Osheaga 2013 – Day 1 Executive Summary (Friday)
Day 1: Side by side show stealers (Vampire Weekend and Phoenix), and a one song disappointment (k-os)
Osheaga had 5 stages set up in their 2013 edition, which was their first ever complete sell-out. Two of the stages are side by side, with one act playing on the next stage within minutes of another band finishing up on the adjacent stage. Waiting for bands is for suckers! Besides a slight hiccup to get it – the scanners weren’t scanning the bracelets – the first day of the Montreal festival was under way.
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Majical Cloudz: The first act to kick off Osheaga was Montreal’s Majical Cloudz, landing one of the 1pm slots on the beautiful day at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Singer Devon Welsh announced his friends on the side of stage, but they were plainly in view of the crowd that were lucky enough to have gathered for the early start time. The crowd were receptive to tracks such as Childhood’s End, with its thumping bass and great vocals, and This is Magic. Welsh did an excellent job drawing the crowd in, with his singing and storytelling, despite the band typically being a minimalist two-piece soulful band. Welsh’s vocals were an improvement over the staccaco style I saw during NXNE, but that was because he had a throat problem, and I’m not a judgmental asshole (I’m just a blogger, which is actually the same thing).
Welsh brought his friend Nick on stage as he sung a song about him. Nick tried to sit, while Welsh brought him front and centre, and then gave him a big hug after the song ended. The band cut short a track – Bugs Don’t Bite – so that they could cram in one final track. The crowd was happy with what seemed to be an emotionally draining set for the band and their friends.
k-os: This will be an easy review – he sucked. He was 15 minutes late, played what sounded like a random jam, and threw his all access wristband into the crowd. Then he said as a fan of music, he has to say that he can’t hear himself and he’s out. And he left. Maybe you could hear if you’d pull your head out of your ass, Kevin. How to lose fans 101. In a twist of fate, Miguel (who replaced Frank Ocean) had to pull out, and k-os is taking his place. I will not be there. If you’re a fan of music, you won’t be there either.
Daughter: Well, they played longer than k-os’ memorable set and they were on time. The crowd was pretty large for them, too, which shocked the band. Like when I saw them in Toronto in May, singer Elena Tonra was giddy and mystfied that people cheer for her band.
A definite low point of the set was the guy who puked 3-4 times in the garbage bin beside me. Apparently Daughter are a great drinking band?! What they great at is writing great percussion parts, executed perfectly by percussionist Remi Aguilella. His rhythmic shifting in the chorus of Human essentially makes the chorus what it is. With great guitar work, including using a bow, and of course Elena’s dreamy vocals, Daughter are no longer a secret. I’m sure it was the video interview we did with the London band.
I was hoping to hear some tracks from their excellent EPs, such as Medicine or Candles, but the crowd didn’t care – Daughter had won them over by this point. A random shout out to the group with the inflatable whales waving in the crowd – very cool idea.
Alt-J: I first saw Alt-J play at a train station in London, UK before their Mercury Prize winning album had even been released. Now they’re playing to huge crowds in Canada just over a year later. Perhaps the band are finally starting to revel in their success, as singer Joe Newman sang parts of the opening bars non-chalantly, with a hand behind his back. Very cool. However, the singing was almost lazy and sloppy during their hit Tessellate.
Newman slyly stopping singing the beginning of Matilda, seeing if the the crowd would sing “this is for Matilda”, which they did loudly, confirming Alt-J’s large fan base.
The band are made up of very cool components. They have unique yet catchy vocals and pulsating rhythms. Their drummer is very original, as he has no cymbals on drum kit. All in all this made for an excellent set, which included tracks Breezeblocks, Something Good, Bloodflood, Taro, and others. Now do yourself a favour and re-watch that Breezeblocks video.
Two Door Cinema Club: Despite being on the stage right next to Alt-J, they had a smaller crowd than I thought. They opened with Sleep Alone, with the driving tempo immediately bringing a clap along. Singer Alex Trimble took a page out of Justin Timberlake’s book and was rocking the suit and tie. This was odd because his bandmates were in t-shirts.
The band do a good job at producing the Brit dance rock beat that Bloc Party perfected with Silent Alarm. Part way through the set, a giant cloud did a good job of keeping Alex Trimble completely out of the sun for fear he might get an instant sun burn – he’s one pasty, white lad. If you like that Brit rock drum and guitar sound, this set was totally up your alley. If not, it might’ve been a good chance for an early dinner. Or if you’re the guy who randomly did the Worm on the gravel behind me, there’s that, too.
Vampire Weekend: Disclaimer: I’m not a huge Vampire Weekend fan. I think they try too hard to be quirky and their songs suffer for it. Plus the vocals generally don’t do anything for me. That being said, my friends have been raving about new album, which I’ve listened to many times the past few weeks. They are slightly growing on me.
Their set opened really strong, with the genre-jumping Diane Young. The band focused on mainly newer material, with each song drawing loud cheers and some weird, old-time dance moves in a circle behind me. It’s hard to describe a band that you’re luke warm on. They sounded good, with the vocals matching that of the album, and the guitars and other instruments being their quirky selves. I think they’re gonna make it! “Pete – they have several number 1 albums.”
See, I told ya!
Phoenix: I opted to see Phoenix play at Lollapalooza instead of co-headliners Green Day. My friends all loved the Green Day set, while another friend and I lamented seeing an average Phoenix set back then. Would they redeem themselves in my eyes today? They most certainly did! They opened with Entertainment, Lasso, and Listomania – a wonderful trifecta that had crowd going well from the very start. They had a much better and consistent sound to what I heard a few years ago, and they crowd was dancing from start to finish. How can you not like a band that throws in a 9 minute primarily instrumental song (Love Like a Sunset) in the middle of their set? One of the best sets of the day.
Beach House: Azealia Banks cancelled her set (some bullshit throat infection), which meant more Beach House! However, there was some noise bleeding from Diamond Rings’ set on the nearby stage. Well, that’s if you were sat down on hill at the back, which I just happened to be. However, this doesn’t mean I didn’t see the band play beautiful, building ballads. They spoke several passages of French, which was impressive to me as a non French speaker. The band were a nice evening band to unwind to, with floating and delicate vocals leading the way. The starry backdrop and lights were like a background prom band on a night that you never wanted to end. Look at me, being all poetic and romantic, but sounding like an idiot instead.
Rich Aucoin: Luckily for Rich Aucoin, he won out after Beach House, primarily because of proximity. I only know of him because I was on the inaugural Prism Prize jury that awarded him and director Noah Pink the best Canadian Music Video for 2012. At first, I was really digging what Rich Aucoin was doing. He had a funny YouTube clip that he chopped up and sampled and kicked off the beginning of a song with. This pattern of getting the crowd to repeat a phrase, followed by a clip, and then the track was a nice, systematic and artful process. However, the tracks, which were party tracks, were a bit too much Andrew WK, or a bit too repetitive. They were a bit something, and not always the good kind of something. A great video show, and good, Coldplay-esque confetti and streamers and such. A party for some, Groundhog’s Day for other people.
Sad to Have Missed: Palma Violets A victim of being too far away / the human body needing food to perform basic functions (aka I needed dinner).
Weirdest sign of the day: “Twist your tits if you like Rob Ford” and a picture of Rob Ford. Wrong city!
Bring on Day 2! For more Osheaga coverage, great band interviews, and general awesomeness a) “follow PeteHatesMusic on Twitter” and b) “Like PeteHatesMusic on Facebook“. We’re better than the sunburn you got yesterday at Osheaga.