Concert Reviews

Kendrick Lamar, St. Vincent, Interpol, Patrick Watson at Osheaga 2015

Photographs by Sarah Rix.

Day 2 of Montreal’s Osheaga Festival had big shoes to fill following the success of day 1, but also had weather to contend with as forecasted storms loomed for the evening.

It was all unfiltered sun and smiles for the Rural Alberta Advantage who kicked off the second day with their sunny folk that drew a healthy enthusiastic crowd.  They would have been better suited to the grassy confines of the Verte stage but still managed to keep everyone in the crowd happy as they jockeyed for positioning in the main area.

Hamilton’s Arkells gave a good argument for putting them higher up on the bill.  I wasn’t familiar with the band and had no intention of sticking it out for them, but they worked hard and damn, they won me over.  The songs were good, their energy was good and the crowd was really into them, the perfect elixir for a good festival appearance.  The whole place climaxed with their final song, their recent hit “Leather Jacket”.

There has been a lot of talk about Action Bronson this year.  His appearance was cancelled last minute.  I’m hoping the cancellation had nothing to do with an ill-informed petition open to be signed by anyone.  I’m a fan who jumped on after the offending album and if I thought he was a misogynist that advocated rape, I’d happily throw his albums out.  When you start petitions attempting to control what people can spend their money on, demonizing rather than researching, you open a dangerous can of worms.  The whole petition thing has been nothing but a PR farce and if people truly believed in what they were signing rather than joining in the mob drama, then at least would have a much needed conversation.  And that is not happening.  But for reference, why not check out the lyrics to much of Nickelback’s first few albums and tell me how they get a pass and Action Bronson does not.  End rant.

While Mos Def was Action Bronson’s replacement, I decided to check out St. Vincent who absolutely blew me away with her guitar shredding.  Her demeanor was a bit icy for a sun soaked crowd but that could be why the stage didn’t just melt away while she wailed.  Her guitar did all the talking the crowd needed and another future headliner is born.

Hopping around the park is a great way to discover new music and thankfully I took a walk with one of my buddies and discovered two new talents I previously wasn’t aware of.  I caught three songs of Lion Babe on the Arbres stage, a molten combo of rock and funk and then headed over to the Verte stage to catch France’s Christine and the Queens which tore the stage up with boundless energy.  I couldn’t understand her francophone songs, aside from a chorus of Kanye West’s “Heartless” but I really didn’t care – her energy and bouncy pop raised the energy levels nicely.

I managed to get up front for Nas who really should have been on a mainstage, but was I ever happy I got this close to one of hip-hop’s legends.  He filled the Verte field with fans young and old and they all greeted the New York rapper with a reverence that wasn’t lost on the man.  He delivered a long greatest hits set that went over his allotted time but when EVERYONE was having the party of the weekend to the point that the deluge in the sky had no effect, you knew you were witnessing something special.  Adding Mos Def to the mix was priceless.

Weezer also rolled out hit after hit kicking off with “My Name Is Jonas” and inspired the loudest, most-consistent sing-along of the weekend.  Even I was almost hoarse by the end of their hour as almost every key track you could ask for was aired.  Even Rivers Cuomo’s two kids got in on the proceedings making all the parents in the crowd jubilant.

A couple of years ago, Kendrick Lamar played a festival highlight set over the dinner hour.  This year he closed the second night with one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend following the critical love-in that has been his new album To Pimp A Butterfly.  He barely touched that album and instead focused on his Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City album opening with “Money Trees”.  Mos Def also made an appearance but the clear star(s) of the night was Lamar himself and the enthusiastic Montreal crowd that showered each other with overwhelming love, erasing any doubt as to why he was headlining.

About author

Concert reviewer at Live in Limbo.