Wednesday night started with a bang and only went up from there! Lauren Alaina, The Cadillac Three and Dallas Smith – along with a couple surprise guests – brought the energy to TD Place in Ottawa.

Lauren Alaina

Lauren Alaina performs at TD Place in Ottawa. Photo: Renée Doiron

Lauren Alaina took to the stage first at TD Place. She set the bar high for the whole night – coming out with a bright smile, and equally as bright and sparkly pants! This American Idol Runner Up sang her heart out and really showcased her talent with songs that fans knew and some that they would be running home to find on YouTube.

I loved how charismatic Lauren was – both onstage, and after the show with her impromptu meet-and-greet with fans. The line up was huge! But that didn’t dissuade Alaina. She greeted every fan with a smile and hug – posing for picture after picture!. Her charm really came through in her music, and through her audience interaction while up on stage.

At one point, for the song “My Next Boyfriend”, Alaina invited audience member, Marco, up on stage. Little did Alaina know, but this guy could move!! A couple times throughout the song she had to stop just to marvel at his skills (check out his dancing here: twitter).

I really enjoyed how relatable Alaina was to everyone. She struggles with the same issue as every normal 22 year old – namely a crazy family and poor body image. Before singing her single “Road Less Traveled”, Alaina revealed to the crowd that after her stint on Idol, there were a lot of people with a lot of different opinions on how she should and shouldn’t look. She told us that this led to an eating disorder, that she’s thankfully beaten. But she sent us all home with one very important message: “No one is better at being you, than you“! This strong message on body positivity can not be said enough – and I believe that Lauren is a great advocate for it. She said herself: “If life’s crazy – may as well write music about it”.

This attitude is what led to the song “Doin’ fine”. This hit is based on her life. The opening line: “Daddy got sober and momma got his best friend” is the truth. Alaina told the story of how her father was four years sober, her momma married his best friend and her dad is now married to a thirty year old. She joked that when life hands you lyrics like that – you have to write them down!

Alaina’s quirky sense of humour, charisma, and how down-to-earth she is, made for an excellent, high energy show! I would highly recommend catching Alaina live if ever you get the chance. Her new album Road Less Travelled was released earlier this year and it’s incredible! Check it out.

The Cadillac Three

Cadillac Three perform at TD Place in Ottawa. Photo: Renée Doiron

After Alaina, The Cadillac Three hit the stage! What a fun trio! Although a very different sound from Alaina (Steve Earle sort of vibe), no one in the audience was upset and everyone was quick to start rockin’ out with these long-haired Nashville friends.

The Cadillac Three have been playing together for over 15 years and put on a fun show. These three embody the saying What you see is what you get. There are no fancy theatrics, no back up vocals, no 15-piece band. It is three friends, on-stage, having the time of their lives!

When The Cadillac Three played “Dang’ If We Didn’t”, their current radio single, the crowd went crazy and sang along to every word. Although the only song of theirs that I recognized, I was definitely part of the minority. Everyone in attendance was fist-bumping and head-banging to every one of their songs.

My favourite moment from The Cadillac Three’s performance was when, during the song “The South”, they called for one more chorus to be sung in honour of the late Gord Downie. Standing on the edge of the stage, all three members came together and held out their mics. I think every person at TD Place was singing at the top of their lungs. This was a classy tribute to a Canadian rock-legend and I am glad they took the time out of their set to recognize it.

The Cadillac Three were very thankful of Dallas Smith to let them come on tour and I think they were the perfect bridge between Alaina’s pop-country style and Smith’s country-rock style. Their addition to the line up made this is the best, and most well-rounded concert I have ever been lucky enough to attend. To learn more about The Cadillac Three, click here.

Dallas Smith

Dallas Smith performs at TD Place in Ottawa. Photo: Renée Doiron

Before the lights had come up, Smith had taken to the stage and had already started singing Wednesday night at TD Place. Whipping out hit after hit, Dallas Smith kept everyone on their feet for the remainder of the concert. Pausing occasional during instrument solos, Dallas Smith would look out over the crowd and smile at how engaged everyone was. The girls were screaming and reaching for a chance to touch this great Canadian country music artist.

Smith kept everyone engaged the whole show. Taking selfies with fans. Signing posters and all-in-all having a great time! Dallas Smith kept the audience engaged and singing along to every word. I’ll be impressed if anyone near the front has a voice today.

Dallas Smith also surprised fans in attendance with not one, but two special guests. The first to hit the stage was Ontario native, Andrew Hyatt. Together with Smith, Hyatt performed his single “On Me”. The crowd went wild!!

Hyatt was a natural on stage and joined Dallas Smith in a few selfies using the fans’ phones. He also had a natural sound that was easy to listen to and the two together sounded incredible (can we hope for a collab in the future??). After the show I was lucky enough to run into Hyatt and we chatted for a few minutes. This guy is very down to earth and truly cares that his fans have a good experience. He was easy to talk to, and if I didn’t know any better, I would think he was just any other John Doe on the street – not an incredible Canadian country music artist.

Dallas Smith performs at TD Place in Ottawa. Photo: Renée Doiron

The second guest to join Dallas Smith onstage was Shawn Austin. You may recognize this name from when, moments before a performance related to the CCMAs earlier this year in Saskatoon, he had to get away from someone trying to steal his guitar. This incident happened with no one realizing until after his set when Austin told people. This “Paradise Found” singer joined Dallas Smith on Smith’s hit “Girl Like You” and it was awesome! If you’ve never heard of Austin, I highly recommend you checking him out.

Although incredible to date, there was one moment of the entire concert that left a tear in everyone’s eye. For his hit “Autograph”, Smith thought it was appropriate to invite his lead guitarist, Darren Savard’s, parents up on stage. They were celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary Wednesday night and Dallas Smith thought that they should commemorate it with a dance. And how fitting that this dance should take place in their new hometown of Ottawa, Ontario. Just 5 days after his 5th wedding anniversary with wife Kristen, Dallas Smith was recognizing that love really does last. This moment had everyone in the audience dabbing their eyes and swaying along to the beat and was by far my favourite moment of the whole night!

The Side Effects Tour hits Kingston, ON tonight!! Check it out!