Osheaga 2010 : Day Two Recap

<img src="https://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/osheaga10recapD2.jpg" alt=" " />Day Two of Osheaga was more of a mixed bag, but there was gold in thar hills of Montreal. ...

Osheaga 2010 : Day Two Recap

Day Two of Osheaga undoubtedly didn’t have as killer a line-up as Day One.  No acts could compete with The Arcade Fire/The National/Pavement one-two-three to close Day One, so, in a way, Osheaga didn’t even try to.  Instead, Day Two featured more mainstream rock acts to bring out the bros, who were in force, hailing no one needs a shot, ladyevery beer man they could find (but never, on either day, saw anyone buy a shot from the unfortunate women in tight white shirts holding their bottles of liquor aloft).  Day Two was also a bit of a grab-bag, with some acts seemingly more fit for Day One but playing the second day due to scheduling & the like.  But there was gold of different stripes in thar’ hills on Day Two.

 

Still Life Still
Still Life Still

Brendan SaarinenClick image for full gallery

Toronto’s Still Life Still wasted no time on Sunday, proving the buzz at the heart of their underground success story, Girls Come Too (QRO review), was well deserved.  While the sweltering Montreal sun raised Sunday’s temperatures to about fifteen degrees higher than the day before, the band – and a few songs in, the crowd – seemed entirely unfazed.  Instead, Still Life Still thundered into a quick but strong set of originals, most notable GCT standout, “Pastel”.  The five-piece may seem a bit new to the scene, but they’ve in fact been playing across Canada for over a decade, and have lately gone international with the likes of The Hold Steady (QRO live review) and The Most Serene Republic (QRO spotlight on).  Their live show has taken them a long way, and it proved to be an infinitely better spark for Still Life Still at Warchild Stagelighting Osheaga: Day Two’s fuse, than Shane Murphy on Day One (see Day One).

Still Life Still also played a second time at Osheaga, at the acoustic stage set up by the Warchild charity (of the benefit compilation – QRO review), located on the path from the Main Stages to the Trees & Green Stages – QRO photos.
Still Life Still

 

The Gaslight Anthem
The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight AnthemClick image for full gallery

It was doubly hot near the Main Stage, sun hitting gravel and threatening to overwhelm any band – but it actually kind of worked for The Gaslight Anthem.  Hailing from New Brunswick (making both of your correspondents partial to them…), The Gaslight Anthem brought the Garden State from their latest, American Slang (QRO review), with “Bring It On” and “Stay Lucky” the best from the new album, along with The ’59 Sound‘s title track.  Yes, they’re clearly inspired by The Boss (QRO live review), and yes, you’re seeing a lot of that these days, but still as good an artist as any to be your touchstone.
The Gaslight Anthem

 

Blitzen Trapper
Blitzen Trapper

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Portland’s Blitzen Trapper may have looked like hippies, but played distinctly country music.  Unfortunately, this is a sound that’s been getting less & less special, and that hit BT, who were sweet & nice, but like on their latest, Destroyer of the Void (QRO review), also fairly boring.  Less heat & more of a breeze might have made their set a relaxing one, but as it was, it was just forgettable.
Blitzen Trapper

 

The Black Keys
The Black Keys

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Why were The Black Keys playing this early in the day?  The two Ohioans garnered a huge crowd, despite the heat & only being a two-man band – unless you were close, Brothersthere wasn’t a lot you could see.  Still, pound-for-pound, they’re one of the hardest-rocking bands out there (though did have a second guitarist), and were a good fit for the bros on a stage that previously had The Gaslight Anthem (see above) and would later have Weezer (see below).
who's that third guy?

 

The Antlers
The Antlers

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After overcoming some more Green Stage technical difficulty, Brooklyn’s The Antlers finally mastered the backline, and exploded into a set full of the emotional, atmospheric rock.  While the band ditched some of the more stripped-down, poignant numbers that dominated their last effort, the band still managed to showcase the heartbreaking elegance that captivated listeners on that fantastic concept album, 2009’s Hospice.  Singer/guitarist Peter Silberman put on a powerful display of resonant riffs and shattering vocals, and Michael Lerner and Darby Cicci managed to impressively recreate the atmospheric nature of band’s catalogue on drums and keys respectively.  While The Antlers did play a very solid set, their time on stage was not without its standouts.  The band’s live version of “Sylvia” featured an epic build-up, and the revved up version of their signature song “Two” left the Green Stage crowd in a well deserved state of awe.
The Antlers

 

Major Lazer
Major Lazer

SwitchClick image for full gallery

DiploOsheaga had a fifth official stage, the ‘Picnic Stage’, on the other side of the path between the Trees and Green Stages.  Dedicated to dance & DJs, it featured no one you’d ever heard of – save for Major Lazer.  The combination of DJ/producers Switch & Diplo,  Major Lazer got easily the biggest crowd the Picnic Stage saw at the festival.  While Switch was the one revving up the crowd, Diplo was focused on his turntables, having the classy look of an up-market Euro DJ, but with the sound of an urban American DJ.

 

The Morning Benders
The Morning Benders

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Berkeley’s The Morning Benders have had something of a boom recently, headlining bigger & bigger stages (such as New York’s Governors Island – QRO photos), on the back of their full-length Big Echo (QRO review), but were still slotted for the small Trees Stage at Osheaga, resulting in a packed crowd.  Nice-sounding, but deserving of the hype?  The group also seemed too focused on singer/guitarist Christopher Chu, making him overconfident in a kind of unappealing way.
The Morning Benders

 

Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg

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One of the biggest, yet least-talked about waves in alternative music, especially alternative music festivals like Osheaga, is the embrace of hip-hop – well, sort of embrace of sort of hip-hop.‘Classic’ rap artists like Public Enemy (QRO photos) or Snoop Dogg have been playing alternative music festivals, such as Public Enemy’s appearance at Sasquatch! in May (QRO festival recap), or Snoop Dogg’s appearance at South-by-Southwest in March (QRO festival recap).
indie-kids love Snoop Dogg?

Snoop......DoggWhy the love of old-school hip-hop in the alternative music scene?  Well, indie kids these days grew up with artists such as those playing the background, and if acts like Pavement (see Day One) can come back, so can Public Enemy.  Reality television & the like has humanized – read: made less dangerous – artists such as the star of Flavour of Love.  Fans of indie music get to drop the liberal-thinking straightjacket of the scene & be as sexist as they want to be – or, for girls, as sexy as they want to be.  They all also get a break from the still pretty lily-white alternative music scene.  And there’s the pro-drugs & alcohol stance, “Smokin’ endo, sippin’ on gin & juice”, that everyone can get behind.  It all seems like a match made in heaven.

But it’s not.  A very serious rant could be made about even the dorkiest of indie kids movin’ to hip-hop beats, the kind of people who got into indie Malice in Wonderlandmusic because they could never succeed in the egocentric world that’s occupied by everyone from football jocks to hip-hop stars – guys who weren’t cool in high school, girls who’d be frightened by the likes of Snoop Dogg, face-to-face.  There’s the fact that, while they’d jump at the chance to see Snoop Dogg at an alternative music festival, that’s far different than going to an actual Snoop Dogg show – at a festival, they’re surrounded by friendly indie music fans and not whoever they’d fear would populate a Snoop Dogg show, and only have to play tourist in the hip-hop world in between their usual indie fare.  And then there’s what they’re actually watching: not hardcore, cutting-edge gangsta rap, but artists so old and defanged that they might as well be starring besides ZZ.  There’s something so… fake about it, a sham, this meeting of two scenes that value authenticity so highly.  Okay, a rant was made there…
got some pale arms in the air

close up on the D-O-double-GNot that any of that came to all but the hater-est of haters at Osheaga.  No, there was lots of groovin’, hands in the air, vocal responses to, “Does anyone out there like to smoke weed?!?…”, calling out the people in the VIP bleachers for sitting, and Snoop closing it out by talking about “the love” and promising to return to Montreal (after starting his set late, though had time with the cancellation of deadmau5, who was supposed to follow him).  The D-O-double-G certainly did what he came to Osheaga to do, and what those at the Main Stage came to see.
VIP bleachers better get up, too!

 

Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth

Kim Gordon - lookin' goodClick image for full gallery

Snoop Dogg to Sonic Youth had to be the strangest one-two ever (though it does work alphabetically…), but the cancellation of deadmau5 (he threw out his back or something – those ears are heavy! – QRO photos) rearranged the evening of Day Two, with Sonic Youth being shifted from the Green Stage to Main Stage – putting them in the exact same time & place, one day later, as Pavement on Day One (see Day One), i.e. Sonic Youth bassist Mark Ibold’s ‘other band’ (and Ibold looked & acted the exact same, day-to-day, band-to-band).  Ibold being unable to do Lee Renaldodouble-duty on one day was probably what led to Sonic Youth playing on Day Two of Osheaga – though they had played Brooklyn on Saturday (QRO photos), albeit without Ibold.

Singer/guitarists Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore & Lee Renaldo, plus drummer Steve Shelley (never forget about Steve Shelley!…) have a legacy that’s really second-to-none in the punk rock field, having stayed together for about three decades now (!).  Thurston MooreAfter finishing the last of the Rather Ripped tour (QRO live review), where Ibold was just the touring bassist, Sonic Youth played a number of shows that celebrated that past, whether the ‘greatest hits’ at Battery Park in New York for Fourth of July in 2008 (QRO photos), or select top-to-bottom performances (QRO review) of the seminal 1988 double-LP Daydream Nation (QRO deluxe edition review).  But since the release same time, same place for Mark Iboldof last year’s Eternal (QRO review), the first with Ibold as an ‘official’ member (taking the place held for five years by Jim O’Rourke, playing bass after Gordon moved to guitar), Sonic Youth has stuck mostly to Eternal live (QRO live review), and the rest of the set list is really old material – i.e., they ain’t playin’ anything off of grunge-era commercial success Dirty, or even Daydream.never forget about Steve Shelley!

So maybe it wasn’t a surprise that the crowd for Sonic Youth wasn’t as strong as it could/should have been – moved time/stage the day of, really different than the Main Stage act that preceded them, and you wanted to hear classic, late eighties/early nineties Sonic Youth anyway…
Sonic Youth

 

Metric
Metric

Emily Haines' legsClick image for full gallery

A shift making a lot more sense was Sonic Youth-to-Metric, old-to-young (and Metric would play the same place in Brooklyn on Thursday that Sonic Youth had on Saturday – QRO Metric live review), but akin to Pavement-to-The National in the same time on the Main Stage on Day One (see Day One).  deadmau5’s cancellation did mean that Sonic Youth & Metric didn’t overlap (QRO photo of new set times), but Metric didn’t start with the world on fire, choosing to begin with a brand-new song (not even the single from Twilight: EclipseQRO soundtrack review).  However, while not as good as a ‘regular’ Metric show (which can pretty much be said for any band, regular show vs. festival appearance), pieces from last year’s Fantasies (QRO review) & older numbers like “Handshakes” got the crowd going – with frontwoman extraordinaire Emily Haines kneeling before the crowd & keepin’ up her ‘twist’, now on “Empty”, not old piece “The Twist”.no, you kneel before Haines!

Another difference between Days One & Two was in the number of Canadian bands like Metric, meaning of the twistwith far fewer on Day Two (only other Canadian act on Day Two we reviewed was Still Life Still – see above – and they’re both from Toronto, neither from Montreal/Quebec).  But Haines did bring out some Great White North praise, saying that, when she didn’t know what to do, she just, “Tried to think of what Neil Young would do.  So, for this song, think of Neil Young, out on his ranch – in America…”  U.S.A. #1!
Metric

 

Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot

More

Alexandra Lawn on keysClick image for full gallery

One overlap deadmau5’s cancellation lessened but didn’t entirely avert was that of Metric on the Main Stage & Ra Ra Riot on the Trees Stage, begging maybe the most important question in today’s indie-rock: Emily Haines or Alexandra Lawn (QRO interview)?  Haines is the frontwoman with “Stadium Love”, while Ra Ra Riot’s Lawn is just one of a collective, and not even the lead vocalist (that’s Wesley Miles – QRO interview) – and Haines is blonde.  But Lawn is younger, plays cello & keyboards (which beats Haines’ sometimes-guitar, sometimes-keys, never forget about Rebecca Zeller!oftentimes-neither), and has a much better tan.  In the end, Ra Ra Riot were playing a much smaller stage with much fewer bros in the crowd, and have Rebecca Zeller on violin (never forget about Rebecca Zeller…), so the American outfit won out.

Even though it was less a month from the release of their sophomore LP, The Orchard (QRO review – out in Canada on Toronto’s Arts & Crafts, something Miles made sure to mention, though he seemed to think that saying the label’s name would get more applause; this is Montreal, Wes, not Toronto…), Ra Ra Riot stuck mostly to debut full-length The Rhumb Line (QRO review) & Ra Ra Riot EP (QRO review), though did include Orchard‘s “Too Wesley MilesDramatic”, which still feels like more of a Rhumb piece (and not just because Rhumb has the similarly-titled “Too Too Too Fast”…).  Considering the competition from the end of Metric on the Main Stage and the start of DEVO on the Green Stage, Ra Ra Riot had a healthy turnout, with Miles high-fiveing the crowd near the end of the set (which still wasn’t the cutest moment of the performance – that was Zeller breaking some of the horsehair on her violin bow, and continuing to play as it bobbed in the air, like a string being played with by a cat).
Ra Ra Riot

 

DEVO
DEVO

pom-poms!Click image for full gallery

do you believe in DEVOlution?!?Yes, DEVO is an iconic alternative band, so post-punk they actually preceded it, but other than signature single “Whip It” and their spaceman-like outfits, what do you actually know about them?  After the young energy of Ra Ra Riot, one might have only expected old men in silly costumes singing a thirty-year-old song, just something to pop in on before Weezer.

And oh how wrong you would have been.  Well, DEVO were old (save for their drummer, tucked behind speakers – hiding that it wasn’t regular DEVO drummer Josh Freese, who was doing time in his ‘other’ band, Weezer; him & Ibold covered four of the biggest bands at Osheaga…), but had as much energy as anyone in Ra Ra Riot – hell, singer Mark Mothersbaugh at one point pulled out pom-poms!  Yes, they were wearing yellow spaceman-like suits, but not for the entire time – Mothersbaugh tore at his during one song, and they all removed them, down to matching black t-shirts & shorts later on.  Most importantly, they were electric – even if you didn’t know what song they were playing (at one point did seem to DEVO-fy covers), everyone in the audience had to answer yes when bassist Jerry Casale asked, “Do you believe… in DEVOlution?!?”

tearing at their spacesuitIt was honestly hard to tear away from a band with the energy, timing, skill, and showmanship of DEVO – it was only when the lights went out that their grip slacked.  It seemed to be a planned part of the show, right around when DEVO removed their yellow jumpsuits – but the black undergarments only made them harder to see in the lack of light.  And with what lighting there was coming from just-set up flood lights on the side of the stage, or a spotlight from the soundboard, plus Mothersbaugh joking that the power had gone out, it actually started to feel like this wasn’t part of the act.  If it was, it wasn’t the best move by the band – but if it wasn’t, kudos to them on handling it well enough that it felt like it was all part of the plan.
DEVO in the dark

 

Weezer
Weezer

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Brian BellAfter making a place for themselves in every alt-rock fan’s heart in the nineties, Weezer has gotten a lot of knocks in this century/millennium for going glossy and mainstream (The Onion called them, “Devoid of humanity”…).  Some of that has been fair – 2008’s Weezer (Red Album) (the third self-tilted Weezer record, each also named after the color of the backdrop) out-and-out sucked (QRO review), and this year’s Raditude was kinda like the title: a little funny, but not that ‘rad’ (QRO review).  But some of the criticism has been unfair, too – their alt-rock was never that ‘alt’ to begin with, and no band could keep up the greatness of early Weezer records like Weezer (Blue Album) and Pinkerton.
everyone on drums!

Expos fan on harmonicaRivers' poker faceSo throw out what you think you remember about Weezer’s records, and just enjoy their live show – there’s a lot to enjoy.  Pieces like “My Name Is Jonas” & “Buddy Holly” are still absolutely awesome, with singer/guitarist Rivers Cuomo still bustin’ out the harmonica after “The workers are going home” on “Jonas”.  In fact, Cuomo is still an excellent live frontman, often liberated from guitar (drummer Pat Wilson filling that spot, with touring drummer Freese – not only also of DEVO, but once of Nine Inch Nails & Guns ‘n’ Roses!… – on skins most of the time, though Wilson does go back there occasionally). At Osheaga, he started by sporting an Expos hat (Bob Nastanovich would be proud – see Day One), the later doffed a white wig for the bands medley cover of MGMT’s “Kids” & Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” – and didn’t just get the crowd going by standing on the big speakers at either end of the stage; he didn’t just jump into the photo pit and go into the crowd; he even went around the crowd, behind a fence and up into the VIP bleachers (and then returned by heading straight through the crowd)!  Snoop Dogg (see above) may have called out the bleachers, but Rivers Cuomo actually went there…
a Rivers runs through the bleachers

Could Weezer compete with Day One closer Arcade Fire for musical skill, where-have-you-been anticipation, or hometown love?  No, of course they couldn’t – no one could.  So Osheaga wisely went another direction and recruited a band you loved that love to play to you, playing songs you loved.  Put it this way: you know the show was great when you were not just singing along to “Jonas” or “Say It Ain’t So”, but even Raditude‘s “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” – the one that features guest vocals from Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl (Cuomo did both vocal parts at Osheaga – no pull-from-the-crowd guest singer like in Brooklyn two weeks ago – QRO live review – or Blair Waldorf herself like in Manhattan on Halloween – QRO live review)…
everybody loves Weezer

The set list was similar to those earlier shows, heavy on the earlier material (and they once again closed with everyone in the band joining Freese on drums, then taking a bow) – and they’re planning a tour playing all of Blue Album & Pinkerton. Weezer’s next album is entitled ‘Hurley’, and it’s got a big picture of your favourite Lost star on the cover (QRO’s own photo of Jorge Garcia).  So dude, Weezer’s awesome again…
take a bow, Weezer

 

-words & photos: Ted Chase & Brendan MaGee

 

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