OXW 2018: Day 4 – Steve Adamyk Band, Deathsticks, Mallwalker


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 four was one of the craziest days of the weekend and yet it was packed with astounding bands and insane talent.

Mallwalker bringing it at Babylon during Ottawa Explosion Weekend 2018.

At Babylon, Mallwalker was first to take the stage. They came in with ferocious energy and could have torn the floorboards out with it had they wanted to. The vocals bellowed out and created the enraged tone for the set while having added bursts of angry and vivid yellows. They often smoothed out and became ragged, speckled with lilac and orange. The guitar grumbled on and added maroon to the mix. Muddled and dirty, it ripped through the crowd. The bass grumbled in the background with a deep red. Prominent but not dominant, it created a structure to the songs and held it up, having created a contrast to the wild drumming. The drumming was cold and unruly. It maintained a shallow sound while it completed each song, making them feel full.

These Baltimore punks who know how to kick it despite losing their voices under a bridge at 3 am the night before—they’re worth seeing. They pack a punch in their music and do not let down by any means.

Deathsticks getting loud while surrounded by books at Black Squirrel Books during Ottawa Explosion Weekend 2018.

Next, I ran down a little more than two kilometres to Black Squirrel to catch Deathsticks. The duo never disappoints and always finds new ways to impress. Loud and proud, the way the band played was second nature to them. The guitar playing was so controlled and yet so absolutely wild. Crazy distorted and pedals used for many artistic purposes. The warm and shallow drumming added a variety of shades of yellow, dipping into orange. It was quick and each beat rolled into the next heavily. The guitar, on the other hand, roared and squealed, dripping electric and murky greens into the scene. The duo screamed over the unruly instrumentals and packed a punch with the vocals. The managed to paint in vivid bursts of pink and deep yet harsh blues. Deathsticks are a power duo that is a must see by my books. Their use of nothing but two instruments and their vocals to create the effect of a full-blown band falls nothing short of impressive.

The last band I saw that night was Steve Adamyk Band who played at The Dominion Tavern almost five kilometres s away.  Steve’s vocals cut through the feedback and rumbling of the guitars. His vocals paint this vivid and atomic yellow, fluctuations adding either orange or green. His guitar playing turns the soundscape green and aquamarine with the chords and the solos turned it around to yellow due to the pitch. True garage grit without remorse. The basslines are concealed yet you felt them rattle in your chest, painting the room the colour of your heartbeat. Not dominant but present, the bassline shook the ground and got the crowd moving. The drumming added to the powerful shake of the rest of the instruments. It was cold but full and produced a variety of purples and blues that would swim around. The succession of each beat came quickly after the last and the fills were practically flawless in their timing.

Steve Adamyk Band is the ultimate garage punk that you can dance to easily. They’re the pick-me-up you didn’t know you needed at four in the morning and they’re the band whose lyrics you will find yourself screaming back at them when you see them live, whether it is your first time or your tenth time