Canadian Musician Does RBC Ottawa Bluesfest 2015 – Day 2Monday, July 13th, 2015
Toronto photographer and Canadian Musician correspondent Mark Matusoff is on the ground in Ottawa for this year’s edition of the RBC Ottawa Bluesfest. Here are photos and findings from Saturday, July 11th.
In the aftermath of a wild Friday night with Kanye West packing LeBreton Flats, Saturday afternoon initially saw a much smaller crowd which grew steadily through the day until headliner Iggy Azalea capped off another great day of music.
Family of the Year performed on the Canadian stage to the lucky fans who arrived early to Bluesfest. The L.A. band performed a great set of folky indie rock including their breakthrough hit “Hero” that was featured in the award-winning 2014 film Boyhood. But Family of the Year is more than a one hit wonder; their sweet melodies and controlled instrumentation was showcased on every song.
Before Toronto’s Francesco Yates took to the Bell stage, video and audio clips from various news sources played to the Bluesfest audience comparing Yates to Justin Timberlake, mentioning collaborations with Pharrell, and portraying him as the next big thing in pop music. The bar was set high for Yates, who showed off his multiple talents – from strong pop vocals to skilled guitar and keyboard playing. He was full of energy as he proved worthy of the buzz. At only 19 years old, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of him in the future.
Californians The Growlers were next up on the Canadian stage. Their cool garage psych style was apparent even before they played a single note. Sound check was going a bit late so singer Brooks Nielsen stepped to the microphone and said, “We’ve waited long enough. Let’s start,” beginning a great energetic rock set.
Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts began playing to a rather sparse crowd. Weiland, the original singer of Stone Temple Pilots, knew how to get everyone’s attention and win the crowd over: opening with the STP classic “Crackerman.” As the band performed, the crowd grew bigger and bigger, enjoying a mix of songs from Weiland’s current band The Wildabouts including “Amethyst” and “White Lightning” alongside STP hits that included “Big Bang Baby” and “Vasoline.” Weiland is a little slower on stage than he used to be, but he still knows how to command attention and put on a killer rock n roll show.
Bluesfest’s Bell Stage on Saturday afternoon was certainly the place to be to see the best of Canada’s new buzzed acts. Toronto’s Allie X was the next performer, who seemed to fit in the music spectrum somewhere between Lady Gaga and St. Vincent. Backed by a guitarist and percussionist, Allie X played an elegant white and gold keyboard while dancing in an almost robotic fashion, performing cuts from her catalogue including the memorable song “Bitch.”
Some of the biggest names in hip hop music graced the 2015 Bluesfest stage. Nas closed the Claridge Homes Stage. A huge video screen provided visuals, a DJ spun the beats, and Nas powered through fan favourites such as “Life’s a Bitch.” The bass was so huge and booming that anyone within the first 10 metres of the stage could feel it through their whole body. Nas was confident and full of life right from the first beat and the energy never dipped.
Perhaps one of the biggest names in Canadian indie rock today, Alvvays closed out the Canadian stage. The melodic pop rock tunes attracted a large audience of fans, old and new. Singer and guitarist Molly Rankin told the crowd that the last time Alvvays was in Ottawa there were about 3 people in the audience. Finding a fan who attended that previous show, Rankin dedicated the next song to him, Alvvays’ hit “Archie, Marry Me.”
With the sun down and the Bluesfest audience warmed up, it was time for a party. DJ Wizz Kidd had the entire crowd singing and dancing, spinning some of the biggest songs in hip hop from the last 20 years.
After about 20 minutes all of Bluesfest was electrified and ready for Iggy Azalea. Dancers gathered around a large staircase in the middle of the stage and Azalea appeared at the top, driving the crowd wild. Blasts of smoke erupted from the sides of the stage as Azalea constantly moved, rapping at break-neck speed. Early in the set, she thanked the audience for sticking by her through some difficulties she has been having lately. Showing genuine excitement to be performing in front of the Bluesfest audience, Iggy Azalea made sure everyone left Bluesfest satisfied.