Bluesfest Day 9: Björk’s First Time in Ottawa was a Memorable One

Björk performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Saturday, July 13th, 2013 ~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images PHOTO/Mark Horton
Björk performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Saturday, July 13th, 2013 ~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images PHOTO/Mark Horton

Saturday at Bluesfest, or should I say Björk day, was balmy and beautiful.

The day started with the rocking sounds of Roberta Bondar on the Bell Stage.  I really have to give it to the organizers for putting locals on the big stages.  It must be really cool for them to get a taste of the big times.  As always the band blew me away and their sound has a lot more depth on a setup like that.

With Bondar finished and no one I wanted to see until the Mehdi Cayenne Club at 2:45, my friends introduced me to Palm Bay. Laugh all you will, that stuff is delicious.  It tastes like a carbonated freezee with liquor in it, perfect on a hot day.  Subsequently, the term “getting palmed,’’ was thrown around all day.

The time had come for Mehdi Cayenne Club to bring their dancy energy to the River Stage.  I must commend them for staying true to themselves and playing almost every song in French. They played some of my favourites of their first album, including “Je sais pas travailler,” and some great toe tappers of their new album Na Na Boo Boo.

Sometimes as blogger you have to make tough decisions. I left Mehdi about halfway through the set to check out Half Moon Run.

The decision paid off, as Half Moon Run was pretty darn good. The Montréal band have recently toured with Mumford and Sons and opened for Of Monsters of Men.  That alone justifies dropping by. Plus, lead singer Devon Portielje is from Ottawa. I really liked their song “Call Me In The Afternoon,’’ for which they had three people hitting different drum sets. They had wonderful energy and beautiful melodies. They were loving the Ottawa crowd, “We won’t forget this, Ottawa!’’ They closed with a bluesy song at the end, considering it was Bluesfest, and they promised to be back to Ottawa asap. I hope they keep their promise, as I would love to see this band in a bar/club setting before they explode.

Not really knowing who to check out next I met up with Kyle Woods (from Kalle Mattson) and he told me I had to check out Phosphorescent. They play smooth, soft folk with some electro elements thanks to the keys and organ. The lead singer’s voice was greatly complemented by the other musicians and this band was a very cool discovery for me. I strongly recommend checking out the song “Terror in the Canyons.’’

Björk, Björk, Björk.  What do I write about Björk? Playing her first show ever in Ottawa she did not disappoint.  Even before she was on stage she was impressing me, with the video screen displaying a request to not take pictures or video, and enjoy the full experience. She had a 12 piece all girls’ choir in sparkly gowns who sang, danced and had so much fun. I am not sure there is a cooler job on the planet than being in Björk’s choir. The music and sound was great and her voice was impeccable.

With Björk it is always a spectacle and this show was no exception.  From the Tesla coil overhead which would shoot purple lightning to the beat of some of the songs, to the video of tectonic plates smashing together as the planet reverted to one big continent. I don’t know how people on drugs could handle this, I had a hard time not losing my mind and I was only a little tipsy. What stole the show for me was at her encore, when just before playing “Declare Independence” she said, “If you feel like singing along, don’t stop yourself.’’ Very few truer words have been spoken, people. Sing like no one is listening and dance like no one is watching. Live free and let the music take you away.