subscribe: Posts | Comments

Ottawa Bluesfest 2015 – Day Four

Comments Off on Ottawa Bluesfest 2015 – Day Four
_AIP6521

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Saturday, July 11, 2015 

The fourth day of Bluesfest was a scorcher. At 30 degrees Celsius the meteorological conditions were hot and humid, while the musical climate was just as sultry. 

Photo by Scott Penner

Photo by Scott Penner

Shakey Graves played on the waterfront Canadian Stage after The Growlers. The one-man act has created a new voice for the blues through his sui generis hollowbody distortion, complimented by a workingman’s voice, the Robert Johnson or Willie Brown of a new generation. After he played his first song, Shakey Graves toasted a beer to the crowd’s great delight and many cans were held up high in proud return. Then a drummer came out to accompany him for the rest of the set. The addition of percussion really gave the wicked guitar tone some depth. The duo began playing with the crowd, banging and strumming loud to rouse spirits then suddenly stopping and looking at the crowd with a devilish grin, four or five times. Together on stage, it felt like they were jamming around just as much as playing songs, yet there was an undeniable passion in the lyrics and delivery. Sporting proudly his southern heritage, a Texas flag hung at the front of the stage.

lacDt9eWGpajv2fYqznjEGpaJ2jlH9bEOjG-YKLARBA copy

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Next up, Nas. And he blew the proverbial roof off the place. In contrast to Kanye West who played the night before, Nas put on much more of a show, and a way better one at that. As he rapped around the stage his DJ spun some of hip-hop’s most influential beats. “I thought I would have fun Ottawa but GOD DAMN!” he bantered with the crowd.  Then he delivered a short, goodhearted, soliloquy, saying that “it was up to us to change the world,” and that “music is inspiration.” The stimulating discourse on societal issues was comforting to hear after witnessing West the night before preaching his swill. Even compared to Snoop Dogg’s performance at Rockfest last month, where the moral of the story was that we should all be smoking more weed, Nas’ show was much more engaging and unquestionably more thought provoking.  There is always an intangible significance being so close to an artist that has left such a large impact on the world, and watching Nas perform one can easily see how he achieved his spot in the annals of music.

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Back on the Canadian Stage, Toronto-based female-fronted indie outfit Alvvays made their Bluesfest debut. With origins in Nova Scotia, Alvvays have been burning up the ears and hearts of fans with their nostalgic, summer drive, fuzz pop. “This is cool, porta potties and a beautiful river,” frontwoman Molly Rankin said, commenting on the view. Molly is the daughter of late musician John Morris Rankin, a member of The Rankin Family, who were a prominent folk group and national Canadian treasure in the 80s. The show was Alvvays’ second time in Ottawa and they jested on stage that they played to four people the last time. And The Scene Magazine was there! A personal point of pride for me, Alvvays was a band that I delegated coverage to very early on in both mine and the band’s careers, and here we are, years later headlining a stage at Bluesfest, definitely playing to more than four people.

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Their surfer rock riffs filled the stage but unfortunately the stage presence fell short. The band was very stationary and looked kind of awkward standing up there, it would work fine with the sound in a smaller venue but there was just a bit too much dead space on the stage. Rankin’s conversation with the crowd were bewitching, as the small blonde clad in a retro dress made small talk and winsome commentary, “We like your vibes Ottawa, you bring good vibes. It’s not always like that you know.” As the crowd danced to their music, Alvvays played the sun to sleep.

_AIP6448

Once night was upon us, Porter Robinson lit up the Monster Stage. The whole rave-like concert is still such a trippy idea to me. Thousands of people going insane pointed at one guy on stage seemingly controlling the entire world from his computer with incredible sights and sounds. It makes me think of that scene in the Entourage movie when Vince is playing the DJ with weird powers that can control all of the party people and make them do his bidding. It also makes me think of the mindlessness of church… As Robinson’s light show danced on the War Museum and his anime background video pulsated to the music, how could one help themselves from playing over the stark dichotomy at Bluesfest between the organic instrumental tunes and pot smoking crowds there for one style of music and the manufactured, one letter drug takers, who are there for different versions of the same reasons.

Photo by Scott Penner

Photo by Scott Penner

Bringing us to the last act of the evening, one Miss Iggy Azalea. Now I understand she takes a lot of heat from the public, but I was mildly impressed with her performance. Although, I couldn’t help but think of the Family Guy flashback when Peter is Christina Aguilera’s manager, “You look like if I touched you, you would be sticky.” She danced up and down the multi-tiered stage with a group of backup dancers and singers. A less raunchy Lil Kim, Iggy Azalea showed off her rapping chops and her bodacious behind, but seemed to be a good enough role model for girls, considering the state of the media. At one point she said that she loves festivals because people travel from all over the world to check them out, then gave a shout out and song dedication to a fan who had posted somewhere on the internet that she was coming from England to see Azalea at Bluesfest, I thought that was pretty cool. Before she head out she expressed her gratitude to the festival and hugged a nameless backup dancer.

KbMkr4XL_l1QicsfeHZT58ci_geS-Zz_RuFNsEgyzy0

Photo by Bluesfest

The 21st annual Bluesfest has now finished its first week and not a moment too soon. It was a long, yet successful opening week for the festival. Bluesfest being so long makes it difficult trying to flex your work schedule around your favourite bands, but it is cool that the atmosphere feels very spaced out and relaxed. The slower pace of Bluesfest is nice in a scene where organizers are often forced to fit hundreds of bands in two or three day weekends.

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Griffin Elliot
THE SCENE

Ottawa Bluesfest 2015 – Day One

Ottawa Bluesfest 2015 – Day Two

Ottawa Bluesfest 2015 – Day Three

Full photos available below:

 

My photos of the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest and my good friend Griffin Elliot’s review here: http://thescenemagazine.ca/ottawa-bluesfest-2015-day-four/Artists are:Allie X, NAS, Alvvays, Iggy Azalea

Posted by Andrej Ivanov Photography on Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Griffin Elliot