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.
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.