Coming off the high of almost 40,000 taking in Eminem day at Osheaga, also known as Day 1, the fact that there was only a sparse crowd on hand to take in Saturday night’s headliner, Elvis Costello, must have been a letdown for the organizers. So, it was up to Day 3 with The Flaming Lips and Death Cab for Cutie as headliners to get it back on track.
And I am pleased to announce that back on track is what they did get it. First of all, the all important attendance was back up with 23,000 fans showing up for Sunday’s cornucopia of music. That brought the total attendance for the entire weekend up to a very commendable 81,000 and change. Bravo Osheaga!
And bravo for the acts you brought in. A nice variety of musical styles and acts with varying degrees of commercial success led to a music festival with a little something something for everyone.
I started my day fairly early at just after 3 PM because I was hoping to catch British female singer Natalia Kills, who has been compared to Lady Gaga, but was disappointed. Not in Natalia Kills because she wasn’t there, but in myself that I hadn’t checked the updated schedule. No worries as it led me to take in Toronto duo Freedom or Death. I didn’t know anything about them before the show here, but let me tell you, I will be downloading some of their tunes. Led by heavily tattooed lead singer/guitarist Sway and his soulful voice and ably backed by his partner in crime, keyboardist Fernandez, the band played a handful of melodic tunes. An interesting combo of indie and electronic music, they really got the sparse crowd (due to early time, I’m sure) going. The crowd was so into the music and appreciative that they started a clap along during one song without being prompted to.
After Freedom or Death I was determined to make up for being derelict in my duties as a reviewer of the event. Over the course of the two previous days I had not once made my way over to the Piknic Electronik portion of the festival. Positioned right at the far end of the grounds I arrived there to witness a fairly large sized crowd dancing around to electronic beats supplied by local DJs Shaydakiss and A-Rock. Both of them have international reputations alone, so putting them together was a stroke of genius. Seeing the large crowd dancing in the heat also went a long way to proving to me that no matter how hot it is, if you play good music Montrealers will dance. Their set (1 PM – 4 PM) was fantastic with nary a head (including yours truly) bopping or toe tapping in the vicinity. There was even a short tribute to the recently deceased Amy Winehouse with the playing of the remix version of her song “Valerie”. When the two came out of the DJ booth at the end of their set to dance in front they were greeted with appreciative applause. Next up was Dillon Francis (4PM – 5 PM), who is a well-known American DJ that has done remixes for Chris Brown and Lil Wayne. Dancing continued and proved that electronic music fans don’t need the lights off to have a good time.
Next up was catching the end of The Sounds on the Mountain Stage. The band is from Sweden and proved that musically it is a country that produces more than pop acts like ABBA. Led by kick ass and take prisoners bleach blonde frontwoman, Maja Ivarsson. Wearing an impossibly small pair of black short shorts, she owned the stage. Right out of the gate she was a force to be reckoned with and the band’s dance-punk music won over the crowd. Adrenaline flowed en masse with no breaks. Slow songs be damned! It was pedal to the metal for the duration of their set.
Next door on the River Stage in very un hip hop/rap fashion veterans Cypress Hill came on right on time. Considering how much they smoked on stage I can only imagine what went on backstage so that makes their promptness all that much more impressive. As if on cue to greet the West Coast rappers plenty ‘o blunts were sparked. Rappers B-Real (he of the distinctive nasally voice) and Sen Dog emerged from the smoke dressed in head to toe black and began to assault everyone with their sound. Their set was great from front to back with no lulls. The two vets of the rap scene definitely know what their strengths are and stick to it. They are the perfect rap act for the large stage. Besides their classics “Insane in the Brain” and “Rock Superstar”, a highlight for me during their 45 minute set was when B-Real lit up the longest spliff I’ve ever seen.
It was back over to the smaller Green Stage where another Brit female with an impressive set of pipes (and biceps – she is a marathoner), Ellie Goulding. Gaining quite a reputation after playing at Will and Kate’s wedding, performing on Saturday Night Live and winning the prestigious Critics’ Choice Award at the 2010 Brit Awards, Goulding’s set was an anticipated one for me. The only problem with her all too short set was the inexplicably long soundcheck before it. Done by what I can only believe to be her peeps as they all had British accents, it delayed her entrance on the stage and annoyed the heck out of the sizable crowd that had gathered.
Once onstage the very blonde, wearing a very blonde t-shirt, black leather shorts (Brit wasn’t made aware of Montreal’s humidity??) with matching lipstick, affirmed all the positive things I had heard about her. The young lady can sing and has stage presence to burn. There certainly is a lot of young female talent coming out of the UK right now.
Poor Dallas Green or City and Colour. Because Beirut had gone on so long before him he only got to perform six songs. Trying to maximize his time, right off the hop he brought out Gord Downie for a duet on “Sleeping Sickness”. Two terrific Canadian singer/songwriters on stage at the same time. A wealth of riches. The guy even interwove Sade’s “Ordinary Love” into one of his songs. Amazing!
Unlike his work with Alexisonfire, this music is mellow and less angry. I would categorize it more as world weary. Wonderful lyrics and a surprisingly smooth voice punctuated with some vocal twitches made many in the audience hoping for more time with the performer.
Last act of the day for me was The Tragically Hip. Gord Downie et al. were another Canadian act that I have never seen live. The shame! I spent the entire 60 minute set wavering between thinking he is a musical genius to believing him insane. No matter what side of the debate you come down on the music is solid. If you look beyond the twitchy motions and the stream of consciousness ravings between singing, you must admit it is good rock ‘n roll. His voice was a little rough, but all that every Canadian music fan knows and loves about the band was there in full glory.
- Shoot ‘Em Up
- 2) When the Shit Goes Down
- How I Could Just Kill a Man
- Latin Lingo
- Armada Latina
- Insane in the Brain
- I Want to Get High
- Stoned is the Way of the Walk
- Hit From the Bong
10) Dr. Greenthumb
11) Rise Up
12) Rock Superstar
- Under the Sheets
- This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)
- Every Time You Go
- Guns & Horses
- Salt Skin
- Starry Eyed
The Tragically Hip
- Grace, Too
- Blow at Hot Dough
- In View
- Ahead By a Century
- At the Hundredth Meridian
- Drip Drip
10) New Orleans is Sinking/Nautical Disaster
11) Little Bones