On a nice, but thankfully not too hot, day Osheaga kicked off. With four stages of a variety of musical genres going on from 1 p.m. until 11 p.m. any fan of music was obviously in going to be in heaven.
The bands I was interested in catching were mostly playing on the side-by-side main stages, so I spent the better part of my day there.
The only disappointment of the day was that highly anticipated act Cage the Elephant had to cancel their set due to border issues and were ably replaced by Rich Aucoin. He took one for the team as he had played the night before at Metropolis opening up for of Montreal.
I started off wanting to catch Brit Jamie Lidell on the smaller Sennheiser stage late in the afternoon. A chance to see a performer like that in a more intimate setting was a treat. The poor thing had to deal with a delay caused by technical problems, but he handled it like a pro and it did not seem to affect his performance. He had to wait in the wings while his band sat on stage and had to deal with a crowd that got more and more antsy as time dragged on. The keyboard player rather smartly began playing Stevie Wonder's "That's What Friends Are For" and a clap-along ensued. Once onstage he did not disappoint. Like he was conducting an aerobics class, Lidell was gesticulating and bouncing all over the place. Soul singer Lidell's set, backed by his great band, was full funk jam.
One of my favourite bands Keane played an early evening set. Always an energetic band to see live Keane was up to the task yet again. Treating their fans the British pop band gave them what they came for with enthusiastic treatments of their hits like "Spiralling" and "Everybody's Changing". Casually dressed in a black polo shirt and black jeans, lead singer Tom Chapin was all over the stage and keyboardist Tim Rice Oxley played like a man possessed. Bringing to the stage "one of their favourite hip hop artists" Keane performed the number "Stop for a Minute" off their latest album with Canadian K'Naan. Their anthemic rock songs had one of the biggest crowds of the day in front of the stage.
Next up on stage was Pavement, who matched Keane's enthusiasm and energy with their set. Playing songs like "Two States" and the set finale "Here" the band won over many.
Just before headliners Arcade Fire was The National. Lead singer Matt Berninger stated that the band was feeling privileged to be playing in between two of their favourite bands, Arcade Fire and Pavement, on this day. The five-piece outfit from Cincinnati played songs from the length and breadth of their career, such as "High Violet". Thousands took in their set and not a one was disappointed. After playing for almost one hour, Berninger's voice was still as smooth and crooner like as when he began. Though he was impressively dressed he was not above lying on his back while screaming out the lyrics at one point during the set. It ended up being one of the best performances of the day.
Other notable sets on the first day were performed by Canadian folk artist Sarah Harmer, the aforementioned K'Naan, Fran Healy – the lead singer of Scottish band Travis, Swedish pop star Robyn, Beach House, and Japanoids (loudest band of the day).
On the first day of this year's Osheaga Music and Arts Festival 25,000 people passed through the gates. A large portion of those people came to see hometown favourites Arcade Fire perform and the band did not let them down.
Headliners on the first day, Arcade Fire played last and that gave them a chance to play their set with the usual Saturday night fireworks from LaRonde accompanying them in the background for a portion of their time on stage. Beautiful music and beautiful scenery. Fans seemed really into their set, which was filled with hits and songs from their new album, "The Suburbs". The pace of the set never let up and kept forging forwards with the beats assaulting all those who had gathered in front of the main stage. From their opening song, "Ready to Start", the band had the crowd up and dancing along with them and their music.
Pandering to the crowd, Régine Chassagne (wife of lead singer Win Butler) addressed them in French, while her husband took care of the English content. Starting many a sentence with "mes amis" (which considering they were playing a gig in their hometown many probably were friends, family and acquaintances) she implored them to help the band along during the show. Also showing some favourtism to the hometown crowd the band played for the first time live two electronica flavoured songs from the new album. After a nearly 2 hour set it was brought to a close with a blast of confetti shot into the air.
At several points during the set the band was obviously affected by the love being showered on them by the large crowd and got fairly emotional. Obviously spurred on and happy to be playing a show in their hometown the band capped off a great day of music in the right way and set the bar pretty high for bands taking the stage on Day 2.
Day 1 is done and by all accounts it was a huge success. The weather cooperated, the music was top notch, the food was tasty, and there was even some free swag to be had. What more could you ask for?
Jamie Lidell's (partial) Setlist:
1) The Ring
3) Another Day
4) I Wanna Be Your Telephone
Arcade Fire's Setlist:
1) 'Ready To Start'
2) 'Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)'
3) 'No Cars Go'
5) 'Empty Room'
8) 'Crown Of Love'
9) 'Deep Blue'
10) 'We Used To Wait'
11) 'Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)'
12) 'Rebellions (Lies)'
13) 'Month Of May'
14) 'Half Light II (Celebration)'
15) 'Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)'
16) 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)'
17) 'Wake Up'