Another band from the ’80s headlines the penultimate day of RBC Bluesfest. Duran Duran – the four Brits who gave us “The Reflex”, “Hungry Like a Wolf”, and “Girls on Film” – will have the 40-and-over crowd and their children swooning and partying like it is 1985. And yes, I am old enough to remember when every teen boy wanted to be like Simon LeBon while every teenage girl had his poster in their locker.
In addition to Duran Duran, today’s lineup features a parade of local acts, who will kick off and end the day. It is a showcase of the talent and variety that exists with the National Capital Region. The Ottawa-area artists are below, but first three picks from outside the city, including the return of one of Canada’s great bands.
Wolf Parade – Monster Energy Stage, 9:00 PM
This. Is. The. Show. To. Catch. At. Bluesfest. Ok, I’m biased. Wolf Parade‘s return is a long-awaited one for thousands of hardcore fans, myself included. From the early reports, their return has been nothing short of spectacular, as Spencer Krug, Dan Boeckner, Dante DeCaro, and Arlen Thompson have been playing like it was 2005. Who cannot wait to hear classics like “Language City”, “Grounds for Divorce”, plus the four new songs from their latest EP, EP 4? Their return has us believing in anything!
Holy Fuck – Black Sheep Stage, 8:00 PM
Toronto’s and Halifax’s Holy Fuck are one of Canada’s two most innovative, experimental, electro-rock outfits (the other being Caribou). Their ability to seamlessly weave heavy bass, guitars, synthesizers, keys, and percussion is unmatched. It is a bit surprising they will be on the Black Sheep Stage, which will not be big enough to hold in the energy they are about to unleash.
DZ Deathrays – Monster Energy Stage – 7:30 PM
The performance by Brisbane, Australia’s DZ Deathrays may not be but WILL be one of the “holy ****” moments of the festival. Known for their anthemic, frenetic, and blistering disco-punk / electro-punk / danceable hard rock songs, Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley are one of Australiasia’s most popular bands. Now Ottawa gets to discover for itself why this duo is celebrated overseas and why thousands of people continue to get on the bandwagon. This show will be awesome.
Noushka – Claridge Homes Stage, 1:00 PM
The first local artist to take the stage is Cluny Michel, who goes by the stage name Noushka. Her moniker is actually a childhood nickname given by her father, and it is a great representation of Michel’s multi-cultural, bilingual approach. Thriving in R&B and soul, Noushka could considered Ottawa’s version of Mary J. Blige, an artist who knows how to get the crowd grooving.
dubé – Monster Energy Stage, 3:00 PM
Anyone who has attended the Ottawa Bluesfest since 2010 will be familiar with Jan, Liam, and Quinn Dubé – or at the time simply known as the Brothers Dubé. For a few years, the siblings provided the after-hours entertainment on the sidewalk outside the festival grounds, performing covers of classic songs by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Nirvana, and other iconic bands. Who could forget seeing all of Arcade Fire running out on to the street following their 2010 headlining show and jamming with the brothers? It was a classic moment not just for the young trio but in Ottawa music history.
The Brothers have, of course, grown up, as each of them are in their teens – Jan is 17 (vocals/bass), Liam (guitar ) is 19, and Quinn (drums) is 15. They have also graduated from a cover band to writing their own material and to reflect the changes they have adopted the simple moniker dubé. The trio will likely be performing music from their new EP (due out anytime now), and they are evidence that a dream that started on a sidewalk can lead to a starring spot on centre stage.
Pith and The Parenchymas – Black Sheep Stage, 3:30 PM
I remember when Pith and The Parenchymas were three guys, led by Chris Love, who were interested in challenging, far-out, experimental music. In the past 2 years, they have transformed into a duo that makes experimental indietronica / alt-pop that is at times lush and other moments fitting for a small nightclub. It might be mid-afternoon when they perform, but expect a midnight vibe when Love and Andie Finlay take to the stage.
Danny Albert – Barney Danson Theatre, 3:30 PM
Everyone loves a “rags-to-riches” story, and Danny Albert epitomizes this. Albert is a busker, who earns part of his living playing his violin to passersby in the downtown and offering interpretations of classic songs (like “Stairway to Heaven”). Now he gets to strut his stuff in front of an attentive Bluesfest audience instead of to people scrambling to work or rushing off to take advantage of the next sale. Cool now, relax, and hear the skills of Alberta. Oh, hold off on throwing loonies and twoonies until after the performance.
Just Poets – Claridge Homes Stage, 4:00 PM
If you prefer something more upbeat, then head to the main field and check out Just Poets. Known around the city for their lively and entertaining live shows and their chill vibe, this free-styling, rap trio will add to the heat outside. Take a listen and discover this talented trifecta.
The Wicked Mercy – Monster Energy Stage, 4:30 PM
Rock ‘n roll quartet The Wicked Mercy are back at Bluesfest. Heck, if there is a festival in town, The Wicked Mercy likely will be performing. Their power-rock approach has made them local favourites, and their sound can fill the smallest clubs and the biggest open-air venues. Grab a beverage, apply the sun tan lotion, and rock out with one of Ottawa’s little gems.
PIPPA – Barney Danson Theatre, 5:00 PM
The project of Sam Pippa, PIPPA is a unique musical act within the city. Her music has a bedroom intimacy yet it feels cosmic and interstellar. Her approach is reminiscent of Mitski, the New York-based artist who has skyrocketed to indie stardom this year. Could the same be in the card for Pippa? She definitely has the talent to be Ottawa’s next indie export.
The Lionyls – City Stage, 7:00 PM
One of the coolest and nicest bands in a city loaded with cool and nice groups are The Lionyls. The band shot to local fame after they won the 2014 Live 88.5 Money Shot competition with their catchy and anthemic rock-soul combination. Now the Ottawa crowd will get to discover what many within the local scene have long known – The Lionyls are one the local acts with the potential to go far beyond the NCR limits.
All-Star Blues Revue Hosted By MonkeyJunk – Barney Danson Theatre, 9:30 PM
MonkeyJunk is back at it for a third night, curating and jamming with some of the great blues artists still hanging around the festival. Tonight’s lineup features Paul James, Kenny “Blues Boss” Waynes, Michael Schatte, and, of course, The Texas Horns. Get your dancing shoes on tonight because the Theatre will be buzzing.
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