Having received a decent downpour during the lunchtime, I was hoping that would be the last of the wet weather with clear skies surrounding. The promise was all too soon taken away come 7pm – not an hour after the festival gates opened. For the most part, the festival grounds are not covered in dehydrated mud, so shoes remained moist but wearable from then on out. Kicking off the sets today where local long haired and vintage attired heroes New Swears with there jangle-punk going down a treat, for the eager teens that lined the front row, bashing out tunes from start to finish with a couple of sandwiches and other perishables being thrown into the audience.
I was most stoked to find that the rain hadn’t hit at all by the time Future Islands graced the main stage being the first and only ones I’d be permitted to shoot at the Bell Main stage tonight. I first got introduced to these guys a few years back from a friend and have been a fan ever since. Safe to say when singer Sam Herring started swooning all over the stage I was more than please – beyond pleased – to be snapping in almost .gif animated fashion. Doing their best to try and extend the set past stage managers weather warnings, they were cut short by a song, not too bad considering they were having to play the set half covered in tarps, drenched from head to toe. For all the hype they’ve received in recent times, it’s warranted. Not cause I’m a fan, but because they are a hard touring act who are relentless in delivery, musicianship, and genuineness.
Pulling myself away from the Baltimore 4 piece, I managed to catch a bit of Toronto legends Metz. I’ve seen these guys a few times in smaller dimly lit venues, which I thought would be their most ideal of settings. I was wrong. Metz are good everywhere. The crowd knew it, and I only just found out. Everything about their set was on point, but they were stopped by stage management mid last song due to the rain impeding on all their things and electrical. Following on from Metz on the same stage were punk staples The Black Lips. Even though it was pouring rain for the majority of their set, they managed to keep every punter and their well worn Chuck All Stars a-moving, I guess there’s nothing more liberating or welcoming (for that matter) than a cold shower when you’re in a ball sweaty moshpit.
Maintaining my freezing position at the Canadian Stage, I waited for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to finally walk out on stage after a bit of a weather hold up. Skies finally cleared and Alexander and the troops strode out to a roar of applause. Singer Alexander taking no time to kick things off, took a suggestions from the crowd as to what song they should play first. “Man on Fire” shouted a front row enthusiast and with that the set commenced. Alexander sparing reserve jumped off the stage and greeted the all to keen crowd with open arms after which the singer then jumped the fence dividing fan from musician and proceeded to make his way through the thick of the moshpit – security supported flashlight closely behind. With that we were swiftly escorted out of the photo pit and back into the festival grounds.
I managed to swing past the Monster Energy Stage prior to my leaving to catch what was one of my favoured John Butler Trio songs “Pickapart”. Due to so much clashing on the 7pm time slot tonight, crowds were evenly dispersed amongst stages as I would have thought this tucked away/intimate stage be too small for an act of this size/popularity. On my way out leaving the festival grounds, in order to make my bus back to Toronto, I watch briefly some of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s set, everything sounding as it should all happy punters singing along. Even as I left the grounds there were plenty of drunk locals just keen to hear the classics, dancing in the streets, where not 3 days prior tight pursed Kanye West fans also gathered to do the same.
John Butler Trio
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
The Black Lips
Follow updates from Ottawa Bluesfest here.
Photos and Review by Rick Clifford | @rcstills