Bluesfest Day 7; the Steve Adamyk Band & the Red Hot Chili Peppers

July 19th, 2016 by  |  Published in Concerts

Red Hot Chili Peppers at Ottawa Bluesfest 2016
Friday, July 15th was probably the most highly anticipated day of the entire Bluesfest. This was due to the fact that the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be headlining the City Stage later that night.

At 7pm, however, the stage belonged to the local pop-punk quartet, the Steve Adamyk Band. They really couldn’t have asked for a better spot, being the only band at the City Stage before the Chilis. I got there about half an hour before they started, and there was already an impressively large crowd gathered. Granted, these were mostly people trying to secure a spot for the headliner while confusedly discussing how to pronounce “Adamyk”; but whether they were aware of this or not, SAB showed no sign of nerves. From the moment they struck their first chord, their energy asserted that they deserved to be there.
Steve Adamyk Band at Ottawa Bluesfest 2016
Just before they started, a younger dude next to me asked who the band was and what they were like. I described them as a pop-punk band somewhere in the ballpark of a Ramones meets early Green Day kind of vibe. He seemed satisfied by this, and not even halfway into the first tune, which the band busted out with a relentless and spastic speed, he turned to me and said: “These guys go hard as fuck, eh?”

It was the accessibility of classic pop-punk melodies mixed with three-part vocals that seemed to engage even the most uninitiated in the crowd, forcing anyone from the age of 15 to 55 to bob their heads. It didn’t hurt that SAB employs a healthy use of “Woah-oh’s” in many of their songs, which, when used correctly, act as the perfect hooks to dig into a listener’s brain.

To any fans of the band in they crowd, they played a great selection and admittedly played longer than their standard set would traditionally be. Including awesome tunes like Never Wake Up, Crash Course in Therapy, Katacombs and I Fought for the USA (which they introduced as the “Song that started it all”), they also showcased some new songs from an upcoming album. The most noticeable of these being Die, Dead Forever, which Steve dedicated to the rain.

Steve Adamyk Band at Ottawa Bluesfest 2016

I don’t know how often the Steve Adamyk Band play shows of that size, if ever, but they owned the stage as if it were something they did every day. On top of that, I’d feel safe betting they were the only band at the entire festival wearing the Spits and Strange Attractor shirts on stage.  +20 punk points.

After SAB was done, there was still and hour in a half to wait for RHCP. In the piss-pouring rain, I might add. This didn’t seem to shake anyone. People were taking this time to prepare, stockpiling 9 dollar beers, loading up on poutine, and emptying their bladders as much as humanly possible for fear that the ever familiar twinge of “Oh crap. Need to pee” might kick in during the middle of Californication.

By the time the show was nearing its start I was packed in, permanently rooted in my spot for the next two plus hours. When the band took the stage the two giant screens on each side of the stage as well as the dog’s paw formation of circular screens in the back of the stage all lit up, then, as the band began to throw themselves into an epic jam, each screen focused on different members, shifting quickly and with a captivating coordination. The jam then flawlessly transitioned into the familiar bass and drum build up of Can’t Stop, which was met with an eruption of cheers.
Red Hot Chili Peppers at Ottawa Bluesfest 2016
They kept feeding the energy of the audience by throwing themselves into hit after hit, following can’t stop with Dani California and Scar Tissue. They also peppered in a few small Joy Division jams in tribute to Ian Curtis for what would have been his 60th birthday, with Flea even shouting “I love you, Ian Curtis” at one point.

As they launched into Raindance Maggie from I’m with You, an album I’m not very familiar with, the screens took on a trippy mixture of bubble gum pinks and blues, giving the stage a somewhat psychedelic feel. The stage show was a great touch, giving anyone trapped miles back in the crowd a way to fully experience the show. The way each member was simultaneously represented visually at all times, some focused on more intently during solos, was almost more intimate than if you had been front row. Raindance Maggie also particularly caught my attention because of how punchy and catchy Flea’s bassline was. Listening to the actual track later, it was definitely more prominent and infectious live.

Speaking of Flea, he’s really just an enigma of a performer. Running on seemingly endless energy, he continues to be decked out in punk garb and neon pink hair, bending and contorting in every which way as his fingers swarm the neck of his bass like termites, dead set on eating it into a pile of dust. He has a bit of that Keith Richards thing going on where he’s kind of been in your life forever and it really doesn’t feel like he’s going anywhere anytime soon. There was a point where I was just staring at him and thought to myself “I think Flea might live forever…”

Red Hot Chili Peppers at Ottawa Bluesfest 2016Red Hot Chili Peppers at Ottawa Bluesfest 2016

The whole band seemed to have a bit of that youthful energy; maybe not at Flea-level, but they all had their moment’s of completely throwing themselves into the songs. Josh Klinghoffer, in particular, seemed to be closest to matching the Energizer Bunny-esque bass player. The member who is newest to the band (if you consider over six years new) really seemed to be having a genuinely good time, and probably spent as much time on floor playing as he did standing up.

Chad Smith and Anthony Kiedis also dove into the set, Smith with his whirlwind solos (it will never not be funny to watch essentially Will Ferrell doing amazing drum solos) and Kiedis flailing around youthfully between his machine gun style vocals.
Red Hot Chili Peppers at Ottawa Bluesfest 2016
The Chili Peppers definitely made a point to play a few of their latest singles but ultimately played it fairly safe, never veering from the standard crowd pleasers. I would have liked at least one slightly more obscure track thrown in there, like a Throw Away Your Television or Parallel Universe. Besides that though you can’t argue with the fact that their hits are truly built into the mass subconscious. They start a song you haven’t thought about in years, and all of a sudden the floodgates open and you realize how deep of a connection you have to songs like Otherside.

Overall, It was a great show with good vibes all throughout. A highlight of the evening was definitely seeing Anthony Kiedis come out for the encore, doing a handstand across the stage. This band has been in existence since 1983 but they still perform like it’s the early 90’s. Personally, I don’t think we could have asked for a better headlining act for the evening.

Steve Adamyk Band at Ottawa Bluesfest 2016

Steve Adamyk Band at Ottawa Bluesfest 2016

Steve Adamyk Band at Ottawa Bluesfest 2016

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