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 May 17, punks gathered at Pressed for a fundraiser show to support Sitting On The Outside Fest III. SOTO Fest is a DIY punk festival here in Ottawa, and the third edition will take place in a couple weekends (June 6-9) at various venues across town. All hail Felix and Ska Jeff for putting it together!

The Nailbiters dug their claws into the night and ripped up the opening set with vigour. When I first saw them, the vocals were raw and raspy, the guitar and bass worked together, and the drums came in without forgiveness.

This time vocals came together with the same raspiness but Em had total control over them. Despite that they came out with anger, they pushed through every other sound and grabbed at the scruff of our collar. The bitter greens pulled through and the reds slowly bloomed in. The stage presence was riveting and the fluidity of movements had created a contrast to the choppy and intense instrumentals.

Nailbitters rocking out at Pressed Cafe in Ottawa, ON. Phot: Ev Osmanovic

The guitar and bass held together and fed off one another. The solo work overtop of the consistent and grounding bassline added a feral feeling to the atmosphere. The two are tightknit and push out angry oranges and bright and irritated reds.

The drums give off intense cold. With heavy use of the cymbals, thrashing around was guaranteed. The toms served as the only warm accent but even they were hollow, giving off green hues rather than yellow. The drumming painted the atmosphere blue. It was rapid and set the tone for first bumping and moshing.

Death Exclamation bringing it at Pressed Cafe in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Ev Osmanovic

Death Exclamations followed suit. The Ottawa punks bust through any chatter with the overdriven guitar and dense basslines.

Feedback ripped though the PA and rumbled out into power chords that chugged with ferocity. The guitar and bass tied in with the guitar’s tone which was reminiscent of Discharge’s ‘Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing’ album. The tone was steady and held anger and the solos radiated with a strict preciseness while being absolute rippers. The hue was an emerald green with the bass adding some murky splashes into it.

The basslines were fat and held incredible weight in the pieces. It was murky and plowed through each song with ease, bulldozing a path forward for the group. At one point in the evening, the bass stopped being fed through the amp and had to come through the PA, regardless, the band played on.

The drumming was bitter and brutal, taking a bite out of the air. The snare sounds flat but came out with intensity. The bass drum hit with booms into your ears with the feeling resonating and settling in the middle of your chest. The cymbals crashed with a warmer tone as opposed to sharp and frigid.

Sammy’s vocals tie everything together, spitting out as bitter words. His grimy and ragged screams are brutal but paint the town orange. They’re warm, contrasting the guitar playing well. They create a unity while sticking out. The vocals are projected with a passion.

Torpor were ready to rock Ottawa, ON in their return. Photo: Ev Osmanovic

Following the electric set that Death Exclamations played were Torpor, an Ottawa band with members now living in Montreal. Due to this, the band doesn’t play as often anymore but when they do people are sure to lose their mind to them. See the bruises on my elbow, calf, and wrist as evidence.

Elodie’s vocals came through with a passion. The very slight delay and more prominent vocals delivered a very firm and strong punch to the crowd. The vocals rang with assertion and frantic aggression.

The guitar slides transitioned smoothly into power chords which tore through the atmosphere and bit at the bassline. The two chugged back and forth, taunting one another while simultaneously collaborating to accentuate the vehemence about the current social issues that society is being tested with. The depth of the two
flooded my vision with intense murky red and orange colours.

Mike’s drumming came in with a white hot rage, however it rang cold. Notably, the drumming in combination of the nasty chugging of the bass sent someone flying into me, which sent me to the ground. Elbows flew while the scene was painted a murky teal. The bassline pounded into your chest and ensured the ground rumbled. It came out with anger but Ruby played with such calm. It’s what you would want to hear from a solid bassline. It held power without overpowering the vocals and gave the right amount of emphasis to each song.

Deathsticks getting loud as they headline Pressed Cafe in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Ev Osmanovic

Headlining the show were the very loved, incredibly noisy locals Deathsticks. The duo created the ultimate muddle of unruly noise sure to blow your eardrums out. The careful and artful use of pedals pushed through.

The drumming was warm, loud, and welcoming, despite the heavy use of cymbals – crash, ride, and high hat. Laura managed to get each drum beat to roll into the next, and if not that, the abrupt transition added to the chaos.

The guitar screeched green, as unnatural sounds were produced from the instrument, done tactfully, harsh against the warmth of Laura’s drumming. The guitar was distorted and while being absolutely wild, it felt wobbly.

The vocals came out as screams over the noise that painted the room. They struck deep blues, and gentle pinks out into the air while giving an orange flair to it. The vocals crashed into the drums and melded with the sheer clamor of Matt’s guitar playing.

This stacked bill had four absolutely incredible Ottawa bands who took Pressed Cafe by storm, and if you missed out, you missed out. Make sure to catch these bands if you see them playing any bills soon – a good time is a guarantee.

Be sure to come out to SOTO Fest III June 6-9, as we’ll surely be missing Ottawa Explosion which usually happens around this time of year. More info can be found here.

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