The Capital Idea! Festival Ottawa, ON June 20 to 30

"You’re blessed with shit that doesn’t make sense.” Although this was spoken at a Destroyer gig where a solo Dan Bejar warned the crowd about his new songs, it also seems to be apt commentary on this entire festival. It doesn’t make sense that Ottawa could draw this roster of artists without having the word "Cisco Systems” attached to your title. Sunset Rubdown shook the rafters with their intense songs that you could measure by the amount of vibration Spencer Krug inflicted upon his poor desk lamp, and Frog Eyes, although pared down, captivated the crowd with Carey Mercer’s sweaty prophesising and mad genius. Everyone should see "Bushels” played live once in their life. Indeed, there were more great performances than clunkers, with ever-professional the Walkmen, the ebullient and joyous Rock Plaza Central, and the pop-savants of Miracle Fortress all giving inspired shows. Oppositely, the less said about the jazz/funk mega-fusion crap of Fiery Furnaces, the better. Transcendent high points included New Jersey’s the Wrens, who showed the crowd they rock harder and better than people half their age, and Xiu Xiu’s immaculately composed noise and energy, which left many mouths gaping. Also, the unlikely pairing of the brutal, yet melodic, noise of Parts & Labor and the electro pop of the Russian Futuristsworked amazingly well. The sheer insanity award went to Girl Talk who drove the jam-packed scenesters crazy with his shirtless energy and mad mash-ups. On the opposite of the energy spectrum, one of the loveliest surprises was the beautiful piano elegies of Chris Garneau, who sparkled despite battling considerable crowd noise. But, let’s not forget the local acts, where the strangely-named, yet surprisingly poppy, Fucked Corpse lead the way with their schizophrenic haze of keys, screams and, yes, accordion — the best surprise of the festival, really. Poorfolk got a distinguished recommendation by the Wrens, since they rocked out pretty damn well instead of playing that "indie shit.” Finally, Books on Books weaved a lovely instrumental spell but also showed bursts of intensity when the mood suited them. Actually, this shit does make sense.