The opening day at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest 2017 was a packed affair, and we got up close for everything from pounding punk music, to soulful Americana and even tuned into some local noise.
Death From Above
Showcasing songs new and old, Sebastien Grainger and Jesse Keeler rocked through their set to close the night on the Black Sheep Stage. Playing their fresh tracks like “Freeze Me” among others, they were at the height of their energy, throwing everything behind the tracks. Older tracks like “Black History Month” and “Going Steady” did occasionally run into some slight issues like slower tempos or weird mixing that took some of the wind out of their sails but that never seemed to slow the boys down. Calming down the Toby Keith haters in the crowd by trying to spread a message of love, they hit their older song’s stride, nailing “Little Girl” and “Romantic Rights” with their classic intensity, even thrashing through “White Is Red” with all the chords and shrieking the crowd came for.
Going to a Pokey LaFarge show never stops feeling like travelling through time. Stepping on stage in his vintage threads (coal-miner yet chic somehow) he instantly set the tone for the music before his six bandmates brought the sound itself. From the top of the set the fans were singing every line back to him, while his new up-tempo songs had the crowd dancing even more than his last stop in the city. Belting through his his hit “Something In The Water” three songs into his set, the crowd was elated and chanting the harmonies with the band. “Goodbye Barcelona” had one of the most excitable moments of the night as the crowd seemed to all remember to singing the “La La” section after working there way through the first verse. LaFarge was all smiles, even messing with a few more slumped crowd members, and really stirring them up when his track “Riot In The Streets” through a friendly Riot in the crowd.
Shredding with fury through their set, you wouldn’t expect locals Telecomo to be only one LP deep into their careers. Careening around the stage to tracks from their album as well as some new songs, the band harnessed their noise rock into raw energy. Heavy bass and noisy guitar explosions, they delivered a set at a level usually reserved for bands many years their senior. Thumping drums, falling into their own amps and even selling a record midset to a fan, they constantly delivered.
Review by Owen Maxwell