RBC Ottawa Bluesfest – Day 3.
Headliner: Lady Gaga
Weather: Sunny and hot, then cool at night.
Today’s acts (missed some early in the day – thank you penalty kicks!):
Lady Starlight: She is unofficially the official opening act for Lady Gaga – has opened for her on a bunch of her tours. First impression: this is heavy as hell! Bravely armed with only a Roland 505 drum machine, a 1-octave keyboard, and her Lady Starlight persona, she played 50 minutes of unrelenting pounding house music.
Interesting to learn that she is typically a classic rock DJ and plays a ‘glam’ set. This was not that, but it was pretty damn cool.
Twin Forks: A new folk “Americana” act from Florida, Twin Forks had a huge crowd out to see them today. Their music was non-stop-happy, which bugged me a bit (but not a fair reason for criticism). Very talented musicians and an awesome band together.
The London Souls: Surprise of the festival so far. The London Souls are a 3-piece from New York City that are a throwback to rock of the 60s and 70s (with even a bit of 50s thrown in here and there). But, do not mistake these guys for a Classic Rock cover band, or some sort of tribute act – these guys sound more like fans of the past than musicians trying to re-create it.
Blistering blues and rock riffs poured out of frontman Tash Neal’s guitar, and his interplay with drummer Chris St. Hilaire show that this band is probably even better improvising as a live band as they are writing original music.
Make no mistake, this is a band that definitely sounds like they’re going for Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, but they’re as good at it as any band on the planet. Awesome show.
Lady Gaga: There is now way that there is a bigger diva show anywhere on the planet (where? show me!) than Lady Gaga. It started late, had a dozen costume changes, used more confetti that the rest of the festival by the 3rd song, laser lights, dancers, 5-piece band, and a giant seahorse key-tar.
It was unabashedly a spectacle. And it is this unabashed, loud-and-proud attitude that makes this show work. Make no mistake, as a snobbish music blog, I should be talking about how songs were executed, or complaining about her songs or something… but Lady Gaga is such a brilliant piece of performance art, that the music is almost irrelevant (for what it’s worth – sounded great).
“#artRAVE” tour Lady Gaga is on is about “putting all your rage and energy into your art and music,” which sounds a bit cliche on its own, but is absolutely brilliant when you consider that Lady Gaga is exactly that: a talented young woman who put all her rage and energy into her art – her persona that is Lady Gaga.
As for the show itself, it was excellent – I think. It was such a spectacle that it was pretty tough to tell what was really happening and what wasn’t. But it had such great energy, such great colour and spectacle, such great attitude, and some genuinely touching moments with the audience, that if you went as a Gaga fan, this was the best show you ever saw.