The Ottawa Folk Festival moved to the city and re-branded itself CityFolk. As one should probably have expected, moving a festival of this size to a new venue would not be perfect in it’s first attempt. It’s taken Bluesfest many years of tweaking before they ironed out most of the kinks at at their location. There are only a couple issues I think need to be resolved in the future if this site is to be used again, which I’m sure it will. The second stage needs to accommodate a much higher percentage of the ticket holders. People who have paid the entrance are not going to be happy when they are denied access to the stage they wanted to go to. Perhaps the solution to this problem is as simple as swapping the Agriculture building with the Abordeen Pavillion. The other issue is the constant need of scanning in/out when changing from the main stage. Although it is true that sometimes you had to scan out at Hog’s Back, you only had to do so for the free stage and some vendors. At CityFolk you pretty much had to scan out for anything other than the main stage and this caused a bottleneck every time a set ended.
There were definitely some positives in this new location though. It seemed to me that CityFolk felt much more like a major event in the city as opposed to when it was practically hidden at Hog’s Back. It was great to see so many local businesses hosting Marvest shows and participating in the festival. Several nights on the walk home I was tempted to stop for some other shows in satellite venues. I can already imagine this participation growing over time and this turning into major event for the city. The possibilities are actually kind of exciting.
Day 1 was sort of the equivalent of the soft opening for the festival. Only two acts were scheduled and the crowds were a little light. Although I missed The Tubes I heard only good things from the people in the crowd. There was a little bit of confusion amongst fans about which UB40 band we were going to get (although it was clear on the website). UB40 were very much able to reproduce the sound of the catalog and the fans enjoyed reliving some of those hits of bygone years.
On Day 2 I had a more complete lineup planned. I started with Scarlett Jane, who for some reason I kept missing in their previous appearances. The Ravenlaw stage was a great spot for them, as it felt much more intimate than the big stage. After enjoying this show I went to the main stage where the energetic Walk Off The Earth really kicked things up a notch and getting the crowd worked up. I had never seen them perform before but they were excellent and every member of the band contributed to the on-stage energy. Closing out the night was the always dependable The Avett Brothers. Once again, they thrilled the crowd with their great music and energy and bringing the main stage to a perfect conclusion.
That is when the first signs of stress appeared in the festival setup. As the crowds left The Avett Brothers and tried to make their way to Ravenlaw to watch Wintersleep many were turned away.
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