Ottawa Bluesfest 2015 – Day Seven
Ottawa Bluesfest 2015 – Day Seven
Lebreton Flats was bathed in a pleasant shade of orange as the seventh day of Bluesfest began. Gone were the rainstorms and humidity, replaced with a cool breeze and cloudless skies.
Perfect blues weather.
And in a rare occurrence, the early goings of Wednesday’s Bluesfest was dominated by acts that actually fit the festival’s moniker.
Blues veteran Walter Trout took one stage with a jam-heavy four piece blues set. Trout’s guitar tore through endless licks and solos, while a powerful rotary organ drove the set forward.
On the next stage over, Current Swell proved that they could rock the blues just as well as the veterans. The Victoria band established themselves with a raucous set that included a twanging slide guitar, thunderous bass lines and an ever-present harmonica wail.
The group pulled in a large riverside crowd, and got their feet moving, even getting the fans to perform a gritty call and response with lead vocalist Scott Stanton in their final song.
While the blues drawled on by the river, one of Ottawa’s rising stars got a chance to take the main stage. Stepping in to replace the scheduled De La Soul, G.Grand got a chance to break out his cerebral raps in front of his hometown.
While the crowd was not as loud or involved as those downhill, G.Grand still managed to impress with verbose rhymes atop spacey synthesizers.
It was after G.Grand’s set ended that the crowds really started to form. As the sun began to fall behind the War Museum, CHVRCHES took the stage in front of a mass of swaying fans.
The group’s ethereal vocals floated atop pulsing bass lines that could be felt across the park. Even the seagulls seemed to join the fun, swarming and diving for food in rhythm with the swirl of electronic music.
Across the park, another local hip-hop group was putting on a different act entirely.
“We live a few blocks away from here,” announced one half of rap duo Flight Distance as they began their set. The duo made their hometown pride abundantly clear, rapping about Parliament Hill and Winterlude.
When they brought on members of another local group, Sound of Lions, they announced it as “the best thing to happen to the city since the Nando’s opening on Elgin.”
Amidst their local knowledge and loyal fans, the duo moved around stage with energy and chemistry, and dropped skull-pounding beats. They tossed phrases back and forth with ease, and got the crowd hyped and ready for the next act- Run the Jewels.
Three groups took three different stages to close out the night, and while Hedley and The Gaslight Anthem both put on solid sets in front of impressive crowds, none could match the furious energy of Run the Jewels.
In the 15-minute break between Flight Distance and Run the Jewels, a restless crowd packed in and flooded up the hill facing the stage. It wasn’t long before the group got restless, chanting “Run the Jewels” and cheering at every soundcheck.
When El-P and Killer Mike stepped on stage, they were not disappointed.
The duo broke into a set of intense, energetic hip-hop, transforming the crowd into a sea of writhing hands and bodies. Early in the set, El-P announced that everybody in the crowd had been given an invisible 36-inch gold chain, and could tell any old warmongering men to fuck off. That escalated an already intense show into insanity.
Small pockets of mosh pits formed throughout the crowd, and when the duo broke into “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck),” they exploded into a chaotic mass of bodies slamming into each other. Phones were flying, lips were splitting and everyone was having the time of their lives.
Run the Jewels thrived on the crowd’s energy, dancing and smiling from start to finish, and announcing that their manager had told them they had best get to know Canada, because Canadians love their music.
A night that started with basking under the sun’s orange glow ended with hip-hop induced mosh pits. The lord may have rested on the seventh day but in Ottawa music certainly did not.
Written by Noah LeFevre
Pictures provided by Bluesfest