With a little more heat, our second day at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest 2018 had more dancing and more excitement from the performers all around. Whether it was vintage pop, legendary hip-hop or some boundary pushing art-pop, the first Saturday of Bluesfest had crowds excited enough to kick dust around all night.
Though their latest album definitely felt a little out of time, it only made for a better live show when Chromeo hit the stage. As they hit their chrome set, the duo made use of every inch of it as they moved from synth to synth and rocked guitars just about everywhere. Blasting through songs like “Come Alive” the duo held the Bluesfest audience and had them bopping and clapping along at every chorus. As the crowd sang along too on songs like “Juice” they even managed to reflect beams of light into the crowd through guitar solo. Mixing a lot of new material into their set, they managed to make an old hit like “Over Your Shoulder” more exciting by getting as many fans on each other’s shoulders as possible.
Showing how much of a legend he truly is, Ghostface Killah brought so much energy to the Black Sheep Stage that the audience’s energy soon became a force of its own. With moshpits appearing at random, every heavy drop sent people into a frenzy with dust constantly flying. Mixing his own songs with Wu-Tang Clan tracks, there was rarely a low moment in the set, and his hypemen made sure there was constantly energy to go around. While Ghostface insisted he was only looking for professionals, the local talent went above and beyond when he called audience members to sing O.D.B. and Method Man’s verses on “Protect Ya Neck.” After some competing crowd love between Ghostface and his hypeman, the set hit another high on “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit” with plenty of W’s up in the air.
Kimbra is far and away a stellar performer and from her opening delivery on “Version Of Me” it was clear her music and art was the focus of the night. Her stellar vocals and shocking dynamics carried her performance as new songs like “Black Sky” and “The Good War” slowly won over the crowd. Like her previous sets on the tour however, playing mostly new material made it hard to maintain an excitement with the crowd, as even old classics like “Settle Down” were tweaked enough to feel completely different. Luckily songs like “Two Way Street” and “Love In High Places” stuck to their guns to rejuvenate fans and by the time “Sweet Relief” came in, not even a weird mix in the bass could hold Kimbra back. Ending on “Top Of The World” the Bluesfest crowd was bopping and singing along as if Ghostface was still on stage, which made it all the more heartbreaking when she left with no encore, ten minutes left in her slot (five of which the crowd were chanting for) and plenty of favourites left to offer the crowd.
Words by Owen Maxwell