Dave Matthews Band Photos Courtesy of Mark Horton and Ottawa Bluesfest
When you combine perfect weather, sunny sky that transitions through the golden hour to a clear starry night, a legendary band that knows how to play to a live audience, and the fact that size of the crowd was enough to prove success, but not Foo Fighter sized crowd that leads to massive lineups and congestion, you end up with the ultimate conditions for an incredible night at Ottawa Bluesfest.
With Dave Matthews Band headlining, the attendance was certainly large, but it wasn't difficult to find a decent spot to enjoy the show with little effort. Those that would have arrived hours early, could definitely enjoy the sweet spot in front of the stage, but that takes some serious dedication. Cheers to those that can pull that off!
This year's festival offered another iteration of the layout with only 3 stages between which to hop. They are far enough away from each other that sound bleeding is probably not much of an issue this year. The Claridge Homes stage is a tent on the west lawn, sharing the area with many vendors, boasting a carnival atmosphere, including a ferris wheel. The Blacksheep stage is once again on the north side of the Canadian War Museum, with other attractions along the route from the Claridge stage. The City Stage, which hosts the main headliners, is found on the south side of the museum in the main bowl.
The layout flows really well, and if you're wearing an activity tracker, you are guaranteed get alot of activity points and steps by exploring all of the stages.
The Dave Matthews Band appeared right on time at 8:30 and blasted through two and a half hours of non-stop jamming, aside from a 3 minute break before their 20 minute monster closer. Grabbing a refreshment or taking a nature break part-way through the super set was surprisingly easy. Walking anywhere at a show like this usually offers plenty of opportunities to magically run into old friends in a sea of people, which always adds to the experience.
Despite having little knowledge of DMB song names, it was no true shocker to recognize 70% of the material yet hearing covers like Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel), or Sexy MF (Prince) at the tail end of Jimi Thing was unexpected for someone who pays little attention to the DMB universe.
Watching Dave display a crazy amount of energy for the entire show keeps the attention and admiration of talent strong. Dave's lineup of crazy skilled musicians, including some powerful horns also helps develop a powerful awe, like witnessing an event that rarely appears in Ottawa.
His last appearance in Ottawa took place in 2002 at the
Canadian Tire Centre Corel Centre, yet after the show people swore that they heard Dave announce that was last here 10 years ago. Need a fact check.
Having exhausted the time limits of the evening, one would think that there wouldn't be much energy left but damn, it seemed they hit the nitro boost to finish off the encore with Rapunzal. This is one of those arrangements that break the space time continuum that confuse nearly every dancer's feet, shifting time signatures throughout. Dave took to the wings of the stage to make sure everyone felt included. The response was so great, it's a wonder he doesn't do more of that during his show.
After this curtain call, the festival lights were cued for a very smooth exit of everyone who made the effort to stick around and enjoy an evening with Dave Matthews. Ottawa Bluesfest did a great job putting this one together, and they were also blessed with one of the best nights of weather all summer, so far.
Where you there? Please share more details in the comments.