I am going to take you back almost a decade to the summer of 2005, more specifically to the lawn behind City Hall for Bluesfest. Yes, Ottawa Bluesfest used to be held smack dab in the middle of downtown and had several stages all around City Hall.
I was a teenager and super excited to see my favourite band at the time, Alexisonfire. But I barely remember their set compared to the raucous-filled opening set by local band Million Dollar Marxists (7 songs still streaming, god bless CBC).
This would be the third or fourth time I had seen the Marxists play at this point, but this was without a doubt my favourite. Everything was going on as a normal, just a high energy show by the punk rockers. Lead singer Luke Nuclear was singing and dancing all over the place as per usual, and I was having a blast singing and dancing along in the hot sun. All of a sudden, Luke begins to climb up the right pillar of the stage. He was going little by little while singing the song “Pang of Creation”. I thought this was one of the coolest things I had ever seen a musician do live. It was then taken to the next level when Luke put the mic in his mouth and climbed up high enough to stand on top of the huge double stacked speakers and continued to sing the song. I was mesmerized, blown away, in a trance…this was so cool, so punk rock! Forget the stage you are suppose to play on, make your own stage and rock out your way.
Unfortunately as the song ended, the organizer threatened to pull the plug on the set if Luke did not get down. Knowing that he would not be able to keep rocking with the organizer cutting the sound, Luke returned to the normal height, on the normal stage. The rest of the show was still great, but that decision of “man wouldn’t it be awesome to sing up there?… hell yeah it would, I am going to do that right now,” really moved this teenage music fan. And still to this day this is one of my favourite live music memories.
Million Dollar Marxists have since broken up, but the members still play a huge role in the Ottawa music scene. Luke Nuklear, is part of the Ottawa Explosion team (who put on the best festival in Ottawa), the White Wires and plays in Boyhood‘s live performances. Steve Adamyk and Davey Quesnel, the band’s guitarists play in the Steve Adamyk Band and the bassists Johnny O is the bassists and lead vocals of Big Dick.
Check out the following video of the event below (disclaimer, the video and audio quality is terrible, even for phones back then).