Bluesfest 2018 Opening Weekend: Ghostface Killah, Shawn Mendes, & More

July 13th, 2018

Opening weekend of Ottawa Bluesfest 2018 promised to be an unforgettable one, as always. With acts like Bryan Adams just for the pre-game to the weekend, there were some gem performances in store for the next 10 days of the festival. In addition, Bluesfest 2018 has brought some major changes to the festival and its operations– including removing one of the main stages and increasing security measures. Many people were thrilled with the speed of the lineups this year.


Kicking the Friday off with some deep-rooted 90’s nostalgia was the band Hanson. If you’re part of the human race, you’ll remember MMMBop sweeping the entire universe, plaguing your brain for days while the only word you knew was probably in the title of the song. For most of us, this song is still in rotation on current playlists to this day. However, the Hanson brothers have grown past the 1997 version of a viral video. They seem to have only gotten better with age; Their sound has evolved and grown up as they have, adding their own instruments and a completely different style to the mix. Also, can we talk about how they all have facial hair now? Our childhoods: shattered.

Hanson Bluesfest 2018

Photos by Hidden Beats

Ghostface Killah

Saturday was the first day for hip hop enthusiasts to flock to the Bluesfest grounds as Wu-Tang’s Ghostface Killah was slated to take the Black Sheep Stage. Why a rap legend was not a main-stage act as he was in previous years is just as confusing to us as it probably was to you. Regardless, hip hop heads are known to make due with what is given and Ghostface is a powerhouse artist all on his own. The show made city-wide headlines because of one overzealous Ottawa fan that hopped on stage to rap an ODB verse with Ghostface. He absolutely killed it. The 90’s hip hop vibe was alive and well once again.

Ghostface Bluesfest 2018

Photos by Hidden Beats


Every year, we all discover at least one artist that we love and had no idea about before Bluesfest. That was this next artist for us– ironically named Lauv. Since 2015, this 23-year-old has had his hands dipped into every part of music he possibly could and gained an impressive following all from his college dorm room. From his “I Met You When I Was 18” playlist, Lauv wow’d the crowd with his smooth vocals and catchy ensemble of electronic tones. He undeniably had a fun time on stage and took the time to get personal with his fans– both day 1’s and new fans like us.

Lauv Bluesfest 2018

Photos by Hidden Beats

Shawn Mendes

Saturday’s headliner was a little off kilter for us, but we had to do it for ’em one time. Shawn Mendes, Canada’s heartthrob (move over, Bieber), took to the City Stage with every 20-year-old female from Ottawa in attendance. Having gotten his start from Vine, it’s incredible to see where this Torontonian has ended up now. When it comes to pop stars, it’s difficult to find the ones who sound just as good live as they do on an album, but Shawn is a refreshing exception. At just 19 years old, he is able to completely mesmerize and entrance the entire audience. With just a humble guitar and a killer smile, he played his heart out to all of his signature tracks. No doubt about it, Shawn Mendes was the star performance of the night.

Photos by Hidden Beats

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