entire set in the crowd thrashing from side to side and sometimes throwing herself to the ground. Her energy and commitment to the lyrics and the message is palpable and true. She lays herself out for everyone to see and hear while holding nothing back. A prime example of this was when she introduced a song saying “I’m an adult and I can do whatever I want to do with my body, I don’t have to prove how trans I am.”
New band DOXX killing it at Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa. Photo: Ming Wu
Opening the show was a Ottawa’s newest hardcore band DOXX. With only one song over 2 minutes, the band blasted through their set. DOXX are a band making noise that just doesn’t really happen in Ottawa, I’m delighted they exist. They are straight forward, honest, fast, loud and made up of just some of the nicest people in the Ottawa music scene. Lead singer Sof is fierce on stage. There is no way you can’t feel amped by her energy during the song “Stuck in Hetero” as she flies around on stage.
Ottawa’s newest hardcore band DOXX recently dropped their first EP where they channel the hardcore of old.
The four-piece which includes members of Creep Wave and Blood Nail have traveled back in time and brought 80’s hardcore back with them. The longest song of the self-titled EP clocks in at a whopping 2 minutes and 16 seconds. I absolutely love how straight forward and in your face it is. Music doesn’t always have to be complicated, sometimes it just has to be honest and angry. And there is a lot of that in the words delivered by lead singer Sof.
I really like the whole release, but my favourite has to be “Baby Doomer.” The song is sung from the perspective of a baby boomer talking to the younger generation and not understanding any of his privilege or spoils. “Stop complaining, stop paying rent, get off your ass and make an investment, it’s easy, just do it, i know what’s best for you cuz i’m a baby doomer,” sings the baby boomer. To which Sof replies “baby doomer baby doomer fuck you.” I can see a lot of people getting behind this song and wanting a piece of the mic.
The EP is capped off with a cover of London, England’s Rudimentary Peni‘s song “Blissful Myth,” a song dating back to 1983, that is not a big fan of marriage.
Check out the EP below and see it live Friday April 29th as they open for one of the best punk bands going right now, Downtown Boys at Zaphod Beeblebox. More info here.