Summer Catch-Up: Bluesfest

I took Pam the first night because for some reason Eve was not intoxicated at the prospect of seeing Joe Jackson and Billy Idol. Funny thing about liking music in the eighties - without the readily-available wealth of Internet information that exists now, you could like a musician without knowing much about them at all. For this reason, I'm pretty sure I didn't know Billy Idol was British until just before Bluesfest. I also didn't know Joe Jackson was British. Or white. This made Angus laugh almost as much as watching the video for Rebel Yell.

Joe Jackson was stylish and smooth and the show was really cool - he started alone on the piano and then was joined by drums, bass and guitar one by one, and then they finished the same way, and when he left the piano kept playing. I loved his old stuff and I did end up wanting to search out his new stuff, which isn't always the case. 

Billy Idol was exactly the same as thirty years ago except a bit more leathery. He seemed to be having a total blast and still sounded good except for one song early on where he was having earpiece problems and we were afraid it was all going to go horribly, embarrassingly wrong, but it got fixed. 

Considering this has been the driest Ottawa summer in years, we got rained on A LOT at Bluesfest. Before the Lumineers (transcendent show in the pouring rain), we went over to watch The Cult with Collette and Rachel. The girls took off into the crowd and Collette went to get a grilled cheese. Someone in The Cult said something about "all lives matter". I hissed in disbelief. Collette came back with her grilled cheese and said "I didn't know that Cult guy was an ignorant bigot". I said "Eve is flipping out in the crowd right now." Three minutes later, I got this text:

We brought a friend for Eve whenever we could manage it. For Alessia Cara and the Decemberists, this worked out really well. 

For Sam Hunt, things went a little sideways. We got there and everything was fine, but then there was a severe thunderstorm rolling in so the announcer said they were postponing the concert to "keep the performers safe". I found the corresponding "but screw all of y'all out there in the open field" implication sort of amusing. We took shelter in the museum, along with everyone else there. Remember I said Eve and I were okay with crowds when we were outside?

It was a little unsettling. We were all jammed together, it was humid because of the heat and the rain, and every time we said "it can't possibly keep thundering and lightning-ing like this" we would see another enormous flash through the skylight. Finally we decided we were going back out no matter what. We made our way back to the doors and got out and it was only drizzling. I suggested that the girls should drown their frustrations in deep-fried festival food in case we didn't end up seeing any music.
So they did.

And then the show went on anyway, so it was all good.

Then there was Red Hot Chili Peppers Night, aka The Only Time I've Almost Died in a Crowd at Bluesfest. I thought nothing could be worse than going down to the Monster Stage to see Hawksley Workman last year and then having to fight through the Kanye crowd with Eve to get to the exit.

I was wrong.

I was down with Collette and her family watching Coleman Hell. When we walked up the hill to the big stage, the kids took off to the front, we lost Collette's husband entirely and the two of us were behind two really tall guys to the right of the stage. It was okay for a bit (this picture is from when I said "hey tall guy, can you take a picture for me?), but Collette couldn't see so she suggested we move towards the back and try to get more of a centre view. I agreed, because why not?

Big, big mistake. Huge.

It was nothing but people. A dense, sweaty, hostile wall of people. Okay, not everyone was hostile, but there were enough that the overall vibe was not friendly. People kept doing that thing where they think if you just keep pushing a space will open up, and sometimes they're right but this time there was literally no space. It was claustrophobia and fight-or-flight-with-no-possibility-of-flight and panic and awfulness. It kept seeming like we MUST be almost at the end, but THERE WAS NO END.

Finally I saw a fence and pulled us into the corner it made, which was actually the area right by a line for the bar. A minute after I did this, some drunk chick freaked out and got taken down by security and the security guy pulled the fence in and closed out the heaving crowd so we had some breathing room. This was cool with us - not so much with the people still waiting to get drinks that were closed out and only let in a few at a time. I never drink at Bluesfest - the lines are too long, I hate being drunk in a crowd and/or in the dark, and why would you increase the number of times you have to use a port-a-potty? 

So we waited out most of the rest of the concert in there until security kicked us out and by then there was a little more space to get to the back. We found out later that it was the biggest crowd in Bluesfest history, and Jesus I hope they learned something because they did NOT handle it well.

On the last day we went, we watched a bit of the Nelly show before heading over to get a good spot for Duran Duran. After the second person got punched bloody beside us, we cut that short; Eve, however, had been in the front row with a couple of friends so it was a tense few minutes texting her while she made her way through both crowds to find us. She said working the "I'm little and I'm looking for my mommy" strategy was very effective, and a couple of girls smacked their boyfriends in the head for using bad language or not letting her by fast enough, so that was nice.

Duran Duran was great fun. I didn't like their new stuff as much as Joe Jackson's, but there was lots of old stuff done really well, and the rain had stopped. In the end, the first night and the last were my favourites, which is kind of satisfying. 


Nicole Boyhouse said…
Is anyone else kind of surprised that Billy Idol is still alive? I mean, he lived SUCH a party life. He's charmed, maybe?

Now I have to say it - every photo of you this summer has been incredible. You look so beautiful, glowing, happy. It makes my heart happy every time I see your photo. Your hair is to die for too!
StephLove said…
My son refers to the 80s and 90s as "the olden days of yore" whenever I try to talk about something that was popular in my teen or early adult years. But he let me choose the music while we were cooking the other night and didn't complain about it being Nanci Griffith.
Hannah said…
I'm pretty sure I'm missing the point of this post but did you see the Red Hot Chili Peppers???? Because OMG. I had *such* a thing for Anthony Kiedis back in the day, and I had all of their albums from the first one up to the terrible "One Hot Minute", otherwise known as "the album with Dave Navarro on it, that sexy jackass". I hate hate HATE crowds but I would brave them to see RHCP.
Bibliomama said…
We did. And the show was great, but my enjoyment was slightly hampered by all the panic and fear of death.

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