Osheaga 2015 – Day Three
Sunday, August 2, 2015
The first day of Osheaga 2015 was too hot, the second rained- hard, but the third… The third day of Montreal’s Osheaga was graced with perfect summer festival weather.
Gary Clark Jr. played early on in the day on the Montagne main stage and his overdriven blues anthems rattled through the trees and into the eardrums of festivalgoers. People on the grounds were either two tired from a weekend of partying or just finding their last wind and givin’r harder than ever. Father John Misty played a spiritual set, at one point, after an apparent space out, he addressed the crowd and said, “Sorry people, the ecstasy is just kicking in.” The audience roared.
The areas a person could and could not enter with their particular wristbands were very unclear, however it was easy enough to find out. Security guards equipped with scanners would give you the go ahead if their light turned green and stop you in your tracks if the light was red. The VIP and media areas that I could get into were very well put together. Overall logistically and infrastructure-wise the festival was much better setup than Bluesfest or Rockfest earlier this year.
The War On Drugs is the idyllic summer festival band. After two albums of finding their sound, the band released “Lost in the Dream” last year to eager ears and they instantly struck a chord with music fans of every demographic. Adam Granduciel led the band with the feel of an old folk star. Accompanied by organs, a horn and sax, The War On Drugs rocked on stage in Ray-Bans and t-shirts as they played around with atmospheric guitar solos and harmonica riffs that had everyone dancing. I swear Osheaga must have broken some sort of world record for most people consecutively dancing, all weekend long people were gyrating their problems and stresses away. That’s the beauty of these types of festivals, some of us can’t afford to take a week or longer vacations to far away islands or historic sites, but a drive to Montreal for a three day experience can be just as refreshing.
The Swedish sister duo, First Aid Kit, made their Osheaga debut to an active crowd, they played on the Vallee stage and their happy folk rang strong. As their set was dying down they performed an excellent rendition of Sabbath’s War Pigs, which was a really pleasant surprise.
Next on the docket, Brand New. Now just like any teenager growing up in suburbia, I had a lot of angst and nowhere to put it when I was young. And again, just like many of you, I found Brand New at a time when I needed the band, at a time when friends were starting to become integral to my sanity and music had just begun unraveling her secrets on my hands and in my brain. The difference is, for most of the people at Osheaga, Brand New was just a phase, but for some of us, Brand New is life. The mystery that shrouds the band has never lifted, only grown thicker and hazier as we learn more about the members, particularly Jesse Lacey. Last year at Rockfest I was lucky enough to catch Lacey as he was getting off the stage and I had an incredible conversation with him. It was surreal to be able to talk to the person whose music has meant so much to me for years, and I could hardly get him to stop asking questions about me! I did manage to ask a few key questions about him, the band and their new tunes, we agreed to meet again, said goodbye and parted ways. The festival sure did look a lot different from Cloud Nine. So I went to Osheaga this year with one goal in mind, track down Jesse Lacey.
As the crew was getting the Verte Stage ready, I scoped out the access points. My media wristband could not get me into the VIP pit section or backstage. I figured out where the band would be coming and going from and I waited. While I was plotting, I struck up a conversation with the two security guards blocking the way to my completed mission. Joking and teasing with them, they started to realize that I wasn’t a threat.
Brand New played a solid set of songs mostly from Devil and God and Daisy, with a few from Deja Entendu and of course their latest track “Mene”. It’s interesting how a band like Brand New builds their set list for a big festival, trying to breathe new life into the songs they have beaten to death over the years, and those are the ones festival fans want to hear. Their set ended with guitarist Vincent Accardi falling backwards over his amps and drummer Brian Lane pushing his kit off the riser, little did most of us in the crowd know, they roughed up the stage at the end of their set in Chicago at the House of Blues the day before. Punk rock, amIright?
So back to me jamming out near the front, stage right, I told these security guards that I had in fact met the singer of this band before and he had expressed interest in talking to me again, in so many words. Then, just as I think all hope is lost, buddy waves me over and says: “When their done I’ll signal my man and you can go backstage.” Over the moon, I eagerly agreed and promised there would be no Tom Fuckery on my behalf. Sure enough, as Accardi falls over I am given the go-ahead and they pretend to scan my bracelet, letting me through the gates of my mortal, bearded self and into the backstage area reserved for my greatest heroes and Platinum ticket holders. I walked around behind the stage and there they were, just where I figured they would be. I look up to Lacey, literally because he is standing on the stage about six feet or so off the ground, and as soon as he saw me recognition was clear in his eyes. Lacey and the rest of the band struck me as quite calm and collected for performers who had just spent the last hour singing lyrics with relatively dark subject matter, cumulating in an angsty outburst of an extro
“Jesse,” I said, “Do you remember me?”
“Of course,” he replied, but he needed a reminder on my name. He came down to talk to me and told me that he had kept the piece of paper I had given him with my information on it in his wallet for the better part of the year, which made me feel pretty cool. And we continued to catch up, as if we were old pals who hadn’t seen each other in years. It was one of those moments that made me appreciate living, not only did this incredibly influential artist of mine remember me, but I think he might even kind of like me. I gave him another page from my notebook with my name, phone number and email scratched nervously on it and let him get back to his bandmates. As I walked out I stopped to give my two huge dark skinned-angles each a big hug, and then I returned to normal life.
Back amongst the festival, fans were enjoying Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros on the Riviere main stage. Frontman Alex Ebert (no there isn’t actually anyone named “Ed Sharpe” in the band) looked like a homeless man with his wild unruly hair and a ripped, stained t-shirt that was barely hanging on to his scrawny frame. He won over the hearts and tear ducts of the festivalgoers when he invited a disabled man in a wheelchair and his friends on stage with him.
Alt-J, which literally stands for the keyboard function alt + j (∆), were a terrific testimony to the power of new music on Osheaga’s last day. The final act on the Montagne main stage, people were both squirming with excited for the performance or anticipating the festival’s conclusion, just hours away. Alt-J put on a cool show with their party rock, almost like an experimental easy listening sound, accompanied by an excellent light show and backdrop video.
Tyler the Creator closed the night out on the Verte Stage and I went back to check out his show as well as give my big black guardian angels one last hug. Tyler’s performance was a mix of hipster apathy and teenage angst. The sound was crass and the audience was pumped.
The festival’s final main stage plateau headliners were the Black Keys and I must say I was disappointed by the performance. It would have been ideal to have Florence and the Machine close the festival out and have the Black Keys end the first day’s musical performances, but that was probably out of the hands of festival organizers. Don’t get me wrong, the Black Keys were pretty damn good, but stacked against some of the weekend’s impeccable performances, they just couldn’t keep up. The drumming is truly subpar, but it does work with their sound. Like a 70s garage band, they were more focused on the tone and fuzz than playing on point. The sound was flat yet huge, unpolished yet intentional, sweaty yet stagnant. I look forward to seeing guitarist Dan Auerbach playing in a rock super group later in his career.
Due to the previous day’s heavy rain the final festival date was thick with bugs but at this point, none of us cared. It was a truly eye-opening weekend in both the greatest and worst sense of the term, filled with some of the world’s most incredible artists performing at the pinnacle of their talent, free Redbull at the exit gates and some of the best festival hot dogs I have eaten all summer.