Going into the Osheaga festival Day 1, I had few expectations. All I knew was that 2 bands I should appreciate and bow down to (Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.) were performing. My introduction to the sonic wall that is Dinosaur Jr. occurred while I waited outside the gates. Hearing the massive wall of sound created by J. Mascis (guitar), Lou Barlow (bass), and Murph (drums), I could see how this band would be relevant today, even though their music is over 20 years young. Upon entering, I rushed to see the rejoined legends in their middle-aged glory. With crazy long white hair down to his ass, J. Mascis pummelled the early crowd with a fury and relentlessness that I have not heard in while.
Next up on my list were the Montrealers Malajube. This 5 piece was one of my first discoveries in La Belle Province, and this performance was highly anticipated. Using their 45 minute set to display the genius of their second full-length album, Trompe -l’Oeil, Malajube gave the Quebecois something to be extremely proud of. Julien Mineau (guitar, vocals), Francis Mineau (drums), Thomas Augustin (keyboards, vocals), Mathieu Cournoyer (bass), and Renaud Bastien (keyboards, guitars) entertained throughout by playing their hits Montreal, -40 and Pate Filo. Their combination of pop-punk is made palatable by their slightly less traditional song structures and their set peaked with the elongated performance of personal favourite Etienne d’Aout. Even though their music is entirely in French, something this good can be appreciated by anyone, including us Anglos.
Shuffling over several feet to my right I lined up to watch the next main stage set by Metric. Riding high on the success of their 2nd full-length album, Live It Out, Metric has many fans, and for good reason; their 2 albums are simply stellar. It’s just too bad their live shows aren’t as memorable. After seeing their first 2 songs and realizing that the show was no different from their previous Metropolis gig, I decided to check out the set by another local act We Are Wolves. This was the TSN turning point.
Newcomers We Are Wolves are a 3 piece from Montreal that I have come to know only by name, and not by their music. Where the hell have I been, seriously? As soon as their set started, I knew that I had come across a group that could possibly fill the void in my soul left by the break up of Death From Above 1979. The music from their album Non Stop Je Te Plie En 2 blew me away and the bitter taste left by the gorgeous Emily Haines was instantly replaced by 3 weirdos with wack costumes and what seemed to be oversized butterflies extending from their backs. Compromising a bassist, a keyboardist, and a standup drummer, We Are Wolves play with that urgency that so often lacks in music, and on top of that their songs were great. Combing the dirty drudgery of the Stooges with the killer beats of The Rapture, We Are Wolves provided a reason to linger by the MEG stage and away from the main stages at Osheaga.
After hearing mixed reviews about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!’s live performance, I opted instead to check out the 30 minute set by Toronto band Born Ruffians on the Scene des Arbres stage. These 3 dudes are super young, yet their music clearly would say otherwise. Luke LaLonde (guitars, vocals), Mitch DeRosier (bass, vocals), and Steve Hamelin (drums) have created an incredibly original sound that steals the jangly guitars of The Strokes, combining it with vocals quite similar to the indie drone of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! On this their 3rd time in Montreal, the Ruffian set list included Hedonistic Me, a bouncing pop track complete with yelps and wails from both singers, and the made-for-the-crowd This Sentence. Although these guys haven’t garnered the kind of indie-love given to Clap Your Hands, do yourself a favour and check these young lads out.
After my indulgence of Born Ruffians, I finished my day off with the much anticipated performance by the Brazilian Girls. Headlining the MEG stage on Day 1, this 4 piece from New York has earned all the attention that they have received. With a reputation built on an amazing debut album and unforgettable shows, the non-Brazilian Brazilian Girls seemed up to the task of closing down the evening. The sultry Sabina Sciubba on vocals is clearly the focal point of the group, yet nothing should be taken away from Didi Gutman (keyboards), Jesse Murphy (bass), and Aaron Johnston (drums), for they are the ones providing the backdrop for Sabina’s antics. At the heart they seem to be just an incredible jazz band with an enigmatic front-woman that evoked comparisons to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This comparison should not be taken too lightly or literally, as their music is not similar, yet Sabina’s sexiness and performance is mesmerizing much the way Karen O can single handedly work a crowd. Drawing heavily off their upcoming 2nd album Talk to La Bomb, the Girls never stopped the beat with no vocal interaction with the crowd, which was all part of the performance. Wearing what seemed to be a leotard pulled over her face, Sabina was hidden from the crowd, yet slowly revealed her features by amusingly applying makeup to the aforementioned mask in between songs. With painted on eyes and lipstick, Sabina led the group through crowd pleasers Don’t Stop, Lazy Lover, and the notorious Pussy. Much like the lyrics to Pussy, Brazilian Girls are a winning combination of 2 things; an incredibly tight and talented band, and a competent singer to match. A winning formula indeed. As the song goes….Pussy pussy pussy marijuana. Can’t go wrong really……