The first act I caught, after pushing my way past the many aggressive scalpers at the entrance, was K-OS. Hailing from Ontario, K-OS started his show by taunting from backstage "Toronto makes more noise than that" and once the appropriate amount of frenzy was achieved he joined his bandmates onstage. Any time a hip hop artist plays with a live band you know you're in good hands. K-OS had the usual guitar, bass, drum combo, but in this case he added a musician who was playing every other percussion imaginable. In classic hip hop fashion no song was quite like the album version, and there is never a clear beginning or end. He opened with "BBoystance" and closed with "Crucial." Somewhere in between he played "Emcee Murder", "Man I Used to be", and "Shaft." He also managed to use a sound bite from the Wizard of Oz without losing face. Though it was a good show, and the crowd was into it, I did find it a bit lackluster. I was also a little disappointed he didn't play "Crabbuckit", he may be tired of hearing it, but I'm not!
Then I moved on to catch the end of James Chance & The Contortions on one of the secondary stages. Promoted as having a "frankly unlikeable, near nihilistic image…" his performance came off as pretentious, though not uninteresting. With his upturned collar and lyrics about heroin he has a distinctly "fallen lounge singer" vibe. He plays sax and is backed by no less then two guitar players, and of course bass, and drums. It was interesting to see this band, whose members were much older than the average age of the festival goers, garner such dedication from the gathering crowd. There was definitely some magnetism happening here. I recommend checking out some sound clips on the Internet…that's what I'm going to do.
Later, on the same stage The Brazilian Girls captured the audience. Also eccentric, they played to a small but devoted crowd. I almost want to call their music experimental but that always seems to imply a bad acid trip and a cow bell. This was more along the Bjork inspired path. A mix of electronica, reggae and a handful of other influences, this band actually had no guitar player. Backed by keyboards, drums, and bass, the singer sounded like a mix of Bjork and Feist. In a bizarre shtick, she was wearing what I can only describe as white pantyhose over her face, thus obscuring it. At the beginning of each of the first few songs she would take out a make-up mirror and draw on a part of her face. First she added lips to the blank canvas, using very red lipstick. Then later, with what I can only assume was eyeliner, added eyes. Bizarre. They did perform a French song, which is always endearing to us Québécois.
Headlining the festival on its first day was Sonic Youth, who mentioned that they were honoured to be a part of its inception, and hope to return in the future to see how the festival has grown. I really appreciated the on stage banter, after spending several hours listening to live music you begin to crave some conversation, even if it is one sided. The band did not play very many songs, but did have at least one five minute jam session. They played songs such as "Incinerate", "Eric's trip", "What a waste" and "The world looks red." In a rather strange move they ended their set early then came back for a one song encore. This was a bit odd. I like a good encore, in fact I demand them, but this just seemed forced.
Brazilian Girls Set
Just One Of Those Things
Talk To The Bomb
All About Us