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Tag: Bluesfest 2009

Bluesfest Day 9: STYX!

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Another great day at Bluesfest!!  Can’t believe it’s almost over… just a few days left!

Day 9 kicked off great with Shout Out Out Out Out from Edmonton – these guys had me dancing before I even got to the festival grounds!  Those two drumkits could be heard from way up Booth Street and had my interest piqued right away!  These guys were a  total blast.

The huge disappointment of the day was Busta Rhymes, who showed up an hour late for a one hour set on a main stage!  Which of course threw the whole schedule off – he got on and played a mere 25 minutes, pushing LIVE’s start time back by half an hour, forcing STYX to play over the last LIVE song, and still end up going over time at 11:00, no doubt sending those noise complainers into a tizzy!

LIVE was great from what I saw, but I was pretty determined to be up close for STYX – Gowan was my first live concert experience ever and he’s singing and playing keys for them now, so I was all set for a nostalgia trip last night.  And they did not disappoint.  Good.  Solid.  Rock.  Show.

We’re on Day 10, and my brain, body and spirit are getting worn down.  Sorry for the few words in this post – just take my word for it, this was one of the best days I’ve had at Bluesfest 2009, and that’s saying a lot.

Included below is what little video I have of STYX performing Gowan’s Criminal Mind.  Unfortunately, they started playing it just as I was making my way back from bathroom/beer break, so I was busy fighting my way through the crowd (and covering myself with beer in the process) for the first half of it.  WHY, OH WHY did you have to play my song at that exact moment?!

UPDATE:  Here’s a far better video (but crunchier audio) than mine from someone else at the show:

Bluesfest Days 6,7,8: KISS Army, baby!

Well the past couple of days have been a blast – even though 6 and 7 lacked any mind-blowing performances, KISS more than made up for that last night.

Day 6 was a strange day at Bluesfest – only one stage open, only three bands playing.  I only made it down for the second half of Gym Class Heroes, and I was wishing I’d caught more – those guys were a blast.  A little bit of rain didn’t dampen anyones spirits as the place started to fill up for Stone Temple Pilots.  Now I must admit that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this show – I was a fan back in the 90’s, but that seems so long ago now, and I just didn’t have a lot of interest.  They put on a great show, and I’m interested to see what they turn out in their new album that will be coming out later this year.

Day 7 there wasn’t anything I was particularly excited about either- Our Lady Peace just doesn’t do it for me.  We caught Ice Cube, which was a pretty big disappointment – first off, the volume was way too low – we weren’t even far back, we were at the sound booth – but bylaw was out in full force with their little decibel meters and the show suffered for it.  I also guess I’m just not a big gangsta fan, so what are ya gonna do.

Other than Ice Cube, my brother and I just kinda wandered around the rest of the night – I kinda like nights like that, where you don’t have anything particularly invested in any one show, so you’re free to roam and check out whatever you want and hopefully discover some new stuff in the process. Our travels took us to Xavier Rudd, a Bluesfest favourite who I’d seen in a smaller more intimate venue to which the Bluesfest experience couldn’t compare.  Then to The Zombies for a few minutes, Toots & The Maytals at the Hard Rock stage, then over to the Spam Allstars at the Blacksheep stage.  All great performances, but there was one mad-dancing-fool at Spam Allstars that had us entertained for a good 40 minutes.

And then there was Day 8.  It started off well enough with a showing by the Arkells who got us off to a great rockin’ start.  Then Beast on the Bank of America stage, who I didn’t really know anything about, but I actually bought their CD later on – wow, I haven’t bought a CD in a LONG time!  Then for a little fun over to Silent Disco, which is a lot of fun to watch with headphones off, and I can’t help but think would be a lot more fun with headphones on if it was a better DJ.

And then there was KISS.  30,000 fans jammed onto the main field and the KISS army out in full force, these rockers turned out a 2 hour plus rock show of epic proportions!  There was fire, there were explosions, there was blood, there were wailing guitar solos and monster drum solos and Paul Stanley flew over the audience and Gene Simmons stalked the stage and flicked his tongue and if there was a roof to be blown off, they surely would have done it.  And for one night, Ottawa was ROCK CITY.

I’ll save my whining about how the volume wasn’t quite where I’d have liked it, at least at the beginning of the show, and about how difficult it is to get a good spot when 30,000 show up to that venue for another time.  For now, I’m just basking in the afterglow that always follows a really great rock show.

I’ll post some video later – didn’t get much.  Too busy rocking out.

Up tonight:  Styx – or more specifically, Gowan their new lead singer.  Gowan was the first concert I ever went to, and while I know this will really be a Styx show, I noticed on their setlists that they’ve been playing one or two Gowan songs on this tour.  Memory lane, here I come baby!

Bluesfest Day 8: TURN IT UP!

I haven’t written anything the past few days because I’ve been low on time, and low on enthusiasm – not much has really blown me away – I will write days 6 and 7 up later, but for now let me talk about tonight.  Tonight is a big night.  I have a lot of stuff to see, including the one that I think half the city is going to show up for tonight, KISS.  Apparently the lineups have already started at the gates – excitement is high – it’s going to be a wild show tonight!

But here’s the thing, you Ottawa complainers:  you’ve already ruined half the shows with your incessant whining about the volume.  When Joe Cocker played the other night and I was standing just across the field from the stage, I didn’t know he had started until well into his first song because the volume was WAY TOO LOW!  Ice Cube’s beats yesterday lacked any kind of punch, I assume thanks to the bylaw officer standing in front of me taking his readings.  Sound bleed from other stages is worse than ever because of the decreased volume.

Dear Ottawa, can we lighten up just a bit?  I know, we’re all sleepy public servants and all this fun is really starting to cramp our style, but can’t we all just learn to have fun for just one day? (or dare I ask for just one week?)  Let’s put away the lawn chairs and decibel meters and get bylaw off the speed dial and just revel in the fact that the legendary KISS is here and it’s going to be the most beautiful night of the festival, and tonight let’s just ROCK ‘N FUCKIN’ ROLL!

Bluesfest Day 4: Matisyahu!

Just a quick video post today – no time to write anything up.  Yesterday was Hey Rosetta! and Matisyahu, both great performances, Matisyahu being one of two shows I’ve most been looking forward to this week (the other being Girl Talk tonight).

Speaking of tonight, the list is as follows:  Land of Talk, King Khan & BBQ Show, Girl Talk, Joe Cocker, Thunderheist, Mistress Barbara.  On my way there soon!

Included below a video of Matisyahu crowd surfing during King Without a Crown.  The camera I’m using takes better video than my other one, but the sound is crap.  So what are you going to do.

Bluesfest Day 3: Arrested!

What a day of music!  Started at 6:00 at the main festival grounds for The Stills from Montreal.  I’ve only recently gotten into these guys, but really enjoyed their showing here.

Then we trekked across town to York Street for The Proclaimers who were great, but really I only know 2 songs of theirs, and they played them – so cool, I guess.  The big blowout performance of the day for me goes to Arrested Development.  What a blast – York Street was packed with people dancing their brains out.  This show made all the running around totally worth it!  I had a permanent smile on the whole show – the dancing, the singing, the rapping, the beats and the band, and what a party vibe it was!

Then we hiked back over to Lebreton for some Jackson Browne, and I scooted over to the Subway (you’ll always be The River Stage to me) Stage for a quick look at Steve Earle.  Both shows were great from what I saw, but really nothing at this point for me could even hold a candle to what had happened at York Street earlier.

That is until I hit Maverick’s at midnight for Peter Murphy!  I never really knew anything about this guy – other than he was with BauHaus, and had a track on the Pump Up The Volume (great movie!) soundtrack.  After a late start, due to some issues with the sound system which forced them to scale back the show a bit, Peter took the stage and had the audience wrapped around his finger for the hour and a half show.  That voice!  That sound!  The band was solid, and Peter’s vocal power and stage presence was just incredible.  I’m so glad to have gotten a chance to see him at such an intimate space.  Thanks to my good friend Jordan for the recommendation!

Only missed one show that I really wanted to see, DeVotchKa.  The timing just didn’t work out – still, not bad for the amount of running around we did.

Tonight will be pretty light in terms of schedule – Hey Rosetta! at 7pm and then one of the acts I’ve most been looking forward to, Matisyahu at 9:30!  I actually won two free tickets from Matis for tonight (I’m still blown away by the direct message from him over twitter!) – I’m so looking forward to this – I think I’m going to have to get right down front for a change!

Below is a video of Arrested Development performing their hit Mr. Wendall.  Sorry for the shakey camera – hey, you try taking video on a still camera with no image stabilization and a party as rockin’ as this going on all around you!

Bluesfest Day 2: Relentless!

Ben Harper blew us all away last night, and that’s just about all there is to say about Day 2.  Oh, except that Metric FUCKING ROCKED, proving that they deserved the upgrade to the bigger stage this year, and Holy Fuck was just, well, holy fuck they were good – I loved the garage sale of instuments they work with.

I’ve never seen Ben Harper play live before, and to be honest, I never really even knew much of his stuff. I’ve known OF him for years of course, and I know some of his songs, but I just never really spent much time with his music. Well, with last night as an introduction, that’s sure to change. What a great performer – he laid it all out for us, and the crowd loved him and he was so appreciative and obviously loving every minute up there. Highlight of my night was the cover of Queen’s Under Pressure, one of my favourite songs.

Emily Haines of Metric was in a super-chatty-good mood last night and was interacting a lot with the crowd. I only caught a bit of their show last year, but I think they benefited from the bigger stage and the bigger crowd due to the exposure from the recent release of their album, Fantasies. If nothing else (and there’s lots to love about the “church of” Metric live show), Emily is a lot of fun to watch, frolicking around the stage in an aerobic display of stage antics that takes the wind out of you just watching.

Missed a few things I’d hoped to see – I got down to the site a bit later than expected, so I didn’t get a chance to catch my friend Marie-Josee Houle, and there was just too much overlap of good shows to catch my other good friend Ana Miura, or Iron & Wine.  I also didn’t make it down to see RJD2 as I’d hoped – was just too tired and couldn’t find a companion to join me for the show and wasn’t feeling like drinking alone.

Tonight will be spent running back-and-forth between venues: The Stills at LeBreton, then The Proclaimers and Arrested Development at York Street, then back to LeBreton for DeVotchKa, Jackson Browne, and maybe a bit of Steve Earle and King Sunny Ade. Then if all goes well, back down to Mavericks for Peter Murphy. Phew!

Included below is a video of Ben Harper and Relentless7 playing an amazing cover of Queen’s Under Pressure – I know, the video is piss-poor quality and really shakey and has terrible sound, but well, that’s what you get.

Bluesfest Day 1: Aftermath

What a great kickoff to an amazing festival!  Had a blast last night.  Started out with Amanda Rheaume, a festival favourite, who kicked it off in style on the Rogers Stage, just as the sky cleared after a very short torential rain pour that threatened to dampen Day 1 (and caused some pretty nasty little mud pits to form – here’s hoping a couple of dry days will fix those up!)

Part way through her set, I did my usual first-day wander around the festival grounds to get a feel for things and orient myself to the slight variations in layout from last year – not much different, some porta-potties in different locations, a few different tents, a bit more food and some slight variations on the positioning of the Gold Circle areas and such.

Next up was Amos the Transparent, Ottawa natives who were happy to be home playing to a crowd that was happy to have them back.  I really enjoyed their set, though it highlighted an aspect of the annual Lawn Chair debate that is one of my biggest peeves about the whole situation:  the fact that a huge section right in front of the stage is filled up and blocked off by people who are not even fans of these guys, these people have just setup early to reserve their spots for Jeff Beck, causing a great big dead space right in front of the stage with no dancing or movement at all, with the band’s actual fans pushed back or to the side.  DAMN YOU LAWN CHAIRS!

Back over at the Rogers Stage, The Black Keys played big rockin’ crunchy guitar tunes to a lawn chair-less crowd that was happy to be shoulder-to-shoulder and bouncing around to their great big sound.  Definitely the highlight of the night for me, this two-piece (Drums and Guitar/Vocals) from Akron Ohio rock hard to pump out sound that would be impressive from a five-piece band.

Jeff Beck is definitely a guitar god, and there was some impressive wailing going on at the main stage last night, but to me this stuff is headphone music – endless guitar solos just don’t cut it for me.  So I took a tour over to the Black Sheep Stage and caught Sergent Garcia from Paris, who had the crowd literally jumping from front to back with their Cuban dance party vibe, a great end to the first night.

No pictures or videos from last night, since I realized right before I was leaving the house that the battery in my camera was dead.  I’ll try to do better the rest of the week, I promise.

Tonight, I’ve got a big old list of bands to see and a big old dilemma over whether or not to catch George Clinton down at York Street, whose show will overlap both Metric and Iron & Wine at the main festival grounds.  Think I’ll have to make a game-time decision once I get down there and see how I feel.

Bluesfest 2009: Day 1

Gonna be scrambling to see everything again this year (did you see my possibly impossible list?), and getting right to it on the first day!  Here’s the rundown of day 1 for me:

6:00pm – Amanda Rheaume
7:00pm – Amos the Transparent
8:00pm – The Black Keys
9:30pm – Jeff Beck

So I’ll just be running back and forth between the two main stages, which isn’t too bad…  There’s some other stuff I’d like to see at the smaller stages, like Monkey Junk, Eric Lindell, Tympanic… but there’s only so much I can do!  I know, I know, there’s some actual BLUES being played at the other stages that I really should see…  Actually, I’ve seen Amanda Rheaume before, so maybe I’ll take a run over to  the Subway “you’ll always be the River Stage to me” Stage for a bit.  We’ll see.  Hopefully the weather holds off for what promises to be an excellent kickoff to Bluesfest 2009 – see you at Lebreton!

Bluesfest: The Scourge of Lawnchairs

On this first day of Bluesfest 2009, which also happens to be the kickoff to the annual Bluesfest Lawn Chair debate, let’s get things started with Peter Simpson of The Big Beat’s take on the issue:

The Official Big Beat Position is that lawn chairs should be banned from Bluesfest. They are a menace. They’re boring for the performers, they take up too much room and too many lawn chair sitters have an inexplicable belief that they’re entitled to a clear view of the stage.

The festival is getting bigger all the time, and surely it’s now big enough that a lawn-chair ban could be sustained. If a few hundred people choose not to come because they can’t stand or sit on the ground, so be it. And perhaps there are ways to accommodate the small number of [People in Lawn Chairs] who are genuinely, medically unable to stand for long periods. There are tens of thousands of more people who are legion enough to make the festival a success without the sitting few.

Click through for the rest, including some anecdotes of incidents involving lawn chairs and the people in them. I’m with Peter on this on – lawn chairs have no business at a festival of this size. No other festival allows them. They’re a hassle, they take up too much space, and they’re potentially dangerous. And worst of all is the attitude that the people in the chairs bring with them. Hey man, lighten up – it’s a concert – get up and dance and leave the lawn chairs at home!