The first friday of Bluesfest brought with it some incredible acts. One of the biggest challenges at any music festival is deciding which artist you want to go see, which can be especially challenging when they play at the same time at opposite ends of the festival grounds. I have found a solution to this problem: See them all. Let’s just say that I got a good cardio workout going from stage to stage.
The first band I caught in my relay race of music was Hamilton’s own Arkells, playing on the River Stage. If you haven’t already seen them live, please make it your life’s mission to do so. Rocking all denim, Arkells frontman Max Kerman kept the crowd involved with every song, belting out instructions to sing/clap/dance/get from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie (one of their songs consists of a series of directions along 4-series highways.). After watching this band play live for only a few minutes, it was easy to see how this band beat out Nickelback for the Group of the Year Juno earlier this year, especially when the entire crowd rang out in unison when the band launched into Oh, The Boss is Coming.
Next up was a trip over to the Electro Stage where !!! (pronounced chk-chk-chk… i think) had already got the small but very much involved crowd dancing along with their dance-punk sound. Now I’m not sure if Nic Offer, the bands lead vocalist arrived in just his underwear or if there was some sort of wardrobe malfunction that occurred before we arrived but there was a whole lot of pelvic thrusting happening and not a whole lot to cover it up. Lack of pants aside, the group had a very high energy presence and Offer couldn’t seem to stay in one place for very long at all, ending up in the press pit up front after nearly taking out the drum kit while dancing around on stage.
After that, it was back to the River Stage for Sleigh Bells. This was one of the shows I was most pumped for this evening and let me say that they did not dissappoint. Launching into hard hitting songs like “Crown on the Ground” and “Comeback Kid” with vocals/theatrics provided by frontwoman Alexis Krauss backed by heavy guitar riffs from Derek Edward Millar, Sleigh Bells had the crowd up and dancing around for their entire set. The show was also brought to life by some amazing lighting that really amplified the intensity of the music. You can find Sleigh Bells somewhere between heavy metal and electronic music on the genre scale and there was plenty of representation in the crowd from both groups.
Next, I was off to the Mainstage where City and Colour played to a massive crowd. Now as a supporter of Canadian Music, it is my obligation to like City and Colour which I do, as Dallas Green is an extremely talented musician and makes some beautiful music, but I have to admit, there was a part of me that really wanted to see the rest of Alexisonfire jump out from offstage and start rocking us. Alas, that was not the case, but Dallas didn’t disappoint, even as he fought with the rumble coming from a nearby stage. He even took a moment at one point to ask the crowd, in a very polite Canadian manner, to turn off all recording devices for just one song so that “we can just think about the music and enjoy it”. The crowd obliged happily and Green launched into “Sleeping Sickness”.
The last stop on my trip was the Electro Stage again for Tommy Lee and DJ Aero. That’s right, that Tommy Lee. Lee and DJ Aero have joined forces to bring a hard hitting feel to an already hard hitting genre. Pumping out dance track after dance track they had the ever-expanding crowd fist pumping like it was going out of style. While most of the setlist consisted of regurgitated versions of other popular EDM tracks they put their own spin on it with various effects and samplings which kept the audience hooked and waiting for the next drop.
Day 3 brought us some incredible acts and although it never ceases to amaze me how fast Bluesfest seems to pass by, I’m still reminded that there’s a whole lot left. Keep it tuned in here for more coming soon…
Photos by: Brennan Schnell[flickrslideshow acct_name=”eastscene” id=”72157630429580980″ width=”580″ height=”435″]