Osheaga 2012 : Day Two Recap

<img src="https://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/osheaga12d2.jpg" alt="Osheaga 2012 : Day Two Recap" />A hot Day Two led to some hot acts at Montreal's Osheaga. ...
Osheaga 2012 : Day Two Recap
Osheaga 2012 : Day Two Recap

The Anglophone alternative music festival community just doesn’t give enough credit to those events held outside their sphere.  To be fair, North America (QRO Festival Guide), U.K. (QRO Festival Guide), and Down Under (QRO Festival Guide) all have a ton of festivals – but one of the best, in any language, on any continent, is Osheaga, in Francophone Montreal.

Now with a fully established third day, Osheaga went toe-to-toe with any festival out there Friday-Sunday, August 3rd to 5th.

 

 

Day Two of Osheaga, Saturday, August 4th, was a scorcher, even hotter than the first day.  However, everything seemed to run smoother, from the long walk to the Verte Stage to the cheap drinks in VIP.

 

The Dø

At a festival that proved capable of kick-starting early crowds with lively sets (see Solids on Friday, CHAPPO on Sunday), Saturday’s opener The Dø (pronounced “dough”) was one of the earliest and liveliest.  The French/Finnish duo fire on a lot of different pistons, but the main thrust is Nordic art-core rock.  Frontwoman Olivia Merilahti has the sort of jaw-dropping vocal chops we’ve come to expect, or at least hope for, from Nordic sirens in the post-Björk musical landscape.  Equal parts vim, vigor, and breathy tease, Merliahti made believers of an Osheaga crowd that had probably never heard their music before.  Interspersed between more conventional rock numbers were long, drawn out, hyper-repetitive percussive breaks that gripped the fans’ attention, similar to the way old blues musicians would ride out the same lick ad infinitum until the entire music hall had raised its collective head.  Shades of Day Three’s Metric (QRO live review) at times – definitely a band to watch.

 

Memoryhouse

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Normally atmospheric acts wilt in the sun when playing early in the day at a festival, but while it was sunny & hot out, Memoryhouse held up nicely.  Their relaxed atmospherics Memoryhouseactually were pretty nice to have to start out Day Two – akin to Sub Pop labelmates Beach House (QRO live review), though not as far in that direction, as there was still a touch of rock to their work.  The jokingly asked the crowd to all say their favorite band from the day before – all at the same time, but one could make out “Sigur Rós” (QRO photos).  The group then joked that they were the best band that the crowd had seen this day…

Memoryhouse

 

The Aggrolites

Reggae, ska, soul: The Aggrolites don’t reinvent the wheel and they couldn’t care less.  The band looks like it has signed an exclusive couture contract with ‘Los Angeles Stereotypes ‘R’ Us’.  Either that or they’re castoff extras from an unwritten Cheech & Chong movie.  None of that detracts from the music though.  In fact, The Aggrolites are sort of a L.A. party on wheels, and they brought the funk to otherwise funk-less Montreal.  Every good festival needs one or more bands like this to break the ice – it gives the preteens who just smoked dope for the first time something to dance to.

 

Portugal. The Man

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Alaska’s (not Iberia’s) Portugal. The Man have been kicking around for some time now, but only really took off last year with their major label release In the Mountain. In the Cloud (QRO review).  Not the strongest psych-rock around, but it had some strong singles in “So American” and “All Your Light” – and those songs held up live.  However, “Light” was first and “So American” in the middle of the set, meaning that the psych-jam end wasn’t as impressive.

Portugal. The Man

 

Kandle

This homegrown Montreal talent deserves better than the vague, empty, basically bizarre promo blurb she was saddled with in the Osheaga program: “Do not be mislead, Kandle’s first record is an album of substance, depth and true talent.  It resonates like smoke from a blue flame and sticks with you like an old friend.  Kandle Osborne: know her name.”  What’s the presupposition here?  That we all collectively read a really terrible review of Kandle, but rest assured, the album is really extraordinary?  That the record resonates like smoke (does smoke “resonate”?) from a blue flame (why blue?) that sticks with us like an old friend?  A catastrophe of mixed metaphors.  On the bright side, Kandle was, indeed, a charming and superlative performer who showed zero hesitance in front of the large festival crowd.  Her mix of homey, countrified licks and smoky (from a blue flame) exoticism was a perfect delight at the Scene des Arbres.

 

Cursive

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Relative veterans these days, Omaha’s Cursive have never quite matched the success of early single “Dorothy at 40” – kind of like peers Superchunk (QRO live review) and “Slack Motherfucker”.  Actually, Cursive live come off a bit like Superchunk, in the well-oiled veteran department & older-looking than their sound, albeit without Chunk’s great humor.  The group mixed & matched from their many albums at Osheaga, though interestingly frontman Tim Kasher seemed most animated not when playing new material, but when doing “Dorothy”.

 

Cursive

 

 

The Black Lips

The Black Lips

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A must-catch act on the Osheaga bill had to be The Black Lips at the smaller Arbres Stage – as much because it was the right size for the crowd to go nuts, but the photo barrier to still stay in place (unlike other times – QRO live review).  The crowd did go wild, kicking up a ton of dust that drifted into the photo pit and onto the stage, but it mattered little, as the energy was still at 110%.  “This is the real electronic music – with guitars…”

wild, dusty crowd

 

The Raveonettes

The guy/girl duo took the stage at Scene Verte during what must have been the hottest part of the hottest day during Osheaga.  The sky and earth were white hot, the shade nonexistent – only the bold & beautiful & stoned braved the extreme weather conditions to people the front of the stage.  Thankfully there were many bold & beautiful & stoned individuals because The Raveonettes veritably thrived in the torrid atmosphere.  Their electric guitar licks carved hot, bleeding gashes through the oppressive wall of heat and the guy/girl vocal harmonies laid down a nice, doped up lullaby for the brain-boiled crowd to hallucinate along to.  Fantastic visions, fantastic sounds, a hot tornado of sonic love.

 

Young the Giant

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“Have they played ‘Cough Syrup’ or ‘Your Apartment’ yet?”  “No, nothing big.”  Young the Giant grew giant-size overnight on the back of a couple of singles from their self-titled debut – so one could be forgiven for just wanting to hear those songs as they played a main stage whose audience stretched from the hot & dusty to the hot & muddy (the latter were those closer up who got hit with the hose-in-the-air from the pit – while a cooling down was nice, the guy with the hose seemed to just assume that no one in the wide arc minded getting drenched, and never seemed to think that he might be more annoying than helpful…).  Then they played “Cough Syrup” and “Your Apartment” back-to-back in the middle of the set.

 

did anyone ask for a shower?

 

 

A$AP Rocky

Along with Kandle (see above), A$AP Rocky was another victim of the vague, empty promo blurb in the Osheaga program.  I won’t even bother to quote it – it’s the meaningless hype blurb we’ve all seen a million times.  But, unlike Kandle (who was local & probably deserved a more substantive write up), the Osheaga crew had an excuse with Rocky.  The NYC-based rapper has buzzed-out & blown-up so quickly it’s pretty hard for the rest of the world to decide why it should care.  A$AP Rocky… he’s the dude that likes “purple drank,” right?  And he has a couple of viral videos?  All the elements were in place for a disastrous set by a flavor-of-the-month who had more marketing savvy that talent.  Sure enough, the set started with a needlessly protracted entrance.  Amidst growing tension and restlessness among the sweltering crowd, the “pretty motherfucker” didn’t show up until ten minutes into the set.  But when Rocky finally made an appearance, he didn’t disappoint.  With solid beats and on-point delivery, the young phenom proved he’s more than a viral sensation, though he’s clearly still working out some of the finer points of filling out a full set at a major festival show.  Growing pains, but he’s got time to grow.

 

Young Galaxy

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Catherine McCandlessSurprisingly, Montreal locals Young Galaxy (who played at about the exact same time as fellow ‘Young G’ Young the Giant – see above) hadn’t played Osheaga before now, despite their connections to Osheaga ‘11’s Broken Social Scene (QRO photos) and ‘10’s Stars (QRO photos).  But even if you didn’t know their material, they sounded good – and looked it, to, with all the guys dressed in all white, while frontwoman Catherine McCandless wearing what appeared to be hot pants, a sports bra, and some sort of sideways, billowing, see-through tube-top (as well as lots of eye shadow)…

Young Galaxy

 

Garbage

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Shirley Manson“If you know us, we’re Garbage.  If you don’t know us, we’re Garbage.  And if you hate Garbage, fuck you, we’re still Garbage!”  One of the nineties’ biggest alt-acts returned this year with Not Your Kind of People (QRO review), but at Osheaga didn’t shirk from playing the old hits like “Only Happy When It Rains” – and also an impressive early non-single, dedicated to the people who came to Osheaga specifically for Garbage, “Why Do You Love Me?”.  Oh, and Shirley MansonShirley Manson is still a kick-ass frontwoman (those were her words at the start of this paragraph), and hasn’t aged, though her hiked up shorts and auburn locks in a tight bun on the top of her head did make her look a little alien – such as one that might have come from of the UFO she pointed out during the set (which was actually a drone camera being operated from the ground – there was one the following Friday at ColbChella (QRO recap); must be new hip thing to have a festival…).

I Want To Believe

 

SBTRKT

SBTRKT was one of the largest acts at the clubby Scene Piknik Electronik (or at least one with the largest crossover appeal) and has had plenty of buzz via the blog circuit.  So it was no great surprise that the London act packed the smaller stage tight during a late afternoon set on Saturday.  The club kids love ‘em, the indie rock kids love ‘em, most everyone that crowded into the shoulder-to-shoulder scene loved ‘em.  SBTRKT has the Aphex Twin-ish ability to effortlessly mix together rock sounds, noise sounds, electro sounds into one big sonic soup served piping hot, resonating with smoky steam from a blue flame.

 

Yeasayer

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Brooklyn’s Yeasayer has evolved into one of those indie mega bands that is so bursting with talent and production value that it’s seemingly impossible for them to turn out an inferior product.  Case in point: their latest album Fragrant World (QRO review), which was showcased at the Osheaga set, doesn’t reach for the ambitious heights of their previous Odd Blood (QRO review), but their artful composition and pristine execution is so flawless that you can’t pass it by.  Yeasayer is virtually a mandatory listen.  That might sounds burdensome were it not for the band’s apparent reluctance to play up to any sort of tiresome rock god stereotype.  The willfully weird ensemble (see the video for “Madder Red”) doesn’t overpower the listener with their musical chops – Yeasayer knows how to show restraint, and that makes all the difference.  The live set at Osheaga showed all their typical restraint; a band that is capable of analog/electro fireworks knows where to hold back and when to press forward at all the right times. 

Yeasayer

 

Feist

Even as the sun was beginning to set, the heat of Day Two was beginning to overwhelm – and the crowds were growing ever larger, especially at the main stage.  So forgive QRO for catching the wonderful Feist on the big-screen in the VIP area (which had only just discovered…) – it was a way nicer way to see the lovely lady (and her lovely band, including QRO favorite Charles Spearin – QRO interview), as she belted out a strong set.  Even the bros like Feist, or at least the Canadian bros, eh…

 

The Jesus & Mary Chain

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What’s left to be said about one of the great rock acts of underground rock n roll of the late 20th century?  Now fully aboveground, The Jesus & Mary Chain are enjoying their victory lap.  Has the band lost the edge of its turbulent and troubled past?  Well, duh.  Who cares?  Frontman Jim Reid’s vocals still purr like stoned alley cat and his brother still knows how to send up a wall of wah-wah’d feedback like he was about to set the entire world on fire.  The band seemed a little out of sorts in general, wary of being caught in the has-been simulacrum of yesteryear indie favorites, and the festival PA never approached the hostile pitch, level, and intensity of Jesus & Mary Chain legend.  But, all told, smooth sailing from a band that never knew smooth sailing the first time around.

The Jesus and Mary Chain

 

Snoop Dogg

After The Jesus & Mary Chain headlined the Verte Stage, really wasn’t up to seeing the D-O-double-G from a million miles away as he headlined the main stage – so caught Snoop Dogg on the big screen in VIP (with James Shaw & Josh Winstead of Day Three’s Metric – QRO live review).  Snoop kind of appeals to everyone – gangsta enough for the gangstas, but also relaxed & engaging enough for the white kids.  And he’s just an affable celebrity – plus, maybe nobody this side of Willie Nelson is as associated with weed, and who don’t like weed?  Though not sure about this whole Chris Gaines-style alter-ego side-project, as the reggae ‘Snoop Lion’…

 

VIP

 

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