Posted by Caelin Meredith
After going dark for a few days the Electro Stage came alive for the final weekend of the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest in Ottawa. And if you’ve been reading the recaps so far, you’ll know that the fest is definitely due for a name change, what with a lineup that includes headliners like Skrillex and metalheads Mastodon. Although perhaps distantly blues-inspired in some former lifetime, neither heavy metal nor dubstep could really be said to fit on the same bill as Howlin’ Wolf.
Toronto-based Grantdtheft was first up on the decks this Friday night. As a self-styled DJ/VJ, his forté is integrating video with his audio mixes. I thought he was doing this all in real time, and he assured me later that he was — but the real work lies in the gruelling studio process of synching video to audio. Once that’s uploaded (see “days of work”), then he mixes live as per usual.
Mad skills and loveable tunes that had the crowd singing along; hip-hop and reggae anthems and hooks like no other DJ had summoned all week. And maybe a few guilty pleasures rolled up in there as well.
A festival generally means fewer rules than a club gig, more freedom and less pressure to bring the latest and greatest. You get to play in more of a relaxed, party atmosphere. So maybe the reason I ended up hearing the remix of “Fading Like A Flower” twice in one week!
Then … it was time for Drop The Lime.
The last time I’d seen him was with Major Lazer in Toronto at Sound Academy, and this was definitely one of the sets I was looking forward to most: he seems to plays all my favourite jams, with tight technical mixes.
A natural-born musician, he also took an opportunity to chat engagingly with the crowd. Definitely one of the house -ier sets of the week, it got the ladies onto the dance floor — and the guys quickly followed suit.
Red Bull + fire extinguisher = the perfect metaphor for his set. Pulsating rhythms and beats that grip the heart. Beautiful and classic vocals co-existing peacefully with dirty, grimy bass lines to whine your waist.
Here, the boys chill offstage and catch up. These festivals give you a chance to see old friends and get to know new ones.
A-Trak, the evening’s headliner, turned in an absolutely mental set, drawing a crowd even larger than Tommy Lee and Aero’s or Paul Oakenfold’s — no small feat.
A ton of Montrealers made the two-hour drive and placed themselves strategically in the crowd to cheering with fierce Canadian pride for their hometown hero — a onetime DMC champ who has toured with the likes of Kanye West.
A-Trak’s quiet demeanour offstage belies his onstage persona: the “Big Bad Wolf.” Can you guess, by the way, which track was the banger of the night? Here’s a hint.
No question, this was the perfect way to gear up the Electro Stage for the final weekend of the festival.