• By: Keith Whittier

Lightning Crashes Bluesfest

Ottawa Life’s Festival City Series is back! We'll provide a unique look at some of your favourite events.
We’ll go beyond the music with artist interviews, volunteer profiles, concert reviews and spotlights on
the tastes, sights and sounds of the festival season. 

Your city! Your festivals and events!
Like a good sunscreen, Ottawa Life has you covered.

Photos by Andre Gagne, Mark Horton and Scot Penner

With clouds looming overhead, the forecast seemed to suggest the slightest peppering of rain at  RBC Bluesfest tonight, but nothing to keep anybody home. With sets from some 90s greats on the way, along one of the biggest up and comers in modern R&B and hip hop, things were looking up. As the clouds finally rolled in however, the night quickly took a bad enough turn that no devoted fan could even stay for if they wanted to.

Glorious Sons

Commanding fans and casual listeners alike, these Kingston rockers brought their blend of hard rock with classic influence to the Claridge Homes Stage. With a burning fire in their souls they roared their vocals out, pulling anyone nearby in with the raw energy and catchy hooks. Delighting their core group of extremely devoted fans, they were brimming with a dynamic electricity in their bones, with at least half the members careening around the stage while barefoot. With drums pounding at an unnatural heft, they stomped through tracks like "Mama" and "Heavy" leaving the crowd wowed.


Thrashing out with more f-bombs than a South Park episode, the 90s rockers were more than in form for their set. Even with a member on crutches they twisted around, commanding attention as they did. With singer coming into the crowd mid song he walked around singing "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" before running up and down the middle divider of the city stage while doing a harmonica solo. Crowding centre stage for "Changemyways," finishing the track saying "you guys have great taste, that one's not even on the radio." Even taking requests they were playing for the fans, mixing in even some Tragically Hip throughout their set. Yelling 20 years ago at Zaphod's they were clearly proud to be back.

Anderson .Paak And The Free Nationals

Going all out, .Paak and his band were a genuine sight to behold as he bounced around the stage to his tight band's jamming. Guiding the crowd through arm pumping, jumping and a lot of clapping and singing, .Paak seemed to not only be running the band but the whole audience as well. His contagious excitement found members of the audience reciting all his words back to him through tracks like "Milk and Honey" and "The Season/Carry Me" as he lead them through an exciting back and forth. Hitting the drums himself after his frantic stage presence as a singer, he shredded on the set leading the crowd into even more excited cries. Finishing the track the band was suddenly rushed off the stage for oncoming lightning.

After the distant lightning seemed to stay off for 20 minutes, .Paak returned, apparently not keeping his full set time. In response, .Paak apologised to the disappointed fans saying, "Let's just get right to the party then alright? Booming right into his most explosive dance tracks, he made the crowd feel more than appeased, putting even more energy behind his stage antics, going ballistic on the drums as a start. Closing on "Miss Right" and "Luh You" he lead the crowd through some more sing-a-longs and dancing before thanking the crowd for their devotion and walking off.


As the rain started to become a larger menace, Live were quick to take the stage, launching right into "All Over You." With lights flaring and screens showing stunning vistas, they shook the soaking crowd, who came in significantly large numbers and stayed as the downpours turned torrential. Playing "Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition) their lighting rigs really started to add something extra to the rain as it caught the droplets. The band was giving their all despite the weather, pleasing the large numbers who wouldn't leave. Going into "Pain Lies on the Riverside" despite the band's persistence, the first blinding flash of lightning engulfed the skies at LeBreton Flats, with the immediate thunder scaring handfuls of patrons off. After one more flash and boom, the band was cut as the festival cued everyone to head home due to danger caused by lightning, ironically crashing their set before they could play "Lightning Crashes."