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11 Jul 05

a festival of “blues”

if you know me, you’ll know that there’s nothing i like better than 12 bar blues, which is why we headed to ottawa to check out bluesfest over the weekend. while there, we took in all of my favourite blues performers: broken social scene, stars, metric, apostle of hustle, jason collett and gentlemen reg. ok ok, so they’re not blues…but what genius put together that lineup? i’ve been to a number of festivals in the past, and i usually have to sit through a lot of crap in order to hear 1/2 hour sets from the bands i’m there to see, but in this case, everyone got at least 45 minutes, and they were all gems. hell, they MUST have been to convince me to make the 5 hour trek, and sit in the boiling sun all day…

some random thoughts about the day:

  • gentleman reg (and backing band) opened the show to a relatively sparse crowd, but put on a typical reg performance playing most of my favourites. i was sad though when he refused to give anne an autograph in the “autograph tent” afterwards.
  • jason collett continued to prove his apparent disdain for his best song, by not playing tiny ocean of tears for the third straight live show. in spite of this, he played a solid set with a backing band whose name i didn’t catch, consisting mostly of songs from his new album, idols of exile. he got a little help from kevin drew during one song, and evan cranley supplied “bone” support on another, but sadly amy millan didn’t accompany him on hangover days as i’d hoped.
  • cranley seemed intent to perform with as many bands as possible, providing trombone, bass, guitar and percussion support to everyone but gentleman reg and metric. i thought he was going to do SOMETHING with metric, ’cause he was on stage, poised to jump in if an opportunity arose, but alas… it also made me wonder how he (and the rest of the performers) could slip seamlessly into other bands without any preparation time. i mean, stars have been on tour for a month and had just returned from stockholm the day before the show…not exactly a lot of time to get their parts down.
  • apostle of hustle were pretty good, although they were lacking ilse’s flamenco stylings during this particular show. i saw them a week ago opening for feist and enjoyed that performance a bit better (although the set list was almost identical), but i have to say that the horn section really added to their sound. in andrew whiteman’s words, “instant horn section, just add festival.”
  • stars kicked my ass. hard. i’ve never seen a bad stars show, and this was one of their best. crazy energy, fun dialogue from torq, and a set that was driven by evan cranley’s bass more than anything else. it reminded me a lot of the first time i saw them live when i just kept marvelling at the bassline. and wow, they pulled out a live performance of he lied about death that was insanely intense and loud, with lots of horns and extra accompaniment from their friends. i never thought i’d see that one live, and they totally pulled it off. stars were clearly the highlight of the show, in my mind.
  • it was nice to see a full metric show, for the first time. when they played the elixir, emily haines lost her voice in the first half hour, so it wasn’t the full experience. they made up for it with some intense energy, and mixed new songs with old. anne pointed out that there were a lot of instrumental solos during that performance, so perhaps that’s a sign of things to come with their long awaited follow up album?
  • broken social scene closed the show, and previewed a number of songs from their long-awaited forthcoming album. let me start out by saying that i didn’t NOT enjoy their set – the songs were good and i was at times in awe of how many people were on stage (upwards of 20 at times), making some pretty intense sounding music. i think though that they could’ve been better if they’d distilled the songs a bit more – fewer 8-10 minute extended jams with crazy reverb on vocals. in truth, a lot of the songs turned into exercises in kevin drew’s self-indulgence. it’s a good thing the underlying songs were good, and i hope the album itself is a bit more focused. incidentally, the live version of anthem for a 17 year old girl featuring emily haines on vocals blew me away.
  • it was in large part unlike most festival shows, ’cause the majority of people there were familiar with (and fans of) most of the bands on the bill. that’s not to say there weren’t a lot of annoying people in attendance (’cause there sure were), but it was interesting to see a lot of fans of good music in one place. oh, and a few old woman who thought it’d be a good idea to dye their bangs a bright colour, and dance madly to metric…..
  • it’s about time i went to a festival show where you were free to come and go as you pleased, which allowed for the purchase (and subsequent bringing in) of food that was slightly less overpriced.
  • wow. it was hot.

in summary, this was easily the best festival show i’ve been to. take note, edgefest.

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Pronunciation: 'ch&mp
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps blend of chunk and lump
Date: 1883

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