RBC Ottawa Bluesfest. Day 1.

Opening day at Ottawa’s “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” music festival – RBC Ottawa Bluesfest.

Headliner: Blake “America’s Kidz Got Singing” Shelton

Weather: Cool. Cloudy.


Today’s acts:

Danny Brown: Tons of energy. But, not going to lie, I find Danny Brown’s ‘high voice’ tracks a bit grating after a while, live. But, that added energy and swagger on stage for his lower tracks were awesome. A great choice to start the festival with an energy like this.

Fifty Men: Solid rock songs played through country instrumentation. Reminded me of a gritty version of The Sadies… a bit…

Dean Brody: Right after Danny Brown tore through a song about taking ecstacy, Dean Brody took the stage to talk about ‘drinkin’ beers and smokin’ a little weed’.  An interesting transition – but not unusual at this festival, and in my opinion, one of its most amazing attributes. I’ll defend country all festival long (watch for it), but when Dean Brody started into, “so I was hanging out with Devin from e-Talk,” I was out.

Amos the Transparent: My first impression was that Amos the Transparent are very very quiet. But, they can actually make quite a bit of noise when they want to, and it’s a much more meaningful contrast when a band carries itself like this. They had some amazing moments of harmonies and really interesting song structures. They’re a bit mellow for bands I usually like seeing perform, but it works for Amos.

Tegan & Sara:  So much pop music today sounds like Tegan & Sara did 5 years ago (that’s a compliment). Tegan & Sara did it first, did it when nobody would play it, and did it for no money. It’s nice to see them perform with a full band and big lights… because it means their dedication to their vision is paying off for them. Last night, it took about 4 songs for the Calgary duo to totally win over their big, loyal following. And their following was treated to a great show.

RL Grime: We’ve gone on enough about RL Grime’s (other) alter-ego, Clockwork. Last night, Henry Steinway’s trap set hit the BlackSheep stage in a big way. Lots of kids going nuts over drop-after-drop-after-drop, which is pretty much what happens at these things nowadays. High point of the insanity was this:

Beth Hart: Beth Hart sings like she could drink me under the table.

Gary Clark Jr: I doubt any of the artists performing at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest on July 3rd would argue against Gary Clark Jr. being the most talented performer in the lineup today. Behind a smooth Otis Redding-esque, Gary Clark Jr. might be the best guitar player I’ve seen with my own eyes. He doesn’t play the guitar as much as the guitar seems to pour out of him in Bo Diddley-like bursts. His set had no low points, with Gary (can I call you Gary?) being as compelling playing classic 12-bar blues as he was playing droning John Lee Hooker boogie.

I certainly don’t need to wax on about this guy’s talent (he has won Grammy Awards, and there’s a fucking Gary Clark Jr Day in Austin TX), but I hope to impart that if you get the chance to see Gary Clark Jr. perform, you should go. He is a generational blues talent, where his songs are just as good as his chops.

Gonna be tough to beat this show.



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