The day started out with our intrepid Creative Director/photog extraordinaire Chris Zacchia arriving at my house holding a very large sausage and wearing two pairs of sunglasses on his head. It only got more Fucked Up from there.
A quick swing by the SAQ and a short metro hop later we were on the island just in time for the end of Midway State‘s set, a pity since from what I’ve heard they’re a good band.
From there we trekked back into the woods to the speaker company stage, where we caught Oh Land‘s set. This ethereal Danish beauty teetered briefly on the precipice of political incorrectness with a feather headdress that looked like it came from the dollar store, but pulled the crowd in with a peppy variety of synth pop that had heads bopping and feet tapping while she gyrated rhythmically around the stage in a flowing white onesy.
Next we made our way to the Scene des Arbres for Montreal natives the High Dials. This six piece band have a beautiful, smooth sound and were right at home among the trees at this prettiest of Osheaga stages.
We swung out early to catch a bit of Mother Mother‘s set. The indie five-piece from Quadra Island (and how often do you get to say that?) featured not one but two female keyboard players, along with three gentlemen on the standard Bass, Guitar and Drums and, according to my slightly less than lucid notes, “rocked out with their cocks out”.
Sadly we had to bolt to make it back to the main stage area for Tokyo Police Club. As I mentioned to Chris, I’d forgotten just how much I love this Newmarket three piece. They had a huge crowd moving to the music as beach balls drifted across the audience and smoke wafted by their feet. They played a nice selection of new and old songs and lived up to their billing as a great live act. I remember mentioning that I missed mosh pits, which seemed to have disappeared. Little did I know what I was in for later!
After this we wandered back into the woods, feeling slightly less than steady from our diet of free soft drinks (and nothing at all added to them!)
On our way there was a giant pool set up (which you may remember from Friday’s recap) to promote a massive corporate entity best known for complicity in the murder of Colombian union leaders and draining the drinking water out from under entire villages on more than a few continents. I’ll give you a hint, we were drinking one of their products with our libations.
Anyway, the idea was to have two people square off on a spinning log above the pool to see who could knock the other person in. I made an alliance with a girl there who was equally disinterested in the fighting part, and more interested in the going in the water part, and so I stripped to my boxers and prepared for a refreshing dip under the watchful eye of Mr. Zacchia, who had apparently had his fill of the pool the previous day.
As I was waiting I made some crack about the evil nature of our corporate overlord and was promptly told I could “fuck off” if I was going to criticize the “corporate brand” by an overzealous employee who proceeded to try to kick me out until I pointed out that I was wearing a media wristband and his bosses probably wouldn’t appreciate the bad press.
So with slightly soggy underwear on my part, we made our way back to the media area near the main stages. I promptly took a nap on a picnik table, which had absolutely nothing to do with excessive and early drinking! I’m pretty sure we saw Twin Shadow somewhere in there, but I have zero recollection of them. My notes don’t lie though, and they are apparently purveyors of “heppy cat music”.
Waking refreshed and sans photog, I made my way to the main stage for Death From Above 1979 and was promptly and rudely reacquainted with the mosh pits of my youth. Seriously heavy and energetic music to move to, it’s kind of hard to believe that two guys make so much damn noise! Wikipedia describes them as a “dance-punk/noise rock duo” and this recently reunited Toronto twosome really did move me, even though I’m not usually a noise rock kinda guy. Word to the wise though, flip flops are really, really poor footwear for a mosh pit, not that that isn’t obvious.
Somewhere in there I saw Sam Roberts, whose left wing politics and retro sound always go down well with me. Say it with me people “S-O-C-I-A-L-I-S-M is the only way” that’s the Canadian Dream and Mr. Roberts played it to perfection. All around a great set.
I think there was a time when I was young enough I still believed in war, as Connor Oberst croons in Poison Oak, and his band Bright Eyes were by far one of the highlights of the day for me. Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, I was most familiar with their melodic, somewhat depressing oeuvre before catching them at Osheaga. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the smooth voiced slow dance to oblivion side of this indie trio+, but Osheaga exposed me to a much harder edge than I was used to from these folks. Using two drum kits for some songs, they slid effortlessly from soft ballads to hard rocking anthems and brought the largest crowd of the day along with them for every damn minute. I really can’t say enough good things about their delightfully long set and I recommend them highly if you get the chance to catch them live.
Meanwhile my flip flopped feet were still sore from DFA1979 so Chris and I retreated to the VIP bleachers for the larger part of Elvis Costello‘s headlining set. I’ve been a fan of the Elvister for some time, more so his older stuff than his newer songs, but I find his renewed hipster cred really funny. There isn’t a musician of his vintage alive who could hold a crowd like Osheaga’s in rapt attention while he poured sweat and preened around the stage. Although the dancing girl in the tasselled cage probably didn’t hurt.
Frankly I thought his set was hit and miss, but for the most part he delighted and the elaborate set design, including bringing a variety of concertgoers onstage, was a welcome diversion.
Oddly enough, although he was the headliner, Costello was not the last act of the night. That honour was reserved for Toronto hardcore punk band Fucked Up. These guys won the 2009 Polaris Music Prize for their album The Chemistry of Common Life and were at the centre of yet another assault on Canadian artists by our Glorious Leader (The Harpsicle!), who objected to the name of the band. Their woodland set, in the garden grove of the Scene des Arbres, was epic, but you’ll have to wait to hear about that, and the controversy surrounding the band, in another article which will appear early next week.
It may be overpriced as all hell, but Osheaga was quite a trip on Saturday! And me, well I passed out like a lamb the minute I dragged my weary feet through the door at 11:45. I think I may be getting old.
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