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.
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.
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.
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 They seem to have been replaced by the time-tested flower crown, as girls were hoisted up onto shoulders.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.
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.
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.
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.