On Thursday, I headed out to Lebreton Flats bright and early for Day 1 of RBC Ottawa Bluesfest.
First, I headed to the River Stage to check out Femi Kuti. I had heard of Femi Kuti but did not know much about him. Apparently, he is the oldest son of Fela Kuti, who was the pioneer of the afrobeat genre. The sound wasn't great at the River Stage but the group of musicians and the dancers were entertaining. I really enjoyed the style of music.
I slowly made my way to the Bell Stage to catch a bit of Jimmy Eat World. I'm not necessarily a fan of the band, but I do like some of their songs ("Drugs or Me" and "23" are both fantastic). I was quite surprised; the band looks and sounds exactly like they did 10-15 years ago! A good crowd had gathered at the stage and you could tell a lot of hardcore fans were back to their 12-year old selves that afternoon.
At 8pm sharp, I went back to the River Stage to check out the Cat Empire. I had heard lots about the group, and I couldn't wait to experience them for myself. All I can say is wow! Not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting them to blow me away like they did. The group was so energetic, and their sound was rock, ska, and funk all mixed together. A perfect fusion! People in the crowd were happy and dancing. It was perfect summer music.
Finally, the headliners of the evening, the Black Keys. I had attempted to see them at Bluesfest two years ago, and after waiting in the rain for over an hour, I decided to go home. This time, I thought I would check them out and see what all the fuss is about. I like some of their songs but I would not necessarily call myself a fan. As soon as the set began, I just knew this wasn't going to go well. The sound was atrocious... You seriously couldn't hear anything! I couldn't even tell what song they were playing (apparently it was "Howlin' for You"). Many people in the crowd were pissed off (myself included). After three songs, the sound didn't get better so I just left. What a waste!
In the mean time, Alex Clare was playing at the River Stage. I stopped by to check him out although I had never heard of him. Turns out I had heard his song "Too Close" before. Alex Clare has an amazing voice. He reminds me of David Gray. His performance was good, the people seemed happy. His blend of R&B was soothing and relaxing... And with the view at the River Stage, you can't go wrong.
On my way out, I dropped by Adventure Club at the Blacksheep Stage (former Electro Stage), who had create a giant sea of dancing people. The energy at this show was absolutely insane! I stayed for 1-2 songs then headed home but I was really impressed. The dubstep duo, based in Montreal, seemed to have taken the crowd on a high, and they appeared happy to stay there! I hope I get to check out these guys again in the future.
Overall, a strong first day at Bluesfest, with the Cat Empire definitely stealing the show!