Jack U w/ Kiesza

Jack U w/ Kiesza

Bluesfest is definitely not the same festival it was at its inception and for that we can be thankful. This means that we not only get to hear a taste of what the blues genre has to offer, but so much more from the world of music. Kicking off the festival this year with a heavy dose of EDM was the Full Flex Express; the dj-fueled reincarnation of the Festival Express tour of the 70s brought to us by Skrillex and friends. In their first stop of this Canadian tour, Skrillex and Diplo showcased some smaller names in their world like Anna Lunoe, DJ Mija, and Hundred Waters. As I arrived to Lebreton Flats, Kiesza was doing what she does best by getting everyone up and moving. Though she had a very short set, she wowed the crowd and everyone was singing and dancing to her hit single, “Hideaway,” right along with her.

Mark Horton_20150708___R8A7237

Next up on the stage was a bit of a switch from the dance music attendees came to expect. A$AP Ferg, a member of the New York based rap collective ASAP Mob, came out in full force. With a hype man to back him up, Ferg did some classic call and response, getting the crowd to shout out “ASAP” and “Trap Lord,” the latter being the title of his 2013 album.

Mark Horton_20150708___R8A7304

Once we got our rap on, the audience grew rapidly for Toronto DJ duo, Zed’s Dead. Now, I’m not very well versed in the realm of EDM but from what I’ve learned their live shows are quite different than the typical band shows that I am used to. The set list included some of their most well known songs and a few new ones the duo wanted to play for us, but they blended them all together seamlessly so the party didn’t stop. This may be a “duh” moment for those of you who are fully immersed in the EDM community but I had no clue what I was heading into. This meant that the whole crowd was moving the entire time; who needs a gym membership when you can just dance to some electronica. Zed’s Dead ended their time with one of their biggest remixes, and the only one I could sing along to, Eyes on Fire.

Mark Horton_20150708___23A7438

Jack Ü was up next to end the night with a mash up of two huge names in EDM. Skrillex and Diplo came out waving a striped flag with their stylized Ü symbol on it and took turns jumping up on the ledge of their booth to amp up the crowd. When Jack Ü began their set, Kiesza came back out with them to perform their single “ Take Ü There,” complete with a dance number, and back up dancers. It was very cool to hear Skrillex’s older dubstep song “First of the Year (Equinox)” get a trap makeover, blending it with a number of samples from the likes of Beyoncé, Kanye West, and A$AP Rocky throughout the set. They even mixed in a sample of the Tetris theme song, which, to my dismay, not nearly enough people were excited about. Moving into some Diplo songs, we got the chance to hear the beautiful voice of Canadian songstress, Kai featured on “Revolution.” As the first night of Bluesfest was coming to a close, Jack Ü played their newest song “Where are Ü Now,” showcasing the vocals and songwriting of Justin Bieber.

All photos courtesy of Ottawa Bluesfest and Mark Horton.