Canadian Musician Does RBC Ottawa Bluesfest 2015 – Day 3Tuesday, July 14th, 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 Sunday, July 12th, featuring an impressive and eclectic lineup of Canadian acts.
Sunday night at Bluesfest belonged to the best classic and new Canadian rock: Blue Rodeo, Arkells and The Glorious Sons.
The first band I caught on Sunday afternoon was LA’s Failure, a ’90s hard rock act who recently returned with a new album, The Heart Is a Monster (2015). The sound definitely conjured up memories of the ’90s alternative rock scene, with a heavier feel that you’d find in Queens of the Stone Age. Though the crowd was thin, there were definitely big fans in the audience who likely have waited a long time to see Failure perform live.
The OBGMs (or, oOoh Baby Gimme Mores) from Toronto had one of the highest-energy performances on the Canadian stage at Bluesfest. A four-piece garage punk band, The OBGMs immediately began to work the crowd, calling everyone in the audience to move forward and get up close and personal with the band. Participation was key throughout the set. Between vocalist/guitarist Densil McFarlane’s frantic stage moves, he always made sure everyone was having a good time clapping along, singing, and moving.
The Glorious Sons followed on the Canadian stage. Earning huge buzz after winning the HTZ FM Rocksearch, Glorious Sons were ready to unleash southern rock by way of Kingston, Ontario, on the Bluesfest audience. Vocalist Brett Emmons, with bandaged bare feet, took to the stage carrying a bottle of wine and proceeded to command all attention as he rocked through songs from The Glorious Sons’ record The Union. The Glorious Sons seemed like they were plucked straight out of the glory days of the 1970s when rock stars ruled the airwaves, or at least something from the Dazed & Confused soundtrack. Yelling to the audience to “sing louder you pussies,” Emmons was set on keeping the crowd loud and full of energy.
Between the up and coming Canadian acts, CeeLo Green performed a surprisingly entertaining set closing out the Claridge Homes Stage. In front of a throne placed in the middle of the stage, Green asked Bluesfest the timeless question: “Are you ready to rock?” and opened his show with a cover of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Most of CeeLo Green’s show consisted of classic rock covers from Bowie to INXS to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. Green did make room for his own songs as well, Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and his big hit “Fuck You.”
Arkells attracted a crowd to the Canadian stage that was so massive they could easily have been a main stage headlining act. Opening with “Come To Light,” Arkells proved to be a crowd favourite with their catchy sing-along choruses and energetic stage presence. Lead vocalist Max Kerman told a story about a couple who just got engaged earlier in the day as Kerman, disguised as a busker, performed the hit “11:11.” Kerman brought the couple on stage to experience the song live at Bluesfest. With the dedicated fan base and catalogue of hit songs, Arkells are in line to become the next Tragically Hip.
Blue Rodeo was the final act to perform on the Bell Stage at Bluesfest on Sunday night. The Canadian roots rock legends enjoyed a crowd of die-hard fans, singing along as they waited for the show to begin, alongside younger teens who may have just discovered Blue Rodeo that night. A smile never left the face of lead vocalist Jim Cuddy, who sounded excellent on guitar and harmonica. Guitarist and co-vocalist Greg Keelor dedicated their second song “Fools Like You” to Stephen Harper, which excited the crowd. After a wild weekend of hip hop, hard rock, blues, and country, the smooth sound of Blue Rodeo was the perfect soundtrack to a warm Sunday night in July.