Advertisements
//
you're reading...
Concert Photography, Concert Reviews, Music, Ottawa Bluesfest 2013

Concert Review: Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 (Day 3) – Sharon Van Etten, Belle and Sebastian, Neko Case + More

By: Scott Penner –

Sharon Van Etten. (Photo: Scott Penner/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

Sharon Van Etten. (Photo: Scott Penner/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

When Brooklyn-based indie rocker Sharon Van Etten took to the River Stage for her headlining slot, a dismal crowd, which seemed to have numbered in the hundreds, took in Van Etten’s unique brand of artistically progressive folk-rock.Having mentioned several times “she was sad when she wrote her songs” but she “got over it by doing what I’m doing now”, that didn’t take away from her minimalist style that packed a heavy emotional punch.

Belle and Sebastian stole the day with their first ever performance in Ottawa. Their 75 minute headlining set on Claridge Stage was something that Ottawa will not soon forget – delivering on their early promise of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue (or blues) for the crowd. Not only did frontman Stuart Lee Murdoch nail every note, but he had some fun stories to share between songs, giving the sunset show a wistful and unscripted feeling. Murdoch pronounced Ottawa the friendliest city in Canada, telling a story about how that afternoon he was running late and had to take a bus from the market area to the festival with only a $20 bill in hand – and the driver allowed him to hop on for free instead. Murdoch was also impressed by the free samples of hummus being given to festival attendees, but lamented that he had nothing to dip in his. About 30 seconds later a fan threw a bag of tortilla chips to him from the crowd.

Murdoch’s energy was infectious and despite the heat he got the crowd swaying to up-beat favourites like “If She Wants Me”, from their 2003 album Dear Catastrophe Waitress. He even invited a few audience members – “six cute girls and one very lucky dude” – to dance on stage with him as they played “The Boy With The Arab Strap”, from their 1998 album of the same name. The band enjoyed playing for Ottawa almost as much as Ottawa enjoyed watching them play, showing their appreciation with a special encore song “Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying”, from their 1996 album If You’re Feeling Sinister.

Fitz and The Tantrums, who released their new album, More Than Just a Dream, back in May, were energetic and active over on the Claridge Stage in the late afternoon, catching a large audience as many started arriving for the night’s main acts. They extended their cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” with various extra instruments, and featured a giant sing-along with the crowd with the line “Hold your head up, moving on …” Throughout their 13 song set, which focused mostly on new material, their performance featured strong chemistry between front man Michael Fitzpatrick and vocalist Noelle Scaggs, as they danced wildly around stage to the roar of the packed crowd.

Neko Case, who is best known as a member of Vancouver-based indie rock band The New Pornographers, provided an entertaining set, which began right out of the gate with a misplaced capo for the first couple of chords of her opening song, which failed to hinder Case’s on-stage charisma. She often paused to speak with the crowd between songs and banter with bandmate Kelly Hogan. She played a mix of old and new songs to appeal to the festival crowd, ending her set with the favourite “Hold On, Hold On”, from her 2006 album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. The sound quality was excellent and her powerful stage presence was refreshing – if you had no idea who she was, you would still be drawn by her voice in the wind to wander over and watch.

Canadian “doom soul” band and 2012 Polaris Music Prize long-listers, Cold Specks, which features vocalist/guitarist Al Spx, provided their signature haunting melodies, which complimented the overall mood of the music, and soulful vocals that made you think that you were watching a show at 1960s-era Apollo Theatre. The crowd was quite large but consisted almost entirely of people spread out in their lawn-chairs, relaxing in the hot and hazy afternoon. She chatted with the crowd between songs and accepted shouts of “thank-you” and “I love you” and at one point asked them “do you got any weed?” From tracks like the memorable “All Flesh Is Grass,” which featured the beautifully descriptive line “Dirty water, dirty water, fill me up tonight”, through the rest of their set, it’s no surprise that they are one of the best bands that you may not have heard of.

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Sharon Van Etten
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Belle and Sebastian
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Neko Case
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Fitz  and The Tantrums
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Amadou & Mariam
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Adrian Lux
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Justin Townes Earle
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Cold Specks
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Joe Robinson
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Camp Radio
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Advertisements

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Concert Review: Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 (Day 3) – Sharon Van Etten, Belle and Sebastian, Neko Case + More

  1. I really like Belle and Sebastian. It’s so nice to learn about new singers/songwriters carrying on the tradition! Visit my blog some time to see the singers/songwriters I’ve posted about.

    Posted by ileneonwords | July 7, 2013, 3:31 pm
  2. “a dismal crowd, which seemed to have numbered in the hundreds” — What does this even mean? Is the crowd unhappy? Small? It “seemed” to be a few hundred people, but what was it really? And why is that in present perfect tense instead of just past tense?

    Posted by EttenFan | July 8, 2013, 11:37 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Advertisements
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: