Days 8 and 9 of the 2104 Ottawa Bluesfest presented an eclectic roster of artists and groups from all genres who made a stop in the National Capital to play at one of the most reputable festivals that exists today.
Eventful Capital started off Day 8 at the Blacksheep Stage to check out BADBADNOTGOOD, an instrumental jazz/hip-hop/trip hop trio from Toronto. The group, made up of members Matthew Tavares on keys, Chester Hansen on bass, and Alexander Sowinski on drums, which is recognized for its experimental approach to music, has performed in Ottawa on several occasions in the past. In fact, in between songs, they mentioned that “playing in Ottawa is always a treat” as the crowd cheered on. BADBADNOTGOOD performed tracks off of their three studio albums including the noteworthy piece Kaleidoscope from their latest work “III”, which has been nominated on the 2014 Polaris Music Prize long list.
Inside the Barney Danson Theatre, it was Keturah Johnson’s turn to take the stage. The local singer-songwriter and guitarist gave her Bluesfest debut in front of a half-full room and she was joined by her musicians for the occasion. It was a pleasure to hear the Ottawa-based folk rock/heavy soul artist sounding so great and encouraging to see local talent be a part of the festival experience.
Back at the Blacksheep Stage, a young crowd of teens wearing bucket hats and waving Arizona Ice Teas were piled up front to catch the rising online sensation Yung Lean. The 17-year old Swedish rapper who performs with his crew the Sad Boys, was in Canada for the first time in an effort to promote his upcoming debut album “Unknown Memory” set to be released later this year. Yung Lean performed the tracks Gatorade, Oceans 2011, 5th Element, Hurt, Oreomilkshake, Lemonade and Kyoto as the pumped crowd sang along to the absurd and at times disturbing lyrics. It sort of felt like summer camp gone wrong.
Meanwhile on the Claridge Stage, adults were reliving their 90s and early 2000s with Third Eye Blind. The American alternative rock group that rose to fame with the hits Semi-Charmed Life and How’s It Gonna Be were pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd gathered to see them saying how Canada was “making them feel welcome”. The group delivered material from their several albums including Crystal Baller, Wounded, Slow Motion and the new song Back To Zero among others.
Later on in the evening, headliners July Talk took over the River Stage in front of a large crowd of festival goers . The rising Toronto-based indie rock band consisting of singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay, guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton and drummer Danny Miles, offered a colourful high-energy performance with on-stage dynamics that kept everyone alert and on their feet. Dreimanis and Fay’s playful theatrics alone could have easily stolen the show, but it’s thanks to songs like Summer Dress, Guns + Ammunition, My Neck and Gentleman that July Talk ultimately pleased the crowd of fans. The band, who hadn’t been in Ottawa for a while, chugged Heinekens on stage while proclaiming their love for the National Capital, a sure win for the cheering crowd.
Eventful Capital ended Day 8 at the Blacksheep Stage to dance to Ryan Hemsworth’s contagious beats. The Toronto-based electronic DJ/Producer who’s a Bluesfest returnee and an Ottawa favourite, kept the party going by dropping some of his more popular remixes and productions including The Weeknd’s Or Nah.
Bluesfest continued on Saturday, July 12 for Day 9 of the festival. Upon arrival, Eventful Capital caught a bit of Action Bronson’s set only to see him jump off the Claridge Stage and take off with a highjacked festival golf cart which he carelessly drove around the site, fans aboard. It was an amusing sight to say the least.
Shortly after in the Barney Danson Theatre, it was Ottawa blues rock artist Catriona Sturton’s turn to take the stage. For the occasion, the 38-year old singer-songwriter and musician who quit her job to become a full-time harmonica player, was joined by local guitarist John Carroll. Sturton appeared nervous and shaky, but despite this, she managed to give a respectable performance. Her set list included Wheel Of Fortune, the bluesy Heavy Weather, the instrumental piece Mongoose Moan, and the heavy Black is the Colour.
Outside on the Claridge Stage, many festival-goers were awaiting Deltron 3030’s performance. The alternative hip-hop project comprised of producer Dan the Automator, rapper Del the Funky Homosapien, and scratch DJ/producer extraordinaire Kid Koala was happy to be back in Ottawa after having been part of the Bluesfest’s 2012 lineup. At the start of the set, it was impossible to hear Del’s vocals, but that technical issue was soon resolved much to everyone’s relief. Deltron 3030 offered a solid 60-minute set featuring material from their two albums “Deltron 3030” and “Event 2” namely the tracks 3030, Positive Contact, Nobody Can complete with crowd participation, The Agony, Madness, and Virus.
As soon as Deltron 3030 wrapped up, Eventful Capital made it over to the Blacksheep Stage just in time to catch the end of Little Freddie King’s set. The crowd gathered for his performance showed plenty of love to the talented blues guitarist and singer who rarely performs outside of New Orleans. It was a rare treat to have him play in Ottawa, and festival-goers were delighted to have the opportunity to see this living blues legend live. Despite his age, Little Freddie King appeared in great shape and he delivered a remarkable set in the warm afternoon sun.
After this, Eventful Capital scurried back to the Claridge Stage where an impressive crowd had gathered to see Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino. The American actor, writer, rapper and producer known for his role as Troy Barnes in the series Community was super energized the minute he hit the stage and delivered a lively 60-minute set to the delight of his fans. For his first show in Ottawa, Childish Gambino offered up some of his most popular tracks including The Crawl, All She Needed Was Some, I’m A Winner, Do Ya Like, Heartbeat, Telegraph Ave, 3005, Freaks and Geaks, Bonfire, and The Hour ending things off with a freestyle. He concluded by proclaiming “Ottawa, you’ve been fucking amazing tonight!” to which the crowd responded with loud cheers and claps.
Everyone then migrated over to the Main Stage for the final performance of the night courtesy of Bluesfest favourite Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion. The internationally known hip-hop/g-funk rapper from Long Beach, California returned to the National Capital to celebrate the Bluesfest’s 20th anniversary with his Ottawa fans. As per usual, Snoop attracted a massive crowd of happy weed-toking folks just looking to have a good time with the rap superstar. Snoop hit the stage almost 30 minutes late, but this faux pas was soon forgotten the minute festival-goers saw him come out wearing a Sens jersey. Joined on stage by his sidekick Kurupt and backed by a DJ, Snoop didn’t need much more to get the crowd hyped up. Having performed around the world an innumerable amount of times, the man knows what gets people going and could easily give a show with his eyes closed, in fact he probably does. With this in mind, he delivered all the hits from Ups & Downs, Pimp, Let’s Get High, and Next Episode to Who Am I (What’s My Name?), Ain’t No Fun, Drop it Like it’s Hot and I Wanna Fuck You. He also took the older fans back in time with the classics Gin and Juice and Lodi Dodi. It was a straight-up party and from the look and smell of it, festival-goers loved every minute of it.