FringeBlog

What’s your scene? Lit, food, arts, music, theatre, find out what’s happening in the city of churches.

  • FANTASIA REVIEW: Ojuju

    In the slums of Lagos, Nigeria, a weed dealer and his friend are bitten by a man they mistake as a drunkard. Romero (Gabriel Afolayan) is a young man who has calmed his sexual desires since his girlfriend became pregnant. Across the slums, people are becoming sick, coughing incessantly. The people are turning into “ojuju”, which means “evil spirit” in Yoruba (one of many Nigerian languages).

    With his friends Emmy (Kelechi Udegbe) and Peju (Omowunmi Dada), Romero tries to find a way to leave the village. The task is rendered difficult, as most of the village is infected and turning into flesh-eating zombies. Of course to complicate things, Romero’s girlfriend is turning into a zombie.

    Director C.J. “Fiery” Obasi opens the film by stating that “70 million Nigerians exist without access to safe drinking water.” Not explicitly explained in the film, people are becoming sick due to a contaminated water supply.

    Obasi had no budget for the film that won the Best Nigerian film at the Africa International Film Festival. He wanted to make a realistic zombie film, which could easily happen in Nigeria. The successful zombie makeup was paired with swift and comedic moves.

    Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, produces numerous movies, so it’s good to see a Nigerian production in the Fantasia Underground category, showcasing talent from African countries made with little to no budget.

  • FANTASIA REVIEW: JeruZalem

    “There are three gates to hell, one in the desert, one in the ocean and one in Jerusalem.” – Jeremiah 19, Talmud.

    Two priests captured a woman who came back from the dead. Just before she is shot down, wings grow in her back.

    Flash forward to Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) and her best friend Rachel (Yael Grobglas), two young American girls travelling to Tel-Aviv, Israel. Before the departure, Sarah’s father offers her a pair of digital glasses with her prescription in them. On the plane, they meet Kevin (Yon Tumarkin) a good-looking anthropology student, travelling to Jerusalem. He convinces the girls to follow him there. However, once they arrive, they end up trapped between the ancient walls of the city. Judgment day is happening on Yom Kippur and what appears to be dark creatures with wings start biting people who turn into these creatures.

    The entire film is seen through the digital glasses, an original way to see the holy city. Sarah’s emotions are clear through her eyewear. The glasses add a comic relief with facial recognition leading to people’s social media pages. The best part is undoubtedly when Sarah grabs a picture of Kevin’s butt.

    The international premiere of JeruZalem was sold out thanks to an appearance by directors Yoav and Doron Paz. The Paz brothers filmed on the fly and only with the permission to film a documentary. They captured the cohabitation of three main religions in the holy city. This is also the Jerusalem where some people go crazy due to the mysticism and history of the city. The Paz brothers wanted to make a horror story about Jerusalem and they succeeded.

  • With A Cherry Bomb On Top

    Mos Def did not make an appearance –it was actually super disappointing– but there were still some standout performances on the final day of the Osheaga Music Festival. From overall-wearing youngster Raury, to rather odd dance moves from Future Islands, there seems to always be something for everyone at Osheaga.

    RAURY

    A sunhat is thrown from the left side of the Scene Verte. It lands right in the middle, causing the few hundreds of fans to cheer. Soon enough, their patience is rewarded as the 19-year old from Stone Mountain, Georgia finally makes his way to the stage.

    The wide-eyed upstart talent showed nothing but infectious energy and emotion throughout his set, as he went through tracks such as “God’s Whisper”, “Superfly”, and SBTRKT collaboration “Higher”. He’s a young, talented artist who deserves to be gotten into, if you haven’t already.

    GARY CLARK JR.

    Speaking of artists to get into, Gary Clark Jr. is another one. If you’re thinking about it, there may still be some room on the bandwagon for you to hop on. Clark Jr. is the man. There’s no doubt about it. Songs such as “Don’t Owe You a Thang” had the crowd grooving to his blues/rock & roll vibes, while he remained cool and composed with dark shades.

    I’m not so sure about the Jimi Hendrix comparisons, however. They may be a little premature. But Clark Jr. just might be the next badass to take over the blues/rock/disco fusion scene once his album drops this fall. For certain, though, he showed why his set was a “can’t miss.”

    FATHER JOHN MISTY

    The highlight of FJM’s set was the band’s frontman, Joshua Tillman, and his interactions with the crowd.

    From his ever-changing facial expressions being greeted by laughter from fans, and a laugh track, to him convincing fans to “do the fist bump thing” as he recorded from a fan’s phone, Tillman provided enough entertainment and showmanship for even the most casual partisan to enjoy.

    FUTURE ISLANDS

    Future Islands vocalist Samuel T. Herring is the middle-aged guy you sometimes encounter, or see from a distance, in a club dancing by himself like it’s nobody’s business. His dance moves are always offsetting, but you can’t help but laugh at him.

    You can lounge around and nod your head to the sounds of Future Islands, but when Herring starts his screamo vocals, it tends to break the vibe. That is, unless you’ve bought into the band’s sound and let yourself go completely.

    “Seasons” was a highlight of the band’s set, as was Herring’s constant gyrations and passionate body rolls.

    TORO Y MOI

    The set was delayed for a few minutes as Toro Y Moi and his band had to go through soundcheck. Bit by bit, fans were beginning to feel a little restless, but their faith was eventually rewarded as the set opened with “What You Want”, a cut off his most recent project “What For”, an album where Toro tried his hand at leading an alternative rock band.

    Of course, Toro played songs from the groovy electro/keyboard induced “Anything in Return” album from 2013. His set even closed with the popular “So Many Details”. His funkiest cut of all was a throwback from 2011, “Still Sound”, a perfect track as the day went into the evening. Even Raury enjoyed the set from a terrasse not too far from the stage.

    Of all the performers on this day, Toro Y Moi had played some of the best beats. What delay?

    TYLER, THE CREATOR

    The frontman of the now defunct Odd Future group is an oddity because of his radical, yet childish personality. His subject matter is often dark, vulgar, and crass, but he really doesn’t care. Nor do his fans, who will jump and repeat his profane lyrics every single chance they get.

    Tyler went through classic tracks such as “Yonkers” and “Tron Cat”, memorable verses from “Rella” and “Bimmer, and tore through new favourites such as set-opener “Deathcamp”, “Smuckers”, and “Perfect/F*cking Young”.

    You may feel uncomfortable during Tyler’s music, but it’s almost no fun to get sour about his music, especially when most of the crowd is moshing to his tunes. The only thing missing from his show, and Tyler admitted it, was his right-hand man Jasper Dolphin, who was turned away from the Canadian border. While Jasper was missed, it couldn’t stop Tyler fans from causing a ruckus, as they’ve been known to do.

  • Saturday at Osheaga: A Lot of Shout-Outs, A Lot of Guest Appearances, and A Lot of People

    Saturday was the first of three days to sell out Parc Jean-Drapeau this year, and I know why. With openers like St. Vincent and a killer closing set by Kendrick Lamar, music fans from everywhere knew what they wanted. And they got it.

    Narcy, Mos Def, Meryem of Nomadic Massive

    I started the afternoon down at the quieter Scene Verte, where Narcy and Yasiin Bey (previously Mos Def) were scheduled to replace Action Bronson. Up until noon that day, Bronson had been on the bill, but Evenko tweeted out that Bronson had experienced “last minute travel issues”, and couldn’t make it.

    Bronson, however, had a different explanation. Half an hour after Evenko tweeted, he sent out a tweet saying he “hopes one day to be let into Canada, (because [he] did no wrong).” But with a track out called “Consensual Rape,” he may have had it coming.

    No one in the audience was disappointed to see Narcy take the stage. Accompanied by Meryem of Nomadic Massive, the set was a beautiful commemoration of Sandra Bland, whose shoutout was followed by a chilling a cappella version of “A Change is Gonna Come.” And with grace, Narcy handed it over to Bey, who had no problem lifting spirits.

    Freestyling over Drake’s “The Motto,” Bey wasn’t afraid to have fun with the set while keeping it political. And after calling out white supremacy— “white supremacy, ya I said it” — Bey paid an unexpected tribute to Australian indie band Tame Impala.

    “Listen to the message,” he urged, as he mouthed the words to the band’s song “Alter Ego”: “don’t you know, it doesn’t have to be so hard?”

    Daphni

    Down at the Piknic stage, Dan Snaith, solo-artist behind Daphni, and also frontman of Caribou, was spinning his album JIAOLONG. Daphni is Snaith’s dance alter ego: a less serious, more experimental DJ who can afford to be more playful than the Juno-winning Caribou. Either way, Snaith isn’t afraid to mess with all kinds of genres, sampling “When the Going is Smooth and Good” by William Onyeabor on his album. He started off softer as people gathered, killing it at the end with thumping tracks like “Ye Ye”. Snaith gave a little grin every time he dropped the bass, and I like to think he enjoys the intimacy of performing under an alias.

    NAS

    After Daphni, it was back to the Scene Verte for NAS. But the torrential downpour didn’t stop loyal hip-hop fans from sticking it out. After some new material, NAS dropped crowd favorites from his 1994 album Illimatic, getting everyone to sing along to “Hate Me Now,” “N.Y. State of Mind” and “Hip Hop is Dead,” which NAS followed up by asking, “Is hip hop dead MTL?” NAS finished by handing it over to Mos Def whose energy was—once again—contagious. I even spotted Narcy jamming in the VIP section.

    Weezer/Kendrick Lamar

    I’m not sure if Osheaga planned it this way, but the Weezer/Kendrick succession was quite a contrast. Both from L.A., Rivers Cuomo is known for his—arguably—ironic 90s rock ballads about Living The Dream in the cheesiest Beverly Hills kind of way. Kendrick raps about getting his friends out of Compton, the struggles of staying out of Lucy (Lucifer’s) temptations and the survivor’s guilt of having made it.

    To watch one after the other offered insight into how two separate musicians, one black and one white, define success. And how both have undeniably made it with their music about Orange County-just from vastly opposite ends of it.

    Weezer, with too many hits to count, was happy to be playing in “the best part of Canada” which they later specified as “the French…part.” The band pleased by opening with “My Name is Jonas,” following through with hits like “Island in the Sun” and “Beverly Hills,” and closing with “Buddy Holly.” Cuomo also welcomed his daughter Mia on stage, who played keyboard to “Perfect Situation.” His son Leo came on too, and shredded the solo in “Back to the Shack” with an orange inflatable guitar.

    After Weezer, Kendrick drew a huge crowd for his second Osheaga performance, shouting out his “day ones” and claiming to see “a lot of familiar faces”. If anyone loves his fans, it’s Kendrick. He started out with favorites from good Kid, m.A.A.d city, killed it on “Backseat Freestyle,” and after chants from the audience, satisfied with “Alright” off the new album To Pimp a Butterfly. Once again, Lamar gave it up to—you guessed it—Mos Def, who came on his third stage of the day with the same energy and smiles he had at his 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. sets.

  • Osheaga’s Back with a Bang: Run The Jewels, Chet Faker and A Tribe Called Red highlight the day

    Scene Verte, ~15:20:

    A throng of hip hop heads waited, baking in the glaring sun, ready to pop like corn in a kettle. Staring back at the crowd, a roadie shouted words in a microphone, testing the equipment. Sleek, sweaty muscles tensed up as onlookers roared back. Audience members jawed at each other; some pushing for breathing room, others looking to share. Beach balls soared in the air acting like appetizers for the hungry crowd. But toys wouldn’t keep the throng sated for long.

    A mosh pit formed as soon as Run the Jewels came on stage.

    The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival kicked off Friday at Parc Jean-Drapeau. For its 10th anniversary, the organizers invited some of the biggest names in today’s music business. 119 acts shared six stages spread across the park.

    At 3:25 p.m., American hip hop duo Run the Jewels lit up the Scene Verte for 45 minutes.

    The throng surged as the group began their set with the eponymous track “Run the Jewels.”

    In the audience, 15 to 20 people shoved and slammed into each other. The veteran duo watched in amusement as the mosh pit grew, attracting more people and trapping an eager photographer inside its body-crunching jaws.

    The wild thumping production and rapid fire flow professed by El-P and Killer Mike evoked the grittiness of hardcore 90s rap, but beefed up with lethal injections of EDM and Trap music. Their musical themes are reminiscent of 80s horror movie soundtracks—down to their mummified “fist and gun” logo. Together, Killer Mike and El-P are the new boogeymen of rap surfing on a wicked wave of sound.

    As the group played their tracks from their second record Run The Jewels 2, a technician sprayed the bouncing crowd with a large hose. The hyped moshers’ mutually assured destruction resumed as the speakers blared “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry.” They played like puppets to the duo’s electric performance.

    The no-holds-barred duo never relented its hold, unleashing “Blockbuster Part 1,” “Lie, Cheat, Steal” and “A Christmas Fucking Miracle” from their first LP.

    When Run the Jewels’ set ended, the audience was begging for more.

    Scene Verte, ~18:20:

    Beach balls flew again before Chet Faker’s set but, this time, nobody volleyball spiked anyone in the face. This set promised a mellowed out atmosphere. The crowd screamed as they caught a glimpse of the Australian electronica musician taking a peek from backstage.

    At 6:25, Faker set hearts afire, and he would do so for the next 45 minutes. The whole audience let loose when he took the stage with “Cigarettes and Chocolate” from his Thinking in Textures EP. Also a DJ, he showed his creativity, spinning the song live to an even bouncier version.

    Dewy eyes grew wider as he followed up with “Melt” from his debut studio album Built on Glass. Faker squirmed on stage. It felt as if his body itself was an instrument performing jerky dance moves to the beats of his music—all while hitting notes on a keyboard.

    Then he took a quick break, teasing the Scene Verte crowd like a bedside lover—speaking in hushed tones into the mic—referring to a fan favorite as “some old song.” Moments later, the kids were all singing along to his downtempo version of the 90s R&B hit “No Diggity”—the viral success that brought him fame.

    And it’s no wonder the electronica virtuoso borrowed a song from two decades ago. From his sartorial taste—he wore a loose-fitting black floral-patterned shirt— to the electronic drum kit and synth, his musical style reverberates fusions of 90s soul and British trip hop.

    His small following was still singing for “Drop the Game” and cheered even louder when he announced the title of his next song. Hundreds of hands clapped in unison to the loungey “Gold”—a sirupy ode to love.

    His jazzy sound has an intimate quality to it. His raspy falsetto—as advertised on “Gold”—dares to push back the threshold of aural orgasm only to pull back for a later charge.

    Faker ended his set with “Talk Is Cheap,” an electronic ballad about a man who informs his darling of his need for more action.

    Scene Piknik Electronik Honda, ~22:15:

    A Tribe Called Red’s sound has a rich melange of hip hop, dancehall, First Nations sounds, dance music, and a ton mixed in between. The result was hypnotic and made the audience groove to the beat like headless drones.

    The Ottawa-based First Nations DJ crew—Bear Witness, 2oolman and NDN—lined up against their turntables, spinning their intricate hits with the casual looks of journeymen tour musicians.

    Behind the trio, a giant screen big enough to make a millionaire couch potato jealous displayed looping psychedelic images of cartoon Aboriginal warriors and Kool-Aid coloured footage of stampeding buffaloes and candy-colored scenes of old Westerns.

    The concertgoers danced like it was the last night of their lives. Feet shuffled to the rhythmical drums; heads bobbed to the tribal chants. ATCR played some of their songs—including “Electric Pow Wow Drum,” “Sisters” and “Indians From All Directions”—while their tribal hoop dancer showed off his best moves.

    One fan climbed a tree, shaking a branch larger than his leg. Security guards threw empty beer cans at him hoping to reel him in on his own volition. To his great dismay, he was eventually led away, never to be seen again.

    In the middle of their set, Canadian rapper Narcy crashed the stage and performed with the First Nations trio.

    Moments later, Yasiin Bey—still better known by his former stage name Mos Def—took the mic, compelling the crowd to reach for the cloudy skies. The American rapper was not scheduled to appear at the festival; he took ticket holders by complete surprise.

    Even the stoney-eyed DJs had to let a passing smile etch their faces as Bey and Narcy electroshocked an already pumped up crowd.

    Then the music ended. Everybody looked at each other as if they had just been roused from bed.