JP Saxe, Alexisonfire and Nikki Hill all hit the stage at 9:30 p.m. — talk about tough decisions.
I didn’t recognize very many names on Wednesday night’s RBC Bluesfest lineup, but that didn’t deter me from attending. And what started as a hopeful venture quickly became one of my most memorable nights of 2022.
It was the perfect mix of wholesome and fun.
I started the evening at the SiriusXM Stage, where Vicki Brittle was absolutely killing it. Actually, to be honest, every artist I saw on the SiriusXM Stage killed it. They all had an amazing stage presence, and they made it such a fun place to be and jam out.
Vicki Brittle was one performer I’m not going to forget anytime soon. She looked like she was having the time of her life up there, and I felt that energy all the way at the back of the audience.
In the middle of her set, she talked about how Ottawa was home to her, and how happy she was to be playing here. She also mentioned that her mom was standing up front, crying right along to the performance.
After Vicki’s set ended, I had a quick beverage break at one of the many beverage tents — there were no less than five spread out over the festival grounds — before settling in to watch Sum 41 take the stage.
It was fantastic. There’s no other way to say that.
I’ve personally never been a fan of Sum 41. I know their music more in passing than anything else, and I’m pretty sure the majority of the ones I recognized were because of the many, many early 2000s TV shows and movies they were featured in.
None of that mattered, though, as they started to play. The crowd was losing it, the band looked like they were having a blast, and there were at least five different crowd surfers — one of which was someone in a wheelchair who was carried all the way to the front. At some point in the set, they threw black and white coloured beach balls into the crowd for everyone to volley around. It was amazing.
At the same time, down at the Sirius XM Stage, Nikki Hill was rocking out and just completely vibing with her crowd. The R&B/soul and rock artist definitely brought the energy, pausing time and time again to dance and cheer on her accompanying players. Everyone in the crowd looked like they were having a fantastic time.
I ventured down to check out Charlie Cunningham nearing the end of his set, and I’m so glad I did. Charlie was another one of the artists that I’d never heard of before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it was great.
The set was emotional and personal. It was the kind of music that had the crowd swaying left to right and just basking in the notes.
As Charlie’s set ended, I made sure to snag a spot front and center for JP Saxe’s performance. I knew him best from his viral hit “If the World Was Ending” featuring Julia Michaels. It took the internet, particularly TikTok, by storm, and even earned him a Grammy nomination last year.
Every second of JP Saxe’s performance was surreal. Maybe it was because I was so close to the stage, or maybe it was just because of him, but whatever it was, it was incredible. JP’s set had the perfect combination of his music and more personal, chatting moments. He made it feel like we were all friends, and I’ve never experienced that at a concert before.
My favourite part was halfway through, when he said he felt super “comfy” here, and that he appreciated the crowd being so kind and loving to a “dorky ginger from southern Ontario.”
He finished the performance with a few of his most popular songs, including “If the World Was Ending” and “A Little Bit Yours”, and listening to those songs live in the rain was an experience I’ll never forget.
After the show, he ventured back to the merchandise tent to do a meet and greet with fans. And yes — I definitely got in line for that, and can personally attest that he is the kindest human being, and just an overall joy to speak with.
In case it wasn’t obvious already — night six of RBC Bluesfest was a definite win, and I’ve learned that, while it’s definitely fun to go see artists you know, it’s also a great place to vibe and discover new music.