Bluesfest Day 5: Review


Day 5 at Bluesfest continued the showcase of electronic music with artists like Flight Distance, Drastik, A Tribe Called Red and a DJ set from Chromeo. As we get closer to the half way mark of the festival, I want to take a second to touch on something I’ve been observing. Many people I’ve spoken to (mostly those 30 and older) feel that Bluesfest has been “cheapened” a little bit with the addition of so many electronic acts and music that comprises mostly of “bleeps and bloops and wub-wubs”. I’ve heard people saying that it’s driving away ticket sales and that it’s making people not want to come back because it’s all music that “the kids” are listening to these days. I’d like to offer a few points to counter that notion. First off, from a business standpoint, money is money, whether it comes from some 16 year old here to see Skrillex or some 56 year old here for Iron Maiden. Second, music is all about fuzing of genres. Nowadays it’s hard to even classify what genres some artists fall into, with categories like “pop-punk” and dubstep (whose roots lie in reggae). Third, if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it! Now, on to the review.


Drastik getting the crowd warmed up

The evenings events started with Ottawa turned Toronto DJ Drastik getting the crowd into things and setting the stage for the rest of the evening. Although the crowd was sparse to start, people started making their way over from other shows once the bass began to flow over the hills of the War Museum towards the Blacksheep Stage.

A Tribe Called Red

A Tribe Called Red fusing hip-hop and First Nations

Next up came local group A Tribe Called Red who are a shining example of why we should be more open to new music and genres outside of our range of familiarity. A Tribe Called Red consists of DJ NDN, DJ Shub and Bear Witness and is an electronic music group that blend hip hop, drum and bass, reggae and dubstep with First Nations Music to create a musical style of their own they refer to as “Powwow-step” which they see as powwow music for urban First Nations in the dance club scene. Although the sound is unique, the familiar sounds of hip hop mixed with the blend of music showcasing their First Nations heritage creates a sound that could rival any of the top club DJ’s out there. Combined with the imagery displayed through their visual effects, most notably a loop of the Back to the Future chase scene where the Delorean is being chased by Natives on horseback, this act is something that I recommend seeing if you get the chance.


Diversity at its best

This brings us to the headliners of the evening: Chromeo. Now what better way to showcase diversity than a group that claims to be “the only successful Arab/Jewish partnership since the dawn of human culture”. The Montreal based electrofunk duo is comprised of P-Thugg and Dave 1 (who is also the brother of fellow Bluesfest-er, A-Trak) and their setlist this evening was a departure from their normal performances as they were here for a DJ set instead of album based material. They immediately had the crowds attention. Remixing artists like Kanye West, Gotye, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more and audience members who were unfamiliar with Chromeo’s work quickly found themselves singing along with the rest of the crowd.

All in all, Sundays lineup was a great wrap up to an amazing weekend of music at Ottawa Bluesfest. I Mother Earth and Nickelback kick off the work week tomorrow. Stay tuned for more!

Ryan Matthews

Lover of most music, passionate about all music. Also, some call me a space cowboy.

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