The heatwave in Eastern Canada was over for about a week, and the clear skies were upon us just in time for Ottawa Bluesfest. Temperatures were reaching the 30s but it was the perfect summer day to check out some great rock n’ roll.
It’s been a solid twenty years since I have seen Foo Fighters. The fanbase change from then til now was surreal. I was stuck in my teenage nostalgic self, remembering all the punks and metalheads who went to see Foo in a small, shitty venue, and now people are paying well over 100$ to catch this radio-friendly rock n’ roll band. What a reminder…that I am old!
Before we were about to witness the three-hour set performed by Foo Fighters, Michigan’s Greta Van Fleet took the stage. Having been around for nearly five years, the musical ability of these young (very young) dudes is very impressive. They ooze talent and it’s no wonder they bloomed into what they are. I had actually never heard their music until a few days prior to the show. I checked out a few tracks and said to myself, “Hmm, alright, let’s see what they’ve got on stage.” When I arrived, they got on stage shortly after, and I observed and listened with an open mind.
A few weeks ago, Guitarist Jake Kiszka explained to Blabbermouth how, while he feels that Led Zeppelin is the greatest rock band of all time and that it is humbling and inspiring to be compared to them, they became more conscious of it because it wasn’t in anyway done on purpose. Look – there is nothing wrong with sounding like one of your favourite bands. But please admit it! The riffs were literally ALMOST identical. Robert Plant even made a comment that singer Josh Kiszka borrowed his voice from someone “he knows very well.” According to recent press, he does approve of their sound and gives them his support, which is awesome. I tried my very best to enjoy their performance, but I may as well put on a Zeppelin record. But hey, it is the closest thing to Zeppelin I’d get to see live anyway, right? Again, I do appreciate their musicianship. They are complete pros, and they perform outstandingly well – but you can tell they studied this for years. They know what they are doing. So props to them for making it to where they are and having the success they do!
Up next were the almighty Foo Fighters. They have not played Eastern Canada in three years, the last time being in Quebec City for the Festival D’Ete, and that was hardly a show since rain and lightning stopped the show four songs in. So they owed us a good show, and they delivered. It was a three-hour set, filled with all the old favourites to satisfy the old-school Foo fan like myself, as well as the new school fans. They opened with “All My Life” which got everyone jumping. They played a total of twenty songs, with lots and lots of solos and additions including a cover of Queen‘s “Under Pressure” with Taylor Hawkins on vocals and Dave Grohl on drums doing a little switcheroo. Dave Grohl’s daughter, Violet Grohl, also did guest vocals on tracks such as “The Sky is a Neighbourhood” and “Dirty Water.” What a cutie. Grohl mentioned how stoked he was to have her around to roam the streets together and spend time together. Nothing like father-daughter love!
The band closed with a longer version of “Everlong” while the crowd was starting to try to escape the human traffic jam, but we stuck around to sing along and embrace our well overdue Foo moment. Thank you Ottawa Bluesfest for having them be a part of this.
Written by Liz Imperiale
Photography by Mark Horton
*edited by Kate Erickson