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  3. MORE PHOTOS It can be a very satisfying experience to catch a live music act like Lake Street Dive in the OLG After Dark series tent at the Ottawa Jazzfest, and this night blew way past any expectation or anticipation held from checking the band out on Youtube, or even listening to their tracks on services like Rdio in advance. Simply filling up a tent to near capacity might seem like a success, but numbers aren't necessarily important for repeat customers. By the end of the show, everyone was interacting with the band and experiencing the same effects of an incredibly well-practiced line-up of talent performing before their eyes. This was evident in the dancing, bouncing, beat clapping in-concert as directed by the sultry vocal lead Rachael Price. Of course at the bitter end, when she offered her thanks to the energetic crowd and promised to return, everyone pleaded to make it happen, with a few ready to throw in the money to book the show. If you have a listen to some of their motown influenced, soul-driven tunes without ever seeing them, you might just think the band would have a set of backup singers, a horn player and one of those drum assistants that cover things like tamourine and cowbell. Seeing them live, you'll quickly find out that every musician is multi-talented and all of the vocal backups are all done by the supporting drummer (Mike Calabrese) and acoustic double-basser (Bridget Kearney). These aren't simple harmonies, , they were a bit busy being the band and are also the kind that separate simple four-piece bands and superhero style talented musicians. Early in the set, it appeared like a few people knew of the band well while the majority were there to discover. When the band attempted to get some crowd clapping going, it didn't pay off right away, but a few songs later, they had everyone at their beckoned call for interaction. There may have been some sing-a-long action too, but seeing alot of live music at Jazzfest in the span of a week starts to play mind-tricks Price had most people melting with her incredibly sexy voice and style, and basically fixated on her while she moved to the music around the stage. One guy compared her to Scarlet Johanssson (probably without ever hearing SJ sing and was actually just referring to a similarity in complexion). This kind of scientifict data was collected under strictly controlled conditions obviously. If the guitarist, Mike "McDuck" Olson, were a super hero, his super power wouldn't be playing guitar, then trumpet, then guitar again, but keeping his sk8tr dude cap on perfectly adjusted to the right without it EVER MOVING ONCE. He may have had on of those food stylists in beforehand to keep it in place, much like they do when they pin burger toppings to the meat for a mouth-watering photoshoot. He had some well placed tasteful licks, while not really needing to be a fancy-pants speed demon. He stayed between the lines expected and needed by the tunes. Calabrese's drumming and vocals were really impressive due to his perfection. His super power would be the ability to continue playing the drums with one arm and his feet, while beating the tambourine with this other hand to his chest, WHILE singing. Maybe that's not a super power yet, but it came to be quite handy. Kearney's Bass and vocals squared off the quartet, and she was equally impressive. A double-bass can seem gimicky to some, but they are usually matched up with a musician that can make them sing, which she did figuratively and literally. While the sound of the bass had those tonal qualities of the acoustic, it was rightfully heavy for the soul induced grooves that got people dancing. It was nearly a two-hour show since they provided an encore until about 12:20 am which included their slowed-up rendition of " ". That song has a very identifyable and hook-important bass line and Kearney pulled it off really nicely for this. Since this was the end, it will hopefully go down as the epic first show that Lake Street Dive performed in Ottawa. It might be lip service to promise to be back, and how great the crowd was, but they will certainly have a guaranteed 200 of everyone there, plus all of their friends, show up at their next Ottawa gig.
  4. MORE PHOTOS Imagine arriving at one of 2 top chefs restaurant with sought after seating and with no idea what you're about to taste for the next hour and a half. The 12 course menu starts with an amuse bouche. One with flavour notes you're not heard in a while and includes a satisfying crunch. The meal continues with some eclectic charcuterie, old moldy cheese and some veggies or flowers or herbs that you've only heard about in passing. Eventually you're led to a dessert that envolopes your tongue and slides graciously down your gullet. That's a long winded way to describe what Nels Cline ( ) and B.J. Novak's dopalganger, co-guitarist Julian Lage's set was like. These two guys pretty much ignored all melodic musical hook rules, meaning they seemed to favoured to play the notes and clashing harmonies that most aren't used to. Something amazing about this was knowing that this wasn't improv, it was composed songs that are difficult to imagine as being repeatable. Yet they are. Nels brought an impressive 16 CD's to sell (come on management! Only 16?) related to this show. It was surprising how little merch there was, but probably couldn't be matched to the live version which really was an illusion of uncomposition. They were amazingly tight considering how many uncovential movements that were happening. There were very rare moments where their eyes met, but they were always musically locked, with the four of them. At least with Julian's eyes, feverishly enjoying what his compadre was doing while he accompanied. This is going to get guitar nerdy. You'd better be sitting down. So for the amuse bouche, they appeared to be screwing around with . Inversions were turning around each other. As they work with the guitar, you just mathematically work out if you hold the pattern. They were embedding the diminished pattern in different ways against AND along each other. It's kinda hard to explain, right or wrong. Just think of how complicated quantam physics are and there you have it. The show escalated to a set of tunes, with names that everyone would want to know where the name came from, on account of them not having any words. They clearly have meaning, you'll never know what they are. All that mattered was that they were pretty much using every dissonant chord, and clashing note they could put together in a string that made sense overall. Every triad had at least one flattened 5th or sharpened 9th, with a smattering of 7ths and thirds both ways. This was a huge main course with lots of flavourful moldy cheese and aged cured charcuterie from parts you normally don't want to know about. Things may clash, but there's always satisfaction. Sorry about the food simile again, but it was palatable. (yeah, that word is a bit of a twist on palpable -- on purpose but with real intention). Nels had found a resonating sound artifact disturbing the moments where silence was part of the recipe and removed a reverb pedal to use the internal amp reverb. It was an 'E' by the way. They had discovered it in sound check earlier, identified the actual note using harmonics on the guitar and rejigged the plugs to get rid of it. It found it's way back and they adapted. The new silence, during the quietly decading finishes became brilliant. Seriously, when it got quiet, anyone in the 100ish crowd sniffing was heard. Oh, and here's a tip, lay off the farting in shows like these. As any good meal eater knows, a great feast includes a sweet, sweet desert. Nels and Julian served that up with completely harmonically satisfying natural notes. This included everyone's favourite C, G, D...you just can't get any better than that. This was the crème brulée of chords and melodies. It's obvious this simile is ridiculous however, it's all about taste. Some dishes taste great to some, and not as much to others. There is no denying that the same is true for music at festivals like all three Ottawa music festivals that take over the entire summer. You never know what you might be missing if you don't at least look at the menu. And here is the carmelized (why won't the simile end?) sugar on top of that extra dessert. Bill Frisell later played the late night super fun happy tent providing the soundtrack to an old Buster Keaton film, Go West. This is absolutely a great trend that started with the performance last year, with With every musician having a display in front of them, they perfectly timed every comedic fall with bass drum hits, or simulated a trianluar dinner bell with cymbal rings. At the same time superfluous harmonic overtones filled the tent. There was one scene where a firetruck was called for and at that very moment, no shit, a siren swelled by, lighting up the tent in red white and blue lights as it continued down laurier street. Isn't it possible that was planned? Syncronicity managed to dominate the stage from this point on. Watching a silent film that the Frisell ensemble pretty much directed the audience to, told a story. A dufus who finds his way onto a ranch before the internet, seems to be looking for something, falls over shit, told to brand a cow to which he magically pulls out a shaving kit (did people carry those back then?) and SHAVES the brand into the cow (ok for you PETA?) and continues his way through his adventure, leading an unwilling herd and mutherfucking soundtracked by Bill Frisell....Live, ultimately getting his reward. His cow. Not Bill, the dude in the film.
  5. More photos on Flickr Live recording here It's been 7 months since one of the best local venues in Ottawa for live music, the Elmdale Tavern, changed ownership into the hands of the Whalesbone restaurant. This shift worried a number of local music fans who considered the fact that a restaurant that provides top-notch service might not continue to host live music. Tonight was a great example that proved they have continued the experience of super-talented musicians, that likely would not have found a venue in Ottawa in support of their tour across the border. It was one of those "I'm so fu@king amazed I'm seeing this at the Elmdale Fu@king Tavern" nights. It was on par with Marco Benevento, , and especially ( ). How would one describe the band in order to get folks out? The Elmdale Tavern made a simple post on Facebook today, highlighted by the previous owner, pointing out that a secret last minute booking by a band would be playing this evening. (Alright gang, the cat is out of the bag! Pokey LaFarge is playing TONIGHT. $15 is a small price to pay for the best night of your life.) It was enough to fill the joint, especially after their follow-up post about Pokey on Letterman the week before. The dinner service was finishing as the staff started clearing out tables. There was a birthday girl there who stuck around after her oyster party and walked away with a fantastic live music party that anyone might wish for. There's some captured vids, photos and audio that are integrated in this post since there were a few super fans that brought gear out to document one helluvafuckinevening at the Elmdale Oyster House and Tavern. A set-break debate tonight ended with just branding it the Elmdale Tavern (with Whalesbone Oyster House) This was another band (much like the gig) where the member's all exclaimed how much they loved playing at a tavern filled with super engaged people ready for some whiskey and dancing. Pokey and the band tonight showed off their Gibson's chugging skills. Benevento and the various Slip boys made sure there was lots of Jameson's flowing when they played. The Elmdale Tavern is a unique place in Ottawa that not only continues it's tradition and spirit but has been enhanced by the new Whalesbone owners. Here are a couple of videos from the Elmdale captured by TeamCanada2012 Set 1 Set 2 Update on 2013-07-27 22:53 by bouche Here's another video from a different perspective.
  6. Henry Garza - Los Lonely Boys More photos on Flickr - Alejandro Escovedo - Los Lonely Boys - Los Lobos The Ottawa Bluesfest's River stage tonight had a very unique trifecta set-up yet missed in the promotion of the connections. Alejandro Escovedo, who couldn't be missed after stumbling into his just-started set a few years ago at the old Bluesfest site at City Hall, started it out early in the hottest festival day so far at 5:45. He's really too great of a performer to be playing that early to people that are shielding themselves from the sun. There wasn't much he could do to make them respond. But enough did and I'm sure they got it. They're from Texas,the audience was mostly from Ottawa. His band was followed by Los Lonely Boys, who launched into serious guitar chops with a cover of Hendrix's Voodoo Child (Chile? Can someone explain the difference?). While the three Garza brothers (Henry, Jojo, and Ringo) were going apeshit, and if you were there, you'd have seen Henry going serious apeshit on his guitar, there was a huge crowd forming in the main area for B.B. King at the secondary Main stage. It's clearly secondary, so why put a majorly reknowned act there and hope people fit in? The MC had to ask people to put away chairs in order to fit more people in. As well, word was the scanners were down at the main entrance, but conspiracy theorists guessed that this was a ruse to redirect the crowd to another entrance where there was actually room to breath. The real musical comfort was all happening again at the River Stage tonight, and since B.B. King was over at 9, a crapload of people that felt musically robbed headed over and filled that stage for Los Lobos. They started out to plenty of cheers, but the crowd engagement built as the night went on as the band started adding more energy to their performance including inviting out Henry Garza from Los Lonely Boys to add to the already, almighty guitar work of Cesar Rosas. Along with an on-stage-dancer-vocalist, there was an amazing energy that compelled people dance and party knowing it was the end of another year. PS Some people noticed that the Skrillex thing on the main stage during Los Lobos was a bit distracting. It wasn't evident during tunes, but it's still funny.
  7. Ra Ra Riot - Ottawa Bluesfest - photo Mike Bouchard More photos on Flickr While 10 straight days of music (practically anyway) can be exhausting, festivals are also exhilarating. The challenge to hit all the stages, balancing the desire to dance with the need for more beer, opting to endure the scorching sun to get the best view. This was Saturday night’s Bluesfest. It started with Austra, Canadian electropop darlings who made critic’s lists across the board with their dark, pulsating debut, Feel it Break, in 2011. A trio pulled from the wreckage of other Canadian indie bands, Austra’s driving songs haunt you, as lead singer Katie Stelmanis’ voice gets into every corner of your head. Not so Saturday unfortunately, as the bass was turned WAY up. It was especially unfortunate for those unfamiliar with their new album, Olympia, released mid-June, since I doubt they could’ve picked out any of the songs. I almost couldn’t make out “Painful Like”, but it might’ve been because I was listening to my heart rattle around in my ribcage. I’ve seen Austra thrice and know they put on a glorious show, but this was lacklustre. It might’ve been the heat, it might’ve been the sparse crowds, it might’ve been the inability to figure out which live versions matched which studio versions, but nobody really seemed to be into it. There was lots of running to and from the beer tents. Until “Lose it” came on, and people stopped in their tracks, finally able to get a sense of Stelmanis’ amazing vocal range. Thankfully they kept it up, finished strong with “Beat and the Pulse” and I left remembering why I’d wanted to catch them in the first place. Next up was Death Grips on the Bell Stage, an experimental hip hop group consisting of Stefan “MC Ride” Burnett (vocals), Andy “Flatlander” Morin (keyboards/sampler), and usually, Zach Hill (drums), but Bluesfest crowds missed out on Hill. Too bad, because apparently he’s a phenominal drummer and the biggest reason we wanted to watch the show. While many of the crowd was probably wondering how this amped up MC and Count Dracula-esque keyboardist (I swear he could’ve been playing at a Transylvanian wedding) managed to make the main stage, but Death Grips are a big deal in their scene. Oh, and they’ve also remixed a couple of Bjork tracks, so that might’ve played into the programming. It wasn’t enough to keep us though, and we moved on to a stage where we could make out the words being said. Lucky us, we landed at the Black Sheep Stage for King King, a kilt-sporting British blues band that’s been racking up accolades in Europe. Thank you, Bluesfest, for including some blues in the programming, because these guys were stupendous! Such a pleasure to have come across them, lay on the grassy hill and be treated to guitar solos that made my heart sing. Someone somewhere must’ve known they were going to be a hit with festival-goers, because they were scheduled to appear again on the River stage on Sunday! Hope you didn’t miss them twice. We decided to fill the next bit of silence with whatever was on the River stage, and found ourselves with Phosphorescent. We walked in on “Song for Zula” and that was it. I was hooked. I’m listening to it right now. Smooth vocals, graceful keys, a perfect summer song, the sort of thing you want to listen to as you speed along the highway, windows down and radio up. If the few songs we heard are any indication, the entire album Muchacho seems to fit that description, and I hope Phosphorescent comes back to Ottawa for a visit after I’ve had some time to practice road crooning. Oh the joy of mixed festival programming! Not everyone is keen on "festing" though, and the crowds on Saturday were light. Great for those of us who were stage hopping, and it was a breeze to float up to see Stars. Normally described as an indie pop band, we found Amy Milan (vocals, guitar) belting a rocking version of "Fixed" from The Five Ghosts. Not to be outdone, Torquil Campbell took the mic next and sang his face off to "A Song is a Weapon" from their newest album, The North. Jam band fans would've surely been impressed by their hard hitting rendition of "Ageless Beauty" with Milan, an ageless beauty herself, taking the lead on a huge jam at song's end. Stars are definitely indie pop in studio, indie rock on stage. They also showed some great versatility with songs like "Midnight Coward," pushing through with hard, fast, can't-help-but-dance-to-them drums, making the descent into the bridge even more impactful than ever...making Milan's voice sound ever more lovely. It plays so well off of Campbell's, and they got us dancing, finishing with crowd pleasers "Take Me to the Riot" and the (ridiculously) named "Hold on When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It." Oh, but they're a good Canadian band, and had 8 more minutes left, so they came out for an encore (according to Campbell anyway). It was an interesting version of "Walls" that many might have enjoyed, but not as an epic show closer. At least the night wasn't over. After we were unable to figure out what Bjork was wearing, we took ourselves to see Ra Ra Riot. If you were to guess their genre, what would you guess? Metal? Punk? Well you'd be wrong, because these talented New Yorkers play indie rock. They've also been said to play "baroque pop," most likely thanks to the talents of violinist Rebecca Zeller. I was mesmorized watching her play, her hair moving gently in the breeze as she ran away with "Run My Mouth." I can't imagine Wes Miles sing anything but indie rock, and his performance was stellar on "Each Year," from their first studio album The Rhumb Line. It felt like the crowd was having a bit of trouble getting into it, but a full snap-along for "When I Dream" took care of that. Followed up with the synthy, upbeat "Beta Love" we had ourselves a proper dance party. Play more songs off the short and sweet Beta Love released in January, the party went right through until the last notes of "I Shut Off" reverberated across the water. So early on a Saturday night, energy like lighting through the crowd, there was certainly enough excitement to warrant an encore. Ra Ra Riot was happy to oblige, and delivered a version of "Ghost Under Rock" that I'd dance to every night given the opportunity. Hmm, 10 days doesn't seem so long after all...
  8. More photos on Flickr Having seen the Tragically Hip perform a poorly attended concert in Kingston at Frontenac Secondary School in the 80's, it's safe to say that they actually had one helluva show tonight at the Ottawa Bluesfest with an incredibly engaged and packed audience. A major highlight at the time was their cover of "Money" by the Beatles since no one knew their soon to be legendary tunes yet. The contrast between the two shows is astounding. One was partly filled with under-age drinkers, and this one was fully completely filled with both young and old drinkers. Lets face it, the chances are that the teachers who were supervising were probably drinking too Some kidding aside, the Hip have lasted this long and are still going strong. Their 8-bit three panelled light board was used as much as possible to highlight elements of the show from flashing "100" for "At The Hundredth Meridian" to spelling "HIP" that wasn't even needed to remind people to chant it for an encore. While there was quite possibly nearly the same sized crowd out for the other prog-country nights like the Dixie Chicks and the Zack Brown Band (a quick head count confirmed), this mass of fans seemed to feel like they were being played for by old friends. There were so many people who had something to say tonight in the crowd, who had a story about seeing The Hip years ago in some pop-up show back in Kingston, previous Bluesfests in Ottawa and other intimate events (like the NAC - Who holds a camera for an entire Hip show? Glad it was done though). Having photo access tonight challenged any photographer to keep up with Gord Downie for the allotted 3-song window. The guitar techs were doing a final tuning while an upbeat arrangement was slowly building through the sound system. It was a seriously last second thing because as those guitars were placed back on their pedastels, the Hip rolled out, and Gord Downie obliged the crowd with a very thankful pose. From there, the lights exploded (which made every photographer's lens happy) and then Gord began. While he was belting through "Grace Too", his poses started popping out. Without knowing how long he's been doing that for, it's at least clear that he's doing it for the benefit of all of the iPhones, Androids, point-and-shoots-, and SLR cameras pointing at him. But they had to be quick because he was firing off Bluesteel's without warning. Gord isn't the only bandmember aware of how cool they can look in photos. Bobby Baker, held some very elegant stature while landing his guitar solos and riffs without overdoing it like some other bands. Having 12 albums to choose from, it was great to hear a couple songs from their second album, yet the one that seemed to launch them, "Up To Here". "Blow at High Dough" and "New Orleans Is Sinking" are both great evidence of how far their professional performances have come. They rocked the fu@k out of those too. From being a bar band to a full on international festival closer, The Tragically Hip have already built a fantastic road story and history. The Tragically Hip RBC Ottawa Bluesfest Ottawa, ON 2013/07/11 Setlist: At Transformation Grace Too Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin' Man Man Machine Poem, Gift Shop Ahead By A Century Streets Ahead Poets We Want To Be It In View NOIS > Nautical Disaster > NOIS Bobcaygeon Courage Blow At High Dough Encore: At The Hundredth Meridian Little Bones
  9. More photos on Flickr What happens when you put sad lyrics to happy, synthpop music? You get “The Reeling,” or the song Passion Pit opened their Bluesfest set with. Off their first album Manners, the crowd was more than ready to watch lead singer Michael Angelakos bop around the stage. Maybe because they were 10 minutes late, something that’s been rare at this year’s festival. Something that hasn’t been rare, however, are the issues with sound, and the ever-patient crowd danced through gravelly renditions of the first few songs before it crisped up. Too bad, since that part of the set included “Carried Away”, the super catchy single released early this year off of their second album Gossamer. No matter, everyone was happy to dance like it was a new moon. Since both albums are equally good, the set generally bounced back and forth between them until they finally played “Little Secrets.” People love to sing easy choruses, and Angelakos zipped around the stage to hold his mic for each “higher and higher and higher/higher and higher and higher.” After that the boys gave their thank you waves, and new fans started to walk off. Encores aren’t generally the norm at Bluesfest, given the schedule and curfew. The rest of us? We cheered. We waited. Something was missing. We knew there was going to be at least one more song, and by golly we were right. The band came on and gave a huge rendition of "Sleepyhead" and everything in the summer festival world was right again. Passion Pit RBC Ottawa Bluesfest Ottawa, ON 2013-07-10 Setlist: The Reeling Carried Away (Unknown) Love Is Greed It's Not My Fault, I'm Happy (Unknown) Constant Conversations Take a Walk I'll Be Alright (Unknown) Eyes as Candles Cry Like a Ghost Little Secrets Encore: Sleepyhead
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