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.


On the cold Saturday night, Sam Eastman opened the show with some good-humoured banter, acoustic tunes, and an unplugged pop-punk sound. Sam played a solo set, announcing that the follow-up show in Montreal would feature the rest of his band.

Sam, played songs soulfully and with lightheartedness. His picking was light but pronounced, sounding metallic with a soft mix of smoothness that soothed. Fingerpicking intermingled with strumming to create a greater atmosphere. His vocals, though seldom emitting, soothed and echoed with a melancholy. They were not polished but rather kept raw. The lyrics embodied a sadness and seldom strayed from that narrative—save for when he was performing songs from Spongebob.

Sam created an acoustic soundscape which relaxed and drew people in. He painted gentle blues and peachy summer oranges through the bookshop. His voice intermingled with the contrasting hues and added splashes of pinks, yellow, and smooth hints of gentle greens.

Ottawa’s Bug Bites bringing it at Black Squirrel Books. Photo by Ev Osmanovic

Next up were locals, Bug Bites, who chugged into the scene fairly recently but have already managed to play impressive shows and draw crowds. Their playing is reminiscent of BAUHAUS but with more energy and drive.

Shay provided the screams and poetic vocalisation on top of the bass. They were chaotic and monotonous. The bass was suddenly pushed to the front of the scene rather than being a backing structure which added. A deep magenta took over while Shay sang and played, with the guitar having added yellow and green.

Felix played barre chords that rang through in a choppy manner that got you moving foot to foot. It rumbled and rang out whereas the bass rumbled deep and steady. Sounding like nu-metal distorted and slow, the sound worked in the favour of style no doubt. The muddy, nasty, playing speed up and slowed, altering pace fractionally but melded in favourable ways. Yellow one second, turning a sick green the next, it wrapped you up and pulled you in.

Pat’s drumming kept a hectic and steady pace. It added to the yellow but threw in orange and red as the snare and toms came in. The snare was looser and the sound carried prominently even through the intense crashing of both ride and crash cymbals. The snare created another level of thrashing to the pieces.

Anna, who joined Bug Bites for their last song, took over playing bass and fell immediately into place with the rest of the members. The newest member did not miss a beat and seemed a little off-put at first but got through it smiling.

Ottawa’s Thrill playing at Black Squirrel Books. Photo by Ev Osmanovic

The Thrill, Ottawa’s own psychedelic—near surf—punk, took to the floor and ripped right into it. The trio doesn’t fail to kick in your eardrums and create the most distinguishable muddle of noise you will hear.

The guitar playing is abrasive but evens itself out on par with the bass and drums as the songs progress. The chords ring out only to turn into intricate solo components. The chords turn into these vivid neon blues and the solo’s burn yellow and green. The solo work was mindblowing and something that blew people away.

The bass rumbles deep and muddy and sets the pace and patterns for the guitar, leaving terra cotta and burnt orange within the soundscape. The bassline strings everything together in a messy fashion that allowed the higher notes to poke through with more grace. Had the bassline been more pronounced and complex, the same effect would not have been achieved. Fingers wiggled for those nasty and weighted guitar riffs.

The drumming came thundering in and shook the floor. The energy that took over as soon as the drums came in was undeniable. The cymbals thrashed while the toms and snare pounded into your eardrums, In combination with the guitar, they got feet moving.

The vocals added a muddy unclear blue, not so ragged but with a bite. Mikey let them rip from the back of his throat and into the open air. They’re not clean vocals but they’re not torn up either.

Edward Glen rocking at Black Squirrel Books. Photo by Ev Osmanovic

The last band to play was Edward Glen, a band from Boston, MA. The folk-punk meets pop-punk band pried out nostalgia wrapped in song from their repertoire and let it out into the bookshop.

The smooth vocals had a slight nasal note to them and rung through with soulful lyrics. They resonated in an upbeat melancholy. It was morbid happiness that came through as lyrics contrasted with the instrumental.

Straight and simple strumming patterns came through with major chords. The solos came out clean and in between verses, painting yellows through the atmosphere. The guitar melded together easily with the bass and drums, creating a uniformity that sunk together.

The drums rolled out but held a standard beat, nothing too complex, which complimented the folk-punk style of the pieces. It brought out some light blues when the cymbals hit but nonetheless produced mostly cool tones. Greens became distinct with each beat of the snare.

The bass weaved itself deep into the soundscape, so much so that it was hard to distinguish save for the few times it veered away from a standard bassline and became pronounced and distinct. It was precise when you could hear it peek through but otherwise was, unfortunately, swallowed.

To whomever it may pique interest, each band brings a twist to the table and puts on live show that you wouldn’t want to miss. The energy they harness is unforgettable. If they stroll into town, to see them, grab a drink, and enjoy.

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