Posted by Caelin Meredith
This year’s RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest in Ottawa is heavy on the electronic dance music, light on the blues. A bold move considering the festival’s history, but a shrewd way to tap into a younger market and draw larger crowds to this incredible site.
One field with five stages and an indoor theatre (showcasing comedy), the festival site is just outside the downtown core and on the river, allowing for spectacular vistas and gorgeous sunsets. Attendees have the opportunity to experiences many different genres, all in one location.
[Photo: Patrick Doyle]
Opening night saw Tiësto rocking out on the main stage to thousands of his followers. Other EDM heavyweights on the bill this year include: Dragonette, LMFAO, Paul Okenfold, !!!, DJ Aero and Tommy Lee, Mustard Pimp, MSTRKFT, A Tribe Called Red, Chromeo (DJ set), Adam K, Arty, Drop The Lime, A-Trak, Diplo, Tyga, Skrillex and Wolfgang Gartner.
The Day 2 highlight: Paul Oakenfold on the Electro Stage going to head-to-head with LMFAO on the main stage.
[Photo: Sean Corby]
First on the Electro Stage was local up-and-comer Mister Parker. When asked what it was like to play Bluesfest, he said, “This is one of the biggest festivals to hit Ottawa — and playing for a hometown crowd is always a big rush. People were freaking out.” He was clearly excited to be on the bill with a legend like Oakenfold.
You could tell he was a hometown favourite, with the smattering of supporters he had in the crowd all sporting his t-shirt.
Next up was Cole, who delivered an energetic performance to those gathering for the Oakenfold show. Physical and present, he DJ’d on the Star Trekish Emulator and let old school Fatboy Slim dance alongside newer, harder tracks.
Dragonette played the Claridge Homes stage, which is perpendicular to the main stage but equal in size. They belted out hit after hit in 30-degree weather (at 8 pm!) and the crowd sang every word.
The band treated fans to an autograph session after the show, and Joel said they are still in disbelief after their Juno win with Martin Solveig.
LMFAO were the headliners on the main stage. Because it’s right next to the Claridge stage, they don’t schedule acts simultaneously, thereby preventing noise competition.
With SkyBlu injured, the backstage was closed to media, which made photographing the show challenging. Redfoo, however, put his all into delivering one hell of a solo show.
Despite the absence of his partner, he held court comfortably for the 20,000-plus who turned up for some “party rockin’” and kept up the carnival atmosphere with gusto.
Meanwhile, over on the Electro Stage, nestled alongside the river and tucked behind the building away from the main site, British elder statesman Paul Oakenfold delivered. What looked at first like a thin crowd soon blossomed to 1,500 strong.
Oakenfold laid down some of his most popular tracks, including remixes of “We Are Your Friends,” “7 Nation Army,” “Personal Jesus” and “I Need Your Loving.”
The set was definitely less trance-oriented than I’m used to hearing from Oakenfold — but he was playing for the crowd and reading them like a true professional.
He ended ceremoniously with his own anthem “How long.” Though the crowd was furiously chanting for an encore — “Oakenfold! Oakenfold!” — he couldn’t oblige, as Ottawa stringently enforces its noise bylaws, requiring the festival to end all its music at 11 pm sharp.
Tonight: !!! and Tommy Lee with DJ Aero.
Stay tuned over the next eight days for reviews, highlights and everything EDM from the Ottawa Bluesfest!