An all-day festival is a game of preparation: how much stuff can you cram into your backpack/satchel so that you’re ready for anything? It’s a game I’m good at, although most of the stuff I had brought yesterday wasn’t used much. The sun was covered for much of the day, rendering sunscreen useful but not essential, and the raincoat never had a chance to be used at all. But the earplugs…my god, did I need those earplugs.
I mentioned the volume in yesterday’s post, but since I spent most of the day by the main stages, I figured that it must have been a consequence of having to pump the sound all the way to the folks at the back of the hill. Guess I was wrong: even the intimate side stages were comically loud yesterday. Either Quebec likes their rock loud or I’m getting old. Given how sore I am from standing, walking and rocking yesterday, I’m suspicious that it might be the latter.
In a reverse from Sunday, I didn’t stay through a single set at Osheaga’s largest stage – instead, the best attractions were elsewhere, which meant a closer eye on the list of set times and stronger faith in the quality of my sneakers. The day’s notes:
– First off, screw whoever stole The Stooges gear after their set the night before. Here’s hoping for a swift recovery.
– The Meg Festival stage was the place to be through a good portion of the day Monday. Though Jamie Lidell and his band put on a good set, things really picked up when The Kills took the stage. Raw, sexy, dirty rock and roll at its finest that galvanized the crowd. A performance that earned every cheer it received and a personal highlight of mine…
– …but not THE highlight. That honour goes to Gogol Bordello, who practically tore apart the Molson stage with their gypsy punk extravaganza. I had skipped out on the Black Keys, who I saw a couple of weeks ago in Halifax, to camp out for a spot for these hooligans. I ended up only one row back from the stage – close enough to get splashed by Eugene Hütz’s bottle of red wine. What followed was messy, sloppy, mosh-pit inducing and absolutely glorious fun. The fact that the band is an amateur photographer’s dream certainly didn’t hurt my enjoyment factor. What a blast.
– Seeing Gogol Bordello meant missing MGMT, but that actually wasn’t my biggest scheduling disappointment of the day. That would be the Go! Team’s start being delayed by half an hour, meaning that most of their set went up against Broken Social Scene back at the Molson stage. What I did see of the Team was good, but I still left with the impression that they are a studio band first and a live act second.
– Didn’t get to see any of Duffy. Despite having a full hour alotted to her, she must have used only 40 minutes. I tried to catch her at both the beginning and ending of her scheduled set time and the stage was vacant.
– Kevin Drew introduced Broken Social Scene as “the most overrated band in Canada.” Hardly, although their set didn’t get off to the greatest start: “KC Accidental” and “Stars and Sons” failed to ignite the crowd, who were perhaps sharing my slight disappointment that Emily Haines was nowhere in sight. Redemption came from Amy Millan, though, who launched into a rollicking “7/4 (Shoreline)” that finally excited the audience, and then she proceeded to give the best rendition of “Anthem for a 17 Year Old Girl” I’ve ever heard (Emily who?). Best of all: because the band started early, they finished with 10 minutes to spare, allowing them to break out the brilliant “It’s All Gonna Break” to bring their set to a close.
– I didn’t stay for much Jack Johnson’s performance, but I did get a good look at the huge crowd he attracted, easily dwarfing the audience that the Killers drew the night before. Apparently this was Johnson’s first time ever playing Montreal, and a lot of crowd clearly were there primarily for the headliner (this also explains the strangely-large audience that watched Matt Costa earlier in the day). From what I saw, Johnson was giving the crowd the inoffensive surfer folk they were waiting for.
– The surprise upshot of the Go! Team’s late start: it pushed CSS’s start half an hour late as well, meaning that the band was just getting on-stage when I arrived at the Meg stage. A difficult set to photograph (lots of crazy lighting) but an easy one to enjoy. It proved an interesting contrast to the Jack Johnson set on the other side of the park. That crowd was full of couples snuggling and snogging on the lawn, whereas the CSS mosh pit was more like a disco orgy. One was teenage romance, was one hot hot sex.
– Montreal’s Chromeo had the unfortunate task of following CSS, but despite a smaller crowd due to the late start, they more than did their best to keep the bodies moving. Pro tip: the best way to get an audience to remember you is to not only say your name over and over again, but work it into every song. They played until 11:30 hit, allowing the crowd to stumble back to the metro and to wherever else the night might take them.
Photographic evidence after the break:
The Black Keys
The Go! Team
Broken Social Scene