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.
Ottawa Explosion day three found itself to be quite the killer day Friday night. From the astounding and mind-blowing lineup that The Dom to Peach Kelli Pop playing twice in one evening. Day three was one for the books.
Tightlip kicking things off at The Dom during Ottawa Explosion Weekend 2018.
At the Dominion Tavern, Ottawa’s Tightlip was the first to play. With orange rasps of the vocals, green-blue and magenta grit of the guitar, deep red basslines, and drumming as blue as robins eggs, the band kicked up high expectations for the night – and morning. The vocals ripped through the crowd and added a sunset orange and scarlet tint to the room. The rasp from Ashleys’ throat projected into the audience. The cold drumming added contrast to the warmth emanated by the vocals. Crashing and unapologetic, the drumming was thick but skeletal. While the drumming bubbled and burst through, the bass rumbled wine reds, and maroon relentlessly. The guitar bit back and squalled with the bass while emanating pale blues with the solo work and beautiful magenta hues the lower the notes got. Tightlip is a band that keeps it tight but radiates a wild and untamable energy. Whether you’re bitter or having a good time, this is a band to listen to in those moments.
Next up was the ever lovable Leather Jacuzzi. Not just a hot tub band, no – they are the hot tub band. They shine with well-timed noise that remained melodic, rhythmic, and rapid. Indigo and magenta splashed and mixed together as the vocals powered through. The guitar work unleashed the chaos and let soft pinks bubble and filter through. Keeping its awe, the guitar was muted and quick. Wrapping it all together was that bass. Within the wall of entropy, a deep resonance was added and sprang forth. Like an abstract painting, the maroons that the bassline provided seeped between the rest of the colours and dared to provide the backdrop. The shallow crashing drumming not only managed to drench the scene in an ice blue, but also captured attention due to its shallow cymbals and full and thick toms. Leather Jacuzzi is the band to see if you’re looking to party. When they’re on the bill, the promise of a good time is sealed in fate.
Sof leading DOXX on stage at The Dom during Ottawa Explosion Weekend 2018.
DOXX were up next and brought a true ferocity to the Dom getting people moving, screaming, and fist-pumping along. Reds turned into burnt orange, turned into rich earthy tones from the overdriven guitar, each chord ramming itself into the next with force. Wrapped in relentless emotion was the harsh and frigid drumming. Kieran added neon blue and celeste to the scene with his drumming – icy, bone-like, and booming.
Jeff played a back and forth game on his bass with Brit’s guitar, adding a golden yellow hue to the scene, the bassline split away from the rest and sewed itself back in seamlessly. It set the tempo for the way Sof moved – alongside the rhythm of the guitar. She found a way to drive the anger through and through while simultaneously adding purple, red, and some blue-greens to the mix of colours.
Radiation Risks absolutely rocked the stage at The Dom during Ottawa Explosion Weekend 2018.
Penultimately was the wonderful and insanely talented Radiation Risks. Possessing a stage presence not many are capable of, their exuberance radiated in forms of lime greens, and neon yellow. Meanwhile cyan, deep purple, and a shock of orange ripped through the neons. The guitar riffs took the form of yellow and lime, waving through the atmosphere while the chords spiked orange into it. The vocals added to the greens, ragged and ripped right from in the singer’s throat producing vivid forest greens. The drumming was thrashing and added cyan to the mix and the deeper the sound he produced the deeper the hue. The basslines rattled one’s rib cage and produced violent purples meshed with warm red to orange undertones. It was subtly violent and fucking messy. Radiant of wildly unique energy the band is one that is certainly worth seeing live due to the one of a kind performance they bring every night.
Bleu Nuit gave it their all at The Dom during Ottawa Explosion Weekend 2018.
The last band to take over The Dom was Bleu Nuit, from Montreal. Mellowed out post-punk that borders indie, they set an obscure scene and painted an even stranger picture. Playing with synths, they shot neon blue and neon green into the scene. Even the guitars painted greens and yellows due to their heightened tones and diminished sounds. Psychadelic acid trips are induced by the band. The drums were full and warm – red, magenta, neon and vibrant pinks streaked through the air. The bass and guitar combined to create a kaleidoscope of strange high pitched frequencies which roughly translated to vivid neons. The vocals were the only muted element, having remained relatively calm and tame while the rest let loose. The vocals were what painted the softer shades of orange and ochre that melded into a gradient of neons. Entrancing, and soulful, the vocals grabbed at you with their softness.
To finish the night I headed next door to the 27 Club, where Peach Kelli Pop played their second set of the day. The band kicked into upbeat songs and immediately the vocal harmonization burst into light and airy vivid pinks that molded into periwinkle and baby blue. Sprinkles of yellow chimed in with the higher notes that were plucked lower on the fretboard. The drums provided similar shades, having incorporated light greens in the mix. The drumming was warm, light, and even splashing. The basslines blended effortlessly into the rest of guitar work, rumbling beneath your feet and maintained a chestnut rose to crimson shade. Everything came together like a burst of confetti.
While in the midst of their set, they ripped out “Astro Zombies“ by The Misfits and absolutely rocked the crowd. Peach Kelli Pop never fail to amaze and they know how to work the crowd. They’re the fun upbeat summer bash band that is sure to show you a good time.
It was a packed bill Friday night at the House of Targ with Doc Hopper, Steve Adamyk Band, Audio Visceral, Laureate, and Matt Charette all gracing the stage.
Doc Hopper—the headliner for the evening—is a 90’s punk band from the North East US named after Doc Hopper, who was the owner of Doc Hopper’s French Fried Frog Legs chain of fast food restaurants in The Muppet Movie. As a bonus, Mikey Erg, of the Jersey pop punk legends The Ergs!, is currently playing with the band as they tour, which was quite anawesome surprise.
They played a solid fast hitting set of pop punk which took me back to my younger years of the late 90s when I was just discovering this style of music. Now, I never really listened to Doc Hopper other than a few songs on some mix CDs (remember those?!) but they had a sound that I was always very fond of. The song that really caught my ear and stuck with me was “She’s a Coke Head,” which is not the most uplifting of songs I know, but it was damn catchy. I also loved that the lead singer and guitarist gave a shout out to Punchbuggy, an infamous local punk band from the 90s, and asked if Scallen was at the show and then said “he is probably actually sleeping at this time, actually all our friends are old and tired.” There was a pretty excited group of folks who were moshing and dancing for much of the night. I don’t think they really knew any of the bands, but were just there for a good time. It was a lot of fun to see and definitely upped the energy in the room.
Steve Adamyk Band joined on stage by friends and former members during their set at the House of Targ in Ottawa.
The Steve Adamyk Band were on fire as always, bringing their local punk rock to the stage. The three-piece band opened with a new song which sounded great and they played another new song later in their set, which hopefully means we are getting new Adamyk on wax soon. Steve Adamyk is one of the most prolific punk rockers in the capital so you never really know what you’ll get as a set list, but on this night we got the aforementioned new songs, a bunch of tracks off his 2016 release Graceland, including favourites “Carry on” and “Swallow you whole,” as well as some deeper dives into the back catalogue. It was awesome to watch him play “I Fought for the U.S.A.” and have Dave Williams of Crusades and Black Tower, and former Adamyk band member Davey Quesnelle jump on stage to sing along. Adding to the moment was the fact that Davey was working at the time and was still sporting his perogie making apron. Good times were had by all for sure.
Audio Visceral dressed to chomp and rocking out at the House of Targ in Ottawa.
Steve Beauchesne, owner of Beau’s and guitarist of Audio Visceral, took to the stage sporting a sweet Pacman suit. Audio Visceral is made up of Steve and two other Beau’s employees. Yeah they make some of the country’s best beer and still find time to be in a pretty cool punk band. Some people have too much talent…but I digress. Once they finally got started (damn it Garry!) they powered through their first six songs without really taking a break, except maybe to have a sip of Lug Tread. They played a hilarious song called “I Suck” which doesn’t appear to exist online anywhere but the lyrics had me in stitches. Hopefully the fact that they are playing this new song and a few others means a second album is in the works. I know us fans will certainly drink it up…
Laureate playing at the House of Targ in Ottawa.
Pop-punk foursome, Laureate, from Montreal, were the first full band to play on this night. The band beautifully builds off of vocal harmonies between guitarist Giancarlo and bassist Erin, who essentially share the role of lead singer. This is complemented by some intricate guitar work by the other guitarist, who at times brought me back to the finger picking ways of screamo and heavier bands, particularly when they tap out the strings on the neck. It was fun to watch and he was really rocking out. The band’s set featured a minor setback when the bass started phasing in and out. Members of Steve Adamyk Band were quick to try to help, fiddling with the amp and providing a new patch chord. In the meantime Erin powered through, and what could have been a disaster really allowed us to focus on their impressive and really tight harmonies in the absence of the bass. This band needs to play Ottawa more often given that Montreal is not that far, and their sound really fits in with a lot of what is happening in this city. Check them out, especially their new record Landmarks and get ready to sing a long at their next show.
Matt Charette kicking things off Laureate playing at the House of Targ in Ottawa.
Opening things up was something completely different than the rest of the show. Matt Charette, a singer songwriter from Boston, played more folk and country than punk rock with his acoustic guitar and harmonica. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining as he has an awesome voice, is a great story teller, and certainly has some punk rock running through his veins given his lyrics and the Black Flag cover he chose to play. This was his second ever show in Canada, the first one being the night before in Toronto, and someone decided to play a trick on him and rewrite his setlist. The “custom” list included all covers by bands such as Nirvana, Metallica, The Cure, and Dead Kennedys. While he did play some covers, his original tracks were great. I especially liked “City Streets.” All in all, this night was chalk full of great bands and great times.
The band has been making waves in the nation’s capital since forming in 1998 and their latest releases sees them return to their pop-punk and Ramone-style jams. As a born and raised Ottawan, I have had the luxury of seeing and hearing the Riptides for years. It is great to have the first full length Riptides album in nearly a decade as they had focused on releasing a bunch of splits over the past few years with bands such as The Dwarves, The Apers, and The Connections.
The 18-track album only features two songs over 3 minutes in length, as it focuses on quick catchy tracks leaving you wanting more. One of my highlights of the album are the great local references such as “hanging out at Brewer Park” and “going to Barbarellas’s after dark.” I always find it very special when I can connect to the location or a person a band is singing about, especially after years spent signing songs about other towns other than your own. That local touch always strikes a chord is the very best way.
One of the perfect examples that the band hasn’t lost touch with it’s pop-punk roots after all these years are the back-to-back tracks of “Homing Missile” and “Happy Ever After.” The first is full of analogies and about being locked in on love as the title suggests, and the second is all about lost love and how there will be no happy ever after in his life due to breaking up. You can’t get much more pop punk than trying to secure love and being destroyed after losing it. What is great is even after doing it for nearly 20 years, The Riptides do not come off gimmicky or fake, just true veterans of the scene.
My favourite track might have to be “Someone Just Like You” which has almost every element I love to see in a song. It features claps, duet vocals, a relatable story of attraction out at a show, catchy chorus and then on top of that they make a guitar sound like they are joined by some brass on the track. Just love it.
The Steve Adamyk Band recently release a dark video for their ripping track “Swallow You Whole.”
The video kicks off with a girl waking up and making herself a hotdog for breakfast, topped with sauerkraut – like a champ! The video then follows the story of this girl who seems pretty low on life and goes around holding up corner stores and liquor stores, only to then end up in a cemetery gazing up at the sky singing “swallow you whole.”
I really like the work they put into the ending with the changing colours and the utter despair on the face. And this pull it all off in just over two minutes. Oh the beauty of punk rock and Steve Adamyk Band. Overall it is a pretty cool shot video for a great track.
While not video related, I do have to say that I love Mike Krol‘s voice! I have been saying how perfectly it fits on this track since the first time I heard it.
Check out the video below and then go see Steve Adamyk Band headline a MEGAPHONO show Thursday February 2nd at the Dominion Tavern, which feels very appropriate. Information here for the show.
Local three-piece punk band The Valveenus have released a music video for their song “Runaway Train.”
“Runaway Train” is a blistering track off the band’s first full-length album Catalyst which they released last year. Many of The Valveenus’ songs have more of a country-punk twist, but “Runaway Train” is much more punk rock in sounds than country.
The video features old black and white footage of what appears to be an angry drunk man stealing a train and trying driving it to his demise. Luckily for him our hero, his wife? partner? friend?, does everything in her power, jumping from another train and then running on the roof of said moving train to convince him he has something to live for and saves the day. Meanwhile in between the harrowing train chase the camera cuts to the band rocking out in what could easily be one of the train carts.
Check out the video below and don’t blink as the video clocks in at just over two minutes of tense action. If you like what you hear don’t miss The Valveenus playing with Pistols at Dawn, Serenity Now and Reminder at Pressed on October 13th, info here.
It is June 15 which means there are only 2 days left in the punk rock advent calendar leading up to Ottawa Explosion Weekend.
Ninety bands, six days, seven venues, including outdoor shows and secret shows in record shops—all for under $80. Yes, Ottawa Explosion Weekend is like Christmas in June for punk rock in the capital, and Emmanuel Sayer and Luke Martin are Santa Claus with a giant sack of bands to put under our tree.
This venue-based festival offers you non-stop mix of rock, punk, metal, hardcore and indie at at least three different shows a day in three separate venues and up to seven shows a day on the weekend. Ottawa Explosion Weekend brings together most of the best Ottawa has to offer with some great acts from across North America, and some from as far away as Germany. Another added bonus to this year’s OXW is that Beau’s is the beer partner.
It is very difficult to pick out the must-see acts, but here is a list of bands not to miss that we’ve broken down by date. Yes, I know there will be a lot of conflicts and travel bummers in my picks, but hey – I didn’t make the schedule!
Sailor Jupiter playing at Gabba Hey (Photo by Ming Wu)
Sailor Jupiter (Club SAW, 7 p.m.) – Three-piece all girl garage band, Sailor Jupiter are part of a new generation of the garage and noise rock bands coming out of Ottawa.
Kappa Chow (Club SAW, 10:45 p.m.) – Sackville, New Brunswick’s Kappa Chow are an explosion of bizarre punk rock energy. They have a very unorthodox approach and set up to punk rock and it is great. Don’t believe me? Let them tell you how punk they are below.
Nightshades (Mugshots, 8:30 p.m.) – Great local three-piece rock and garage rock band from Ottawa. Nightshades play up tempo garage songs with duelling female vocals that compliment each other really well. They have a new EP coming out soon, check out their new song “Wendy.”
Cross Dog (House of TARG, 10:45 p.m.) – Cross Dog is a three-piece ball of anger out of Peterborough, ON playing hardcore-inspired punk rock full of societal commentary.
The Jeanies (Avant-Garde, 12:15 a.m.) – Fun bubble gum punk from Brooklyn, NY. The Jeanies will be you want to boogie so don’t forget your dancing shoes.
Obliterations (Club SAW, 12:30 a.m.) – LA Hardcore of the very in your face variety. Anyone looking to thrash the night away with high-voltage energy and slamming riffs should not miss Obliterations.
The White Wires (Club SAW, 10 p.m.) – One of the shows of the year from OXW 2014 and they are back to do it again. These Ottawa gems rarely play live in town and it’s hard to justify missing them.
The Creeps (Club SAW, 12:15 a.m.) Another rarity, they pack the house and they deliver true creepy story-telling with ear-splitting goodness. Another one of Ottawa’s finest on the same day.
Durs Coeurs (The Dom, 10:45 p.m.) Ottawa French punk rock with an old-school flare. Kind of reminds me of The Misfits but with French lyrics not about zombies and ghouls.
Petra Glynt (Avant-Garde, 12:15 a.m.) Super strange, experimental and very cool atmospheric solo performer from Toronto. She might not be what first comes to mind when you think punk, but she will amaze and dazzle for sure.
New Swears at Arboretum Festival 2014 Photo by Ming Wu)
New Swears (Club SAW, 5:00 p.m.) Every year New Swears take their spectacle to new heights, usually involving inflatable pool toys, costumes, candy, silly string and more… can you really afford to miss what they might do this year?
The Ballentynes (House of TARG, 10:30 p.m.) Looking for something a little different? Check out these soulful gospel-like garage rockers from Vancouver. If they can’t get you dancing, not sure who can.
Needles//Pins (Club SAW, 11:30 p.m.) These guys deliver awesome sets every year. An amazing power-pop gem from the West Coast of Canada.
Teenanger (Avant-Garde, 11:45 p.m.) Modern punk-rock with strong old-school influences out of Toronto.
Ah, the Ontario Scene Festival presented by the National Arts Centre came to a seemingly quick close. But we were busy bees! Matías & Shawn sat down with three bands during the festival, and Ti’s final interview was with Toronto’s PUP. The punk rock band has made some waves since their debut LP last August, raising eyebrows amongst veteran bands like Billy Talent & Fucked Up. They headlined an Ontario Scene event with Big Dick & Bond Girls on May 7 at House of TARG. Check them out below as Ottawa Showbox, Apt613, Ringbill Records and Sometimes Always present this exclusive Ontario Scene interview filmed at House of TARG.
Finish What You Started Fest kicked off with a bang Thursday night thanks to Nuclear Neighbour followed by Dead Weights, NECK, The Valveenus and Fresh Hell.
Before the music could take over and get us singing and dancing, there was a showing of “Nuclear Neighbourhood” at the Mayfair Theatre. The movie was one of those very low budget horror comedy films, where it’s so bad it’s good. I actually loved it, it was a lot of fun and with just enough suspense as they walked through the house of the evil professor looking for their friend. It is also worth noting that the lead singer, Gretchen Steel, of local Ottawa band ZEX plays a leading role, multi-talented lady. For more information on the flick, check out their website.
Fresh Hell kicking off Finish What You Started Fest in Ottawa.
With the movie done it was time to rock and there are few better places in Ottawa than House of Targ. And the place was a rocking for this all local punk rock bill. Getting things going was Fresh Hell. The band recently released their debut album, We Never Sleep, and what better way to celebrate, then to play the album from front to back? You don’t need to wait until you are old and decrepit on your reunion tour to play an awesome album start to finish. So once I noticed they were going in order I got so ridiculously excited for the excellent three-song explosion near the end of it. Track 6, 7 & 8, “Home,” “Surrounded” and “Cold” are so good that they demand singing along. This was by far the best set I have seen this local four-piece play to date. Also much respect to them for plugging Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls during their set and having a donation jar set up at their merch table.
The Valveenus playing House of Targ in Ottawa during the Finish What You Started Fest.
Between bands I got into a really feverish competition against Phil (Robots!Everywhere!!) on the arcade game Area 51. I beat him by several tens of thousands, but this led me to not pay full attention to The Valveenus. Luckily we finished in time to watch their final few songs. The skate punk trio did something really cool and unexpected, they covered Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.” They also covered The Real McKenzies’ “Best Day Until Tomorrow” in honour of the passing of the McKenzies’ Dave Gregg (check out the video of it here). Their originals were great and fast-paced as always, I really dug “Hold On Me.” It shows that the boys have been doing it for a while, they are very tight and put on a good show. As a matter of fact, they have been playing shows in the venue for years back when it used to be called The Underground and then it changed to The New Bayou and now House of Targ. Ottawa punk rock evolution. And like real pros they incorporated a drink break into their last song, bottoms up boys.
NECK representing Spider-Man at Finish What You Started Fest in Ottawa.
Next up was NECK who had a little bit of a rough time. They started off fine showing up in matching Spider-Man t-shirts, the perfect attire for their Ramones-like punk rock. Unfortunately for them they had to power through technical difficulties with a guitar and the monitors, as well as a few musical mishaps. But with songs about skinny jeans and lyrics such as “I eat mashed potatoes with one hand down my pants,” you can forgive them.
Jon’s reaction is priceless to Steve pushing through even though his strap broke mid-song.
Capping off this great night was Dead Weights, yes Steve McCrimmon played two sets in the same night, what an animal. They opened with the super catchy “Friends First” which got a few people singing, but two songs later when they played their single “Barely Breathe” that really brought the crowd to life. The band dedicated the first song they ever recorded to Jeff, but not before heckling him for working during the show. Dead Weights then teased the crowd with the opening chords to “The Captain,” and then didn’t play it. Instead they opted to play the title track of their album Dead Ends & Closed Doors. A great way to end the first night of the festival.
Tuesday night at Ritual, Propagandhi, RVIVR and War on Women gave a sold-out crowd many life lessons and a lot of punk rock.
As Propagandhi took the stage, bass player Todd Kowalski said “the ritual is about to begin.” The night was more about becoming better people and standing up against the powers that be. The boys from Winnipeg are best know for their anti-capitalist, equal rights, anti-religious, and vegan approach to punk and it was on full display. The band puts their money where their mouth is giving stage time and a spot at their merch table for activist groups such as the Sea Shepherds and Justice for Deepan.
Musically, Propagandhi play fast, hard and with a lot of passion. They performed great in your face songs with powerful lyrics such as “Note to Self” and “Cognitive Suicide” off of their latest album. They also pulled out lesser performed songs like “Fuck the Border” and “Back to the Motor League” off their album 2001 album Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes. But I would have to say the highlight of their set was their two-song dedication to the people of Gaza. First, was “Unscripted Moment,” which is a powerful song lead singer and guitarist Chris Hannah wrote about listening to archived Yiddish recordings on a rock station in New York and heard a father and son reunite after being separated since World War II. They followed that up with the reggae tune “Haillie Sellasse, Up Your Ass” off their 1993 album, How to Clean Everything, with lyrics about conflicts in Gaza dating back over 20 years.
What is so great about Propagandhi is that it’s clear that it’s not just the lead singer pushing the message. Drummer, Jord Samolesky, spoke up about how he has been around for over 40 years now and has see the government go from “Liberal to Con to Lib to Con, and we are just moving more and more right, it is getting worst… it is time to start something radical, it is time for change. You are in Ottawa start some fucking shit!” Combine that with the ever intense songs where the bass player takes lead vocals and this band packs as much of a musical punch as they do politically. And for that I will always have time for Propagandhi.
RVIVR killing it at Ritual in Ottawa, Canada.
Before Propagandhi was RVIVR from Olympia, Washington who completely blew me away. The four-piece punk band could have been half as good and still been amazing with their great music and even better lyrics full of important messages. RVIVR may not have fit perfectly musically with Propagandhi as they are not as heavy and more towards the pop-punk side, but they sing about gender equality, big government lies, struggling with depression and many more topics that had them right at home.
Two parts of their excellent set really stood out. First was when they introduced their song “Wrong Way/One Way.” Singer and guitarist Erica Freas said, “This song is about being free, about being you, whatever sexuality or gender you are. No matter what your parents say, religion says, other genders, other punks, the media says — anyone. Just be free.” The other great part was when a group of five drunks who had clearly never heard or seen RVIVR before kept moshing while their fans tried to sing along. Erica once again took charge and said, “There is a great life skill that involves knowing how the people around you are feeling and what they like. And it’s clear right not that being pushed around non-stop is not what they want. Learn the life skill and don’t be an asshole.” Other singer and guitarist, Mattie Canino, followed that up with, “If the five if you want to mosh I suggest the back of the room.” This put the morons in place and allowed everyone to enjoy the great music being performed. As for timing the band followed up that little encounter with “Cut The Chord,” a song about not letting people who talk shit keep you down.. .which felt quite appropriate. RVIVR is one of my new favourite discoveries and I strongly suggest you check out this awesome band’s music and message.
Opening the show was War on Women. The five-piece band made up of three women and two men sounded really good. Unfortunately I only got to catch their last song due to personal commitments. The song “High School Reunion” was punk rock in roots but with some interesting thrash and hardcore elements which gave it this really raw power and energy. The lead singer had great stage presence and I will make sure not to miss on this band which made Alternative Press’ top 100 bands to watch in 2014 (of course I find that out after missing them).
I sat down with Jordan Gauthier, creator and founder of Ottawa-based drum manufacturer, YC Drum Company. We talk about what got him into drumming when he was younger, what inspired the company and other great stuff. You can also find the link to his company’s page at the bottom – so don’t forget to check it out and give it a like! Tell us about yourself and what you got into drumming.