070217 Feist, Ottawa, ON

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July 2nd, 2017 was the closing day of what had proved to be a very, very rainy Ottawa Jazz Festival.  

Of course no one can predict the weather (see: all meteorological forecasts that use phrases like “…with a chance of…” or “…40-60%…”) and so all outdoor concerts are to be booked with at least a twinge of concern and/or worry, especially when the event has no indoor backup plan.  But man, sometimes a festival just runs into a huge pile of bad luck that even the most worrisome promotor could not possibly thought to worry him or herself about, and it seems like 2017 was the year the weather axe fell hard on the Ottawa Jazz Festival.

In this case, not only did the fest suffer from the financial hit that resulted from dramatically under-attended soggy evenings, but to add insult to injury, because of the consistent rain those that did attend the festival inadvertently pounded the waterlogged turf into a mess of puddles and mud, forcing city staff to re-landscape the entire park before it could be reopened to the public, no doubt at great cost to the beleaguered festival.

Due to the inclement weather (and a six-day visit from my brother and his family) I had under-attended the festival myself – though I had purchased a full pass so at least I was still supporting them – but I made a point of going down to see the final headliner of the fest: Feist.

While I can’t say that I’ve ever knowingly listened to a Feist album, nor was I much of a fan of her (former?) musical collective Broken Social Scene (an opinion which surprises even me), I vividly recall being super-impressed with Feist the one time I had seen her perform solo several years before at the Ottawa Bluesfest.  Despite having a neutral/negative opinion of her then she grabbed my attention from three hundred feet away as I lounged near the back of the venue.  But even from that distance I could tell that Feist was an energetic, thoughtful, intelligent performer who was clearly deserving of the attention she had been receiving.  I’m not sure I stayed for her entire Bluesfest set but what I did see really changed my perspective on young miss Feist.

So like I say, I was interested enough to see her again that the looming dark clouds weren’t enough to keep me away.

And the show was…meh.

Which really just proves what I’ve realized for quite some time now: that my enjoyment (or not) of a concert relies as much upon my mood, the weather, the overall situation, and frankly, just so many other, unnamable factors as it does on the artists in question.  Sure, an astounding performance by an astounding performer can (and has) pulled me right out of a cocoon of meh and directly into an unrivalled realm of musical bliss just as a horrible performance by a horrible performer can burst my high-energy wide-smiling musical bubble in a hurry (I’m looking at you, Jane Siberry), but the rest, those concerts that fall into the middle 98% of concerts I see seem to be pretty reliant on a whole lot of nonmusical actors to make the grade.

In this case the rain started falling about twenty minutes into Feist’s set  Shunning my beloved jazz festival tree (and any friends who happened to be under it)* I stood ankle-deep in the mud with the precipitation watering down my already flattened, overpriced beer.  I started to shiver and I didn’t know any of Feist’s songs, eliminating any chance of warming my soul with either nostalgia or familiarity.  

So yeah, the factors were not on Feist’s side.  Or mine, more accurately.  I’m confident that I didn’t stick around until the end, nor did I take my chances with the Late Night Tent.  Why bother, I was already sogged and soured.

That said, I hope to get a chance to see Feist again.  Hopefully it will be on a nice evening, with warm grass to sit on, frosty IPA beers at the ready, m’lady’s hand to hold on to, a rainbow, and maybe a unicorn or two.  Then I could really see what Feist is all about.

*It’s really not at all fair that when a guy does the right thing and chooses to not stand under a tree during a rainstorm, the people who choose to remain under said tree tend to look pretty darn smug about it.  First of all, the odds of lightning actually striking the tree are ridiculously low, much too low for me to feel smug for being the one that chooses safety over comfort, and secondly my only opportunity for achieving true smugness would only occur if a bolt of lightning did indeed strike the tree with my friends underneath it.  

Of course in the wake of such tragedy only a jerk would walk around acting all smug because he did the right thing and his friends didn’t, which would take quite a bit of shine off of the whole joy-of-smugness thing.  So like I say, it’s not really fair.

I try to tell my friends this every time it comes up, but all they can ever say is, “We can’t hear you!  Come over here under the tree you idiot!  

“Can’t you see it’s raining?!?”

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