The Legendary Roots Crew was in town and if you’d never seen them live, day 2 of the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest was the perfect way to do just that. The band was incredibly tight, skillfully weaving through their vast library of work. Black Thought was channelling James Brown on stage, energizing the crowd into a frenzy. They sprinkled their set with incredible covers, including Guns & Roses “Sweet Child of Mine” and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”.
Throughout the afternoon other stages displayed amazing talent – Alberta Cross, Whale tooth and Monkey Junk were a few hidden gems that blew the bywardofmouth team away. These are some acts that you need to introduce yourself to if you haven’t already. Bedouin Soundclash delivered the quality Canada has come to expect from them, getting political, introspective and thought-provoking.
Ben Harper and his Relentless7 unfurled a raw showcase of true musicianship, no holds barred. Taking center stage, Harper opened with his signature steel lap for “Faded”, appropriately foreshadowing the band’s technical genius. Keeping a relatively cool stride to begin, the band heated things up with “Burn to Shine”, when Jason Mozersky on guitar, bassist Jesse Ingalls and drummer Jordan Richardson got to show the crowd of almost 20,000 what they were all about. Lap steel howling, Harper surely pleased the palates of every guitar aficionado in attendance, at one point breaking a string using his slide. The most noteworthy audience reaction came in clouds of smoke bellowing over the sea of faces in allegiance to the acoustics of “Burn One Down”, Harper noting humbly afterwards that
“Everyone thinks this song is about smoking weed. But it’s really about freedom. Free freedom, somebody please, free freedom.”
While the crowd enjoyed Harper‘s set, a robotic womp-womp and heavy bass could be heard creeping up over the hillside. If you followed the colourful characters migrating toward the Subway stage you were in for a surprise. If you had never heard about the phenomenon that is dubstep and you found yourself in the middle of the Skrillex concert you’d be wondering if you mistakenly wandered into an alternate reality. The energy of the massive crowd was intense. Metal barricades were toppled over, succumbing to the power of the young neon moshpit.
At the center of the light and sound, Skrillex was hunched over the controls like a chain-smoking wizard, concocting spells from the electronics with his long black greasy hair draped over the controls. The image was in sharp contrast to the messages of positivity, acceptance, love and safety he was sharing with the crowd.
All in all, day 2 was an incredible blend of different musical perspectives.. a thoroughly satisfying mix. Check out our full coverage below!
writers: Taryn & Jesse