Over the last 10 days Ottawa was treated to yet another edition of Ottawa's Bluesfest, a festival that catered to a wide variety of music genres while maintaining a welcoming and upbeat atmosphere among all that attended. Thankfully, this year the organizers have embraced electronic dance music by inviting such acts to the Nation's Capital such as Adventure Club, Zeds Dead, RL Grime, Baauer, A Tribe Called Red, Tommy Trash, Dog Blood, and more. All of the EDM acts with the exception of Dog Blood were put on the "Blacksheep Stage", an intimate stage that allowed fans their own little corner of the festival to call their own.
Adventure Club and DVBBS
The first night of Bluesfest started off with a bang as Montreal's Adventure Club and Toronto's DVBBS gave the Ottawa crowd a proper dose of energy and enthusiasm, especially for a Thursday night. (Click here to read the review)
Zeds Dead and Keys N Krates
As the Bluesfest entered its first Saturday, Zeds Dead gave the Ottawa crowd, who were in the mood to rage, exactly what they wanted. They certainly did not disappoint as they took us through some of their biggest hits while dropping their most recent tracks and of their contemporaries. (Click here to read the full review including Keys N Krates)
Baauer B2B RL Grime and Thugli
The pace didn't stop on Monday as trap superstars RL Grime and Baauer kicked off their Infinite Daps tour with their special back to back set. The tone was set by Thugli, who started off with playing some hip hop but transitioned into some heavy trap that set the mood in the right place before the main event. Baauer and RL Grime weren't messing around with their Infinite Daps tour as they brought along their special rig fitted with a giant LED wall that served as a DJ booth. The results were good as their energy behind the decks, the music, and visuals all intermingled into one of the best Monday nights that I've ever seen in Ottawa. Fans that came out that night were up for a party and they certainly got one.
A Tribe Called Red and Grandtheft
This local trio from Ottawa did not disappoint as they came armed with a brand new album and sick visuals by Bear Witness that electrified the crowd. Grandtheft was a last minute replacement as Bondax had to cancel but it turned out to be a good choice as his sound was perfect for warming up the crowd. Having played his latest tracks including "Miley" and his new track with Diplo, Grandtheft's momentum into the second half of 2013 should continue.
A Tribe Called Red really brought the house down with a well thought out high energy set that blended their own tracks and others' perfectly. The visuals were fresh as they used aboriginal imagery from popular TV shows and movies like Back to the Future with saturated colours. ATCR got the crowd moving from the very first moment they got on stage to the very last beat. It was one of my favourite sets of the entire Bluesfest.
The duo between Skrillex and Boys Noize has caused so much buzz as they graced almost all of the major stages this year from the Ultra Music Festival to Coachella, and now Bluesfest. Last year Skrillex brought out the fans in droves as he and the Full Flex Express Tour attracted some of the biggest attendance numbers at last year's event. Having no EDM warm up cast this time, Skrillex and German phenom Alex Ridha, aka Boys Noize managed to still attract a very healthy turnout as these two guys turned the main stage into their own beat lab for close to one and a half hours.
Their set was rife with Dog Blood tracks, some known and others just ID's as these two guys tested out their freshest studio material on the primed Ottawa crowd. Throughout the bevy of new tracks being hurled at us I managed to catch a few notable other tracks like Destructo's amazing "Higher" which was played earlier in the set. Another recognizable track was the heavier Boys Noize "Go Hard" from his latest EP that was played towards the end and was well received. Even though Skrillex didn't play anything from his Grammy winning albums, he managed to play his new track featuring the Ragga Twins that I really enjoyed.
As I made my way through the crowd prior to their performance I could hear Skrillex' name talked about everywhere. If the crowd were expecting to hear his quintessential sound then there could be a risk of a few disappointed fans as I knew Skrillex' involvement in Dog Blood had produced tracks with a completely different vibe and feel. But as their set wound down Skrillex went on the mic to thank and remind everyone that Dog Blood is a partnership between Sonny and Alex to bring something new and fresh to fans. Did they get it? I hope so.
Overall the 10 day RBC Ottawa Bluesfest was a complete success. The organization of the event is on par with the best in the world. The food and other amenities were more than reasonable, and the sound systems were crisp. But it was the crowd that attended the EDM portion that really brought it home for me as old and young came together to all enjoy the music. It was nice to see all of the new fans having great time, and I am looking forward to what's in store for next year's edition.