Rich Aucoin, The Love Machine
LeBreton Flats in Ottawa, ON
July 11-12, 2012
Review by: Lisa Truong
Photos by: Jamie Kronick
Some more great moments from Ottawa Bluesfest 2012.
Rich Aucoin always makes me smell bad.
The mixture of other people’s beer and sweat sticks to the skin and hair – an odorous stamp that lingers after the show has ended and you’re walking home reliving the night in your head. I blame it on the way Rich Aucoin rallies up the crowd by turning the audience into performers. At his shows, it is hard to remain simply an observer – he doesn’t let you. And his intentions were no different on Wednesday night at the Electro Stage.
The performance started with a series of video clips, not unlike a movie trailer building up anticipation for the feature presentation. Within moments of the first song, the audience was bouncing, jumping, clapping and singing along. His frequent trips to the centre of the crowd with a confetti gun only fueled the energy.
Rich makes it obvious that a concert experience is not only what happens on stage or even the music itself, despite the fact that his album We’re All Dying To Live was on the Polaris Prize Long List. This show was about creating positive energy and togetherness, between himself and the audience and even between individual audience members. How often are you willing to touch the person standing next to you at a concert? Rarely. Yet at this show, people found their hands resting on the shoulder of one person and their arm around another at Rich’s command, but without hesitation. The sensorial experience culminated with the signature dance party under a giant parachute. This is where bodies collided, beer spilled, and voices became hoarse shouting lyrics to “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” At the end of the night, everyone was made up of the trace of another.
With his charisma and sing-along friendly lyrics, it is no wonder that he was able to bring together 500 artists on his new album as well as a huge crowd at Bluesfest.
Rich Aucoin made me smell bad, but the concoction reeked of nothing but fun.
The Love Machine
After seeing Rich Aucoin the previous night, I was getting the impression that Bluesfest was actually a giant love-fest where friendships are made and happy reunions occur. My observation was reaffirmed at The Love Machine’s show. A modest crowd was present for their performance but it was clear many were friends and sincere fans, some of whom donned the band’s signature “Love is on your side” t-shirts.
I first heard The Love Machine during JunoFest, where I caught the tail end of their set. Though I cannot recall the songs they played that night, their warmth and spirit on the small stage left an indelible impression. Such personalities carried onto the Claridge Stage as they played catchy crowd favourites such as “Width Eyes” and a bouncy, new composition, “Sorry My Dear”. Indeed they work together as a machine, with each member of the band sharing the opportunity to take lead vocals or melding together in collective declarations of positivity during choruses. One can’t help but shout “Love is on your side” along with the band and believe it too. Though some of the crowd remained stoic for most of the set, hopefully, The Love Machine was able to pump out enough love to get far more in return.