RBC Ottawa Bluesfest – Day 6.
Tonight’s Headliner: The Killers
Weather: Cool & Sunny.
Tyler the Creator: Gloriously vulgar. Tyler the Creator is an antagonist – trolling the crowd into a frenzy. He’s unconventional on stage, but his charisma and connection with the crowd is unquestionable: “Look, this is probably the last time I’ll ever be here. I had fun though, and you guys were great!” Oh yeah – also one of the most genuine encores I’ve ever seen a crowd demand – and an artist play.
Holy Ghost!: Vintage synths and 2000’s era disco pop. Lots of great vintage sounds and accomplished disco pop mixed together here. Holy Ghost! might be more suited for a club, but they still sounded good in the daytime.
The Districts: A roots-rock band from Philadelphia PA, The Districts sounded like a psychedelic version of Kings of Leon. They are intentionally loose, and quite serious on-stage. But their songs are quite amazing, and the future is very bright for this band.
The No BS Brass Band: As advertised.
Cyprus Hill: If you like songs about taking hits from the bong, you are gonna LOVE these guys. Cyprus Hill’s B Real and Sen Dog, now in their 40s, look pretty good. The live show is full of bass and bravado, and they still, amazingly, have a flow that is uniquely Cyprus Hill.
Their ‘pumping up the crowd’ routine seemed a bit dated after watching Tyler the Creator’s anti-pump-up work like magic, but the evening crowd loved it, and Cyprus Hill played EVERYTHING a fan wanted to here.
Bombino: First impression – holy crap, this drummer is amazing! Bombino is a very interesting dude – a Tuareg guitar player from Niger – who released a critically acclaimed album with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach last year. The songs and vocals were amazing, the guitars were surprisingly loud and crunchy for a band from West Africa, and the rhythm section was mind-blowingly tight. Very cool.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave.: These guys are an interesting melting pot of hard funk, metal, R&B and blues that could only come from New Orleans. Tons of energy. Much more metal and much less R&B than I anticipated.
The Killers: I’m trying to be kind and diplomatic, but I was unimpressed by the Killers.
As a band releasing music from the studio, I really like these guys. Theyhave pumped out catchy hit after catchy hit, all with huge expectations on their shoulders. They are a band that I never think of putting in my group of favourite bands, but I have liked almost all of their biggest songs.
But, on-stage, I can’t help but feel like they don’t want to be there. That they are taking ‘The Killers’ way too seriously.
I’m not crazy for writing criticism about a band that has so many huge good songs under their belts. If they had played on one of the side stages, this review might be glowing. But, it wasn’t – this was the main stage at a festival that is pumping out some seriously memorable shows this year.
Their fans had a great time!
Phantogram: Cool! A female-fronted noisey electro-pop group. Bigger crescendos than the Killers, and way more stage presence. Knowing nothing beyond their bio before their set (they’re from Statoga Springs NY!), I was seriously impressed by Phantogram. Rooted in hop hop, but much more rock noise than I expected in person (that’s good!)