Yesterday was a fantastic day to head out and enjoy the brand new aVibe Festival organized by Brew Bus Lounge with warm temperatures and lots of sunshine. The event was held in the very scenic Vincent Massey Park, and I have to admit the idyllic location was an important factor in setting the “vibe” for the festival. The only concern I had about the location was the walk back to the parking lot after the event through a dark park was a little scary. Perhaps there was a better way back, but it was not marked out.
Having organized events in the past, I was very impressed with how well run this event was for their first time, even though the turnout was lighter than expected. Sure, I have some small suggestions for improvement, but constant improvement was always a component for every event I’ve been involved with. The day kicked off right on time with the band Turn Style from Toronto. I found that they were the weakest of the bands that played. They were OK (I senjoyed their set which is a positive sign), but have some room for improvement. Next up were Les Mosquitoes from Aylmer, QC who were much better than the first band and I really enjoyed their set. The only criticism I had was their set was scheduled to last 90 minutes but ended 15 minutes early (you can catch them for free at Ottawa Jazz Festival on the Laurier Stage at 4pm on June 21st). The next band somehow went missing in action. I heard from a friend that they somehow ended up in Montreal instead of Ottawa. I can only imagine what went through the minds of the festival organizers as this left a two hour gap in their music. Fortunately, that’s when I ran into a friend so the gap wasn’t as noticeable. In addition, the organizers were able to bring the next band, Tympanic from Ottawa, out early and had them play an extended 2 hour set to make up for the gap. For me, this was the highlight of the event! I spent the entire 2 hours on my feet dancing and grooving to their excellent music. The closing band for the evening was Slowcoaster from Cape Breton who put on an excellent set as well (although not as danceable as Tympanic).
The only suggestions I have for next year would be:
1) Improve the signage & lighting leading to/from the site so we’re not stumbling our way though a dark scary field on the way out
2) Add a food vendor with more traditional festival fare for those who are not into the more exotic foods that were offered.
3) Improve the event promotion. I like to think I’m fairly well connected to the Ottawa music festival scene and the only way I heard about this was through a friend. Also, I was under the impression that Reggae sounds would be more prominent and while the bands had a reggae undertone to many of their songs, the sound was a wide mix including rock, indie, blues, reggae and more – which is good as it appeals to a broader audience.
4) Adjust the timeslots for the bands as most only expect to play a 45 or 60 minute set at a festival.
All in all, I had a great time in a beautiful location on an amazing day. Well worth the price and yes, I will go again if they organize another one next year as the music was good and I met lots of very friendly people (Charity the Sax player from Tympanic actually offered me a ride to my bus, which was so very nice).