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Concert Photography, Concert Reviews, Music, Ottawa Bluesfest 2013

Concert Review: Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 (Day 2) – She & Him, Flogging Molly, Dawes, Frank Turner, Sarah Jean

By: Scott Penner –

Zooey Deschanel of She & Him. (Photo: Scott Penner/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

The second night of Ottawa Bluesfest featured indie folk duo She & Him, who consist of “New Girl” star and vocalist Zooey Deschanel and guitarist and producer M. Ward, and who headlined the River Stage just after dark.

A full band, which included a drummer, pedal steel guitar player and a bassist, accompanied the duo for most of their set, but they did hold their own when the back up members left the stage as Deschanel and Ward launched into a soulful rendition of The Miracles’ hit “You Really Got a Hold On Me” and Alex North’s “Unchained Melody”. The only problem with this duo was the overwhelming boom of Zac Brown on the main stage, but this was hardly a problem when the full band was playing.

Unlike other performers, She & Him was the only band who instructed the crowd to refrain from taking pictures or video and to simply enjoy the show, which has become a growing trend with bands like New York-based indie rock trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs and UK-based post-punk newcomers Savages, who have both made efforts to restrict fans from documenting their shows. On this night, the venue re-enforced She & Him’s request by having security roam through the crowd to deal with anyone who dared raise an LED screen in the air.

Los Angeles-based Celtic punk seven-piece Flogging Molly, who features Dublin-born front man Dave King, who along with his band of punks treated the crowd to a rowdy 75-minute set. The weather didn’t stop the crowd from dancing and singing along to songs like “Requiem for a Dying Song” and “Selfish man”. King exuded a youthful energy, for a guy in his fifties, and he was extremely entertaining to watch as he danced around the stage engaging with fellow band members as well as the crowd. Despite not having played since St. Patricks Day, Flogging Molly showed little rust in their performance. With a brief intro for almost every song they played, and non-stop action, Flogging Molly was by far the most energetic show of the festival so far.

Dawes made their return to an Ottawa Bluesfest stage after two years to a bigger stage and a bigger crowd who warmly welcomed them back. While Dawes did their thing on the River Stage, behind the crowd was a beautiful sunset, which made you forget about the terrible weather earlier in the day. About 45 minutes into their hour-long set front man Taylor Goldsmith announced that he was just warming up, which prompted the Los Angeles folk rock quartet, who consists of Taylor and his brother Griffin Goldsmith, on lead vocals and guitar and drums respectively, bassist Wylie Gelber and keyboardist Tay Strathairn, to take fans on a journey through their back catalogue with their singalong anthem “When My Time Comes”, from their 2009 debut album, North Hills, the soulful “Peace in the Valley”, and the ballad “Time Spent in Los Angeles”, from 2011’s Nothing is Wrong, which serves as a bittersweet open letter to the band’s hometown.

While organizers delayed Frank Turner’s main stage performance for about 15 minutes due to inclement weather, the UK-based folk-punk singer-songwriter decided to come out in the pouring rain anyways. Perhaps it was his punk rock attitude or perhaps it was to satisfy the thousands of screaming fans chanting his name as they waited for him.  Turner had to cut his set short due to the rain delay but was still able to treat the crowd to a solo acoustic cover of one of his favourite bands The Weakerthans and their song “Plea from a Cat Named Virtue”, after explaining how the Winnipeg-based quartet wrote the song from the point of view of a cat while showing off his newest Weakerthans-inspired tattoo.

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She & Him
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Flogging Molly
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Dawes
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Frank Turner
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Sarah Jean & The Wild Vines
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