Steve Adamyk Band - Live at Diefenbunker Doom (Cover Artwork)

Steve Adamyk Band

Live at Diefenbunker Doom (2015)

live show

In 1958, Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker authorized the construction of a 100,000 square foot underground complex in the rural village of Carp, Ontario. Appropriately named The Diefenbunker, its purpose was to allow up to 565 people to survive for one month 75 feet underground in the event of a nuclear war. The facility has everything; board rooms, cafeteria, television studio, bank, the list goes on. Without any nuclear war to speak of these days, the complex became defunct and now this National Historic Site operates as a museum, event space and occasional movie set for big budget films. As part of a new Ottawa-based festival called Megaphono, the Ottawa Explosion group stepped up to curate an evening of bands in the complex under the title of Diefenbunker Doom.

With an uncomfortable amount of freshly falling snow hitting the roads, I put on an extra pair of wool socks, braved the frostbite warning and navigated my way out to the Diefenbunker in pitch black Canadian winter darkness. I arrived at what is essentially a utility shed in the middle of an old military base. After making my way down the blast tunnel and about five flights of stairs – well out of the reach of any cell phone provider – I was ready to see the Steve Adamyk Band play a live set in an abandoned bank vault. I’m a proponent that live punk is usually best in a bar or nightclub, but there was no denying that this was a pretty cool use of the space; it felt as if you were in some sort of movie set, but everything was real.

The band opened with a fast banger called “Nightmare” which fit the mood of the evening in a good way. The sound in the concrete vault was great and didn’t produce much echo; I could hear everything crisp and clean. Operating as a three-piece, the boys hammered out the riffs at a frantic pace, especially on “Crash Course In Therapy” from their recent album Dial Tone. My favorite stretch of the set consisted of “Had A Heartattack” immediately followed by “Katacombs” and “Satellite” – all of which appear on the very excellent Third record. Drummer David Forcier played the entire set while sitting on a plastic bucket as it appeared that whoever was in charge of bringing their drum stool for the evening forgot it back in the city. The smallish crowd was attentive but too reserved to really let loose. Things were kept nice and short with the set ending around the 25-minute mark; enough to satisfy me but at the same time leave me wanting a bit more which is a great balance to go home with.

If you get the chance to check out a show in an alternative space, take advantage of it. Good or bad, odds are you’ll have something worth remembering. Past memories about gigs in your usual dive bar may fade or blend together after a while. I feel lucky that I was able to see the Steve Adamyk Band rock an abandoned bank vault 75 feet underground in a complex designed for nuclear war. This was something I’ll never forget.

Check out some photos from the show here.