As in previous years, Monday following the first weekend was a “dark” day at Bluesfest with no shows on the schedule. This allows the festival to tweak the grounds as needed while pass holders get a day of rest. Below we share Days 5 through 7. Take a look back of the first four days over here.
Day 5 – Tuesday, July 12th
Even with the forecast showing the potential for precipitation, attendees eagerly gathered at the festival grounds for the fifth night of music.
The evening began with Frase in the main bowl and Lyle Odjick and The Northern Steam under the sprawling tent at the SiriusXM stage. A little later, for those wanting blues, Jontavious Willis delivered the festival’s namesake musical genre while Brooklyn native SAINt JHN impressed the audience with a full-out rap performance. Crown Lands lead the rock revival on the River Stage, evoking some ’70s musk and mysticism.
The final artists brought a little something for everyone, as evidenced by each stage being at near full capacity. For those seeking a feel-good gathering, Michael Franti and Spearhead brought those vibes aplenty. He happily danced with the audience, had them singing with him, and even stopped for a few selfies. Three Days Grace had their devotees line the hill fully for some face-melting music. The main stage was EDM aplenty with Marshmello. The scene was one of revelry; a sea of lasers, pyro, dancing, and glitter. Oh, and mini-marshmello bucket-wearing fans.
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Three Days Grace
Day 6 – Wednesday, July 13th
Wednesday was a day formulated with harder rock fans in mind. Bluesfest lined up three complementary artists to play the RBC Stage. The night began with Sweden’s Millencolin, who got things rolling for the early attenders. They were followed by Canada’s Sum 41, who were firing on all cylinders. We overheard many say it was the performance of the night. The main stage’s programming concluded with Alexisonfire, whose tireless performance captivated the crowd. A healthy debate could be made for just whose performance ranked higher.
If the rock offerings were not to your taste, there were still many options. We were impressed with the rap stylings of Mischa in the Barney Danson tent, and, of course, another one of our recommendations, Chicano Batman, impressed with their funky swagger over at the SiriusXM Stage.
Day 7 – Thursday, July 14th
Thursday was the second night featuring a country them,e and the festival once again lined up three complementary artists for the RBC Stage. The evening culminated with Luke Bryan, who certainly drew one of the biggest crowds of the festival. We opted instead to check out some of the side stages starting with our recommendation, Lucy Dacus on the SiriusXM Stage. Her second visit to Ottawa drew her music’s aficionados amply, all tethered to every word and singing in step with her.
We allowed ourselves to be taken back a decade or two by three remarkable veterans of the Canadian music scene. Wide Mouth Mason treated everyone to the performance they were looking for. Shaun Verreault mentioned at one point how a song that had fallen out of their live setlist remained very popular on streaming services, so they decided to add it back in. The incomparable synergy of Brad Roberts and Ellen Reid of Crash Test Dummies had everyone dancing and singing (happy birthday to Ellen), and “mmm mmm mmm’ing by the end of the night.
The River Stage concluded with The Tea Party, who were simply magnificent. They started with “The River”, which spilled through a hit-heavy setlist, including some incorporation of notable covers. Jeff Martin was especially engaging throughout the evening, sharing short entertaining anecdotes between songs. Between the fantastic music and some shared personal insights, the evening was one to remember.
Wide Mouth Mason
The Tea Party
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