Friday, 7 September 2012

Ottawa Folk Festival: Day 1

The Ottawa Folk Festival began last night on a high note. Although I've attended shows at Folkfest for the past two years, this year is the first time that I decided to get a full festival pass.

Day 1 had the best lineup of the festival, in my opinion. At the very least, it was the lineup that I was most excited to see.

Although my friend and I attempted to make it to Hog's Back Park to check out Matt Mays at 7pm, parking was nearly impossible to find. When we finally arrived, Matt Mays was ending his set. I wasn't bothered by this, seeing as I've seen Matt Mays before. However, we were right on time to catch the next act!

Matthew Good was the artist that I absolutely needed to see yesterday. Although it's been less than a year since the last time I've seen him live, he had announced that he would be playing a solo acoustic set. I was thrilled when I heard this news. During his "Hospital Music" tour, he played a solo acoustic set and it was the best Matt Good show I had seen so far.

This show did not disappoint! Matt played a great set and was unordinarily talkative and social with the audience, most likely as a result of alcohol intake. At one point, he referred to himself as a "Gin Snob" since the kind he was drinking was "cheap". At the beginning of the show, I was thinking that this might annoy me during the show. However, it was hard to be annoyed when he was playing such great material!

He performed acoustic versions of most of my favorite songs, including "Surburbia", "While We Were Hunting Rabbits", "Strange Days", "Avalanche" and "99% of Us is Failure". Unfortunately, he did not play any songs from his most recent album "Lights of Endangered Species", which I can understand would be challenging for him to do acoustically, seeing as there are so many instruments used in the album. He also didn't play anything from his album "Vancouver", which was a bit disappointing as well.

Overall, an amazing performance by Matt Good. Everyone in the audience seemed pleased, although I don't think that most of them knew that he was not playing with a full band. The most important thing is that I knew and was excited about it and my expectations were definitely met.

The headliner that evening was Ben Harper. I am a huge fan of his and I have seen him live twice at Bluesfest. When he began his set at Folkfest, I quickly realized that he would be playing solo as well, which I found very exciting.

During this set, Ben played many different instruments, including vibraphone, piano, ukulele and guitars, both electric and acoustic.

Ben played a lot of great songs from his older albums, including "Burn One Down", "Diamonds on the Inside", "Not Fire, Not Ice", "Forever", and "Walk Away".

At the end of his set, Ben shared with the crowd the story of when he met the late Jeff Buckley. As a tribute to him, he played a cover of "Hallelujah", which was absolutely raw and filled with so much emotion. I was brought to tears. By far the highlight of the night for me.

Overall, it was a really beautiful performance that felt quite intimate. I was very impressed and I really enjoyed it. However, it seemed like most of the crowd had left early and the few people who were still there during Ben Harper's performance were not interested in listening to his music, which is very unfortunate. Some people can't recognize talent/good music even when it's slapping them in the face.

Tonight is day 2 of Folkfest. Let's see how many shows I have the energy to catch!

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