July 5th: Bluesfest was a little bit more blue...

Camera Obscura

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Sometimes summer weather can be a bit moody, hmm? Well, if you're caught in a summer tempest, you might as well listen to some dreamy, indie pop befitting of it. Not that the Bluesfest programmers had any idea, but that's exactly what they lined up for last night at the River Stage. No stranger to precipitation themselves, Scottish band Camera Obscura weathered the storm and played a solid set last night.

Although it's tough to play to a crowd cowering under ponchos, Tracyanne Campbell (guitar/vocals) was cheery from the get go, joking "It's a Bluesfest after all. You're supposed to be a little bit blue." The band kept on keeping on as stage crew used all the towels to dry all the precious gear. After a song or too some plastic was procured to shield Cary Lander's keys (keyboard/vocals) but it also happened to screen her face, which Campbell was none to happy about. Her musical performance wasn't hindered at all, but the dialogue between songs was a little strained. 

Suppose we should talk about the music, hmm? Along with Campbell & Lander the core band is Gavin Dunbar (bass), Kenny McKeeve (guitar/vocals), and Lee Thomson (drums), but last night there were two extras on board. The addition of Tim Cronin (trumpet/percussion) was especially good. I mean, who doesn't love brass accents in pop music? Ottawa crowds certainly do, and he got as many cheers as the heavier rain blasts. 

Camera Obscura have a bit of a cult following, because they've been around for so long. They put out reliably good music, albeit somtimes a bit simple sounding. Lander's voice is nice, not stunning, their lyrics are interesting, not catchy. There's just something about these Scots though, and I think it's stunners like "Llyod, I'm ready to be Heartbroken" with it's dramatic organ opening and interesting guitar riff. McKeeve's guitar went silent right before, the song but only for a minute and he won the whole crowd over with it in the end. "Every Weekday" off their newest album Desire Lines has another great guitar riff, and avid fans will likely be happy to have waited. It's not complicated, not fast, just good. Y'know, album good, and that's how how they played most everything last night. There were a couple of deviations, the best being McKeeve's vocals on "If Looks Could Kill." I might not kill to see Camera Obscura again, but they certainly made a rainy evening less dreary.