Ottawa Explosion Weekend day 2 was the ultimate birthday party for me, amazing bands, super nice people and delicious drinks all night long.
The first act of the night was the Sedatives. The local band from yester years absolutely killed it and was anything but sedated. And how could you with the stellar lineup of Ian Manhire (White Wires, Voicemail) on keys and vocals, Steve Adamyk (Steve Adamyk Band) on bass and vocals, Emmanuel Sayer (Crusades, Ottawa Explosion Organizer) on guitar and vocals and Dave Williams (Crusades) on drums. The great early crowd was made up mostly of Ottawa’s old guard and they were all amped. Highlight of the set was when they played “Powerlines” followed “Teenage Runaway,” back to back. This performance was even better than their comeback show at House of Targ in May. They are like a fine wine just getting better with age.
Next up was New England’s very awesome Laika’s Orbit. This was the first time I have ever seen a power pop band equipped with a Flying V guitar. It definitely wasn’t ironic either because there were a couple of great shredding moments. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Sean Doopy, commented on the heat at one point and most of us just laughed. We have been waiting for this weather for quite some time now and it was only 27 with very little humidity. I really liked their track “No Matter What It Takes,” which also happens to be the title of their latest record. Every day at Explosion there is that one band you never heard of that really impresses you and on this day it was Laika’s Orbit. I strongly recommend checking them out.
I thought I knew exactly what to expect from Steve Adamyk Band, but they proved me wrong. I mean I knew I was in for some great punk rock and good times, which they delivered on. What I didn’t know was a bunch of the new songs they played and that Adamyk was going to mention that there should be a new album in a month. The other thing I know is that Pat Johnson is a great drummer, but having now seen him play in every type of band I wonder…is there any style this man cannot drum? The band nailed all the new stuff but hilariously struggled with “Careless” and “Katacombs” after playing “I Fought for the USA” which drew some heckling from a familiar voice (video here). They recovered nicely and crushed the rest of their set.
The last band outside for the evening was Radioactivity. You know a band kicks ass when the front row and the pit is full of people from all the other bands. Conceptualized in Japan and built in Texas out of the ashes of Marked Men, Radioactivity play great power pop, garage rock or whatever you want to call this super fun music. They were the first band to get the crowd moving a little more than just head bobbing and it was great. And it is easy to understand why when listening to tracks like “Don’t Try,” “Stripped Away,” and “Pretty Girl.”
It was now the time of the night where we moved inside into the small dark confines of the back room of SAW Gallery to watch The Creeps. The local three piece were at home in the darkness as they kicked things off with “Ghosts.” Radioactivity’s momentum clearly carried inside as the crowd sang along loudly with fists pumping every chance they could. This hit a pinnacle when the band played their big radio hit “Cancer” followed by “All The Way Home.” Those boys can sure build a set list. In a stranger moment, they dedicated the song “Off My Guard” with a chorus of “How I just feel like dying, I feel like dying, oh oh” to newlyweds who came up from Portland. I am going to assume it is their favourite track or that there is a story there. And in what seems to be the bands routine now, they closed with “Car Crash.”
Next up was one of the most anticipated for me, Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band from Minneapolis in Wisconsin. Coles was in a playful mood, starting the set by talking about Stomping Tom and how “I’ll play the stomper all night long.” He then followed that up with “We’re going to have fucking fun tonight.” Fun was had indeed, including a moment where Coles left his band members on stage to go have a shot at the bar in the middle of a song. If you have never seen these guys play I urge you to change that as soon as you can. It is such a great rocking time and I am so excited to hear them play some new music, because that leads me to believe there is another record coming and maybe more touring. I loved hearing the anthemic “See Some Lights” live again. And for a twist, the drummer, Mike Cranberry and Coles switched places for the last song. Coles rocked out on the skins and Cranberry showed us his chops on vocals. They are men of many wonders.
The festivities were capped off with Bad Sports, who feature members of Radioactivity. The more mellow kind of 80 punk rock and garage vibe was a nice way to end a very long night of celebrating. There new single “Living with Secrets” off their upcoming 7 track EP was awesome and has a New York Dolls feel to it.
Well Explosion that was one heck of a birthday party! The next three days will have a very hard time topping that one.