It was another chilly September night for festival-goers attending the second day of the Ottawa Folk Fest. The musicians who performed on day 2 of the annual festival certainly kept the Adventures in Folkland going at Hog’s Back Park despite the cold weather.
Eventful Capital arrived on location just in time to catch Amos The Transparent on the Tartan Homes Stage. The local indie rock group, a project of Ottawa singer-songwriter Jonathan Chandler, performed live in front of sizable but seemingly-dormant crowd. Comprised of Chandler on vocals and guitar, Mark Hyne and Dan Hay on guitar, James Nicol on bass, Christopher Wilson on drums and Mike Yates on cello, Amos The Transparent performed a variety of tunes from their repertoire like (Here’s To) New Beginnings including several songs from their last album ‘Goodnight My Dear… I’m Falling Apart’ released in February 2012. The band also presented new pieces like The Bering Peninsula and another one about falling in love with the TV screen as they prepare to return to the studio for recording. They delivered a lively performance and demonstrated good stage presence regardless of the audience’s minimal reaction.
Meanwhile over on the Hill Stage where access is free, Fernie, BC’s Shred Kelly was tearing the roof off and having a grand old time with everyone present. The alternative folk rock six-piece band, who describes their style as footstomping stoke folk, attracted an intimate but receptive crowd of festival-goers who clearly loved the performance and who happily participated when it was time to sing-along. The setlist included the waltz-inspired song Fossils and Tin and The Bear from their latest album In the Hills released in August 2012. They might be a lesser-known band, but they have great might, solid stage presence and there’s obviously good synergy amongst the group members. Each musician projected lots of energy and the band was having so much fun on stage that it was impossible to stand still. They concluded their 75-minute set with Tornado Alley, which features some serious banjo-playing. Shred Kelly was a great musical discovery!
Shortly after Shred Kelly’s performance, it was time for Vampire Weekend, the headliner of day 2, to take the Main Stage for their set following opening act The Pack A.D. An impressive crowd of festival-goers piled in front of the CUPE-SCFP Stage to catch the NYC indie pop-rock formation perform live for the first time in Ottawa. Vampire Weekend, comprised of members Ezra Koenig on lead vocals and guitar, Rostam Batmanglij on keys and guitar, Chris Tomson on drums and Chris Baio on bass, kicked off their performance right on time with the popular Cousins and White Sky off of Contra and continued with the hit Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, and Diane Young and Step from their latest release Modern Vampires of the City. The group, who interacted very little with the audience, kept the fast-pace going with the ska-inspired Holiday after which they delivered Unbelievers. They carried on with Horchata during which they asked the crowd to participate by singing along to which fans happily obliged. Despite the fancy lights, flowery backdrop and quality music however, something was missing from the overall performance as though Vampire Weekend somewhat lacked stage presence with perhaps the expection of the bassist who stole the show. Maybe it was that particular performance, maybe they weren’t feeling the cold Canadian weather and wanted to rush through their set, but Vampire Weekend was not as exciting as they were expected to be. Don’t believe the hype they say.
Regardless, day 2 of the Ottawa Folk Festival was certainly eventful and entertaining and it offered a nice range of artisitc talent for festival-goers to appreciate and discover.
Day 3 of the festival continues today with performances by Born Ruffians, Matt Andersen, Shad, and American rapper Kendrick Lamar. For the full lineup, visit the Ottawa Folk Festival website at http://ottawafolk.com/