All good things eventually come to an end and, as such, this review covers the final weekend of RBC Bluesfest 2018.
Day 8 – Friday, July 13th
Country music is often a divisive genre. People seem to either love it or hate it, yet Sturgill Simpson is somehow different. To quote one patron overheard at Bluesfest, “I don’t like country music, but I could get into Sturgill Simpson”. Apparently, his brand of outlaw country somehow bridges the great divide. The other big show, and headliner of the night, was Beck (not pictured) making his first appearance in Ottawa. A really enjoyable performance with high energy interspersed with some acoustic moments. Meanwhile, over on the Black Sheep stage, two popular EDM artists, Grandtheft and Zeds Dead, played to a crowded hill of younger fans eager to dance.
Also pictured: Fortunate Ones
Day 9 – Saturday, July 141th
Every year, there are comments made by people less familiar with Bluesfest that there is not enough blues. Usually, the blues artists play the smaller stages and may not be as noticeable to the casual observer. Saturday, however, was a jackpot for fans of the genre!
Mr. Sipp was simply fantastic. His delta blues performance was just full-on energy, from him walking throughout the tent while playing to his fantastic rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”. Over on the Black Sheep Stage, one-man band Steve Hill once again wowed fans with his blues-tinged rock and roll. It’s Steve Hill’s 2nd appearance in the past three years, but no one is complaining and you can tell his fan base grows with each visit.
Bluesfest moved the headliner, Rae Sremmurd to an earlier slot at 8:30. The band’s fans packed the grounds especially near the front of the stage. With both other stages quiet early in the evening, Canadian blues-rocker (that’s the 3rd blues artist of the night for those counting) Colin James filled the hill at the Black Sheep Stage. Colin James remarked that it had been fourteen years since he last played Bluesfest. One has to question why, given the size of his crowd he drew and the fact he is a popular Canadian artist well-known for playing the namesake genre.
Day 10 – Sunday, July 15th
For the final Sunday of Bluesfest, the festival managed to put together a doubleheader of hard rock bands in Rise Against and Three Days Grace. This sort of combination of stylistically similar bands must help sell single day passes, as fans of the genre will more clearly see the value. Fans of the genre must have left ecstatic as both bands delivered exactly what you expected.
A couple other performances really stood out as highlights, but neither was a surprise since they were recommended in our preview. The Julian Taylor Band was simply fantastic, as usual melding various genres into his music. The band has been playing Ottawa more frequently recently a trend we would like to see continue.
Prior to the hard-rock takeover on the main stage, Dear Rouge once again impressed with their energetic set. Lead vocalist Danielle McTaggart was born to be on stage, as she grabs the audience’s attention once she gets on stage and she never lets up. She is spellbinding to watch right until the end or when the sound cuts out. Unfortunately, Dear Rouge had a roughly five-minute interruption due to a technical issue with sound. Their performance, which was only about four songs in, had already captivated the crowd because I did not see anyone move away even after five minutes of silence.
This year’s Bluesfest was ten days of almost perfect weather. No shows were cancelled or even delayed by rain. In fact, there was only a trivial amount of rain, which fell in one day but it was almost a relief from the heat. The bigger problem was the dust in the air due to how dry field was. With such fantastic weather and fantastic lineup, the crowds came out in record numbers. The 2018 edition of Bluesfest will go down as one to remember!
Also pictures: The Jerry Cans
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