Bluesfest 2010: Highs & Lows

After these 12 days of spending outside at the yearly summer festival which is Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest.
I needed a day or so to recover from the mayhem and music overload.
So here is my highs and *maybe* lows from Bluesfest.
Also you can read Emily Jeffer‘s comment on Bluesfest too.
Metric @ Bluesfest

Here are my thoughts.
HIGH (in order):
The Flaming Lips:
It was like a psychedelic trip. You just had to be at the show to experience it.
Wayne in the bubble was the main attraction with giant balloons and confetti everywhere.
The Flaming Lips @ Bluesfest

Arcade Fire:
Amazing show and it was my first time seeing them finally!
Arcade Fire @ Bluesfest

Now that was a show!
Love Rivers running everywhere on the stage.
Weezer @ Bluesfest

Basia Bulat:
She played at the Black Sheep Tent.
Always a delight to see her play live.
Basia Bulat @ Bluesfest

They played on Day 10.
They always have a great energy on stage.
They are a band that doesn’t play every year at Bluesfest and still manages to be new and fresh.
Stars @ Bluesfest

Great Lake Swimmers
They played on Day 3.
The band puts on a great set. Love hearing Pulling On A Line.
Great Lake Swimmers @ Bluesfest

Wow! Seeing them various times.
I can never get sick and tired from dancing to their music.
Who doesn’t love Paul sing the female part of Dancer??
Woodhands @ Bluesfest

The Rural Alberta Advantage
Absolutely an amazing set they put on.
More like double duty for Paul who plays drum on this band and Woodhands.
The Rural Alberta Advantage @ Bluesfest

The Kelp Records Revue showcase
Great showcase of Ottawa talent and those needing to get away from the loud madness of Iron Maiden.
[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157624317979165″]

Dan Mangan
He played inside the Barney Danson Theatre.
It was packed and I managed to catch three songs in his set.
He sure knows how to get people into his music.
Dan Mangan @ Bluesfest

Jill Zmud
She played in the Barney Danson Theatre.
Absolutely an amazing musician to see live.
Jill Zmud @ Bluefest

The heatwave that happened on the first week.
It was so hot that people were fainting left, right and center.

Island who played on Day 9.
Their set seem somewhat off and flat.
Islands @ Bluesfest

Missing out Wintersleep, Born Ruffians and Tokyo Police.
All of them played at the Byward Market for a free show.

Metric who played on Day 5.
I love Metric but they have been playing Bluesfest since 2005.
Its becoming the same old, same old performances.
They need to do something fresh and new with their performances.

Day 2 of Bluesfest.
There wasn’t anyone in particular I wanted to see.

Passion Pit being delayed.
It was the same night at Flaming Lips and the band was suppose to play at 9pm.
Apparently they had no batteries on the pedals.
Took forever and had to ditch that show and cover The Flaming Lips.

The Swell Season was getting noise bleeds from Rush.

Blues music fan/purists are still complaining on where are the Blues??

Here is Emily Jeffer‘s take on this year’s Bluesfest.
Flaming Lips:
The Flaming Lips certainly put on a spectacle. Their show is one that becomes more rewarding the closer you are to the stage–whether it’s to smack around one of the brightly coloured balloons bouncing through the crowd, or to be showered in the clouds of confetti shot into the audience, or to push along lead singer Wayne Coyne as he surfs over his fans in an inflated plastic sphere. The visuals behind the band were also quite captivating, with a large screen behind them producing hypnotic videos in fluorescent colours. There were groups of dancers to the sides of the band to fill out the stage, and occasionally someone in a fish or werewolf costume would emerge. I’m not really sure what that was about, but it looked like they were having a good time.
The Flaming Lips @ Bluesfest
The audience was seemingly timid, or perhaps bewildered by all the excitement onstage, or really was having fun but was just showing typical Ottawa restraint. In any case, Coyne seemed to have to egg people on to bring up the energy level in the crowd. There was also a lot of conversation between songs. You could tell there was some slight discomfort in the audience when Coyne started slagging Bush (that’s so last term) and saying that the way to have political change was not to take to the streets with violence but to write songs instead. That was probably a misstep on Coyne’s part, considering the aftermath of the G8/G20 protests that happened a few weeks ago in Toronto.
The Flaming Lips @ Bluesfest
So, I’m not sure how satisfied the Flaming Lips were with the rapport between them and the audience that night, and to be honest, I’m not sure how satisfied Ottawa was with the show. I’ve heard mixed comments. It seems like people are either disappointed with the crowds, or unwilling to say that they were kinda bored at a show that for all intents and purposes should have been quite entertaining. I thought it was…good. I probably should have gotten closer to the stage to really feel the energy.

Arcade Fire:
I feel like Arcade Fire is one of the last Canadian “alternative” bands that will make it huge in today’s post-record label era. Their ability to draw large crowds (who also know their songs) helps to sustain the energy they bring to the stage. Their Bluesfest appearance marked the end of one of many tours they’re doing this year, but they didn’t seem at all worn out. They were gracious and gave a generous show. Of course, for some members of the band, Ottawa is their hometown, so perhaps it felt good to be playing for their friends and family along with scads of adoring fans. The show started out with a moderate pace, but quickened as they played on. Their new songs fit in nicely to the set, but they really brought the energy up by keeping lots of fan favourites until the end. I found Crown of Love to be particularly beautiful, and they certainly know how to drive the crowd crazy by blending Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) with Rebellion (Lies). Of course, they saved Intervention and Wake Up for last. They’re always lovely to see.
Arcade Fire @ Bluesfest

Old Crow Medicine Show:
I really do like the song Wagon Wheel. I think everyone does. But that’s not why you should go see Old Crow Medicine Show. You should see Old Crow Medicine Show because they are insanely talented and ridiculously fun. All six members were huddled up at the front of the stage with dozens of instruments and they brought an impressive show, based purely on musical prowess. They have banjos, guitars, fiddles, and an upright base. I thought the fiddle would catch on fire, they were playing so fast. Their show really made me want to visit the south. The crowd was really having a good time, clapping and tapping their feet, but I really thought it would have been great if people just let themselves go and started jumping up and down. I was embarrassed that nobody knew how to do-si-do. Next time they’re in town, we’ll be ready!
Old Crow Medicine Show @ Bluesfest

The crowd at Bluesfest for this show was a mix of Woodhands fans and Marianas Trench die-hards fighting to get to the front and who were damn lucky they got to see Woodhands because they’re awesome. Woodhands are two guys who put 12,000% into their show every time they play. From the time they go onstage to the very end, there’s no rest. It’s pure fun. Each dance-pop song flows into the next with no gaps, but for Dan Werb throwing in a few cuss words to make sure the audience knows who’s in charge. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to see them outside in daylight as opposed to in a darkened club, but they commanded the stage and pumped up the crowd. I think I want them to play at my wedding. They totally rocked out. Hope to see them back in Ottawa soon.

On the last day of Bluesfest.
I decided to do a short interview with Joe Reilly who is the media relations for Bluesfest.

Listen to the interview
If you have any input on your Bluesfest experience.
Please feel free and make a comment.
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  1. Pingback: Bluesfest – A Look Back: High-lights, low-lights, and general thoughts « Sunny Ottawa Blog

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