I Got Soaked at Osheaga
Sadness, Oasis’ Wonderwall, Dad Rock and More
The first thing I noticed about Osheaga was the synthetic grass. It was everywhere, and I couldn’t help but think, “Wow this is it, this is the future.”
But that excitement didn’t last for long. Sooner or later, I knew I would have to leave the press tent and go into the outside world, and as you may already know, it was pouring.
The first day of Osheaga was a little sad. Not sad as in, everything kinda sucked sad. No, no, no, it was just fine. Moreso, many of the acts on Friday we’re just objectively sad, and all that raw emotion combined with the rain just made me a little sad by the end of the night. I had also forgotten to pack a raincoat, and my diet of potatoes and beer only was starting to catch up with me.
First it was Milky Chance, who swayed the crowd with hits from his debut album Sadnecessary and his 2017 release Blossom.
Milky played his hit “Stolen Dance,” and at the same time reminded us that sometimes, sadness is necessary – especially with his lyrics: “Coldest winter for me // no sun is shining anymore // the only thing I feel is pain // caused by absence of you.”
Then it was Lorde, who had grown up since we’d seen her last in 2014 at the young age of 17. She came back to Montreal with heartbreak and tunes from her latest album Melodrama. The title itself is meant to be sarcastic, as her lyrics and talk that night focused on the legitimacy and valid intensity of female emotion.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, and peaks of happyness [sic] were found in between Milky’s and Lorde’s sets with the French electronic duo, Justice. As much as I’d prefer to not sound like a contributor to MtlBlog, I’d have to admit this set was totally LIT.
Highlight of the show (pun intended): When they played their classic “We Are Your Friends.”
Worst part of the show: When whoever had control of the stage decided it would be a great idea to douse the entire crowd in water, even though it was getting colder and we’d already been stuck in the rain all day.
The sun was shining, and my fatigue from last night was starting to wear off. To start the day off I checked out some of the more local underdogs at #OSH.
The day started off with Le Couleur, a francophone synth-pop group from Montreal. They draw inspiration from 90s house music, 70s pop and “frenchy 60s vocals,” explained drummer and producer Steeven Chouinard. “It’s dancey and fun.”
Chouinard wooed audiences on the drums, and the bass, bongos and maracas were definitely very groovy.
But maybe this kind of dance music just isn’t my thing, and when lead vocalist Laurence Giroux-Do started yelling a chorus of “Banana, banana, banana,” I knew it was time to go.
Next I saw Men I Trust, an indie dance band who came on over from Quebec City to play Osheaga for the first time. Men I Trust also incorporates disco music and downtempo into their songs. If you like really soft sounds then you’d have enjoyed it. It’s lax. Very lax, maybe a little too soft for me, but it’s definitely good as far as background music goes. Plus lead singer Emmanuelle Proulx was a big time cutie.
The indie music continued for the rest of the afternoon. I wandered from stage to stage asking myself when I’d find an act that didn’t sound exactly the same as the last one I’d passed. I guess you could say I was starting to get a little bored, but you get what you sign up for.
I kept walking until I passed by Liam Gallagher, who was ending his set with a cover of the Oasis classic, “Wonderwall.” As Gallagher sang the famous, “So maybe // you’re going to be the one to change me // and after all, you’re my wonderwall,” the crowd’s ears perked up, and fans pulled out their cellphones to film and sing along.
I couldn’t help but think, is this really happening right now?
I ended up sitting down on a hill, and Cage the Elephant pulled up to the stage. It was definitely a refreshment from the acts I’d seen prior. Lead singer Matt Shultz danced like a freak and trash talked state power. But the real highlight of the show was getting to watch a little blond kid with a temporary “live, laugh, love” tattoo on his face drink vodka out of a bottle of sunscreen. Poor guy must not have realized that the searches at the door are actually quite light.
I won’t even touch on Major Lazer. What’s the hype? I don’t get it.
More rain, and then Muse
At first I was skeptical about Muse. Lead singer Matt Bellamy donned a pair of “extravagant” red pants and light up shutter shade glasses. I loved Muse when I was 12 or 13 years old and had sort of forgotten about them since then. They may be a bit cheesy, a bit “dad-rock,” but their mind blowing and long winding guitar solos helped you forget that. They may not be the new Radiohead, but their absurd and pervasive bass lines led me into a mystical experience, and I found myself passionately singing along to songs I’d now since forgotten the names to.
“They will not force us // they will stop degrading us // they will not control us // we will be victorious (so come on).”
Fireworks went off in the background. The band continued on into Knights of Cydonia. I started to cry. Everything was beautiful and I’m no longer afraid to die.
I woke up and breathed a sigh of relief. It was the last day.
I drank two cups of coffee at home, only to find another energy drink I’d left in my bag from the night before. This energy drink had a 590 per cent serving of B12, so I figured if I drank the whole thing I’d never have to take vitamins in my life ever again.
By the time I sat down to listen to the Local Natives on the hill I was a nervous wreck. I was shaking all over. I felt nauseous. At the height of the afternoon, the Local Natives soothed, but not enough to sooth the sickness in my soul.
Now if you were expecting a review of Die Antwoord or The Weekend then I’m sorry. I went over to the stage with electronic music to make sure I’d get a good spot for the Crystal Castles show. This is what happens when you send someone who loves electronic music to Osheaga. Besides, the people at the electronic stage are just so much friendlier, I’m not sure why though.
If you’d ask me what act I was most looking forward to at Osheaga I’d of probably said Crystal Castles. But I admit they’re not the same as they were before. The duo Ethan Kath and Alice Glass went through a split in 2014 after Glass left over reasons of abuse. In 2016, Crystal Castles released Amnesty (I) with Kath’s new vocalist Edith Frances.
On stage Edith rocks the same haircut as the old Alice. She dresses the same. In manners of performance, she also tries to be an exhibitionist. Edith douses her head with water several times over, and throws the bottles where they land in front of security guards below. But the old Alice used to spit on fans. Edith throws her microphone stand around and onto the ground. But I can see through this clone, and the real Alice does it better.
But maybe I’m being a little harsh. Edith still impresses us with her vocal power, especially in tracks like Char. And either way, the bulk of Crystals Castles’ sound comes out of what Kath produces, so their performance still had me going.
Nina Kraviz came on next. Originally a dentist for the Soviet Union from Irkutsk, Russia, Kraviz’s name is big in the world of techno. Her set spiralled between mixes of techno and acid house, and the bros danced along passionately, although sometimes they were left feeling a bit confused.
“Where’s the drop!?!? When is it going to drop?!” one yelled with his arms flailing.
I tried to explain to him it’s not only about the drop. It’s not only about the destination, but it’s also about the journey you have take to take to get there, y’know?
And that’s a little bit how #Osheaga2017 was for me. What I was really looking forward to were the closing acts on Sunday, but everything that came in between was equally worth my while, maybe even the rain too.