The 2013 Ottawa Bluesfest welcomed Cold Specks, Amadou & Mariam, Belle & Sebastian, Neko Case, Keys & Krates, Zeds Dead along with several local acts on a beautiful and sunny Day 3 of this year’s festival.
Cold Specks, a London, Ontario-based group led by singer-songwriter Al Spex, performed live on the Claridge Stage a bit after 4:00 pm. The soul-goth singer, who’s debut album I Predict a Graceful Expulsion was short-listed for a Polaris Music Prize, got right into her set with the sorrow-filled songs Blank Maps, Steady, and Send Your Youth among others. The talented Cold Specks gave a solid 60-minute set in front of a receptive audience, who cheered the group on despite people’s unfamiliarity with this Canadian musical gem.
As soon as Cold Specks concluded their set, Amadou & Mariam, a blind couple from Mali, West Africa, graced the Bell Stage accompanied by their musicians on drums, djembe, bass, and keys. Although many people were already gathering for headliners the Dixie Chicks, several others had come specially to catch the Malian afro-blues group. The Grammy-nominated duo, comprised of Mariam Doumbia and Amadou Bagayoko, performed songs from their eighth studio album Folila including Wily Kataso, Wari, and Mogo finishing their set with Coulibaly and the popular Dimanche à Bamako to the crowd’s delight. Amadou, who’s an very talented musician, played a couple of impressive solos on his beautiful gold guitar accompanied by Mariam’s cheers. It was a humbling and heartfelt performance that demonstrates the strength of the universal language of music as a driving force which brings people together.
Meanwhile, Ottawa’s own DJ Acro kept the crowd moving over on the Black Sheep Stage as he played remix after remix from hip-hop and funk to electro-pop tunes. He was joined on stage by a drummer, which made for a more interesting and interactive performance and the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves as people danced along to the DJ’s musical selections.
Back on the Bell Stage, it was American singer-songwriter Neko Case’s turn to present her alternative folk-rock repertoire to the large audience. Known for her contributions as a member of the Canadian indie rock group The New Pornographers, Neko Case performed her own material along with a few covers and new songs from the upcoming album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. Although her voice and musicians were on point, she seemed disconnected and absent and had difficulty in engaging festival-goers. The feedback and poor sound quality experienced at the Bell Stage sure didn’t help either.
Right after Neko Case, Belle & Sebastian, the indie rock-pop band from Glasgow, Scotland, did their thing in front of a big crowd of fans who piled in front of the Claridge stage for a chance to catch the seven-member group live. The fans were certainly not disappointed as the group played old and new material on the occasion of their first performance in Ottawa.
Meanwhile on the Black Sheep Stage, things heated up as Toronto-based trio Keys & Krates got the crowd pumped with their lively electronic experience. Bringing the electro sound out of the studio and onto the stage, drummer Adam Tune, synth-player David Matisse on keys and award-winning DJ Jr. Flo on turntables, got the crowd dancing from start to finish as they dropped trap tracks like the new Treat Me Right and material from their Lucid Dreams EP. As the set progressed, more and more electro lovers trickled in to the Black Sheep stage area to see Zeds Dead.
As soon as Keys & Krates left the stage, Toronto duo Zeds Dead took things over for a high-powered 90-minute set. Hooks and DC, known for their contagious remixes and heavy bass-filled electro tracks, got the crowd going crazy immediately and this didn’t stop until the set ended. By then, there was barely any room left around the stage as plenty of fans jumped up and down and danced around to the duo’s sounds. There’s no doubt about it, Canadians love their home-grown electro.
Day 3 of the Ottawa Bluesfest conluded with headliners the Dixie Chicks who attracted a huge crowd of country-loving festival-goers for the occasion.
Eventful Capital gives the top performance of Day 3 to Malian duo Amadou & Mariam for the heart-warming performance and positive vibes.
Day 4 of the Ottawa Bluesfest continues with performances by FEVERS, Wu Tang Clan, Hannah Georgas, Tegan and Sara, Diamond Rings and Fun.