House of PainT, Ottawa’s best urban culture festival under a bridge, wrapped up on Sunday. It was my first time checking out this annual party that pays homage to the legalization of graffiti on the walls of the underpass in 2003. True to its promise, the festival attracted an eclectic crew of artists, slam poets, turntablists, artisans, dancers and MCs.
I was pleasantly surprised at how inclusive the festival felt. On both Saturday and Sunday, I saw people of all genders, ages and ethnicities. There were families with small kids and dogs. There were those who appeared to be seasoned hip hop veterans and those who looked like they were out to see something a little different. Kid Koala helped contribute to the inclusive atmosphere when he brought his three year old daughter on stage to lead a dance routing during his rendition of the Yo Gabba Gabba theme, and the crowd happily followed her lead.
Of course, there were amazing sets by hip hop luminaries like Maestro Fresh Wes and Shad. One of my favourite moments happened while the crowd was bumping during Maestro’s set. I glanced toward the backstage area and glimpsed Shad rhyming right along with Maestro, sans microphone. Though he played the final set of the evening and technically headlined the festival, Shad made it clear between songs that when Maestro was in the house (er, bridge underpass), he could be the only true headliner. For Maestro’s part, the crowd went absolutely nuts when he brought opera soprano Measha Brueggergosman on stage for a hip-hopera of sorts.
There were plenty more awesome moments, many of which are covered in our photo essay on Flickr. Thanks to contributor Anwar for snapping these pics.