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 â€śhear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes” in a remarkably consistent fashion.


The Thrill opened S.O.T.O. Fest III‘s final day with bouncy surf rock-esque tunes. The former trio added an additional member to the mix, the sound becoming fuller bodied.

The band ripped right into their set at the predicted punk time. The guitar playing was abrasive. The addition of an extra guitar playing chords further smoothed the sound into something well rounded. The bass pulled itself through as a muddy concoction and burst through with foamy greens. The drumming provided some tight tones and colours, baby blues bursting into the soundscape.

The Thrill playing SOTO Fest at Black Squirrel Books in Ottawa, ON. Photo by Ev Osmanovic.

The Thrill entertained the crowd through the unconventional vocals and upbeat nature of the drumming in combination with the rapid pace of the psychedelic, progressive solos. The audience was left with heads bodding and feet moving.

Next up was Buffalo’s heavily anticipated one man band, Science Man. The raw energy that Johnny holds does not disappoint. It translated to the crowd. His villainous performance entertained and left people awestruck. Science Man knew how to work the crowd.

The audios to the songs were set up via drum machine and Johnny’s guitar recordings but don’t be mistaken, a wall of sound came at you from every direction. The drumming came off as full and warm while the guitar provided the changes between cool and softer colours. Much like the lighting, the set took to mostly reds and blues with variation to yellow and harsh greens.

Science Man getting heavy and weird at SOTO Fest at Black Squirrel Books in Ottawa, ON. Photo by Ev Osmanovic.

The guitar work ranged from heavy and nasty to rapid and high with bends – overdriven to all hell. The experiment came towards the end, the science concoction was poured into peoples mouths when the performance was over. Johnny took all the energy and channeled it out into the crowd. It was well received and reciprocated. Science Man’s “wall of garbage noise” is well worth seeing. You’ll ask yourself “what the fuck was that” but inevitably, you’ll want more.

Blood Club rocking out SOTO Fest at Black Squirrel Books in Ottawa, ON. Photo by Ev Osmanovic.

After Science Man’s electrifying set came Blood Club, from New York, NY. Toned down, more electronic. Drum machines and loop pedals played a big role as well as a guitar used as a means to create additional murky background sounds. Those would later be distorted and become more aggressive. The vocals looped over one another and created harmonies. They contrasted the heavy beats and distortions, creating a unique space for themselves – almost soft in contrast. The soundscape was scratches of white through cyan, flecks of orange and red, yellow backdrops and subdued greens bubbling through.

Transmit performing SOTO Fest at Black Squirrel Books in Ottawa, ON. Photo by Ev Osmanovic.

Following Blood Club was Ottawa’s, Transmit. They started out slow, and built up to staccato beats. The performance entranced the audience. The lo-fi sound emit from synths and drum machines, the two creating a strange electronic swirl with the pounding beat. Transmit played songs that you could physically feel in your chest, not only hear.

The four bands tied S.O.T.O III’s final day with a bow. If you weren’t around for S.O.T.O this year, you missed out, but there’s always next year. Make sure to check out the bands if they stroll into town – their hearts are fully invested in what they do.