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ItsYaBoiH2 – Pair-a-lesions – Album Review

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Indie-rap is an interesting genre these days. With many artists getting picked up by labels quickly, there are constant crops of material, to the point that nerd and comedy raps have become legitimate endeavours. Interestingly enough, with this the broader genre oh hip-hop has become more sophisticated on all fronts. ItsYaBoiH2’s new album Pair-a-lesions, is a sophisticated record from a rapper reminiscent of early Watsky, but lyrically unique.

The album opens on the hopeful “Preachin“, sampling a string section into a great pop hook. The lyrics promote a lifestyle of growth, and taking the high-road. From the opening track, ItsYaBoiH2 attacks your ears with an incredible sense of rhythm that is usually only present in artists on major labels. Opening on a Nina Simone sample that turns into a great base, “Feelin Like A New Fight” is a ghost of sampling magic that modern rappers have been chasing for ages. The lyrics are a clever version of the self-proclaiming rap trope, although crass at times, the rhymes are vicious enough to allow it.

There’s a more sombre note to “My Basement” talking about being at your lowest and darkest. The production mixes “Stairway To Heaven” samples with something that sounds like the guitar from the Backstreet Boys My Way” to craft a great, dark track that’s still catchy. “Fall At Your Feet” although sounding like an original in terms of instrumentation, suffers mildly from its generic sounding hook. This said, the track is saved by ItsYaBoiH2’s great rapping and mysterious vocal sample that elevate it beyond the instrumentation.

New In Town” laments the city-to-city conflicts that people experience when transplanting themselves. With some amazing verse-spitting and heavy bass line the song is a great track from top to bottom. There’s a modern pop sound to “Do Without (Again)” with jazzy vocals and ambient synths, although it’s one of the more simple tracks on the album, it’s a relaxing listen.

Easy” samples “Whole Lotta Love” in strange fashion, which is initially fairly interesting but ultimately works best in the groove-based chorus. The Zeppelin samples continue on “Mince Meat (feat. TopGun)” which survives on its endless onslaught of lyrics.

John Mayer takes over on “Resettin,” probably the smoothest track on the record. The lyrics ache of wanting to start over, and both the relief of doing so, as well as the pain with being unable to. Things get moody on the title track “Pair a Lesions” as ItsYaBoiH2 tries to figure his life out, and understand getting older. The album closes on “Lay It On The Line” which amps up the production to its peak, mixing instrumentation and great samples to create a truly original track that feels miles above anything else on the record.

ItsYaBoiH2‘s vocals are firing on all cylinders flawlessly throughout and several tracks nail their production perfectly as well, most notably “Feelin Like A New Fight.Pair-a-lesions may not be a perfect record but it usually suffers more from a mixed production than anything else. If ItsYaBoiH2 can settle on a writing partner for his next album he’ll be a force be reckoned with.

THE SCENE


Da Wolf – D.O.P.E. – Album Review

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Killer beats and murderous melodies highlight original composition, setting Da Wolf apart from the fakes and phonies in today’s rap scene. On her album D.O.P.E. the lyrics expose how passionate this artist is about what she does and where she comes from. Da Wolf’s unique flow demands attention and won’t let your ears go until she’s finished with them. 

Released on October 1, 2015, D.O.P.E. stands for Dreamz On Pivotal Evolution and it is a righteous outcry of sui generis aggression by Da Wolf. Produced by Ti3Rizzy, NostalgikMusik and Stylez-T with features from Essence Cartoon and Navi, the sound has been spawned from the dirty dealing and double-crossing of the government ridden streets in Washington, D.C. Just like Weezer won the world’s attention with their brand of geek-rock, Da Wolf is going to magnetize the minds of the masses with her comic infused lyrics. 

“The Beginning” starts the album off strong with a wolf howl followed by an epic beat and Da Wolf spitting fire. “Dreamz” is a lighter beat, good for cruisin’ down the block with your sunglasses on. The third track “Challenging Industry” highlights everything that is cool about Da Wolf. It starts as a conversation in the studio; a throwback to all the OG rhymers like Biggie, Snoop, N.W.A., and then the producer interrupts Da Wolf in the middle of her verse to give her wack instructions on how to be more likeable and commercial. Needless to say she disagrees and buddy learns the hard way what happens when you try to cage an animal. Da Wolf makes it clear that she is not comparable to acts like Lil’ Kim or Iggy Azalea, gaining favour through wit rather than sex. The album starts to get dark and heavy again with “Mind State” and reaches a new level of intensity with the track “Beast”. “Beast” is that sound in your head that tells you to keep drinking at a party when you’re already dancing on the tables. “Inspiration” is an interlude compilation of sound clips featuring words of wisdom from some old school media. “Lost Memories” is all about that vocal hook, contrasting Da Wolf’s growl. The track ends in a culmination of sounds creating a denouement electronica. The track “Broken” delves into the deep darkness of the mind of a tortured artist, peppered with hopeful words of motivation. “Spirit (Breathe)” is low-key, groovy music, the kind you bob your shoulders and pack your bowl to. “Freedom” has an uplifting, inspirational sound, shouting out to everyone who fights on a day-to-day basis for their own reputation and the freedom to be themselves. The final track “Who R U” is an exposition of Da Wolf’s influences and mentality towards life, a perfect summary of D.O.P.E.

While the flow is undoubtedly tight, sometimes the transitions within the songs between verses to choruses are a bit rocky. Ultimately the recording quality and production is far from perfect but it is a great start and it will be interesting to see where Da Wolf goes from here. The album is a spectrum of hip hop: Buoyant catchy beats to nod along for those who enjoy the lighter side, contrasting with a transition to heavy street and menacing underground vibes. With wordplays on Pokemon, DC, Marvel, and I think I heard some Naruto clips in there too, I never thought I would feel so cool for catching random manga references. Overall it is evident that Da Wolf is passionate about what she does as her emotion and character shine through the entire album. Beware of this dawg!

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You can get more of Da Wolf on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, ReverbNation, and YouTube.

Griffin J. Elliot

GANGSTA RAP MADE ME DO IT

THE SCENE 


Best and Worst of Riot Fest Toronto 2015

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Riot Fest happens three successive weekends from the end of August to mid September in Denver, Chicago, and finally Toronto. The festivals boast top punk (and hip-hop) acts both current and retired. This past weekend fans of all ages rocked out in Downsview Park for the Canadian incarnation of the festival. We put together a list of the highlights and lowlights below.

BEST

1. Alexisonfire Reunion – Whether you support the decision or not, the Alexisonfire official reunion announcement was definitely a historical moment. “The Only Band Ever” played a tight, if not slightly reserved set, that had the crowd anything but. The set list was well rounded and they really played up the comeback, proclaiming early on in the set that the rumors would end that night.

2. Weezer double-header – Weezer really had fun playing both nights of Riot Fest and the crowd had an even better time experiencing it. The first night they played Pinkerton to a ready-and-damp group of festivalgoers followed by a Sunday play through to a familiar crowd of the band’s debut release, The Blue Album. Both nights Weezer played hits after the albums had been finished, and both nights thousands of people had their engines revved by The Weeze. 

3. Food – The food quality and diversity was commendable. Just like the city, Riot Fest Toronto offered a variety of food trucks with everything from grilled cheese to chicken-on-a-stick! Considering it was festival food it was a bit pricey (to account for the percentage the organizers are allotted) but in most situations the portion sizes were more than fair.

4. Sunny Second Day – The insane amount of rain on the first day was a bummer to say the very least, however the gorgeous weather on the second day may have just, kind of, almost made up for it, maybe. It was hot and sunny, and for many avid music fans the perfect conclusion for their summer music festival seasons. 

5. Crowd Surfing – Crowd surfing was rampant at Rockfest. Let’s put it this way, it would be easier to list the bands that did not crowd surf than the ones that did. The people wanted it, and they were ready. It helped that in comparison to other major festivals the grounds at Downsview are relatively small, channeling people towards the stages. To surf the crowd is the ultimate rockstar move. 

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WORST 

1. Rain – Merely hours after the gates opened the heavens followed suit and unleashed a walloping of rain, soaking, short-circuiting and simultaneously ruining the moods of thousands of people. The rain and its aftermath, which will be addressed momentarily, directly affected anyone who attended Riot Fest Toronto. Band’s had their gear ruined and sets cut short, fans had their phones drowned and souls thoroughly soaked causing many people to leave.

2. Mud – If you missed the rain there was no dodging the swampy festival ground aftermath. The incredulous amount of water marinated and transformed the grassy hills to muddy deathtraps and everyone had their shoes caked. On the second day they combatted the still gelatin-esque terrain with sand and plywood, making an interesting concrete/quicksand consistency.

3. Navigation – On the first day hoards of music fans wandered aimlessly through Downsview Park’s vast system of trails using only their ears for navigation. When the festival grounds only take up a small corner of such a large area, signs facilitating the flow of foot traffic are imperative.

4. No video screens or seating areas – The festival did not have any video screens to make the shows easier to view for the people in the back or those more “vertically challenged” fans. The grounds were very hilly which made it easier to find elevated areas to watch from but even just one screen placed strategically between the two adjacent main stages would have enhanced the festival experience. Second, there were no seating areas! The ground was really the only option for taking a load off, but after the rain it felt like being on a waterbed that a porcupine had been sleeping on, and the subsequently soiled.

5. Schedule changes – For some unclear reason, a few set times got shuffled around last minute on the second day. Notably Jazz Cartier who got pushed back an hour. The Toronto rapper, visibly and verbally fed up with a summer full of Riot Fest performances ran his set long despite the stagehands trying to shut him down and promised the audience that they would all be “under one roof” again soon. Like Pacific, also a local act, was set to close out the Radicals Stage at 8:15pm, after Weezer and Wu Tang Clan had finished performing, but when they showed up they were informed they had been moved up to 7:30pm. The band still had a sizable audience rocking out, but the unannounced shift no doubt hurt their draw.

Overall it was a weekend full of great music so despite any hiccups or logistical oversights most in attendance left each day with that warm fuzzy feeling that can only be ignited by experiencing live music.

12011266_10153275918523737_2558515618055387366_nGriffin Elliot

Photos taken from the Riot Fest Facebook page.

THE SCENE


GANGSTA RAP MADE ME DO IT

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GANGSTA RAP MADE ME DO IT

Growing up a white male in middle class suburbia I listened to a lot of music. I spun my dad’s Zeppelin records and made pop punk and hardcore bands with my friends. One genre however that managed to elude me was Gangsta Rap. Sure I could rap the verses of “Party and Bullshit” in Roger’s backyard while we were all drinking his dad’s beers, and of course my friends and I would obnoxiously blare N.W.A. while driving around in my mom’s car. But the subtle nuances and cultural influence got lost in translation behind the chauvinistic raunchiness. So I decided to give myself a Gangsta Rap reboot of sorts. Naively I wrote “Gangster Rap” on a page in my notebook and stuck my headphones in. I fully submerged myself in the genre for weeks to try and understand the hype as well as help me think differently towards other musical genres.

What I found was this.

In the late 80s and early 90s a new form of storytelling gripped America. Some people saw it to be grotesque, while others beautiful, and just like any good art it was shrouded in controversy. It’s hard for us to imagine a time when hip-hop culture wasn’t as mainstream as it is now- just as it’s important to remember that Led Zeppelin was the heaviest thing anyone had ever heard when they first came out- but Gangsta Rap broke barriers. The lower class finally had a voice; one that people wanted to hear. As this art form has continued to capture the attention of people all over the world, the passion has been reignited by Hollywood through movie magic, such as the 2009 film Notorious that chronicled the martyrdom of The Notorious B.I.G. and the current box office smash Straight Outta Compton, the story of N.W.A.

“Stereotypes of a black male misunderstood, and it’s still all good.” – The Notorious B.I.G.

The biggest controversy around Gangsta Rap is the adverse implications the genre has had on societal issues, specifically the influence on youth. The argument is consistently made that listening to violent lyrics and supporting music that often has malicious tones, perpetuates those ideas in our society. A quick Google search will turn up limitless articles condemning the culture.

Brent Staples, a black author who has been outspoken about the effects of rap music on popular culture, wrote one such article. In August of 1993, as the debate about rap raged on, the New York Times published an editorial by Staples titled “The Politics of Gangster Rap”. In it Staples argues that the music is encouraging African American youth to idolize people who have been deemed criminals while engaging the listeners in a world where broken homes are normal. The atmosphere created in the rhymes of these Gangsta rappers, like Big L, Ice-T, and anyone else mentioned in this article, is a world where hustling is the best job a man could want.

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In the streets, middle-class normalcy for blacks is viewed as an inferior state of being,” Staples wrote. “The news and entertainment industries are often in complicity with this attitude. That’s unfortunate because cultural ideology is powerful, especially in the lives of the young. It determines how we see them, how they see themselves and, to a large extent, what they aspire to become.” 

Staples, and others who argue the detriment of Gangsta Rap, both angered, ill-informed parents and well-read scholars alike, do have facts supporting them.

“And the streets to a player is the place to be. Got a knot in my pocket, weighing at least a grand. Gold on my neck, pistols close at hand. I’m a self-made monster of the city streets, remotely controlled by hard hip-hop beats.” – Ice-T

WebMD published a study in March 2003 that showed teens who consistently spend time watching the violence and sexuality being depicted in rap music videos are more likely to exhibit the behaviours themselves. The study concluded that those subjected to the videos would be over two and a half times more likely to get arrested; twice as likely to have multiple sexual partners; one and a half times more likely to get an STD, use drugs or alcohol; and three times more likely to hit a teacher, than those who did not watch rap videos.

What studies like this fail to illustrate is the demographics that Gangsta Rap is targeted at tend to already be at high risk of committing illicit behaviours.

“I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death. Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined. I think of crime when I’m in a New York state of mind.” – Nas

Dr. Amal Saleeby Malek has a PhD in Human Sciences from Notre Dame University in Louaize and has published numerous studies and articles on language and education. She wrote a chapter called “Violence in Lanugage: Is Rap Music Causing Violence in America?” where Dr. Malek concludes that, “To say that rap music causes violence is a misdiagnosis.” She continues, “People concerned should look at the root of the problem and rap is nobly a symptom of this illness. Rap is one way in which people express themselves, and thus reflects a certain economic and social aspect of reality. The answer to ending gang violence is not in limiting the artistic expression in rap music. Although it has an influence on the public who listens to it, rap is not the reason for society’s troubles. It is rather the consequence of those troubles.” 

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However, one quintessential thread of the rap tapestry is “bitches”. Gangsta Rap music has thrown a wrench into the machine that is, evolving gender issues. The way they talk about women is ruthless and definitely adds to the hard persona of being a gangsta, but to what avail? The argument made by the rappers basically boils down to poetic licensing. Ice Cube addressed N.W.A.’s lyrical disrespect toward women in a recent interview with Rolling Stone: “If you’re a bitch, you’re probably not going to like us. If you’re a ho, you probably don’t like us. If you’re not a ho or a bitch, don’t be jumping to the defense of these despicable females. Just like I shouldn’t be jumping to the defense of no punks or no cowards or no slimy son of a bitches that’s men. I never understood why an upstanding lady would even think we’re talking about her.” 

“Do I look like a muthafuckin’ role model? To a kid lookin’ up to me, life ain’t nothin’ but bitches and money.” – Ice Cube

Maybe my journalistically trained mind has become hypersensitive to women’s issues after media has spotlighted them, with Jian Ghomeshi, Bill Cosby and the whole slew of other men who have been accused of assaulting women. Dr. Dre has had a rocky past of getting rough with women and recently he issued a public apology directed at the women he assaulted. From the same Rolling Stone interview Ice Cube was quoted in, Dr. Dre attempts to explain himself after he made his public apology, “I was young, fucking stupid. I would say all the allegations aren’t true – some of them are. Those are some of the things that I would like to take back. It was really fucked up. But I paid for those mistakes, and there’s no way in hell that I will ever make another mistake like that again.” 

While his motives remain mysterious, the timing was well placed for a PR boost. One of the women he assaulted, Dee Barnes, is a journalist and female MC. She responded to the apology in an article published on Gawker: “The hypocrisy of it all is appalling. This is bigger than me, and bigger than hip-hop. This is about respect and awareness,” Barnes wrote. “No one wants to see their heroes criticized.” 

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Regardless of his past, Dr. Dre’s new and final album Compton has seen critical success after its release on August 7. The all-star roster of featured rappers draws in from all corners of the genre. The album was announced with only a week’s notice but still the hype was everywhere. The sound is new yet nostalgic, contemporary yet retro, crass yet smooth. In the final track “Talking To My Diary” Dre reminisces about the early days of N.W.A. Compton was produced as a soundtrack for the city that gave the world so much Gangsta Rap.

“Blame it on Ice Cube, because he says it gets funky, when you got a subject and a predicate, add it on a dope beat and that’ll make you think.” – Dr. Dre

One week after Dre released his final album, the new movie chronicling the life of his former group, Straight Outta Compton, hit theatres- hard. I had to go to the theatre three times to finally get in after the first two showings were sold out, and over a week later Straightouttacompton-poster_02 copytickets were still low at theatre in a remote corner of Ottawa, Ontario. Overall the film is phenomenally put together. The popularity of the movie highlights the continuing influence Gangsta Rap has on our culture, decades after the OG rap music bubble burst and people are still going crazy for it. Although it does make you wonder, which parts of history were rewritten? What if Eazy-E had a say in the movie? As I mentioned before, the plot stays far away from any gender issues. However the argument could be made that it was not the reality these young guys were facing on a day-to-day basis, both them and the women of Compton were more worried about gun violence and a little misogyny was the least of their problems. Very similar in both content and production to Notorious and the fictional Hustle & Flow (2005), Straight Outta Compton tells the West Coast side of the story, featuring the playas of N.W.A. (Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella and occasionally Arabian Prince) along with some of their contemporaries, Tupac Shakur, The D.O.C., Suge Knight, Warren G, and the infamously laodicean Snoop Dogg.

“Indeed, agreed proceed to smoke weed. Never have a want, never have a need.” – Snoop Dogg

The most important part of the film, relating to our current societal turmoil, was the feeling of helplessness when put up against police. As many teenagers do, I had a few run-ins with the police when I was growing up. Some of them were deserved, but most of them were not. My friends and I will never forget the night we got pulled off of Corey’s driveway in our sleepy middle-class town and slammed onto his front lawn by the PD Tactical Unit, guns and the whole shebang, because apparently we were brandishing a weapon. We were teenagers walking around past 9pm and targeted without just reason or evidence. I’m well aware that our experience that night was much milder than what minorities in low-income neighbourhoods are faced with on a daily basis, but I will always remember the utter uselessness of trying to sensibly talk to a police officer with a gun. Watching Straight Outta Compton, I could almost taste the suburban grass in my mouth.

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North America has had a tumultuous year, to say the least, in dealing with police brutality. Sickeningly similar to the unjust beating of Rodney King and following riots, we, as a global community, have been coping with the fallout of the cold blooded murders of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and unfortunately so many others, with little to no repercussions for their murderers. Straight Outta Compton is doing well for the Black Lives Matter cause. The most powerful, poignant and influential part of rap music (and journalism for that matter) is keeping authority in check, and speaking up for those who can’t.

“The silly mothafucka pulls out a deuce deuce, little did he know I had a loaded twelve gauge. One sucka dead LA Times front page.” – Eazy-E

So what is it about Gangsta Rap that people love? The way the words fit together like puzzle pieces makes you think about language and how we use it. It’s a lot easier for anyone to memorize their favourite rapper’s verse after listening to it a few times than nailing a guitar riff or drum fill, because words come naturally to all humans. The element of escapism is real and present, many rappers have come under fire for fabricating street stories, but who doesn’t want to feel like a powerful gangsta riding the talent from nowhere to now here? The subtle nuances need to be observed, each neighbourhood has a feel and each artist has a message, Gangsta Rap has a wide spectrum with Biggie on one side, N.W.A. on the other and Snoop Dogg somewhere in between. The violence is what makes it exciting, similar to an action movie, and the beef between artists, disses and calling each other out, keeps the story fluid. And not to forget the shock value, the rebellious teenagers blaring music their parents hate because of the raunchy hardcore lyrics.

“It’s not about a salary it’s all about reality.” – KRS One

After three weeks of listening to nothing but Gangsta Rap from the late 80s and early 90s, my music senses were revitalized, and I felt like I was ready to release my own mix. The immersion made listening to folk music or indie rock songs the aural equivalent to inhaling a big breathe of fresh air after chewing mint gum. In contrast to the graphic lyrics and heavy beats (although not completely unlike some of the metal and hardcore bands I frequent) the soft sounds of a guitar playing sweet melodies in my head were as welcome as a family member coming home from a long vacation in a foreign land. I did not understand the struggle. I still don’t, and probably never will. But now I can appreciate it. Watch out for “Slingin’ Words Like Crack Rocks” a phresh demo coming this fall from MC GriffDAWG.

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Griffin J. Elliot

Read my reviews of Snoop Dogg at Rockfest, and Nas at Bluesfest then Osheaga 2015.

THE SCENE

“The world is yours.” – Nas


Osheaga 2015 – Day Two

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Photo by Tim Snow

Photos: Provided by Osheaga

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The festival continues and so do the ear splitting buzz of air horns. The weather started out much nicer, a cool breeze with some cloud cover, foreshadowing the impending rain.

It was announced last minute that Action Bronson could not make it and Narcy with Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) would be replacing him in the lineup. Bronson tweeted, “I’m hoping one day to be let into Canada (because I did no wrong) so I can make it up to my fans who have been with me since the beginning.” Followed by a rallying tweet: “Montreal, Toronto START A FUCKING PETITION TO HAVE ME COME PLAY IF U REALLY WANT ME!!!!” Mos Def appeared on stage the night before with A Tribe Called Red so there is some speculation as to how last minute it actually was. 

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Photo: Pat Beaudry

The Arkells played early on at the main stage plateau to a fresh-legged, red-eyed and bushy tailed crowd. The reception was admirable for the Hamilton boys and they definitely revved everyone’s engines for the day. Later, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals played a soulful set from the Riviere Stage to a crowd that was all too ready for them. The set started off with Harper solo on a lap guitar and escalated from there. The Innocent Criminals are a tight and well-rounded band that can read each other easily. They had a friendly and lively stage presence and the sounds of intricate bass lines mixed wonderfully with shouts and cheers from the crowd. Ben Harper can really rock out while sitting down.

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Photo: Pat Beaudry

Oliver Heldens conducted an overcast rave at the Piknik Electronik Stage that had all the children dancing. Rave music is the disco of my generation, twenty years from now you will all be wondering, “why did I even like that?” On my way to and from the stage, and just walking around during the day, I noticed that a lot more people seem to be getting taken away by paramedics or seeking medical attention than the first day. 

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Photo: Eva Blue

This year Osheaga had to make a point of banning native headdresses as a fashion after controversies throughout the music festival scene last summer. They seem to have been replaced by the time-tested flower crown, as girls were hoisted up onto shoulders. If you ask me, and I’m aware you didn’t but still you’re reading this which means that you are at least interested in what I have to say, but “flower power” loses some of its zeal if its being manufactured and sold in an H&M storefront.

Over at the Vallee and Verte stages respectfully, Alvvays and Nas entertained the masses. Both sets were very similar if not identical to their Bluesfest performances in Ottawa at the beginning of the month. However, Nas really had a much bigger crowd and right as he was getting into the heat of his set the rain started. Sorry did I say rain? I meant to say monsoon. It rained so hard, sending everyone not equipped with a poncho into the woods looking for shelter under the trees. As festival workers were walking around selling thin sheets of plastic for ten bucks a pop, it was a highway robbery. But the rain failed to slow Nas or his crowd down, rather pumping them up even more. And the Mos Def made his second cameo of the festival busting out an impressive freestyle on stage with Nas. 

Photo by Tim Snow

Photo: Tim Snow

As people navigated the muddy grounds, the rain slowed to a halt and everyone scavenged for any piece of dry land that they could find. Patrick Watson held the attention of the festival from the Riviere Stage with an extremely impressive set musically. He started alone ripping up a grand piano and ended with almost a full orchestra and choir on stage with him. Watson showed off his vocal range incredibly while harmonizing with a steel guitar. 

Photo by Pat Beaudry

Photo: Pat Beaudry

Next up, Weezer. Now I have seen Weezer play many festivals before, the first time I covered them was Bluesfest a few years back, and I must say that their set at Osheaga was definitely the best I have seen them. The geek rockers came out to a fired up crowd, as they were definitely one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend. Rocking their iconic guitars, Rivers Cuomo’s covered in stickers like he was seventeen, though barely cracking a smile through the entire set. Cuomo’s performance was flashier than previous shows I have seen, in a good way. He had more fun with vocal parts and guitar solos. But while he brought his A game, his kids stole the show. Cuomo’s toddler aged daughter came out to and played piano in the song “Perfect Situation” and then his son rocked an inflatable guitar by his dad during “Back to the Shack” winning over the crowd as easily as if he had rigged a carnival game. How cool would it be if your dad was in Weezer? Their set ended, and the crowd went through the natural motion of calling the band back for an encore. They played “Buddy Holly” and ended with that thing where the whole band goes nuts banging away on the drum kit, excellent. 

Photo by Vanessa Leclair

Photo: Vanessa Leclair

Fireworks marked the sky and the crowd grew restless for their second day’s main stage headliner, Kendrick Lamar. His performance was crowd rising but ultimately morally deficient. Especially compared to Nas, whose message is inspiring. He’s clearly a very popular artist with the kids these days, and while he acted humbled but I almost did not buy it, it was recited, you can see from our review of Lamar at WayHome he did the classic artist [insert your city here] speech, I know I’m being hard on the guy, but if Lamar is not careful he’ll find himself on the Kanye West side of the entertainer line, and the world needs another one of those like it needs another stupid reality TV show. Despite the shallow lyrics, Lamar had everyone within earshot dancing and (unfortunately) singing along, as their clothes and spirits were finally about dry. The “bad bitches” in the crowd clearly needed to express their appreciation for his art in a more… flashing their breasts kind of way. Lamar’s backing band was killer and his guitarist on point with the funk. Then, almost expectedly at this point, who did appear? None other than Mos Def! All in all it was undoubtedly a good show, but I said of the first night’s headliner, Florence and the Machine, that if she was the future of pop music I would be satisfied, Lamar’s popularity makes me fear for a world of bad bitches.

And the beautiful dichotomy of over-produced and under-appreciated music continues for one more day.

Photo by Pat Beaudry

Photo: Pat Beaudry

Griffin Elliot

THE SCENE

In the past we’ve reviewed the Rural Alberta Advantage and St. Vincent who also played Osheaga day two.


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