RBC Bluesfest – Day 5 executive summary

Day 5 – Neil Peart drum solo night.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: On Friday, I mentioned that music ‘fans’ who categorically reject country music are more or less idiots. They just haven’t heard the right country music yet. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are the right country music.

Nobody has the same on-stage charisma, charm and straight-up pipes as Grace does – and hber band brings a sense of edge to things that few other country bands do – without losing that showmanship that is synonymous with the country genre.

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals Ottawa Bluesfest 2013

Grace Potter (no Nocturnals) RBC Bluesfest Press Images PHOTO/Mark Horton

If you’re still ‘meh’ on country music – go see Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and get back to me.

The Specials: This was a very important band for me for that short period of every young male’s adolescence… the 6 months when he gets into ska. So, I was looking forward to re-connecting with my awkward inner 17 year old.

Let’s face it – The Specials ARE ska. I’m sure it could be proven otherwise, but all one ever needs to do to describe ska is play 30 seconds of “A Message To You, Rudy” and they get almost everything they’ll ever need to know to ‘get’ the genre. I mean that as a compliment. This band IS a genre of music.

They were definitely at their best with their higher energy faster stuff (what ska band isn’t). Not the best Specials ever – perhaps a Specials with a lot of mileage on them – but one to be watched with appreciation. And a hell of alot of fun.

Thugli: A small but pumped-up crowd greeted ANOTHER talented producer from Toronto (theme of the week) – Thugli. Tons of bass – lots of trap – some hip hop, some dub. All killer. Do yourself a favour and sift through his Soundcloud.

The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer: The most traditionally ‘blues’ of the acts that played tonight. A slow, down & dirty mix of roots rhythm & blues and boogie (think: more John Lee Hooker than BB King).

On a night of big bands and big stages, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer get bonus points (if you’re scoring at home) for hitting the stage with a guitar, a bass drum, a snare drum, an organ, and a dude with a harmonica. And they OWNED it. If you like roots blues – this is an awesome Canadian band to check out.

Rush: Even the snobbiest among us have to admit – Rush is pretty bad-ass. They’re the least debaucherous of any huge rock act since 1970, their sing songs about existentialism, they have the model for ‘accomplished drummer’ as the engine of the band, they produce full-on Terry Gilliam-esque movies as intermissions in their show, they can play for 3 hours, and they’re from Toronto.

Rush certainly doesn’t need us to write a good review – they’ve been selling out arenas with bad reviews for 30 years – but we’re giving them a good one anyway. Rush was awesome.

RL Grime & Baauer: Our pick for the night (we’ve spoken highly of Mr. Henry Steinway in the past) did not disappoint. A mind-blowing light show and stage, and one of the finest libraries of beats out there. It’s still early – but this is our pick for best DJ set of the festival so far.

Moment of the night: RL Grime & Baauer take the stage – the festival finds out what the deal is with that weird-looking stage once and for all. Mind = blown.

Number of drums & cymbals used by Rush: 30+

Number of drums & cymbals used by The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer: 2.

Party Factor: A 3 or 4 for most, a 10 for the 2 plastered women who made out in front of me during Rush, for some reason.

Tomorrow – a day off.

Day 6 must-see: Killer Mike & El-P.

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