Osheaga 2011 : Day Two Recap

<img src="https://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/osheaga11d2.jpg" alt="Osheaga : Day Two" />Day Two of Osheaga featured a diverse line-up of acts, everyone from Elvis Costello & The Imposters to Death From Above 1979....
Osheaga : Day Two
Osheaga 2011 Day Two Recap

Last year, Montreal’s Osheaga Music Festival reached the top level of North American music festivals with an indie fan’s wet dream (QRO recap).  Rather than try to repeat that trick, Osheaga 2011 went wider, both in terms of acts – everyone from Eminem to Elvis Costello (and that’s just the letter ‘E’…) – and days, expanding to a third, now Friday-Sunday, on July 29th to 31st.

 

 

Day Two was, in some ways, the ‘real start’ of Osheaga (that’s how it had been previously, just Saturday & Sunday), as the Eminem fans of Day One were gone.  The line-up was particularly diverse, headlined by the iconic Elvis Costello, but also featuring everyone from the out-of-control dance-punk Death From Above 1979 reunion to hip-hop in Lupe Fiasco (QRO photos), and everything in between:

 

The Midway State
The Midway State

The Midway StateClick image for full gallery

Toronto’s own The Midway State were one of the many Canadian bands at Osheaga given the unfortunate early slots at one of the main stages – when lots of people aren’t there yet, and those that are don’t want to stand in the hot midday sun & dust.  The Midway State was a little over-emotional at times (especially when the singer moved from guitar to keys), but not bad – and extra points for one of the band members mentioning that their gym teacher was in the audience…
The Midway State

 

Oh Land
Oh Land

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Oh LandUnlike Day One, Days Two and Three of Osheaga often had bigger draws playing the smaller side stages, and that started with Oh Land at the Green Stage.  The Danish lady looked lovely in her white flowing robe & blonde flowing locks (though some P.C. types in the crowd might have objected to her feathered headdress…), mixing the stage presence of not just Lykke Li (QRO album review) – an obvious antecedent – but also Little Boots (QRO live review) and even Emily Haines (QRO solo album review) of Osheaga 2010’s Metric (QRO photos).  She started with “Wolf Song”, with her now-two man backing band wearing wolf masks, but suffered some technical problems that made standout “Son of Gun” sound scratchy – but had the big crowd dancing.
Oh Land

 

Manchester Orchestra
Manchester Orchestra

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Andy HullSome festivalgoers thought they were being treated to a surprise appearance from Mumford & Sons (QRO live review) after arriving a bit late on Saturday…  Instead, they got Georgia’s Manchester Orchestra, who turned out to be just as good as and a little less clichéd than M&S.  The band’s set featured an entrancing keyboardist who happened to also drum, as well as a lot of lesser known picks from the Manchester Orchestra songbook (QRO most recent album review).  While they didn’t make any sort of crazy, long-lasting impression, the five-piece did well to pump up the growing crowds, mixing emotion with the band’s harder fare.
Manchester Orchestra

 

Hey Rosetta!
Hey Rosetta!

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Fast-rising Canucks, Hey Rosetta!, put together an upbeat medley of tracks, mostly off of recent Polaris Prize nominee Seeds.  It likely seemed odd to HR!-outsiders when the band drove into their set playing a song titled “New Goodbye”, but the fervent mandolin strumming and elegant strokes of violin and cello were more than enough to distract.  From there, the crowd was treated to lively, built-up renditions of “Yer Spring” and “Yer Fall”, as well as a much needed shower from an Osheaga staffer wielding a fire hose.
Hey Rosetta!

 

BRAIDS
BRAIDS

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BRAIDSThanks to some inebriated, unapologetic friends, QRO made it safely in front of a couple hundred folks at Green Stage waiting for Calgary’s latest buzz band, BRAIDS.  The charming quartet proceeded to play a loud set of the indie pop gems that earned their debut record Native Speaker a slot on the 2011 Polaris Prize shortlist – and based on the audience’s demeanor, it seemed as though friends were not the only ones partaking in overpriced domestic draft.  While beer led the crowd, it was hit song “Lemonade” that dominated the Canadians’ mostly engaging set list.
BRAIDS

 

Tokyo Police Club
Tokyo Police Club

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bring out the hose!Back at one of the Main Stages was a more established Canadian act, Tokyo Police Club.  Keyboardist Graham Wright might have said (QRO interview) that the band isn’t good at outdoor festivals, but that didn’t show at Osheaga (to be fair, he made that statement after playing Bamboozle in New Jersey, so now in their native land, and Osheaga >> Bamboozle…).  The heat and sun didn’t damper the band, who had the crowd clapping along – and right when you were thinking that the set needed Hey Rosetta!’s hose, out it came (right near your correspondent…).
Tokyo Police Club water cannon

 

The Mountain Goats
The Mountain Goats

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John DarnielleSaturday’s biggest surprise came out of killing time at an early afternoon set on the Trees Stage.  Despite facing off against Twin Shadow and John Butler Trio (QRO photos), Claremont, California’s The Mountain Goats drew a respectable crowd to the shaded, fenced in nook; what’s more, the audience’s eruption upon their taking the stage signified that most were there to do more than just beat the heat.  Much to the crowd’s delight, the trio played a punk infused set of their acoustic and thought-provoking catalogue.  “This Year” and “No Children” made for the best moments – while his sentiments around the latter made for an energizing moment, frontman John Darnielle was at his best being supported by the audience on the former.
The Mountain Goats

 

Twin Shadow
Twin Shadow

George Lewis Jr.Click image for full gallery

In the last year, lots of people have been talking about George Lewis Jr., the creative force behind & frontman of Twin Shadow.  It would seem that an appearance in the artistic Montreal would be a perfect showcase for the man/group, but that wasn’t the case.  While decent, his electro-rock hardly sounded revelatory – though Lewis himself was certainly having fun.
Twin Shadow

 

Sam Roberts Band
Sam Roberts Band

Sam RobertsClick image for full gallery

Fresh off releasing the closest thing to critically acclaimed debut album We Were Born In A Flame, Sam Roberts Band strayed away from the new stuff, and instead focused on the in-between.  “Detroit 67” and “Fixed To Ruin” certainly weren’t slouching songs, and the band’s performance was lively and animated… but with Canadian classics like “Don’t Walk Away Eileen” and new flames like “The Band Vs The World” just gathering dust, the shaggy rocker’s set list could have garnered a lot more affection from the thousand or so people in the crowd.
Sam Roberts Band

 

Suuns
Suuns

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not a Suuny faceOut at the Trees Stage, Montreal’s own Suuns probably had a larger crowd at Osheaga than they would at any other festival, as their sound is an acquired taste.  Somewhat reminiscent of Liverpool cult act Clinic (QRO spotlight on), Suuns were slightly off-putting and experimental, but also intricate and interesting – though more twenty-first century than Clinic’s turn-of-the-century antique feel (no melodicas).  And Suuns’ singer could definitely use the surgical masks that Clinic always employs, given the kind of faces he makes on stage…
Suuns

 

Sia
Sia

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Sia FurlerAnother major artist playing a side stage at Osheaga, Sia was greeted with squeals of delight from the mostly female audience when she took the stage, wearing an Afro-Caribbean style get-up (and her band in striped pajamas).  The Aussie was an engaging and funny personality throughout her set, from funny faces and dances to asking, “Does anyone have any heckling they want to do?”When someone shouted, “Show us your tits” (hopefully ironically…), Sia quickly responded, “They’re just like your moms…”  Big and bold pop maybe would have been better on a main stage – certainly would have fit better – but well received anywhere.
Sia

 

P.S. I Love You
P.S. I Love You

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P.S.Another bright spot came from leaving the “Free Rum Shot” booth, and heading back to the Trees Stage for P.S. I Love You.  Much like last year’s fellow Canucks Japandroids (QRO photos from Osheaga 2010), the band’s two members rely on gang vocals, distortion, and some good ol’ punk rock spirit.  The Kingston duo quickly filled up their relatively tiny alcove, as the sounds of “Meet Me At Muster Station” powered through the now-sweltering heat, and the warm, albeit enthusiastic audience.  Unfortunately, the beer vendor was nowhere to be found, and Death From Above was set to unleash on the other side of the island… two factors that cut PS’s set short for much of the Tree Stage Crowd.
P.S. I Love You

 

Death From Above 1979
Death From Above 1979

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With a ten dollar Souvlaki in hand, it was time to cross Parc Jean Drapeau once again… and while the intensity of Death From Above 1979 was a marvel well worth the hike, the band’s time at Osheaga failed to account for the buzz they created at SXSW earlier this year (QRO recap).  Death From Above 1979Sure, “Black History Month” tore it up, and Sebastian Grainger (QRO solo album review) and Jesse Keelor proved to be both talented and magnetic musicians, but when all was said and done, something didn’t quite fit for this one.  Thankfully, fans were able to form one heck of a mosh pit in the mud that remained from occasional hosings down, along with numerous crowd surfers (such as a guy in a Superman outfit, who was threatened with expulsion by security after trying to get a ‘victory cheer’ from the crowd while walking out of the photo pit he’d landed in) and the mood was still upbeat.
Superman 1979

DFA1979 also brought out a number of Osheaga artists to watch from the crowd, including Graham Wright (QRO interview) & Dave Monks (QRO photos) of Tokyo Police Club (see above), as well as Kevin Drew of Day One’s Broken Social Scene (QRO photos) with guests Liam O’Neill of the late Stills (QRO spotlight on) and Jimmy Shaw of Osheaga 2010’s Metric (QRO photos).
above Death From Above 1979

 

Ratatat
Ratatat

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When DFA finished, it seemed like the entire crowd from that main stage raced over the Green Stage for Ratatat – making for a massive crowd (seemingly every photographer raced over to Ratatat as well, and pushed in front of girls near where one would enter, only to be told that the pit was full, so they just stood there in front of the actual fans; QRO was too polite to do so, and none of us got into the pit…).  Fans weren’t just getting on others’ shoulders, but even climbing into trees – and there was a crowdsurfing Purple Man.
Ratatat

 

Bright Eyes
Bright Eyes

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Whether it was the fall out from DFA-disappointment, being in the same slot as The National in 2010 (QRO photos), being up against Ratatat, or maybe even a touch of heat stroke, dashed expectations seemed to plague Nebraska’s Bright Eyes as well.  The brainchild of Monsters of Folk (QRO review)’s Conner Oberst was playing what was rumored to be one of their final dates ever – in spite of that urgency and their strong instrumentation, though, the band came off as angst-ridden and unrelatable.  Save for a touching performance of “We Are Nowhere And This Is Now”, Bright Eyes proved to be the perfect background music to eating a heavenly hamburger (or at least it seemed that way at the time), and taking a nap under the setting sun.

 

Elvis Costello & The Imposters
Elvis Costello & The Imposters

Elvis CostelloClick image for full gallery

Elvis & go-go dancerWith much of the DFA crowd having gone to Ratatat or otherwise dissolved during Bright Eyes, it looked like living legend Elvis Costello wasn’t going to get the crowd he deserved, headlining Day Two (the big mud puddle left over from DFA moshers & the daytime hose also gave a hole in the crowd).  They were also a bit of an odd fit as headliners, considering none of the other Osheaga acts were as long-lived (though many on Day Two paid tribute to the man, including Sebastien Grainger of DFA turning the “D!F!A!” chant from the crowd into “El!Vis!Costello!”…).  None of this seemed to faze Elvis or his Imposters, who put on a hell of a show.
go-go dancers

Hammer of SongsThey also came prepared.  While Costello didn’t have the ‘Wheel of Songs’ that he had recently revived on tour (a giant, carnival-like wheel that he’d spin to pick a song to play), claiming that Montreal didn’t let him bring it, he did have his ‘Hammer of Songs’ – a carnival-like hammer game with titles like “Songs of Sneer” and “Ladies Excuse Me”.  Costello also brought his go-go booth – a gilded cage for his own go-go dancer.  A second dancer was brought on to pick a song and swing the hammer (led to the Hammer by a third, who sort of played the role that the stage models do at awards ceremonies, guiding people around the stage), before spending her own time in the go-go booth.
Elvis Costello & fans

go-go hammerElvis CostelloBut that was hardly all, as Costello also invited two fans, a boy and a girl, up from the front of the crowd onto the stage, to pick a song each (neither ever swung the Hammer, though).  The boy was particularly excited, falling when climbing up onto the stage (but bouncing right back up), energetically pointing at Costello and the band – so much so that the tall blond who guided them around the stage had to pull him back.  Both were eventually put into the go-go booth (the boy couldn’t dance, and even fell down a second time), perhaps as much to keep them – i.e., him – from potentially causing problems on stage.  Later, when he returned to his friends (right in front of your QRO correspondent), they saw the bruises the young man had from his trip, but “I’m so happy that I don’t care!”
Elvis Costello & The Imposters

 

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