The main attraction of my Montreal vacation doesn’t occur for another couple of days; the fact that the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival was happening during the same week was a pleasant coincidence. Multi-stage festivals are a bit of a novelty to me (we don’t get many of them in Halifax), and the fact that the lineup wasn’t terrible sealed the deal.
Most of the bands I wanted to see on day one stuck to the two main stages alternating shows side-by-side, so there wasn’t a lot of adventuring necessary (tomorrow is another story). The field was a bit muddy (it had rained extensively the day before) but outside of a few sprinkles the weather improved throughout the day with the sun breaking out for the last of the daylight hour acts. The day’s notes:
– Holy crap, it was loud. Maybe this is how all festivals are west of the Maritimes, but to say the volume was turned up to 11 would be an understatement. First time I can recall ever having to use my earplugs at an outdoor show.
– N.E.R.D. pulling as many girls on stage as their security would tolerate.
– Metric’s set was solid, but this is the third time I’ve seen them touring Live it Out, and one new song and a cool reworked version of that record’s title track really wasn’t enough to distinguish this show over any others. Fun fact: the Pro One keyboard that Emily Haines used was borrowed from Arcade Fire when the airline lost hers.
– Cat Power was great, but her set was sandwiched in between rollicking, crowd-pounding sets by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Iggy and the Stooges respectfully. One could sense the audience losing patience with her subdued sound. They didn’t even pick up the energy for her cover selections (“Tracks of my Tears,” “Fortunate Son”).
– Iggy and the Stooges friggin’ destroyed. Ranting about how much he hates festivals and dry-humping his amplifiers, Iggy was an ungodly machine, holding the crowd in the palm of his shriveled hand, clenched in a fist. And he completely one-upped N.E.R.D.’s crowd participation, yelling at the front rows until they ambushed the stage. So much fun.
– The Killers are a guilty pleasure of mine and the festival setting is a good fit for them: their sound has always been a bit flat live and Brandon Flowers is hardly a great vocalist, so the massive crowd support helps them on both fronts. And they are getting better (the addition of an accessory player covering extra guitar/keys helps – although maybe it was smartly jettisoning the “we’re so serious” facial hair). The set borrowed pretty evenly from their first two records, their b-sides collection and a couple of new tracks thrown in for good measure – a fun mix that likely sent everyone home happy and distracted from the fact that their set was incredibly short (only 75 minutes for a headlining set, encore included? Good thing I wasn’t paying to see them alone…)
Day two’s headliner isn’t nearly so exciting (Jack Johnson…zzzz) but there’s plenty more on the menu, among them: Gogol Bordello, The Kills, The Go! Team, Duffy and Broken Social Scene. Here’s hoping that Ms. Haines stuck around for a second day (she’s the only member of BSS I’ve never seen perform with them before). Highlights and photos tomorrow; for now, here’s yesterday’s events in photography form after the break:
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Iggy and the Stooges