Osheaga 2010 : Day One Recap

<img src="https://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/osheaga10recapD1.jpg" alt=" " />Day One of Montreal's Osheaga Music Festival saw an amazing line-up. ...

Osheaga 2010 : Day One Recap

The act of the soft spoken elegance of Montreal’s Parc Jean Drapeau all but fading, to make way for the shredding, punk rock stylings of Shane Murphy, was only the first in a weekend-long series of entirely ironic, mostly enjoyable surprises.  Thankfully for music fans, the sheer magnitude of Osheaga’s line-up, Saturday, July 31st & Sunday, August 1st, ensured that nothing put a damper on the city’s biggest celebration of indie, although there were a few interesting moments along the way.

entrance to OsheagaThe music festival’s gate was right in front of the where the subway stop let out, and after a boulevard of corporate sponsorship booths, was divided between the Main Stage and, over a short bridge, the smaller Green Stage & Trees Stage (or, as everything was French first in Montreal, ‘Scéne Verte’ & ‘Scéne des Arbres’).  over this water to the smaller stagesThe Main Stage was divided itself, with two stages right next to each other (officially River & Mountain Stages – or rather, ‘Scéne de la Riviére’ & ‘Scene de la Montagne’), so that while one band played, the other set up, leading to short break times between most Main Stage acts – and to Day One concluding with the most awesome one-two-three punch ever, Pavement-The National-The Arcade Fire.
two Main Stages

 

Shane Murphy
Shane Murphy

Shane Murphybig stageClick image for full gallery

Shane Murphy had the unenviable task of being the very first band of Osheaga, and his more old-school blues-rock didn’t seem to fit with the festival, or at least the type of attendees who would show up right at doors.  Indeed, there seemed to be more people waiting for The Walkmen on the stage next to his than actually watching his set, to which Murphy responded with a joke about how many hipsters it takes to screw in a light bulb.
Shane Murphy

 

The Walkmen
The Walkmen

Click image for full gallery

Osheaga’s Main Stage really only kicked into gear when The Walkmen hit the kick-start.  Playing mostly from their upcoming new Lisbon, the new material is thankfully a return to older, grittier Walkmen ways, after 2008’s classed-up You & Me (QRO review).  A band that started in drunken revelry and got sharper day-by-day, many long-time fans have missed what The Walkmen once brought in pieces such as “The Rat” (QRO video – which they surprisingly didn’t play at Osheaga), as the Brooklyn outfit sobered up and suited up, so it was great to hear a touch of the old & new in what was really the start to Osheaga.
The Walkmen

 

Rich Aucoin
Rich Aucoin

Rich AucoinClick image for full gallery

what's in his mouth?The last-minute fill-in on the Main Stage for Cage the Elephant, Aucoin had opened the previous night’s ‘Osheaga In the City’ show by of Montreal [please, keep your ‘of Montreal playing Montreal’ jokes to yourself…], and did channel some of that flamboyant Kevin Barnes (QRO solo photos) vibe, albeit limited by not that many people knowing who he is or that he was playing, and the strong daylight knocking out any of the projection screens he normally uses (a fact Aucoin remarked upon himself).  Still, he was able to engage what crowd that was still in the area who didn’t leave after The Walkmen (who Aucoin also thanked) for the festival’s first ‘big name on small stage’, Owen Pallett.
got some arms in the air

 

Owen Pallett
Owen Pallett

Owen Pallett, pre-'incident'Click image for full gallery

Hardly an hour into Saturday’s program, soft-spoken violin virtuoso Owen Pallett lost his cool with the Green Stage’s monitor set up, and began digging into the sound guy between songs.  The further the artist formerly known as Final Fantasy got into what should have been an upbeat hometown reunion show, the worse his temper became.  A wave of static in his mic was a strike two of sorts, and when Owen was unable to hear the looped piano part in “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt”, he and guitarist Thomas Gill fell unbearably off pace.  The crowd watched in silence as Pallett then combined an apology with damn sound guy!yet another jab at the sound guy, and then proceeded to storm off stage, cutting his set two songs short.  While the seemingly gentle performer’s unusual outburst was more amusing than anything, the situation was only made more humorous by the fact that the Green Stage was Sennheiser-sponsored.
Owen Pallett

 

Ingrid Michaelson
Ingrid Michaelson

Ingrid MichaelsonIngrid Michaelson, superstarClick image for full gallery

Meanwhile, another singer-songwriter was doing better on an even smaller stage.  Ingrid Michaelson is definitely a more mainstream artist than the ex-Mr. Final Fantasy, but proved enjoyable, albeit lost a bit amidst her backing band when on keys.  For her final song on the Trees Stage, Michaelson covered Britney Spears’ “Toxic”, both comically & sexily, and closed with her & her band doing a fabulous synchronized mock-dance routine that was probably the standout of her set.
Ingrid Michaelson, dance star

 

Sarah Harmer
Sarah Harmer

poutine!Click image for full gallery

Sarah HarmerWas a little singer/songwritered-out by this point, so hit up a food cart for some poutine & cheeseburger – the Montreal delicacy of poutine was excellent, even if the cart had run out of forks [warning to Yanks: don’t try to eat these fries with your fingers!…], but the cheeseburger was so flat it looked like a mini-pancake.  That’s not how they do burgers in the States!…

While taking in the Quebecois cuisine, listened to the relatively mainstream Americana stylings of Sarah Harmer.  Nice enough, but Owen Pallett (see above) should have been had this spot on the Main Stage – did next-up next-door Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (see below) not want the competition?…

Note: the flat hamburgers are the style of that truck – apparently, the rest Montreal does burgers like the U.S. of A.
what Montreal does well & what it doesn't

 

Dan Black
Dan Black

Dan BlackClick image for full gallery

Like a (toned-down) Sacha Baron Cohen character with music, up-and-coming dancetronic musician Dan what is that thing he's pressing?Black (QRO interview) had energy – but, like Rich Aucoin (see above), was also limited by playing outside during the day, and not in a night time dance club like he’s used to.  The crowd at the Green Stage had thinned after the Owen Pallett debacle there (see above), but didn’t seem to phase Black, and made the whole extended area a more comfortable place to just hang out during the day.
Dan Black

 

Japandroids
Japandroids

a JapandroidClick image for full gallery

Following a successful water bottle refilling/overpriced burger trip, it was then time for two of the best surprises of the weekend.  Firstly, Japandroids destroyed any and all fragments of Green Stage disappointment with a thrashing set of driving post-punk melody.  Their crashing percussion and heavy riffs brought the songs of critically acclaimed album Post Nothing to life, and genius improvisations like a Montreal-instead-of-Vancouver shout out in “Sovereignty” proved to be just the right icing on the cake.
Japandroids

 

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Edward Sharpe...

...& The Magnetic ZerosClick image for full gallery

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros then lit up the Main Stage, leaving all the stale hype in the world behind them, while bringing all of the theatricality imaginable.  They played through a short but sweet set of tracks from their debut album, most notably a revved up version of “Come In Please”, but also seeing frontman Alex Ebert come right into the photo pit and sing direct to the crowd during their second number.  After a stage manager tried to kick them off without playing their trademark song, “Home”, the crowd got more than a little rowdy.  Fuelling off of the energy of the moment, Ebert apologized to the crew, and then powered through a shortened version of the band’s quintessential single.

 

Jimmy Cliff
Jimmy Cliff

Jimmy Cliff, bustin' some movesClick image for full gallery

Also hangin’ out was reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, back on the Main Stage.  An outlier at Osheaga in both age & style (though more so the former than the latter), Cliff might not rock hard enough to really deserve his recent induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, but the old-in-years-but-not-in-energy artist (who would later that week appear on The Colbert ReportQRO Indie On Late Night TV) was enjoyable & effervescent (and it was authentic, like some might accuse Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros of not being).
Jimmy Cliff orchestra

 

Bahamas
Bahamas

Afie JurvanenClick image for full gallery

After the side stages had stolen a lot of the attention during the day, the Main Stages were heating up, and that unfortunately left the Trees Stage crowd a little thin for Toronto’s Bahamas, who had to compete with Edward Sharpe & co. on the Main Stage and fellow guitar-and-drum duo Japandroids just over on the Green Stage (see above).  A more country-and-blues-style guitar-and-drum duo than punk rock, main Bahaman Afie Jurvanen kept his spirits up with such pieces as “It Could Be Worse” – dedicated to the women standing in a nearby line, who weren’t waiting to see him, but rather waiting for the bathroom…
it could be worse, ladies

 

K’naan
K'naan

K'naanflyin' the Maple LeafClick image for full gallery

Back at the Main Stage, Canada’s own K’naan brought an up-anthem style of hip-hop, lots of not only arms waving in the air, but even a Maple Leaf – as the jumbotron caught & displayed, for a rather impressive & carrying set.
some serious hand wavin'

 

Stars
Stars

Click image for full gallery

It was then off to another surprise, though this time it was a trying one for another hometown favourite in Stars.  While The Five Ghosts (QRO review) genuinely seemed like the band’s Amy Millanresurrection, Stars managed to suck.Torq Campbell, thinking it's not his fault  Big time.  The five-piece struggled through technical difficulties, which led to singer Torq Campbell freaking out, running offstage to yell at the crew, and finally to him kicking his Micro Korg clean off its stand.  The rest of the band seemed like a bunch of stale hipsters, and despite playing three songs masterfully – “Your Ex Lover Is Dead,” “Take Me To The Riot”, and “I Died So I Could Haunt You – it was truly a pleasure to walk away from the stage and talk to friends & even perfect strangers about what went wrong.
Stars

 

Keane
Keane

KeaneClick image for full gallery

in case you forgot their nameThe shockers kept on coming, as Keane managed to delight the now-swelling crowds for the entirety of their time slot.  The band couldn’t have picked a better set list, and their piano-driven pop/rock was delightfully spiced up by just enough of their newer synth-pop style.  Standing at the feet of a truly massive backdrop, Keane shone on favourites like “Somewhere Only We Know” and “Everybody’s Changing”, before inviting K’naan (see above) on stage, and eventually moving on to their best song in recent memory, “Shadow”.
aw, shucks

 

Pavement
Pavement

Click image for full gallery

that's not Pavement 2.0, but 20 minutes leftThe biggest indie-reunion since The Pixies (QRO live review), Pavement has been playing seemingly every festival out there since announcing this year’s reunion tour, including Pitchfork in Chicago (QRO recap) two weeks before Osheaga, and Toronto Island (QRO recap) a province over a month before that.  However, unlike on the Great Lakes, in Montreal Pavement wasn’t a day’s headliner, but instead two slots earlier, and it seemed to take a great deal of pressure off the band, who played it far looser & goosier at Osheaga.  Singer/guitarist Stephen Malkmus opened the set by saying, “Hi, we’re Pavement, it’s 1996…”, messed with even the iconic indie-rock kiss-off lyrics to “Range Life” (the ones about Smashing Pumpkins & Stone Temple Pilots – which Billy Corgan had been bitching about less than a week earlier – QRO live review), and let the crowd in on stage crew hand signals of how much time they had left.
Pavement percussion

There were a few slip-ups – percussionist Bob Nastanovich unfortunately dedicated the worst song of the set to the guy wearing a Montreal Expos cap (hasn’t he suffered enough?…), and the band called an audible & skipped “Conduits For Sale” (where Nastanovich is at his best, “I’m tryin’!”), but it was great to see slacker-rock in its slackiest.
it's really all about Bob Nastanovich

 

The National
The National

Click image for full gallery

Wrapped snugly in a veil of undaunted glory, were the final two, and perhaps the two most unsurprising performances on Osheaga’s first day.  Firstly, Brooklyn-by-way-of-Cincinnati’s The National exploded onto the Main Stage, opening with layered single “Mistaken For Strangers”.  For a brief moment during that first number, it seemed as though the festival’s equipment set-up would be incapable of capturing Matt Berninger’s distinctive baritone.  Just before the crowd’s collective doubts became tangible however, there was an immediate about-face, and the singer’s voice was all that you could have wanted it to be, and more.  The band’s charm grew, along with the goose bumps from the expectant crowd, and amidst the individual pulsations of each member, the band collectively teamed up for one hell of a masterful musical output.

The National’s set contained a perfect mix of new songs from High Violet (QRO review) with that of older material The Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parryfrom Boxer (QRO review) and Alligator, their set-list featuring nearly every favourite.  From the Matt Berninger, drink in hand, looking for somethingheartfelt nature of “Apartment Story” to the sorrow of “Fake Empire”, and then onto the raw power of “Bloodbuzz Ohio” and “Abel”, the band stole away the exhaustion from tired concert goers and replaced it with pure captivation and charisma (even when a drunk Berninger tripped over the monitors for guest Richard Reed Parry of The Arcade Fire, he was able to save it by then proclaiming, “I was looking for that!…”).
The National

 

The Arcade Fire
The Arcade Fire

Win ButlerClick image for full gallery

Closing out a fantastic first day was a rejuvenated super group in The Arcade Fire.  Whereas two other prominent hometown bands had fallen earlier in the afternoon, the Montreal-based band flourished in a set full of material from all three of their albums – the genre-defining epic, Funeral; the only-in-comparison sophomore slump that was still a exceptional Regine Chassagnealbum, Neon Bible (QRO review); and the invigorating songs that make up their invigorating revitalization, out-the-following-Tuesday The Suburbs (QRO review).

Amid the absolutely stellar line-up at Osheaga, this was still Will Butlerclearly The Arcade Fire’s festival.  After disappearing for about three years, the band returned to grace their home province with some shows leading up to Osheaga, after which they headed south of the border for their first U.S. show in three years in Boston (QRO photos) and then two nights at Madison Square Garden (QRO venue review), the latter of which (QRO photos) was streamed live & directed by Monty Python‘s own Terry Gilliam (!).

The set list was naturally heavier on Funeral & The Suburbs than Neon Bible; of the new pieces, single “Ready To Start” and Owen Pallett, post-'incident'Régine Chassagne’s “The Sprawl” particularly stood tall – her best piece to-date, Marika Shaw or Sarah Neufeld?“The Sprawl” saw Chassagne at her Björk-iest, though without any of the excessive weird.  Owen Pallett, seemingly recovered from his ‘incident’ earlier in the day (see above) was part of the large team, along with the best-looking indie-stringswomen this side of Ally Lawn (QRO interview), Sarah Neufeld and Marika Shaw – though singer/frontman Win Butler seemed to have copied Pallett’s unfortunately hairstyle.  The redheaded Richard Reed Parry, less geeky than before in Elvis-style sequined jumpsuit, and Win’s brother William were still bringing the energy they always have.

Richard Reed ParrySarah Neufeld or Marika Shaw?There might have been a few too many “Merci”s – we get it, you’re Francophone Canadian… (well, Chassagne’s from Haiti, and husband Win & brother William are actually American – despite Win referring to the geodesic dome frame visible past the trees as, “Given to us by The Americans”…) – but from opening notes (which followed odd between-set music of “This Land Is Your Land” and an old song in French) to the confetti they made rain during their encore, The Arcade Fire not only returned, but reclaimed their place at the top of the world.

makin' it rain

 

-words & photos: Ted Chase & Brendan MaGee

 

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