Bluesfest Day Seven: Migos, Alan Doyle, and wild crowds

The seventh day of Bluesfest was marred by incidents of violence, overcrowding, and an overall unpleasant atmosphere.

The night before, in preparation for the performance by hip-hop headliners Migos, Bluesfest organizers announced via Twitter that there would be no “in and outs” after 6 p.m. meaning that once you left the festival grounds, you would not be re-admitted.

Video on social media captured the atmosphere at the main stage. In one video, posted on YouTube by user B B, a mob of fans is seen storming in and out of the festival grounds through a broken fence, as security guards struggle to piece it back together. In another video, posted on Twitter by CBC Ottawa, security is seen trying to keep control of the violent crowds outside the entrance on Vimy Place, next to the Canadian War Museum.

Throughout the evening, medical staff worked to help treat injured, dehydrated, and intoxicated fans. According to a statement by the City of Ottawa’s emergency services, additional paramedics were called in to help after on-site workers became overwhelmed with the demand for medical treatment. Workers on site assessed nearly 200 individuals, according to the statement.

Local residents also reported incidents of public urination on the nearby streets of Centretown.

But, depending on where you were that evening, these reports were not always evident, as many fans were respectful, reaching out to each other to ensure they were all safe.

However, the overall atmosphere made Migos’ performance difficult to enjoy. Although the crowd was energetic, chanting the lyrics almost word for word, the fan mobs and the concert’s start nearly 30 minutes late took away from what was otherwise an entertaining performance.

For those who wanted to stay away from the main stage, the Blacksheep Stage offered an alternative line-up of performers. As the sun started to set over the Ottawa River and a cool breeze blew toward the stage, the setting sun was perfect for Foy Vance’s performance.

All on his own, Vance provided a peaceful escape to a relaxed crowd, thanks to his skills on piano and guitar, his solid voice, and his genuine Northern Irish charm. Vance exemplified his versatility, as he performed quiet and soulful songs, as well as more upbeat blues and rock songs.

The evening was capped off with the return of a long-time Bluesfest favourite. For years, Alan Doyle along with Great Big Sea bandmates Murray Foster, Bob Hallett, and Sean McCann brought their upbeat Newfoundland folk rock show to Bluesfest’s main stages, performing in front of thousands of loyal fans.

Since 2012, Doyle has been performing solo. He has released two albums, and is set to release a third this year. Now touring with the Beautiful Gypsies, Doyle delivered an upbeat, rocking performance that seemed reminiscent of his previous shows at Bluesfest.

Doyle played a fair mix of songs from his recent solo work as well as numerous Great Big Sea classics. Sticking to his roots, Doyle’s performance was not just a concert, but also a fun Newfoundland party.

At the end of the show, Doyle and his band came back out on stage to perform for an encore. He concluded the show with Great Big Sea’s “Ordinary Day,” which got the crowd singing and dancing all the way through.

“We played so many great gigs in Ottawa,” Doyle said to the crowd. “I’m so glad its still going on.”