It is almost a week after the concert I attended occurred, but I am sure many of us can agree with this equation: Summer time + Ottawa = Bluesfest (and it also means an obligatory visit to patronize the annual music festival). I have been the last 4 years, seeing mostly hip hop and RnB artists. This year, Kanye West was the biggest headliner but also drew lots of controversy when it was announced.
Kanye West in Ottawa
It was back in April that the Bluesfest lineup was publicly announced. Iggy Azelea, Blue Rodeo, Ceelo Green, Keith Urban and The Tragically Hip were also announced, but nothing sparked more questions, comments and concerns than Kanye West. We all know him as the guy that snubbed Taylor Swift of her well deserved award at the 2009 VMAs and also as just an all around ignorant and arrogant guy. Putting all things aside, he does make some pretty awesome tracks and is extremely talented.
My good friend Harris and I decided to go see the concert together. Her sister kindly organized everything and she was in attendance with us. The Kanye night was sold out and tickets were being sold on Kijiji for two or three times the original price.
I have never been to a concert where I had to be on such high alert. To paint a mental picture, the demographic of the crowd was roughly 70% men and 30% female. It was super hot and sticky out. We had to be on constant high alert because there were a handful of fights among the crowd breaking out. All of us being small females, we were very much at risk of being accidentally tossed into a fight or being trampled. And boy did everyone push! The crowd, in general, did not have manners. I blame it on the copious amounts of alcohol being consumed.
Unfortunately, I think I may have missed the dress code memo. I was certainly overdressed for both the weather and the demographic of the event. Silly me, thought that wearing jeans was going to be sufficient, but I should have traded them in for thigh high denim cutoffs. In addition, jeans did not bode well for 25+ degree weather with the sun out in full force. I will make mental note for next time.
In true Kanye style, he started the performance 15 minutes late. When you have no shortage of talent, apparently one can write their own rules. He has won 21 Grammys, 6 BET awards and toomany others to list. He certainly brought it all to Ottawa. If you recall, he did perform at Bluesfest back in 2007. The stage set up was pretty neat. A roof lowered full of marquee lights. It illuminated the stage so that a warm glow filled the air. Kanye had a couple of wardrobe changes, but kept it stylish in his street wear. The bass was a little too high at times and it drowned out the actual singing of Kanye. All of the hits were played, but I would argue he relied too much on audience participation to sing the hooks. He opened the performance with the song “Stronger”. The crowd went crazy. Kanye had some humour when he introduced his hit “Gold Digger”. He said, “Imma play a deep underground song now, maybe only a few people will recognize it”. Nope, everyone knew it. He ended the concert with the song “Only One”, and it probably wasn’t the best choice. That track is more heartfelt and emotional since it is dedicated to his late mother. It would have been more hype if he had ended his performance on a more upbeat note with a song like “All of the Lights”. All in all, a great performance and I am glad that I went!
In Other Kanye News
- Kanye was seen less than 24 hours later, in California, taking his daughter North to see the opening premiere of Minions. He clearly did not want to stick around Ottawa
- He has been announced this week to be performing at the PanAm closing ceremonies in Toronto on July 26th. This has raised quite an outcry amongst many people thinking that he is not worthy of being given the honour
- The Toronto mayor, John Tory, actually thought Kanye was Canadian
Make sure to check out the rest of Bluesfest. There are still many amazing acts to catch. And if you do get the chance to catch Kanye West in concert, I also recommend it.