Friday, July 29, 2011

Runnin' on Empty Pt. 2

Well, as of 1 o'clock today I'm out of the chilly cold office, into the humid Friday heat and onto the road for an adventure on the long weekend. Venturing just outside the city with two of my best friends, it promises to be a weekend that drags me out of my (city) element just a little - and into the world of hoedowns, parades and sparkling blue water. I have no problem with any of those things, contrary to popular belief. I might even whip out a dusty old cowboy hat of mine to be the cherry on top of the country sundae. Probably not, but I'll admire those that do. Otherwise, here's what's for sure - I have a variety of important things gathered for my weekend trip, and here they are:


I Feel It All - Feist (Britt from Spoon remix)

Someone Like You - Adele (Messed Dubstep remix)

Love Me Like You - The Magic Numbers

Dream About Me - Moby

Bad Street - Twin Sister

For The Widows in Paradise - Sufjan Stevens


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Runnin' on Empty

One more day until the long weekend kicks off here, and everyone is getting fairly antsy to hit the highway. There's something about the open road, taking off, heading somewhere new and rolling down your windows to let the hot sun pour in. I heard the other day that Ford car manufacturers are going to eliminate in-vehicle CD players in future models, and I thought - how sad? I realize the way of the future is mp3 and USB-related, but that being said, what about the feeling of wearing out those new mixes after tossing them in the glove compartment, switching discs and fiddling like the front-seat DJ that you are? It's one of my favourite things about being in a car; the collaborative effort from all passengers to act as music supervisors for their own mini-holiday. So, where are you heading this weekend? And, more importantly - what's on the playlist? Here some new and old favourites of mine that will be up on the front seat jukebox as the clouds drift above, the highway mirages melt into the hood of the car, and the breeze whips against your waving hand that flaps out the open window.

Sympathy for the Devil - The Rolling Stones

Sleep All Summer - The National and St. Vincent

All I Want - LCD Soundsystem

Kelly Watch The Stars - Air

Babyface - The Elected

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

School of Soul

They just don't make 'em like they used to. Of course, music of every era and genre is always noteworthy and wonderful in its own way - but, something about the Motown era is just so memorable. This groovy, soulful time of heartwarming ballads and steamy two-stepping hits is just a whole story on its own; from its inception, to the controversies, to the stars bred by it, to its effect on almost every other genre - the influence is astounding. What began as Motown Records (a term made up of "motor" and "town" to properly represent Detroit, its birthplace), actually became so much more - specifically a movement that was on the forefront of racial integration into the popular music scene. It also became its own "sound," as opposed to just a record label name; a soulful sound with obvious pop ingredients that made it so suitable for radio play or "crossover" to the mainstream.

Growing up, I was a true Motown-loving child, which I've mentioned before. As a kid, I spent countless hours and car rides with The Big Chill Soundtrack and Motor City Classics Box Set on repeat - because it was all of the things I needed in music. It was catchy, friendly, crammed with talent, and my favourite thing to move to. It might still be, in fact. So, here are some of the great classics to perk up your mid-week. It's unbelievably important we don't overlook or forget these influential hitmakers, who as far as I'm concerned, birthed some of the most important musical ideologies.

I Can't Get Next To You - Al Green

Bring It On Home - Sam Cooke

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours - Stevie Wonder

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? - The Shirelles

I Second That Emotion - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

Where Did Our Love Go? - Diana Ross & The Supremes

This Magic Moment - The Drifters

Rescue Me - Fontella Bass

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) - Marvin Gaye

Think (Freedom) - Aretha Franklin

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

St. Vincent Disected

Annie Clark of St. Vincent

What a delightful little downtown rollercoaster ride the new track from St. Vincent is. Exuding a charismatic city feel with the jazzy beats and whirring keyboard that cascade over Annie Clark’s pure vocals, “Surgeon” gets a little better with each click of the repeat button. The early starry-eyed feel and slow bump-beat sound like what would be the backdrop to an independent stroll of the maze-like downtown streets, although they don’t last long at that calming ambient pace. The lyrics recount a seemingly hazy summer spent “on her back” and trying to get along; ideas that could obviously mean a number of things based both the name of the song, as well as the wild and provocative instruments.

The chorus, and all of the intriguing noises that rise and fall around it, is perfect. Every time Clark dips back into her echoing coo’s alongside spiraling guitar and weird swaying sounds, her voice becomes a little more frantic and urgent – as if her walk through the lonely parallel buildings is quickening, and the busy traffic has become that sped-up neon mess seen in movie montages. The atmospheric, slack beginning is a delightful sort of lazy, and the chaotic build-up to the swelling electro halt of the song is powerful. It keeps you listening, even if it is a little hectic and a little offbeat. After all, some of the best things in life, and in music, are just that. The rest of St. Vincent’s forthcoming album Strange Mercy will hopefully bring more of that endearing weirdness to the forefront.


Look for the remainder of Strange Mercy in stored on September 13, 2011.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wayback Playback

Win Butler for the Win

One of the greatest Arcade Fire songs of all time; so great that it's been covered by Peter Gabriel, as well as other up-and-coming artists who probably aspire to write such a gem someday. An instant classic in my mind from the first time I heard it, I really feel that from 3:30 onwards is also such an unbelievable twist in the song, even though it's a near-complete change-up. When he starts pleading "Set my spirit free, set my body free" over the booming organs and percussion, the song takes this haunting and gorgeous triumphant turn. SUCH fabulous musicians. Take a listen,and of course listen to all of their previous discography, in case you only discovered this band in their Suburbs days. Happy Friday!

My Body Is A Cage - Arcade Fire

*Image courtesy of Chicago Sun Times

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pixies With A Twist

I actually spoke briefly about this song on the other website I write for, In A Nutshell, in regards to it's fantastic and appropriate spot on the Fight Club soundtrack. I didn't, however, explore the numerous other covers and versions of this classic indie-rock tune by The Pixies. "Where Is My Mind?" has been covered by Nada Surf (just great), Placebo, and Kings of Leon (which my brother guest-posted about). But if you want a little extra jazz in your Pixies (dub)step, then here are the two new versions for you.

I am obsessed with the Bassnectar Dubstep remix right now. I'm always delighted to find new and original covers of songs that really put the new twist on display, and with almost any song nowadays - Dubstep remixes are one of the best ways to do that. Dubstep, an electro genre that focuses on heavy bass beats, samples and a whirring lighter build-up, is a great way to get your veins pumping and your heart racing. Despite whether or not you are drawn to the genre, it's difficult to stay still when it's on. Starts with a shoulder shake, heads towards a knee bob, and ends with full body toss. Commonly, dubstep artists will cover or sample a song that they decide to keep whole unaltered snippets in tact for - before throwing in the thunderous beat to get your body really heaving. I talked about Skrillex's outstanding dubstep performance at Bluesfest and how I had to drop my things in order to thrash around accordingly. Well, this is no different. Put down what you're holding - whether it's hot coffee (no burns allowed), a baby (protect the children) or your water bottle (unless you need a cool-off in this heatwave) and let the massive beat rock you. This is Pixies, dubstepped.

Also, if you're in the mood for a strange but awesome mash-up, my discovery of this dubstep lead me to an even more infectious mash-up that works well in the groove department: Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On" v.s  The Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?"...How do they think of this stuff? Good times ahead with these two new tunes. Enjoy!



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Days Change Over


One of the greatest songs of the past decade. "We've Been Had" written and performed by The Walkmen. Hamilton Leithauser is the perfect vocalist for this kind of dreamy and insightful tune. Like all of The Walkmen's songs, they're candid and straightforward in their songwriting and impossibly pretty to listen to - making them the perfect companion during a little soul-searching. "I hear the songs and the words don't change, I write them out of the book right there." We could all learn from Leithauser's fulfilling ideas on growing up, throwing caution to the wind and despite the odds as well as what you've been through, learning to laugh out loud again.

Real Talk

Eleanor Friedberger, previously one half of the indie-rock duo Fiery Furnaces with her brother Matthew, released her debut solo album entitled "Last Summer" under Merge Records last week. A lighthearted solo collection, it's sugary and addictive after the first taste of her plainly spoken stories. Talking openly with cheery buzzing guitars about learning her lesson from heartbreak on the first single "My Mistakes," she speaks of kicking up her kicks and being ignored in 2001, and also asks herself, "Why keep time traveling if it doesn't get better on me?" For such a typically frustrating relationship realization, Friedberger's voice is liberated and nonchalant in her recollection-style storytime. Her conversational tone sounds like that of Joni Mitchell or Patti Smith, and her undecorated vocal style is perfect for helping you come to your own truths during a stroll down the hot summer pavement. Within the textbook ingredients of this happy indie-rock song - catchy saxophone, xylophone and guitar solos give you the chance to come to your own realizations, in case you don't miss any of her fascinating words. Although it doesn't necessarily reach an obvious lyrical place of re-birth and forgiveness, the jumpy beat and heartwarming summer melody convince you Friedberger is very over whatever it is she was once confused about.

                                       My Mistakes - Eleanor Friedberger

*Image courtesy of 32ft/second

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Than Words On A Page

I think this is one of the most amazingly written songs of all time. The lyrics are profound and honest, and the instrumental accompaniment is bang-on. The emotions in this song are sky-high, and as the strings and piano swell with such intensity, you can really feel what Marcus Mumford sings. See below for the lyrics; it makes a lot of sense when put to music and it's plainly simple to sympathize with some part of what he has to say:


White Blank Page - Mumford & Sons

Can you lie next to her
And give her your heart, your heart
As well as your body
And can you lie next to her
And confess your love, your love
As well as your folly
And can you kneel before the king
And say I'm clean, I'm clean

But tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart?
But tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart?

A white blank page and a swelling rage, rage
You did not think when you sent me to the brink, the brink
You desired my attention but denied my affections, my affections

Lead me to the truth and I will follow you with my whole life
Lead me to the truth and I will follow you with my whole life

Friday, July 15, 2011

Arkells Alight

Billy Talent
Tim Robbins

Tea Party

The Arkells

Despite the overwhelming amount of punky hard-rock at Bluesfest last night (which normally is not my cup of tea), I was in attendance and did manage to find a little something for myself to enjoy before the throngs of screaming children showed up for Billy Talent. I was able to enjoy performances by Girls with Guitars, the smoking female-trio who know how to shred their guitars just as well as any guy's guy; an enchanting performance of "Heaven Coming Down" by old favourites The Tea Party; a celeb sighting of actor/musician Tim Robbins and then this...

I was secretly a little pleased that Theory of a Deadman backed out of their show due to illness (the sickness part I wasn't snickering about - I sent them mental well-wishes), because it meant a big stage performance by Canadian alternative-rockers The Arkells. Banded together in 2008, these guys have really evolved into a group that knows how to write a lovely hook, a pretty set of really meaningful lyrics, and an album I can't stop listening to. Jackson Square is still the only album out of this Hamilton band, but they're ready to release a second in the fall that promises to be equally as charming. Here's the song that blew me away last night - and no, not because it was infused with a snippet of "Teenage Dream." It blew me away because of the adorable premise, plainly sweet vocals and crashing instrumental breakdown:

                                                Abigail - The Arkells

"Then he turned and said,
"I'll go home instead...
Abigail, you're not making sense
My love...
What have we become?
My love...
What have we become?"

"Where did the good plans go?
What do you feel?
I know you know..."

Last night's Ottawa Bluesfest review can be found here at Ottawa Life Magazine.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One Big Holiday

My Morning Jacket - 2011 Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest

....Is a great way to describe this week, if we're talking enjoyment (and not free time) of this lovely music-filled event! Also, it's the title of one the most popular songs by alternative-rock geniuses My Morning Jacket, who undeniably owned the Bluesfest stage last night. Even with a surprisingly medium-sized crowd, it didn't matter - if you read my review in Ottawa Life Magazine, you'll get a glimpse of exactly how explosive this rock show was. In fact, I don't know if I've ever seen anything like it; it was breathtaking, fiery hot and the most entertaining live music on a vocal and instrumental level. The veteran band was absolutely bang-on in everything they did, and the chemistry between each skilled musician was evident from the first bumping note. It looked as if they've never performed any of those songs before, and were therefore having the time of their lives up there together, just taking it for an improvised test drive. When really, the 15 year-old group has been at the steering wheel of indie Americana music for almost as long as I can remember. Modestly one of the most talented bands I've ever heard, the guitar solos and hammering drums were enough to burn the stage around them. Jim James, who I've praised before in reviews of their latest CD "Circuital," is not musically of this world, if you ask me; and all of those who attended will remember this show, and what he's founded, for years to come.

Listen from the 3-minute mark onwards if you're in a rush, to get the right effect. This performance of "Dondante" BLEW my mind last night:

My Morning Jacket - 2011 Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Music Manners Pt. 2

2011 Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest

Well, what a first week of Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest it's been. Racing around town like a bat out of hell half the time would probably be the best way to describe it. But, as a young gal who loves everything in and around the music scene, every ounce of me is going to miss this unbelievable music festival experience when it's over. It truly is the greatest way to spend summer nights, see your friends and try new things. Tents filled with lengthy lines and Mill Street Ale, fields filled with bouncing crowds, and a surprisingly unbelievable view of Ottawa's sweet little skyline are some of the best sights around these days.

But, in continuation of last week's post, I thought it would be necessary to address some of the festival atrocities, annoyances, acts of kindness and absolute wild things I've seen also. So, let's get started with an account of what are some large dos and don'ts of the festival life, now that I've been permanently planted there for a week:

Rain, Rain, Go Away

FESTIVAL DO: Anyone who was at Bluesfest on Friday night is unbelievably aware of the chance (and sometimes likelihood) of a massive downpour at any point throughout the festival. By this point in our young lives, we know that Canadian weather is erratic and the weather people seem to get their pointers from toddlers sometimes, so we have to be prepared for anything. Friday was a gorgeous day to start, but later in the afternoon, things took a different turn and we were beaten to a pulp by relentless raindrops and wind. So, absolutely bring tarp-like cover-ups, rain jackets and more if you see the weather start to act up. It's something you'll have to carry if you are wrong, yes - but you can stash it at your feet throughout the concert, and you'll thank yourself when it starts to sprinkle. No one likes soaking underwear - something I unfortunately stood with two hours as one of the devoted Black Keys attendees.

FESTIVAL (please) DON'T: Bring your golf umbrella to the concert. They are one of the most impolite accessories around, despite their obvious functionality on the golf course or while walking down the street on a torrential day. But, in a packed crowd that you might insist on squeezing your way into the middle of - your umbrella impedes everyone else's view, collects rainwater that consequently drips onto my face like Chinese water torture, and could be the reason I have to wear an eye patch for the rest of my life. I do not rock the Pirate look well; so please, either leave the monstrosity at home or stand far, far near the back with that bad boy.

                                                Please and Thank You's

FESTIVAL DO: Use those manners not only with each other, but also with every single hard-working volunteer who is helping you. It's true that these people are being given free access to the concert, but it doesn't mean there isn't hard labour that comes with it. While we are toddling off to bed after our favourite band, they are most likely staying behind to clean up our mess - so thank them for their help, and engage them in some friendly conversation at the food booth. Similarly, be kind to strangers; whether you're working your way through a crowd or maybe standing in front of someone shorter than you - use the etiquette you would in the work place or with your relatives by saying "excuse me" and "thank you." I feel like a Kindergarten teacher, but shockingly, people need to be reminded.

FESTIVAL (please) DON'T: Be an a**hole. Apologies for the harsh language, but holy moly, you have no idea the rudeness and negligence that I have witnessed this past week. I know you are having a great time, but there's no need to take up a four-foot radius with your staggering/arm-waving in the middle of the crowd, or stand like a stiff board when I'm simply trying to pass you by. A simple side-step or adjustment would be just fine, so that we can all watch together. Again, USE those manners people. One lady, who I hope is reading (realistically isn't, but it feels good to rant), decided to take the snotty route when in the beer line with me last week. I simply wasn't sure where the end of the line was, so I soberly/politely stepped into place where I thought was appropriate. This annoying little weiner squeezed in front of me, looked back over her shoulder and in her boldest of tones said, "Oh, hi there Miss, can I help you with something?" while rolling her eyes and neck (too much 'tude for her pre-school teacher appearance) at my apparently massive act of disregard. I was not in the mood, and may have ranted a bit at the back of her head. Come on, sweetheart, I'm not so eager for beer (nor do I look overly threatening) that I absolutely had to push one person ahead to get there faster. Really? A simple "Oh, actually the line starts back here, thanks" or "Excuse me, I'm next if you don't mind jumping behind me" would have sufficed - but no, some people find it easier to be nasty and a complete.... (trailing off, finding a serenity place)...

                                            15 Minutes of Fame

With so many people constantly filtering in and out of the concert grounds, it really is a wonderful opportunity to set up a spot on the outskirts and show your talent. I see groups of kids, teenagers and adults alike all perched on the grassy stretches of land outside the concert site and I think to myself that it's a great way to get a little exposure from music-lovers. Set up a little station, throw your hat on the ground for change or a pile of demos for bypassers to grab - and of course, be smart and safe about it. It's the grassroots way, and sometimes it really works.

FESTIVAL (please) DON'T: Busk for me in the middle of the concert grounds. On a few occasions last week, all I wanted was to get a little closer, and there was someone taking up what would have been ten bodies worth of space, performing an attention-grabbing attempt at a ludicrous trick. I see that you have a special talent and I'm sure that your hula hoop or interpretive ribbon dance is normally quite riveting - but when it's the only thing between me and an awesome act, I can get a little huffy. Just perform near the back; people who are lingering will watch and clap, and the rest of us can use that vacant space to do what's actually expected - listen to the music.
                                             Say My Name, Say My Name

*Optional, not expected:

"ARE you calling my name."
PERSONAL FESTIVAL DO: Yell "Ya!", "Woo", "Way to Go" or maybe even some sort of "Eeeeeyeahh!"

PERSONAL FESTIVAL (please) DON'T: Yell "YES!" during concerts, if you can. I've been nearly losing my mind at the possible onset of schizophrenia - thinking that people are calling my name. Yes and Jess. Similar, right? I know, it's ridiculous and realistically I can't control or take away from the positive reinforcement uttered in the word Yes, but...if you see me twisting my neck in confusion, looking for the old friend who might be calling my name, that's why!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bluesy Weekend

Peter Frampton - Ottawa Bluesfest - Sunday, July 10th
Despite the almost unforgiveable weather and hour-long wait to see some of my favourite men The Black Keys on the MBNA stage at Bluesfest on Friday night, it must be said that they once they got out there, they rocked the house. With a thumping, electric set of music, The Keys gave everything they had in them to play for us the music we deserved to hear. After our long and damp wait, huddled together upset and numb, they made their entrance and blew the roof off Lebreton Flats with the better portion of the blues-rock perfection on Brothers. I couldn't stop tweeting at Dan Auerbach to marry me, that's how affected I was.

On Saturday night, we were treated to another earth-shaking performance by loyal loves of mine, The Tragically Hip. Gord Downie's bizarro dancing and flawless vocals are just about the greatest thing, even if it was the umpteenth time I'd see the Kingston natives live. They really know how to reach a crowd that is mixed with ages and types of all kinds.

Last night, Peter Frampton showed me the way. He made me feel like he did, and baby, I loved his way. (See what I did there?). No other way to say it other than that; he really hasn't lost an ounce of his magical guitar and talkbox touch, and still seared the stage around him with his ferocious licks and timeless vocals.


After Frampton, I wandered to see younger indie-rockers from Vancouver, BC, Yukon Blonde. They're truly an up-and-coming group of rockers - with their curly locks hanging in front of their face as they bounce around stage, harmonizing and strumming like something out of the early 70s. "Brides Song" was easily my favourite from this set of performances, especially when they ripped a guitar solo that had the (mostly) unknowing crowd hopping right into each other.

Yukon Blonde - Ottawa Bluesfest - July 10th

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dance, Dance, Dance

Greg Gillis, dancing and DJ'ing in his underpants - soulmates?

Some of my greatest memories consist of wild and relentless living room dance parties at university keggers, adolescent sleepovers and random moments prior to getting dressed, in my underpants. Last night at Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest was absolutely no different.

Girl Talk, world's greatest dance troop leader, bounced and jived behind his set of laptops last night as he conducted a thousands-of-people deep party. Mash-ups of literally every nature went down, featuring rap remixes of "Since You've Been Gone" and "Living On A Prayer", and wild concepts like Supergrass mixed with Bone, Thugs 'N Harmony. Thirty-plus dancers shook it on stage for the audience, sharing the heat with the solo DJ leading the pack by himself. I know there were so many other notable acts last night (The Sheepdogs, who I've praised before, Stephen Marley and Steve Miller Band) - but when it comes down to it, my boogie-ing booty and the spastic dancers to my left and right made all of the work week troubles fade into the night sky. Here's to Gregg Gillis - the man, the myth, the legend and the topic of Girl Talk:

"Whiter Shade of Pale"...with YoungBloodz? And, "Flashing Lights"....with "No Diggity"? Come on. Imagine that, live, with thousands of others going bananas - and tell me you aren't immediately hyper and ready to booty pop.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Skilled Skrill

Last night was another fabulous night on the concert grounds - with The Roots, Ben Harper, Bedouin Soundclash, Gentleman Husbands and 23 year-old dubstep producer Skrillex on the waterside Subway stage. Skrillex, who I like but have never seen live, put on...quite the show for the masses watching. What the DJ describes as his best showed ever played, we describe as one of the best parties we've ever attended. Swirling beats and obscure noises lead up to huge, bass-heavy beats that send the crowd (myself included) into some crumping/body-heaving sort of dance moves that normally we wouldn't be caught attempting in public. Check out an example of this thunderous electro style:

*I don't own any rights to this video

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Busy Blues

Bluesfest 2011

...But a great kind of busy blues. I'll be reviewing Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest all week for Ottawa Life Magazine, which means a gig in the photo pit, hopefully some good interviews and a week spent as workin' woman during by day and then a music-watching, music-loving, music-writing woman by night. It will be busy, but you know what - it will also be glorious. Not an ounce of my sleepy little self is going to mind this magical experience of constant music, words and friends. Bring on the sights, sounds and smells of the festival - it's two of the greatest weeks of the year.

I'll check in when I can with some videos of my favourite performances - but in the mean time, please visit Ottawa Life Magazine to check out detailed recollections of this fantastic festival.

The performances that drove me wild last night at 2011 Ottawa Bluesfest were:

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes - Bluesfest 2011

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros (lead Alex Ebert admits to still not knowing what a "magnetic zero" is, saying that any clever scientists should contact him immediately) performing "Fire and Water" - a gorgeously mellow performance in the setting sun by female lead Jade Castrinos. No version other than the live one does her vocals justice, but the on-stage nuttiness can be seen here:


The Flaming Lips - Bluesfest 2011

The Flaming Lips performing their classic finale, "Do You Realize??", the psychedelic ballad that after all of these years still drives the crowd wild at the onset of the first pretty strums. Kooky lead Wayne Coyne's famously bouncy curls also went wild as soon as stock footage of Tiffani Thiesen introducing the band began to roll on the wide screen, cuing him to ask the famous first line and lyrical question, "Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face?"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Music Manners

Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest

Anyone who has attended a few festivals and/or concerts in their day by all means has an idea of the kind of shows that they find enjoyable, and those that they would have rather missed. As long as the music is exciting and fulfilling, than realistically you should be able to appreciate the live experience, but sometimes - just sometimes - the behaviour demonstrated by your fellow concert-goers is enough to send you over the edge.

So, in light of the magical beginning week of Ottawa Bluesfest, I'm going to outline a few crucial dos and donts of the concert nature. Here (should be) some common sense items to carry with you during your festival experience; here is a tiny bit of etiquette that might shape the way you, or the guy next to you, behaves:

                                                                SIPS AND SUDS

FESTIVAL DO: By all means have a few drinks, feel the music, and toast with your friends to the wonderful life of a young festival-goer. Beer or wine go hand-in-hand with live music usually, especially on a sweltering summer day when the crisp sip of a cold lager is all that makes the heat manageable. It really is a great time to test out the micro-brewed beers featured at the respective festival, and maybe (if you're lucky) make your way into the band area and share a brew with some of the musicians.

FESTIVAL (please) DON'T: Be swaying intoxicated in the middle of the crowd, staggering away from your friends and practically passing out mid-set (somehow while still standing, a true mystery to me whenever I've witnessed it). First of all - you're there to see a performance. You're most likely also there to appreciate music. So, if you can't even comprehend where you are or what you're hearing - what's the point of forking out the cash? Also, if you're standing behind us and we have to be concerned about what might come up (on your backs) considering how much you've chugged down - the experience becomes equally as less enjoyable for us.


FESTIVAL DO: Rock your trendiest duds, your most fashionable accessories and your coolest coif - because there's nothing like the festival time of year to really whip out the big clothing guns. Some of my favourite online photo galleries are those from large festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza - where the world's neatest celebrities are wandering the concert grounds decked to the nines in the most relaxed of summery outfits. So, let your hair down and sport the outfit that you're always too afraid to - there's no time like the present.

FESTIVAL (please) DON'T: Stick yourself in the middle of a sweaty, thrashing crowd without your shirt on. By all means, press yourself up against the barrier at the front or linger peacefully in the back - but moshing about in the middle of the hoards with your sticky shirtless bod pressed up against me is fairly undesirable. I don't know you and you don't know me, so let's not stick to each other just yet. And, while we're on the topic of sticking - I have blonde hair. So, if I see that I suddenly have strands of your black hair cascading down my shoulder - that means a) we are far too close for comfort and b) girlfriend, get those locks in a ponytail, stat. Other things to steer clear of - wearing a stuffed and oversized backpack into the crowd that knocks others around like something out of American Gladiators, or a teeny-tiny bikini top that makes your chest turn into an eclipse; a sight I know I'm not supposed to look at, but it's hard not to when it's the most prominent and overwhelming spectacle in the crowd.


FESTIVAL DO: ROCK OUT. Dance, jump, have a blast and let the groove take your body places you've never expected (whatever that means). It's a concert, there's music, there's undoubtedly a beat - which gives you full-on permission to act and dance as happy as a clam. I can't help but bob and shake it when my favourite artist takes the stage, it's infectious and ignites a tiny fire beneath people's patoots.

FESTIVAL (please) DON'T: Forget to rock out with at least an ounce of spacial awareness and respect for those who are enjoying the tunes next to you. At some of the concerts I've been most excited for, a damper has been put on the night because of a few wicked elbows to the jaw and splashes of (my own) cold beer down the front of my shirt - all because someone was feeling the music a little too much, in an area of the crowd that didn't warrant such animalistic moves. If we're standing near the back, and have at least a foot between us, it's probably not the place to test out your new jumping-jack dance move. If you're in the first ten feet of the stage, amidst a mob of equally ecstatic jumpers - go for it. Just remember to play safe and be wary of your concert neighbours!

                                                 WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

FESTIVAL DO: Enjoy the company of your friends and loved ones at concert. Nothing warms my heart more than a little beach blanket cuddle under the stars during a romantic set on stage. I always appreciate seeing couples experiencing music together, watching live songs that are meaningful to them, and taking advantage of basically the best date night known to mankind: the festival. Please, by all means - relish in your love for each other as the bassist picks away under the moonlight.

FESTIVAL (please) DON'T: Consummate your relationship in front of me. Another "eclipse" sort of moment occurs when you two are forgetting the thousands of other bystanders trying to focus on what is happening musically on stage. Similarly, not that I really consider this dancing - but please don't bump and grind on others as if the concert grounds are downtown's hottest club. If I bump you by accident, it really was an accident - not an excuse for your grabby paws to wander over to my torso. Let's all be new friends, enjoy the tunes together (from a few feet apart), and leave it at that!

Happy concert-going girls and boys! Keep yourself in line - and have the time of your life!

Pitchfork Music Festival

*Images courtesy of and

Monday, July 4, 2011

Let The Bluesfest Begin

Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden

Tomorrow, the gooey music goodness begins. The two hazy weeks of festival attending finally commences; when humid evening flows into evening, sunkissed afternoons blend into eachother, and before you know it - you've seen over a dozen of your favourite acts and until next year, it's over.

Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest is only the most magical two weeks of the year here in Ottawa; a time when music lovers everywhere unite to revel in the best of the best of international music, almost shocked that so many brilliant musciians chose us Ottawa as the grounds to wow millions. People flock from all over to catch a glimpse of some fairly shocking attendees - who, in the past, have included: KISS, James Taylor, The White Stripes, Kanye West, Drake, Brian Wilson, and almost every single up-and-coming group known to mankind. Six on-site stages, a plethora of vendors and thousands of free-loving concert-goers pack Lebreton Flats to signal that the bands, and the essence of summer in Ottawa, has in fact come rollin' in.

Here's a few of who we can expect to fire us off to the races tomorrow, July 5th, on the opening night:

Carries On - Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

Where Does The Good Go? - Tegan and Sara

Fell On Black Days - Soundgarden

Yeah Yeah Yeah Song - The Flaming Lips

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros