Thursday, July 22, 2010

What I did on the weekend -- Part 1: Ribs, beer and awesomeness at Bluesfest

So, we went to Québec for the weekend with friends. And we had a great time. The end.

That would be the Coles Notes version of the weekend, or the correct answer when someone at work asks, "So, what did you do on the weekend?" just to be polite. But you know me. When have I ever answered anything in less than full essay format with pictures and footnotes? Never, that's when. But in the interests of not boring you silly all at once, and stretching this story out for a couple of posts in hopes of reversing my terribly sporadic posting history of late, here is Part 1 of the story -- Ribs, beer and awesomeness at Bluesfest.

Prologue: (see, I told you I never tell any story the short way) Back in April, when the Ottawa Bluesfest (an amazing two-week-long outdoor music festival every July that I have never attended despite living in Ottawa for 13 years) announced its lineup for this summer, Becca called me and told me it was high time that I actually attended a show with her, and she suggested the B-52s. I decided she was right. And since the show was the night before the girls and I were leaving for QC, and my friend Josie would be staying with me that night, and since Josie is also a big B-52s fan, we all decided to go together.

On Thursday, Becca and Josie came up from St. Catharines and Burlington, respectively, and we ate lots of barbecued ribs and chicken and drank beer (in stinking hot temperatures) at my house and then headed off to Bluesfest to catch some acts. The Moody Blues sounded pretty good from our vantage point by one of the beer tents (never let it be said that we don't have our priorities straight) where we caught the end of their set. Then we wandered over to another stage to check out Andrew Bird, whom Bec had seen before and wanted to see again.

While Josie and I both agreed that he is a virtuoso musician, and the many, many people watching him perform were very, very appreciative, we realized that his music was not our glass of beer cup of tea, and Bec soon escorted the old people (Josie's words) to the main stage and settled us safely there (with admonishments not to go anywhere else so that she could find us again), waiting for the B-52s to start. She left to catch the rest of the Andrew Bird set and Jo and I marveled at the strange assortment of humanity there, including a really large woman dressed in a pink and champagne corset and tutu outfit (complete with a tiara), and a really, really drunk guy in a battered straw fedora and a red Hawaiian shirt covered in chili peppers who looked like he'd just been paroled from a Jimmy Buffet concert.

The concert was amazing! The crowd was dancing and singing, and the band looked and sounded like it was the 80s all over again. I couldn't say it better than this review from the Bluesfest site:

Last night LeBreton Flats was transformed into a giant go-go dance party as surf-punk New Wave staples The B-52s took the stage to headline day three of the Ottawa Bluesfest.

As the city endured soaring temperatures during the hottest day of a relentless heatwave, the B-52’s rollicked through a set that never slowed down, keeping the crowd on their feet and dancing despite a humidex reading that stayed in the forties until well after the sun had gone down.

There’s a certain quirkiness inherent in the call-and-response between pre-rap quasi-singer Fred Schneider and the harmonious pair of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson that permeates the B-52s sound. And while the ultra-distinctive vocal stylings have always set the band apart from the rest of the New Wave scene, it was the jangly open-tuned guitars and some remarkably tight drumming that kept things moving last night on the MBNA Stage through hits like Deadbeat Club, Roam, and the ultra-lounge party smash, Love Shack.

Bec joined us again just in time to hear Funplex, which was my fave song of the night and the three of us watched the rest of the set. We danced and sang, and at one point, Becca took a picture of Josie and me with the band in the background. The pix have yet to be uploaded, as Becca forgot her USB camera cable in Ottawa when she headed home. But fear not! Through the magic of MS Paint, I am able to recreate the picture of Josie and I at the B-52s:

Don't we look happy? We were.

After playing Love Shack, the band left. But not for long, in response to the crowd's yelling and clapping, they came back for an encore and played Planet Claire (and I'm embarrassed to say that for all these years I thought it was a synthesizer on that song, and it isn't, it's Kate Pierson's voice! And she can still do it perfectly.) and finally Rock Lobster. We all knew it was coming. The crowd went nuts. (Well, as nuts as an Ottawa crowd will ever get.) And then we filed out of the Bluesfest grounds with the rest of the crowd. As we were being swept towards the exit by the crowd, someone started mooing, which cracked me up, since the scene was sort of like a herd of cattle being driven into trucks setting off for the slaughterhouse a barn.

We ended the evening with sangria at my place before heading to bed. It was a great kick-off for the weekend.

Tomorrow: The trip from Ottawa to Québec and why maps are a Very Good Idea.


  1. Anonymous4:23 PM

    Who is this Becca? I'm from St. Catharines and we all know each other or can trace our connection to a maximum of 2 degrees of separation. Nice to see you back in the 'sphere!

  2. That is such a great photo of you and Josie. I love it!

    If you post any photos of me in QC that don't involve extensive photoshopping of my ass, I'm going to be very upset. :-)

  3. XUP - I don't think you would know Becca, seeing as she moved to St. Catharines just this spring after graduating from college.

    Jen - It *is* a good pic of me and Josie. I will be careful which photos I post, I don't want to annoy the woman who gave me such a lovely MS Paint skirt in that one photo in which it looked like I was naked from the waist down and pregnant to boot.

  4. Now I want ribs. And beer. And blues. Or B-52s. I went to the Bluesfest before I had kids. The little buggers really cramp one's style sometimes -- good thing they're fairly entertaining. Glad to hear you're no longer a Bluesfest virgin.

  5. @XUP I am Becca! And yes, I am new in town. @Alison It is nice to see that your paint skills are improving. As crazy as this sounds I think the crowd may have been moving more during Caravan Palace this cool electronic swing band from Paris. Check em out.

  6. Welcome back. I am still way way way behind on the blog reading. I have no excuse.

    Glad you guys had fun.