072817 La Machine, Ottawa, ON

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After the massive disappointment that was Day 1 of La Machine’s visit to Ottawa I swore I was done with it.  A crew brings a pair of huge street-battling robot monsters all the way from France to wreak havoc in the streets of the capital city and all they could do on opening night was to slowly winch their giant spider down from it’s (admittedly very cool) perch atop the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica down to the ground while their (ultra-cool) horse/dragon creature just slept placidly on the lawn of City Hall?!?  

I had been looking forward to La Machine for months and I was so disgruntled after the first night I almost didn’t go see it again.  But I ultimately decided that the spectacle just had to get better.  How could it not?  So on July 28th, 2017 I hopped on my bike and headed downtown.

When I got there I almost immediately came face-to-face with the spider.  Towering at least twenty-five feet tall and requiring up to a dozen onboard robotics engineers to operate, the huge machine was trundling upon it’s eight legs along the Byward Market Square, skimming the tops of the three-storey buildings that line the street.  Following the spider were four vehicles carrying – believe it or not – a live orchestra perched upon four raised platforms.  One carried several string players, another the brass.  Still another carried…was it a harpist and a guitarist? while the final vehicle carried a single doublebass player, raised like the rest at least fifteen feet above the pavement.  They played the spider’s theme music the whole time and it was amazing.  After the spider and the musicians went past me I shook my head in wonder and walked my bike towards another crowd just around the corner.

I arrived at the York Street/Byward Market intersection just as the dragon was coming around the bend.  I stood and waited, and as it walked by me the beast turned its massive wooden head in my direction and doused me with a blast of “smoke” (misty water, really) from its flaring nostrils.  That was pretty cool!

As the monster moved on so did I.  I steered my cycled steed away from the crowds and headed towards home alongside the Chateau Laurier.  Just as I came to the traffic light at Wellington I looked to my left and saw the spider was walking parallel to me along Sussex Drive.  And just as I glanced over at the behemoth one of it’s thick, metal legs miscalculated and smashed out one of the fancy downtown street lights.  As shards of glass tinkled towards the ground the crowds lining the streets let out the same whoop of delight that one hears when a waiter breaks a dish in a restaurant.  

Wow, actual (restrained) mayhem!  Our city was under (nearly controlled) attack!

Though I was impressed enough to have had my fill, it was quite obvious that the La Machines were eventually going to end up at the Shaw Centre (née Congress Centre), so I stuck around to watch them arrive.  Sure enough the spider showed up, weaving (more) carefully in and around the street lamps and poles on Colonel By Drive and generally showing off with the live band following it’s every move.

Shaking my head in amazement and pleased that I had given La Machine a second chance I bid the spectacle farewell and went home.  I forget what I was doing when the monsters had their final battle at the War Museum the next day, but I know I wasn’t there for it.

In the end the thing I liked most of all was the orchestra following the spider.  I’ve always dreamed of having one of those following me around.

(not my photo)

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