All good things eventually come to an end and, as such, this review covers the final weekend of RBC Bluesfest 2022.
Day 8 – Friday, July 15th
In the winter of 2020, Ottawa Bluesfest announced that they booked one of the most anticipated artists in recent memory, Rage Against the Machine. The fan sites were abuzz with posts from excited fans sharing their collective jubilation. Like with Tom Petty, Foo Fighters, and Dave Matthews Band, Bluesfest was able to really respond to the requests of attendees. Unfortunately, 2020 was a year that essentially halted live music festivals globally. Rage was re-booked for 2022 much to the relief of their fan base.
The week before the Ottawa performance, Zack De La Rocha injured his leg while performing in Chicago. With the much-anticipated show so close, Bluesfest fans held their breath and hoped this latest accident would not scuttle their long-awaited party. On Friday, July 15th, their fears would be alleviated as Jack De La Rocha was carried on stage and the band delivered a performance that will go down as one of the most memorable, delighting the over 30,000 in attendance. Leading into that long-anticipated set, Run the Jewels got things started that evening on the main stage.
If RATM was not to your taste, the side stages had several other options. Vancouver’s Ludic, who released their first single right before the pandemic hit, had been waiting for their opportunity to play live. The River Stage had a healthy crowd for headliner Milky Chance, who reliably delivered a fabulous set just as they did in 2015.
Run The Jewels
Rage Against the Machine
Day 9 – Saturday, July 16th
This date was one for 90s hip-hop fans to celebrate. Unfortunately, Bones Thugs-n-Harmony could not make it, but Bluesfest added Ottawa’s Big Zee to the line-up. TLC then took the reins on the RBC stage, with a DJ, dancers, and plenty of sing-along hits. They even took a moment to remember their bandmate and friend, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, prompting cell phone flashlights to light up and sway in the audience. Ja Rule closed the evening, having the audience add their voices even if we weren’t as on point as Ashanti or J Lo.
grandson, in only his second show in Ottawa, headlined the River Stage in a performance that would become the talk of the evening, at least for those who opted for the alternative. From the moment he took the stage, his frenetic performance had the crowd riled up. Highlights of the performance include “dancing” with a giant stuffed toy confiscated by security, climbing the stage rigging and singing from the rafters, and of course the explosion of water spilling over the crowd during his closing song. Certainly, a night to remember!
The Cooper Brothers
Day 10 – Sunday, July 17th
For the final night of Bluesfest, Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf, sang to a growing group in the main bowl. A mix of his older songs and from his recent release, Wilds, seemed to be an enjoyable lead into the headliner, The National. Though the size of the crowd may have been impacted by both the heat and festival fatigue, the enthusiasm was not smouldered. Front-man Matt Berninger did his part to keep the energy up by jumping off the stage and sang in the audience at multiple points in the night. All were enthused that they sang right up to the 11 pm close, a full 15 minutes past their slotted set end time.
Meanwhile, on the River Stage, Elijah Woods packed in a large crowd of enthusiastic fans who happily sang and danced along. The evening was capped by the always dynamic The Beaches, who exploded out of the gates at 9:30 and kept the energy up throughout their entire set, much to the delight of the rock fans that filled the hill to take it all in.
Overall, Bluesfest 2022 was a welcome event, creating a shared space for enjoying the talents of musicians, the company of good friends, and the collective energy that only a festival can foster. Plus, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Fan pages are already eagerly speculating on who to expect for 2023.
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