Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wheels and Wires

I had another busy day and night, starting at Bluesfest and ending at Babylon. The former was a bit hit or miss, though. Earlier in the day there were ominous rumblings from the sky and for a moment I thought the whole day would be a washout, as outdoor festivals are notably lightning-phobic. Fortunately they soon died down and was headed off to LeBreton Flats just in time to catch the last few songs from The White Wires.

I could see a lot of familiar faces in the crowd as them Wires zipped their way through a hot set. Luke also claimed credit for staving off foul weather.

The White Wires at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
White Wires at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 17, 2010

After that performance other acts had a tough time holding my attention. My first stop was the Blacksheep Tent. It's weird to walk in and see that people have set up their lawn chairs yards from the stage - almost right in front of the bleachers, in fact. As for Ryan Montbleu, whose band was performing, I found them to be tight and melodic but not much of a grabber.

Ryan Montbleau Band at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
Ryan Montbleu Band at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 17, 2010

The next act I witnessed, Norwegian folk guitarist Bjorn Berge, was much more compelling thanks to his resonant voice and cunning guitarwork. Still, something kept me moving on.

Bjorn Berge at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
Bjorn Berge at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 17, 2010

I admired T.J. Wheeler's hat and guitar, but I wasn't really in the mood for his traditional blues stuff either.

T.J. Wheeler at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
T.J. Wheeler at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 17, 2010

I felt the same way about the Sound Technicians, even though only one of them was wearing a hat. Actually they sounded pretty good, and reminded me of a glossier Garaga, with a somewhat raspier frontman.

Sound Technicians at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
Sound Technicians at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 17, 2010

I certainly liked them better than J.D. & The Details, who have a lengthy pedigree but reminded me uncomfortably of Huey Lewis and The News. I'm sure that's a recommendation for some people, but once again I was in and out.

J.D. & The Details at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
J.D. & The Details at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 17, 2010

When I finally settled down it was to listen to British blues-rocker Matt Schofield (who I also saw a couple of Bluesfests ago) and grab a bite to eat. The audience was certainly keen for him.

Matt Schofield at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
Matt Schofield at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 17, 2010

Fortunately things really started looking up when Athens, Georgia trio The Whigs hit the stage. They rocked it hard with a soulful grungy sound. The crowd multiplied rapidly as they were playing.

The Whigs at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
The Whigs at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 17, 2010

Although nothing will compare to seeing them in a packed Zaphod's from the front row in October 2006, The Hold Steady also put on an awesome set at the Subway Stage. The audience - at least the chunk of it I was in - was also super-hyped for the show.

The Hold Steady at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
The Hold Steady at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 17, 2010

Following their set I tootled off home past crowds of folks wearing cowboy hats on their way to see Kevin Costner and Keith Urban. After grabbing some dinner I went over to Babylon to check out some punk rock with the soon to call it quits Barrier, locals Year Zero and California's Tiltwheel.

Barrier are playing their last show on Friday in Montreal. They've got a thick churning sound, a punishing drummer and hoarse shouted vocals.

Barrier at Babylon
Barrier at Babylon, July 17, 2010

Year Zero played a sharp set of their melodic punk. I thought they sounded heavier and a bit less Nils-like than on previous occasions, but maybe that was just from them following Barrier. Since they actually remembered their merch tub, Brad said this show was their CD release party.

Year Zero at Babylon
Year Zero at Babylon, July 17, 2010

Finally Tiltwheel hit the stage, and after some rambling banter played a set of melodic punk rock much in the vein of Leatherface. They also had Dave from Year Zero up to play drums on one of their songs (they did joke he should take off his Faith No More shirt before being allowed to do so).

Tiltwheel at Babylon
Tiltwheel at Babylon, July 17, 2010

Great show, but damn was I tired after it was all done.

1 comment:

Trellick Tower said...

Heh that explains why when I looked over at you at one point you had your eyes closed! You are one dedicated motherfucker and I love the beard.