The inaugural night of Side by Side Weekend in Ottawa kicked off with a bang Thursday night with Steve Adamyk Band, Flaws, Sad Baxter, Bug Bites and The Offers taking the stage at House of TARG and Black Squirrel Books.

Steve Adamyk Band playing House of TARG during Side by Side Weekend in Ottawa.

Headlining the stage at TARG was the ever-changing Steve Adamyk Band. The lineup featured the regulars such as Steve, Pat, and Johnny, but also included Dave Williams from Crusades/Surrender, which was a first for me. The band wasted no time, as soon as a song ended, Pat would immediately tap his drum sticks together and they would launch into another song. All thriller no filler, especially when they ripped through “Had a Heart Attack.” They took their first break, five or six songs in it seemed, to thank all the bands, venues and Tony for organizing and got right back to work with one of my all time favourites by Ottawa’s most prolific punk group “Katacombs.” They closed out in with their much loved “I Fought for the USA” and sent some to bed (your’s truly) and others next door to Black Squirrel for one more act (WLMRT).

Flaws ripping up Black Squirrel Books during Side by Side Weekend in Ottawa.

When Flaws took the stage at Black Squirrel Books I knew I was in for a treat as their new album Rose has been gotten a lot of digital spins in my household. Flaws, comprised of members of The Tenenbaums and Muelkik (RIP), pull no punches with their in your face punk rock music. These country boys, the pride of Winchester, Ontario (a 40 minute rip from Ottawa), aren’t messing around with no twang and cowboy boots. Their music is fast-paced and unrelenting thanks to their aggressive vocals, powerful driving drumming and shredding axe play. Then they throw in a few breakdowns and some melodic twists and you have yourself one hell of a show. I loved absolutely everything about this band and their new album, and am stoked to see them again and again.

Nashville’s Sad Baxter rocking House of TARG during Side by Side Weekend in Ottawa.

Back a TARG I was so impressed by Nashville’s Sad Baxter. This three-piece grunge revival act really had me hooked. They really perfected the slow-fast-slow approach that grunge bands made famous over 20 years ago and I couldn’t help but notice the lead singer and guitarist’s “Bleach” tattoo. Now don’t get me wrong, they weren’t just recycling sounds of yesteryear. Sad Baxter were very much their own band and I was super impressed by how the lead singer could flow between clean clear vocals to such a wicked deep rasp. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. The band looked to be having a great time, and very early on specified that they weren’t ignoring us just wanting to show us everything they had. “Were are very chatty people people” said lead singer/guitarist Deezy Violet “but we want to get through all the songs so just come chat with us after.” I really got into their tracks “Love Yew” and “Baby” off of their latest EP So Happy.

I finally got to catch Ottawa’s young punks Bug Bites live. This hardcore four-piece has certainly been influenced by other great local hardcore act DOXX and there is nothing wrong with that. They are ferocious, heavy and hard hitting. I’d hate to be bitten by that bug. Their tunes are definitely throwdown and slam dance inspiring stuff. It was tough not to dance in the crammed Black Squirrel Book so I bobbed along in the back.

The Offers kicking off the party at House of TARG during Side by Side Weekend in Ottawa.

I began my night catching The Offers, a three piece of Ottawa music scene’s veterans Davey Quesnelle, Seiji Hewett and Tim Ostler. Davey’s bass was heavily distorted while Seiji’s guitar rang through super clean and they each took turns as lead vocalists. They usually switched each song, but when Davey was asked to do two songs in a row, he admitted “it is tough guys, I’m not in shape.” He did a great job as they played “Canadian Smokes” which reminded me of early Weakerthans/John K Samson stuff. Unfortunately they don’t have much music online yet, but they do have a pretty slick four song EP of basement demos to offer…

What a great first night and there is still so much more to come during the next 3 days of Side by Side Weekend. Tonight, Ottawa Showbox is presenting DBOY, Life In Vacuum, Mushy Gushy, Big School and Deathstick at Targ, while PRISM is presenting CELL, DOXX, CONTEMPT and TORPOR at Black Squirrel Book (details). Come party!

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