Osheaga 2014 – Executive Summary Day 1 (Friday Review)
Osheaga 2014 Day 1: Hot hot heat, and not the Canadian band
Osheaga 2014 had 6 stages, and 3 big headliners throughout the weekend. Like the 2013 edition, this edition was also a sell out. Again like last year, the two main stages were side by side, meaning you theoretically didn’t have to wait between bands, as one set was scheduled to start as the adjacent stage finished. Of course, it didn’t always happen like this.
Let us tell you how Day 1 of Osheaga was, and we’ll try and limit the
drug-fueled rants spelling mistakes. Follow us on Twitter @PeteHatesMusic and let us know your thoughts and tips in the comments or on Twitter.
Dream Koala: I wandered up to the Piknic Electronik stage to sounds similar to The xx, and discovered Dream Koala. He was a one man, laptop-driven, falsetto-singing, instrument-playing show, and the crowd was eating it all up.
The earlier songs in the set were a little more vocal, with latter songs seeing Dream Koala head back to his laptops and other gadgets to noodle around. Dream Koala made some reverb-heavy guitar sounds on top of loud beats, and rounded out the set in high form. A nice first visit to Canada for the dreamy marsupial.
Odesza: As a noted in our festival preview, 2pm is too early to see these guys. I saw them in a dark club at midnight in Toronto previously, which is the right setting. On the bright side, the crowd was up for their dancey music and showed their appreciation.
Pretty much nonstop beats from the Seattle duo, under the humid Montreal sun. Did I mention it was really fucking hot all day? While a touch repetitive at times, its hard to fault a band that wrote Sun Models. The band were clearly having fun, too.
The Mowgli’s: The Mowgli’s played their brand of poppy rock and often 7 part harmonies. They typically bounced around and had a good time. When you have 7 people singing all the time, some of the uniqueness and sound is actually lost in the collective noise, which happened after 30 minutes of this approach. At least the vocals are pleasant or else 7 vocalists would be murder. The band is all about love, and I think most of the crowd reciprocated this feeling. The band had cheesy songs and even cheesier banter but generally catchy tunes (San Francisco, anyone?) and fun in the sun.
I accidentally caught AWOLNATION and they were terrible. Well, their fans liked them. All their songs had the same horrible formula. I’ll leave it at that.
Sam Roberts Band: A staple in Canadian music and the festival scene over the past decade, the band played a hometown show, initially addressing the crowd in French. He kicked off with the dancey rock new song Shapeshifter. The next few songs suffered a bit with muddy sound, with guitars and pianos and overall volume a little quieter than we all wanted, and what the music needed.
It is easy to forget the number of radio hits the band has in their arsenal. They rolled through Where Have All the Good People Gone?, Bridge to Nowhere, Brother Down, and others, with a loud crowd reaction to kick off all of the songs. A real workmanesque set from a familiar face on the CanRock circuit. But how awesome is this sign/poster in the crowd?
London Grammar: I nearly regretted leaving the main stage to hustle across the festival site, as I was treated to some crazy bass from Childish Gambino and amazing energy as I departed the start of his show. Anyway, I finally saw London Grammar after blogging about them for nearly two years. Singer Hannah Reid did some vocal dabbling which led to the opening track Hey Now. The band also mixed up the chorus for Wasting My Young Years.
Hannah has a vocal range like Florence Welch from Florence + the Machine, while a lazy man’s comparison of their music would say they sound a touch like The xx. Despite the minor vocal experiments, most of the songs were comparable to the album version, with Reid’s vocals stealing the show.
Unrelated: given how muddy the field was by the Verte stage, I am not looking forward to Saturday’s rain forecast.
Flume: After an impressive set in Toronto at TIME Festival, I was determined to catch some more Flume at Osheaga. After several false starts and about a 10-15 minute delay, I got some Flume. The crowd was rammed, and really digging all of the cuts he was playing.
I only managed to catch 15 solid minutes, before running to see…
Chromeo: This is the part of the night where I did something un-Pete-like and only caught snippets of sets, dashing around like a Mario Kart driver. Sort of like these guys:
For me, the jury is still out on Chromeo. Depending on my mood and the amount of alcohol of consumed, I think Chromeo are either:
a) outstanding and I just want to dance all night
b) a gimmicky attempt to recapture genres from the past
c) a terrible version of b)
In a live setting, they were a lot of fun. They managed to blend together elements of a) (with tracks like Jealous and Bonafide) and c) (Frequent Flyer and others that I don’t know). I did love their stage set up, with the keyboards on women’s legs, which started emitting lights of different colours. The crowd was packed, so clearly Chromeo have a good thing going on.
Skrillex: I only caught the last 30 minutes of Skrillex, and boy was it a spectacle. From the elaborate stage set up, to the assault on our ears, the man is talented. His stage banter leaves a little to be desired, but he sure knows how to work a crowd with his music. It’s uptempo when it should be, dropping and rising at all the right parts, with cool videos, lasers, and lights topping it all off.
To be fair, I’m not a massive fan of the genre, and 30 minutes of “noise pollution” is about all I could handle, but I’m glad I saw 30 minutes from one of the best in the game. OutKast should consider themselves unfortunate to have to follow Skrillex’s set.
OutKast: The Atlanta rappers didn’t ride any of the momentum that Skrillex had brought to the crowd. Instead, they waited about 10 minutes, with a hype man sort of pumping up the crowd from behind a curtain, before 5 more minutes of wondering when they were going to come on passed. A curtain finally dropped, and we got to see Andre 3000 and Big Boi, reunited in the flesh.
Andre 3000 is generally known for his fashion, but his choice of black coveralls, with the phrase “Life is short, take more baths” on it, combined with a large, Price is Right styled price tag with “$” on one side, and “Sold” on the other, mixed with a white wig on his head, was a strange outfit, even for Andre 3000.
The band kicked things off with popular single B.O.B., wisely getting the crowd into them from the get go. The sound was vocal heavy, but also a lot of drum and bass. Yes, I’m stating the obvious for a typical hip hop sound set up, but with horn players and back up female singers on stage and barely making it through the mix, it seemed like a wasted opportunity.
A few songs in, Andre 3000 left the stage, leaving Big Boi to do the Big Boi-penned songs, which felt weird, like we were at a double headlining show and not a reunited group effort. I know Speakerboxxx/The Love Below were written separately, but couldn’t Andre 3000 fit anywhere on The Way You Move or Ghetto Musick? Likewise, Big Boi left when Andre 3000 came back out and performed a couple of nice, but dreadfully slow songs that lost the crowd. He revived them with Hey Ya!.
The band tore through Ms. Jackson, Rosa Parks, and after an hour had played most of their recognizable hits, bar Roses and So Fresh, So Clean. This is where I left the headlining band at a festival, for perhaps the first time ever, to join up with friends at Band of Horses. The meet up didn’t go as plans, and as phones died, this was an anti-climatic end to my night and to this review. Maybe I should make up an ending? However, if Kanye West, Killer Mike, and Jay Z showed up at the end of OutKast’s set, do let me know. In the meantime, assuming my phone stays alive, and I get reception so that I can tweet, follow me on Twitter @PeteHatesMusic.