Posted by Caelin Meredith
Almost at the of the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest, and for EDM fans in Ottawa this was to be their day. Strategically, the Electro Stage showcased hip-hop as the Full Flex Express took over the Main Stage.
An homage to the legendary 1970 Festival Express tour that sent Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead and The Band rolling across Canada by rail, the Full Flex Express packed Skrillex, Diplo, Grimes and Pretty Lights aboard a specially outfitted Via Rail train to party their way from from Toronto to Vancouver.
The set started at 6 pm with Diplo playing in 34-degree heat to about 10,000 people. He was in a chatty mood, continuously introducing his tracks on the mic and joking, “I heard Ottawa was harder than Toronto — but I had no idea how much harder!” This latter met with screams and cheers.
He dropped AC/DC to a thoroughly crazed reaction — no surprise, given, as I’ve mentioned before, Ottawa’s classic rock roots. Plus “Roxanne” by The Police with a deep Moombahton flow. The other huge anthem: “Rack City” remixed in various flavours.
Diplo felt so at home here he spent the last minutes of his set crowd-surfing, holding the mic and chatting. DJs jumping into crowd: is there any lingering doubt they’ve become our new rock stars? Nobody can touch them right now (figuratively speaking).
Meanwhile, over on the Electro Stage, Tyga was in the process of sending Ottawa’s hip-hop lovers ballistic.
I honestly had no idea that the local “heads” were so f**king nuts for the Cash Money/southern ballers style. But they lost it from the moment he hit the stage. He slammed it non-stop, and I had to duck side-stage as soon I heard the first few bars of “Rack City” — I could feel they were gearing up to lose their shit.
Elsewhere, Skrillex’s fans were busy getting ready to freak out the f**k out.
Pretty Lights was next up on the Main stage, as the crowd continued to swell. His set was orchestral and massive, punctuated with tunes like this one: “I Know The Truth.”
And finally, the main event! Skirllex brought a larger and more elaborate show than he had the previous night in Toronto. The backstage was closed due to all the pyrotechnics, lasers and whatnot, which meant no photography. So I had to sneak these …
This was a full-fledged rock concert ordeal, on a par with or bigger than what any of the week’s other main stage headliners had delivered — and the record crowd of 30,000 freaked to every minute of it.
… and FINALLY, an after party!
With the train set to depart at 2:30 am, getting to the party felt a little rushed, but once everyone got to Ritual Nightclub and settled in, the only issue I could foresee was getting all the artists to leave on time.
After Koan Sound (who are also on the train) played a dubsteppy set (including ragga jungle licks like “Special Dedication”), it was down to the Don. Skrillex, having just performed a full-on concert, played another few hours at this intimate club venue.
And the crowd was right there with him, partying on just as hard.
He gave it everything he had, sweating profusely and never letting up — even taking the photographer’s camera and snapping pics of himself with the crowd. Steadfast and dedicated, he is without question the hardest-working DJ out there right now.
And with that, the Full Flex Express left Ottawa as quickly as it had come, leaving a trail of wondrous disaster in its wake.