Heat, dust and landmark shows defined Bluesfest 2018


Spectators react to the Canadian rock band Three Days Grace as they carry out on the City Stage on the ultimate day of RBC Ottawa Bluesfest on Sunday. In complete, about 10,000 passholders for Bluesfest in 2018 have been underneath the age of 25.


James Park / Postmedia

This 12 months’s RBC Ottawa Bluesfest might be remembered not just for landmark shows by Foo Fighters, Beck, Dave Matthews and Bryan Adams, but additionally for the warmth, the dust and the debut of a smoking space the place medical marijuana customers have been allowed to devour their prescription.

After a pair of nesting killdeer delayed the setup of the competition and made worldwide headlines, the remainder of the occasion went remarkably easily, govt director Mark Monahan mentioned, with no points to be mentioned throughout Sunday’s every day manufacturing assembly.

“It’s one of the only years in the last 10 that there was just so little to talk about,” Monahan mentioned. “The biggest problem is the festival grounds has become a dustbowl.”

Yes, however the dry spell that fried the grass at LeBreton Flats Park meant organizers didn’t must cancel or postpone any performances over the previous 10 days, nor fear that rain would preserve crowds away. To keep cool, there have been free water refill stations and hoses to spray down the mosh pit.


A few very younger music followers have been launched to Bluesfest for the efficiency of the Dave Matthews Band on July 11. Jean Levac/Postmedia

Jean Levac /

Postmedia News

Even on an evening when followers turned out in droves — the Foo Fighters attracted a sold-out viewers estimated at 30,000 individuals on July 10 — the reconfigured primary live performance bowl dealt with heavy site visitors higher than it had in earlier years, though there have been lengthy waits for drinks and porta potties.

Instead of two phases on the principle plaza, there was only one, the City stage, and the house previously dedicated to a second stage and its infrastructure was repurposed to accommodate a wider entrance gate (geared up with metallic detectors for the primary time) and extra turf for followers on the again. Large video screens ensured a view of the motion from nearly each nook, and, with out having to hurry again and forth between two primary phases, followers have been blissful to plant themselves in a single spot for the evening.

Despite the cutback in staging, Monahan mentioned there was no discount within the expertise price range, which he anticipated could be near $7 million when all the things was tallied up.

The impact was typically like having two stage’s value of leisure on one primary stage. Hanson, The War on Drugs and Jethro Tull, for instance, performed the competition’s first Friday, whereas alt-rock legend Beck and nation rocker Sturgill Simpson cut up the stage on the second Friday. Each a type of acts may have headlined a stage on their very own.

At occasions, the range between acts appeared too large a leap to function them on the identical stage, however then hiphop crew Naughty by Nature opened for roots-rockers Blue Rodeo and it went superb, because of followers’ shared love of ’90s nostalgia.

Highlights from the aspect phases included Nick Lowe’s mashup with Los Straitjackets on the now-tented Claridge Stage, Passenger’s solo acoustic love-in on the Black Sheep Stage, Courtney Barnett’s storage rock exercise (Sheep), Oh Wonder’s good pop songs (Claridge), Lily Hiatt outrocking among the greatest (Barney Danson Theatre) and the celebratory spirit of St. Paul and the Broken Bones (Claridge).

Millennials are an ever-increasing chunk of the competition’s demographic, a development that Monahan says is probably going an offshoot of the youth move the competition provided six or seven years in the past. A brand new under-25 (years of age) move was launched this 12 months; the under-19, no-alcohol move was additionally obtainable.

It appears those that as teenagers used to purchase youth passes are actually “graduating” to under-25 passes. In all, about 10,000 passholders are underneath age 25, a cohort that will make different mainstream music festivals envious.

“The people who are now are in their 20s are used to coming to the festival,” Monahan mentioned. “I believe (the youth pass) worked to get younger fans out and keep them coming, to create a tradition of coming to the festival.”


An enormous crowd attended the Foo Fighters on the RBC Ottawa Bluesfest on July 10. Jean Levac/Postmedia

Jean Levac /

Postmedia News

Last 12 months’s issues with underage consuming and rowdiness have been dealt with by new safety measures, crucial of which was the curbing of in-and-out privileges.

“It made it much easier to manage the gates and manage underage drinking,” Monahan mentioned. “People weren’t trying to get in and then go out to drink. Once they’re in, we’re controlling them.”

Another new technique to keep away from issues was to begin Saturday’s hiphop present early. Atlanta’s Rae Sremmurd went on an hour sooner than different main-stage acts and the gang moved on when that present was over.

Some younger followers wandered over to the Black Sheep stage to take a look at Canadian blues-rock guitar hero Colin James, however discovered a hillside jammed with folks in chairs and blankets decided to guard their territory.

As for the brand new smoking space, a primary for the 24-year-old competition, it attracted a gradual stream of consumers lighting up cigarettes and a number of partaking in prescribed hashish. When leisure use is legalized subsequent 12 months, organizers could need to arrange an even bigger space and possibly set up couches.

lsaxberg@postmedia.com

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