The Gig: Osheaga music festival
Where: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
When: Saturday 31 July 2010
In One Word: Incredible
My pilgrimage to Osheaga began at precisely one minute past midnight on Saturday morning, as I took an eight hour Greyhound ride from Toronto to Montreal via Ottawa. Coaches and couch surfing – you can’t get much more DIY than that! Music Vice magazine: keeping it real since 2002, yo! Numb ass cheeks and stiff legs were a small price to pay for what was an amazing weekend, with a line-up that was easily the biggest and best of any music festival in Canada this year.
My experience at Osheaga 2010 kicked off with Rich Aucoin, a man seemingly born to entertain the young and the carefree at music festivals. Together with his backing band, Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Mr Aucoin delivered a package of fun stuff to the Montreal crowd on early Saturday afternoon. While romping through a set of electro pop, Aucoin unveiled a giant multicoloured parachute. Said parachute was the same type that I had once been invited to frolic under at Cub Scouts – I joined Scouts to make fires and build shit, not dance around under rainbow-coloured parachutes, so suffice to say that my career as a Scout was very short lived – but with Rich Aucoin as your Scout Leader, jumping around under a parachute is actually fun, and also a situation that is a whole lot less likely to result in your parents going to the cops.
Sarah Harmer’s set got a warm response overall, though I personally wasn’t into it that much… her music’s just not my bag. You can’t like everything.
K’naan is in the news right now as he is “being urged to turn down the politics” in his music. He might also be advised to turn down the volume: His set commenced with a deafening wall of noise, and while he completely obliterated Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”, I retreated up the grassy hill at Parc Jean-Drapeau to watch at a safe distance. After ten minutes I decided that I wasn’t a safe enough distance away after all, so I made my way over to the third stage to catch the latter half of an excellent set from the ever-reliable Japandroids. I then returned to the two main stages, where K’naan wrapped up his set with the song that made him famous – “Wavin’ Flag” was a predictably nice moment of crowd unity, with everyone obliging with the hand waving for K’naan’s footy anthem.
As afternoon turned to evening, there was a definite lull in atmosphere but everything picked up when Pavement took to the stage. “It’s 1996, and we are Pavement”, were the opening words of frontman Stephen Malkmus as Pavement opened with “Gold Soundz” and then ran through over an hour of their nineties indie rock classics. I’ve been on a big Pavement kick this year, ever since I got a copy of their fantastic best-of album Quarantine The Past, and seeing them live was an amazing experience. Pavement gave a great, good-humoured performance, and when some dickhead decided to lob a cup of Budweiser straight at Malkmus during the second song (see the picture below – yes, I got the shot), Pavement quite literally took it on the chin and stepped it up to deliver what was a memorable performance. Pavement would have been the highlight of Saturday, were it not for a band called Arcade Fire…
Arcade Fire were just on another level. Their headlining performance at Osheaga on Saturday was easily one of the best concert experiences I’ve ever had. The sound was fantastic, and the energy and interplay from the band was simply mesmerizing – Arcade Fire have a genuine ‘family’ feel to them as a group. Husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne alternated as the leading lights of Arcade Fire, as the Montreal band put on a classic performance to an ecstatic crowd in their hometown. Truly incredible.
Photos from Osheaga – Saturday, 31 July 2010
Unfortunately, from my point of view as a photographer, I was more than just a little bit pissed off to arrive at the festival site and be told that I wouldn’t be getting my promised photographer’s badge (for photo pit access) but that I could still take some photos from anywhere else. “Anywhere else” meaning from the crowd – effectively meaning that I had the same access to the bands as the rest of the crowd. Boohoo, right? I engaged my inner raw power and got on with the show… here are the pictures that I took from Saturday at Osheaga.
(And as it happens, karma would be on my side for Sunday as I would end up getting the best access possible to the headliners – look out for those pictures in the Sunday round-up.)
© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice