TAP TAP! goes the microphone check. GLUG GLUG! SIP, SIP. Ahhhh! goes the pre-show crowd
CLAP, CLAP, CLAP – up comes the MC, Brampton’s comedy kingpin NEIL GRIFFIN
PLOINK, PLOINK. STRUM STRUM. LA LA LEE LA! goes the band, THREE MEN 2 SOULS. And off they go, and the crowd goes wild.
I was trying to write everything in SFX here (oh, that’s ‘Sound Effects’ for the folks at home)
On Friday July 11th, MICHAEL WINSLOWÂ of POLICE ACADEMYÂ fame is coming to Brampton’s iconic Rose Theatre. Yes, THAT Michael Winslow – the SFX guy! The guy who can make his mouth sound like helicopters, police sirens, guns, car chases and all KINDSA cool stuff!
See that’s where the title of this article that you’re reading right now came from, Scenesters. Because Michael Winslow is famous for the sound effects he can do, and he uses them in his comedy. And he’s performing a comedy show in Brampton. And ‘HA HA HA’ is the sound effects (or SFX like we call it in show business) of a crowd laughing (crowd is a show business word too, for audience)
The title of this article is also kind of a parody of that annoying song from those two Swedish dance music guys that teaches 19 year old drunk college kids what sounds different animals make. But Sweet Xenu is that song ever annoying, so let’s forget it
Now, if a one-night only show by Michael “The Man of 10,000 Voices” Winslow Â at the prestigious Rose Theatre isn’t enough for you for whatever reason… whatever happened in your life that has made it so hard for you to experience joy… just in CASE you might be dead inside – well, Neil “Hawk” Griffin (our host & MC, and the promoter behind CRACK ME UP Comedy) has stacked the show with a few special guests and some local headlining comics Brampton audiences will know.Â
MARC TRINIDADÂ (B.E.T’s “COMIC VIEW”)
DAN THIELÂ (Dan the Man to Crack Me Up comedy regulars)
DR. RON (Dr Ron’s a regular face on Pro/Am club stages across the GTA)
…and THREE MEN 2 SOULS.Â Three Men 2 Souls have had a solid year, releasing their first album (get it on itunes). And they’ve appeared many times at Comedy Bar as the house band for my own live late show (they were even in the pilot!)
And there you have it.Â That’s what you call a show
MICHAEL WINSLOW (Police Academy, Spaceballs, Gremlins, Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie)Â
With special guests!
FRIDAY JULY 11
ROSE THEATRE BRAMPTON
Presented by Crack Me Up Comedy, Z103.5 + MORE
Ottawa Bluesfest Day Three – Lady Gaga
Written by Chris O’Gorman
Who: Lady Gaga
From: New York City
Where: Bell Stage, RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa
When: Day Three, July 5th 2014
Total Score: 9/10
While a fair number of music critics panned ARTPOP, Gaga’s latest album and the basis for her artRave concert series, I couldn’t disagree more. This album wasn’t an art-flop, her concert was bangin’ and she’s still one of the best performers ever. If you’re not entertained by six costume changes, her new and inventive fashion-meets-art-meets-music concepts, or the fact that her music is super catchy (and brought out 27,000 people in Ottawa of all places), then get out. She’s still the pop queen and this concert was just straight-up good.
Style: When a blend of top-40 pop music and grittier New York synth meets a fairly PG version of House and Dubstep, Lady Gaga’s artRAVE is born (or should I say #artRAVE because if you can’t trend something on Twitter, you’re not doing it right). The musical style is beat-heavy and easily digestible while still managing to be a little different from any other mainstream act performing now. Whether it’s the early influences Gaga still brings to her music or whether it’s this new mix of edgier electronic music, Gaga’s music is moving away from being radio friendly to something more interesting.
Fans 9/10: In every Gaga crowd there’s a clear distinction between those who are “just here because I liked that one song Just Dance” to those wearing a labour-intensive exact replica of one of her outfits from a music video. At this show, there were plenty of seashell bikinis, neon string dresses, and bedazzled jackets. The crowd at Gaga’s show, likely to be one of the biggest at Bluesfest this year, encompassed everyone from kids as young as eight or nine to seniors. The wide-ranging crowd was a little on the tense side leading up to the headlining act. The age-old question of “where-to-put-chairs-at-Bluesfest” led to a few angry confrontations here and there, but it’s probably just because people wanted to see Mother Monster up close. When Gaga did take the stage, the more hardcore fans busted out their handmade signs and disco balls in the hopes of getting a chance to come up on stage, a tradition Gaga has continued throughout this tour. There were also tender moments in the crowd. When one super fan threw up a stuffed monkey with a note, Gaga paused the show to read it aloud. The moving note might seem mushy to some, but I thought it was genuine the way Gaga reacted when he wrote that she had been his light during some dark periods in his life. There’s nothing that makes a concert more enjoyable than a crowd that sincerely loves the performer and a performer who would pause a concert just to listen to a fan.
Musical Ability 9/10: Gaga herself is astoundingly talented live and has proclaimed time and time again that she doesn’t lip-sync. She was on key as she belted out ballads. She rocked on the crystal piano/keyboard/maybe it was actually a grand piano? As she sung hits like “Born This Way” and her encore of “Gypsy.” Her band too was wildly talented as they took the stage in all-white outfits playing a bass and electric guitar with a drummer in the back.
Sex Appeal 10/10: Gaga is increasingly an iconic sex symbol. Her no-pants-it-lets-my-creativity-flow vibe is awesome. She rocks the electrical tape over her nipples and continually amazes in her six-inch designer heels that any sane person would fall over in. The fact that she changed costumes six times should give some indication as to how seriously she takes her look. From her ARTPOP blue orb dress, to some latex contraption that made her look like Ursula from the Little Mermaid, and then the iconic white, sparkly number with blonde wig, reminiscent of her earlier days of The Fame and The Fame Monster. Basically, she killed it costume wise.
Memorable Moment: As the concert rocked on, Gaga took to the piano to play a little bluesy piece, “after all, this is Bluesfest,” she said. She started with a little look out to the crowd before saying, “Canada, I think I have a crush on you.” It was a cute little moment that also showcased her incredible range and skill. She then launched into a stripped down “Born This Way” keeping the same bluesy feel. Gaga connected with the crowd and the music to create this special little moment of something different than the powerhouse pop from the last hour.
Overall: Gaga shows no signs of slowing down. This is her first tour after suffering a pretty severe hip injury at the end of the Born This Way Ball tour, but you wouldn’t know it to see her. She slayed the show, impressed the audience with her visual spectacle, and left everyone feeling raved and danced out, which is an impressive feat for 27,000 people.
Photos by Valerie Anderson
Ottawa Bluesfest Day Two – Zedd
Where: Bell Stage, RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest, Ottawa
When: Day Two, July 4th 2014
TOTAL SCORE: 9/10
Style: Electro house DJ with a background in classical music. Inspired by Justice, the 24-year-old began mixing music a few years ago and has since been nominated for seven awards. Zedd’s portfolio includes work with Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Skrillex, and the movie soundtrack Divergent.
Crowd: A party of epic proportions. Girls were rocking out on people’s shoulders, a man shook his crutches enthusiastically in the air, and the smell of weed was everywhere. Zedd’s music seemed to seep inside the limbs of his audience and force them to move without much self-control. The large screen graphics were fascinating and hundreds of people filmed the performance with their phones. The crowd loved the combination of sound and visual and the evening turned out to be a dramatic show for the young ones.
Technicalities: Zedd’s performance was an entertainment of technological theatrics. He created exciting pieces of art in the form of moments that could only be truly captured with a memory. Each song was embellished with impressive visual graphics, crazy pyrotechnics, flames shooting from the floor in rhythm to the music, streamers and smoke clouds. But it wasn’t just the visuals that made the audience feel alive; it was the rumbling under their feet, the building of the music, and the tangible energized atmosphere. Zedd’s classical background gives him an understanding of music that many DJ’s lack and each song is clearly formed with an awareness of musicality. Sure, his music makes a great party but he also gives you different things to chew over; interesting lyrics, weird instruments and strange turns in the music.
Sex Appeal: You know that kid in high school who gets on with everyone and throws the craziest house parties? That’s Zedd. He’s not arrogant or too cool to talk, he just wants everyone to have a good time. And that kind of unpretentious nature is highly attractive. Not to mention that Zedd is handsome, young, successful and knows how to make people move. And just like that the cool kid from school he is undoubtedly going to have an awesome time at college, Zedd clearly has new and exciting things heading his way.
Memorable moment: The beginning. Darkness flooded the arena and the ground shook with rhythms and beats. Zedd built the tension slowly; people screamed with excitement and after 20 or so seconds the world was engulfed in colours and noise. Bluesfest was transformed into a mega house party and even the stars came out in full force for the party.
Overall: Zedd manages to succeed where most electro and house DJ’s fail. His music does not fall into the trap of repetition, shitty lyrics or “the louder, the better” mantra. Instead Zedd cooks a feast of music for his audience. He skillfully manipulates the music into something interesting and every 10 seconds a new sound is introduced into the mix. Zedd is a teasing DJ but his work is also very generous; the music is captivating and constantly provides new, new, new, and more, more, more. The night was a startling passionate three-way love affair between music, art and technology. And the audience loved every thrilling moment of it.
Review by Jill Stevens
Photos by Mark Horton/RBC Bluesfest Press Images
Ottawa Bluesfest Day Two – Journey
From: San Francisco
Where: Bell Stage, RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest, Ottawa
When: Day Two, July 4th 2014
TOTAL SCORE: 6/10
Style: Soft rock band formed in 1973. Each new generation has found and fallen for the relatable and catchy anthems of Journey, gaining them fans from all corners of the Earth.
Crowd: As a tall frat boy succinctly exclaimed, “what a big-ass crowd”. Journey’s audience stretched back in its thousands, which is to be expected for one of the world’s best selling bands. But the crowd lacked attention and people were constantly flowing in and out of the show without much concern for what songs they would miss. Whenever a group would recognize a lyric they would animatedly join in for a few moments, much like at a karaoke night where everyone is half drunk and half disinterested. But this pub night was more like an under 18’s social event where the dress code required irritating attitudes and perfect tans. You could almost imagine them saying to each other “Do you wanna see that old band who’s song was on Glee?” which is a strange reality for Journey now since their music appeared on the popular TV show in 2009. If only they knew that there is so much more to Journey than Don’t Stop Believin’; the band has an exceptional history and impressive persistence for staying relevant in today’s music world. But at least they’re bringing in a younger audience now, which is good… right?
Technicalities: The band played their old music with precision and passion. The avid Journey lovers would not have been disappointed in the infatuated front section of the crowd. Time has certainly not slowed these musicians down or stolen their enthusiasm for performing the same songs over and over again. But it’s a shame that the rest of the audience did not pay attention long enough to be infected by it.
Sex Appeal: If you’re into aging rock stars then these guys will certainly strum your strings. All jokes aside, Journey still has some serious talent and catchy anthems which most people can find relatable. Although their songs are overplayed, the enthusiasm and enjoyment of each musician was endearing and the lead singer has a beautiful voice which lulls the audience in.
Memorable moment: Yes, you guessed it… Don’t Stop Believin’ was the star moment of the show. The audience gave more attention in those four minutes and seventeen seconds than in the whole ninety-minute set combined. Within moments of the first few chords being played, people from all over the festival began funnelling into the show and channeling more energy than Journey had seen all night. The enthusiasm was momentarily heart-warming and it was difficult not to get swept up in those lyrics; streetlights people, living just to find emotion, hiding somewhere in the niiiiiight. (Admit it, you sang that last sentence). But almost as soon as the song had finished, the same newcomers filed out in their long snake-like hand chains to party elsewhere.
Overall: Journey’s lesser-known songs were slightly dated and difficult to get into if you were not already waist deep; the thirty-somethings were having visible teenage flashbacks all night. But the musicians did not disappoint and gave exactly what everyone expected of them. There were no surprises or moments of musical awe. But admittedly, the crappy audience was what truly let the show down and Journey entertained with the familiar magic that has sold 75 million records worldwide. The performance was decent but you could probably get the same amount of enjoyment — if not more — from listening to their records in your bedroom. That is assuming, of course, that you don’t live with tweenie siblings whose ears are programmed to hear those first few piano chords and begin screeching Just a small town girl, living in a lonely wooooooorld…
Review by Jill Stevens
Pictures by Mark Horton/RBC Bluesfest Press Images
Ottawa Bluesfest Day Two – Beth Hart
Who: Beth Hart
From: Los Angeles, California
Where: Barney Danson Theatre, RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest, Ottawa
When: Day Two, July 4th 2014
TOTAL SCORE: 9/10
Style: Heavy blues with a dark and powerful edge. Hart flowed effortlessly from soul singer to storyteller to rock goddess throughout her performance and was supported by four talented gentlemen from the blues/rock world.
Crowd: The weather was wonderful and warm outside but the real heat was coming from a fired-up brunette with badass tattoos in a crammed indoor theatre. The crowd was seated but this didn’t stop anyone from immersing themselves in Hart’s performance. Each member of the audience appeared to be in love with the singer and almost every song was met with a standing ovation of well-deserved acclamations, whistling, and rock hands. Her fans are from an older generation but one that clearly remembers what real talent looks and sounds like.
Technicalities: The band members were strikingly conscientious, focused and experienced and although they occasionally lost themselves in the music, they displayed exceptional self-awareness and engagement with each other. The deep bass and passionate drumming reverberated through the seats and guitarists PJ Barth and Joe Bonamassa, each mesmerized with solos. The musical talent on stage was beyond exceptional and the audience acknowledged each moment of brilliance with loud applauses of respect aimed at both Hart and her fellow musicians.
Sex Appeal: It would be a terrible understatement to say that Beth Hart has sex appeal. This woman has a power of seduction so strong that she must have been born with it lurking inside, waiting to be released. Hart’s clothes weren’t particularly sexy or revealing — just jeans and a polka dot shirt — but the raw confidence in her voice transformed her into a lioness on stage. She commanded the audience’s attention and they responded with a fervent and lustful admiration. The room temperature noticeably rose by at least ten degrees when Hart seductively whispered the lyrics Oh oui, je t’aime into the microphone. And it was too easy to imagine every member of the audience screaming je t’aime, je t’aime, je t’aime back at her inside their minds.
Memorable moment: Every single standing ovation. And Hart’s flirtatious cover of Tom Wait’s “Chocolate Jesus”. The crowd cheered at the first few keyboard chords and she responded by saying “this song just cracks me up”. Her singing was teasing and riled the audience and of course the last few notes were met with yet another standing ovation.
Overall: Beth Hart has commandeered a great deal of respect in the rock world over the past couple of decades and has successfully fought to remain relevant. In 2013 she was nominated for the “contemporary blues female artist of the year” award and for someone who has been around for a while, she surprisingly shows no signs of slowing down or changing course. Her show even leaves you wondering if the Hart train actually has a brake lever. But one thing is for sure, if someone or something was to end the train’s journey then her fans would either refuse to leave their seats or burn their own clothes in the furnace for one last ride around with their beloved Beth Hart.
Review by Jill Stevens