Late last night, as the final saxophone vibrato drifted off towards Parliament, many of the sleepy, satiated jazz aficionados packed up their blankets from the front of Ottawa Jazz Festival’s Canal stage and started their journey towards home. Those who managed to avoid a jazz coma made the quick jaunt across the road to catch Dry River Caravan and Destoyer, the two artists from last night’s OLG Late Night Series.
I was a little caught up star-gazing, so by the time I’d made it across the road the Ottawa based group Dry River Caravan was just finishing up. Lucky for me, and the rest of you who missed out, they’re local! DRC’s energy was amazing, and the whole front of the crowd was dancing in the frenzied, excited, I-don’t-care-who-sees-me-this-music-is-phenomenal way that only happens at a great live show (or in your kitchen). With accordion, bouzouki and trumpet, this folk dance band is much less folk and much more dance…but not in the mid-ninties VJ’d kinda. Uh, nevermind, just check them out for yourself, know they’ll sound even more epic live, and make a note to catch their show at Bluesfest July 5th.
Next up came the ever changing, ever epic Destroyer. Last night an ensemble of 8, other times just a man and his guitar, Destroyer is really defined by the presence of frontman Dan Bejar. He may be well known as a member of super-groups The New Pornographers and Swan Lake (he’s also one half of Hello, Blue Roses), but Destroyer is really his band.
Last night his band was Bejar the vocalist, backed up by musicians who were clearly comfortable with the material and happy to be playing it. Although Destroyer has always had a devoted following, a lot of people jumped on the fan-wagon after the 2011 release of Kaputt, which was short listed for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize. They opened with a couple of older songs (there are 9 Destroyer records in total) before launching into a string of songs off Kaputt. The album has a dreamy feel, with saxophone melodies and slow disco drumbeats. Perfect for listening while lounging. Played live, however, these songs were given new life. A new life as rock songs, sort of, but all filled up with amazing trumpet and saxophone work. Perfect for restrained dancing while you drink a beer outside. That dancing was a little less restrained during the finale, an amazingly lush version of one of my favourite Destroyer songs, “Rubies.” Turns out I’m not the only one who liked it, because after some frantic applause we were treated to an encore of “Hey, Snow White” a great testament to the magic that is Destroyer: it’s only got 4 lines, but you’re not near sick of them by the end of the song’s 7 minutes. Music festivals are always full of great surprises.
Sorry you missed it? Me too. At least you can check out our live blog to see tweets and pictures from the show (also, check out tcp909’s stellar photos of both shows over on Flickr). Now be sure to have a nap this afternoon so you make it to the OLG stage tonight.