Photographs by Sean Chin
Although not as hot as the previous weekend, the unrelenting morning sun gave warnings of a hot day hopefully to be met by stage-generated heat for the second day of Montreal’s Osheaga Festival. The first day starred a lot of hot messes so I’m anticipating a quieter second day.
Those who were able to conserve some energy for the next day and there were lots of them were also were greeted by surprisingly hefty crowds. Management had improved on dealing with the heavy flow making for an even less of a wait on what looked to be more daunting.
New York City’s Misterwives started my day off in the mainstage area. A high energy electro outfit that really tried to shake out the previous day’s cobwebs and get a serious dance party started, they had the hard task of drawing people from the safe confines of shade to the scorching heat up by the stage.
A massive crowd gathered at the Valley Stage for Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit. Their new album, Painting of a Panic Attack, is a contender for my album of the year so this was my set for the day. About 15 minutes before they were due to start, word went out the band’s flight had been cancelled. Panic attacks ensued.
So we made the trek back to the mainstage to catch Kurt Vile and the Violators. While Kurt isn’t the stage hopping madman, his chilled out Americana was the blissful tonic for those soaking up Osheaga’s mid-day vibe.
Dan Auerbach is no stranger to Osheaga, having headlined it twice since I’ve been going with his day job, The Black Keys. Saturday he played in the blinding sun with The Arcs and was the most relaxed Osheaga has ever seen the man, which doesn’t mean he doesn’t mean business. Drawing from last year’s Yours, Dreamily, Auerbach and company kept the chilled yet masterful vibe Vile started and injected a bit of groove into it.
I’ve been a fan of California’s Best Coast for a bit but have never seen them so I was happy to make the trek back to the Green Stage area to catch them. As I had found the previous day but put it down to first-day jitters, Best Coast were quiet, almost alarmingly so. So I went up right to the front to experience their “California Nights” in all its awesome glory.
Walking through the forest that leads back to the mainstage I came across a curious sight – Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit who decided to make up the earlier cancellation by performing a solo acoustic set for those lucky enough to be there or in the vicinity. It was the so spontaneous and generous and beautiful and I was right at the front for it and will probably go down as the best experience at Osheaga I’ve ever head even though he didn’t play “I Wish I Was Sober” which I had requested, but he had misinterpreted.
I ended up hanging around and chatting with a couple members of Frightened Rabbit who told of their airport woes and how gutted they were, but that meant I missed out on both Coeur de Pirate and Kaytranada who I really wanted to see.
Hearing of some solid playing since Chris Walla left the band, I decided to go to the mainstage area for Death Cab for Cutie who was delivering a set worthy of headliners. I’ve seen the band a number of times previously but never seen them this hungry and it showed. “Crooked Teeth”, “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”, “Soul Meets Body” and “Transatlanticism” were hungry highlights. The arena was packed with those who wanted to re-live a decade gone past.
Lana Del Rey’s status as headliner was a curious one since it was announced so I had to stay to see if she had improved since that disastrous SNL gig right when her debut album was released. She’s released a couple more albums since then and played tons of gigs of all sizes but has her live game improved?
Opening with Ultraviolence’s “Cruel World” was my litmus test for her and her band – the recorded version is my favourite Lana track and it sounded great live, yet again, not loud enough.
Her stage set up was simple looking more like a cabaret stage with “Del Rey” in lights at the top. She didn’t really connect or even seem concerned with the crowd beyond the first bunch of rows. Friends of mine up front declared it their highlight as she signed autographs and took selfies in the pit with those up front but this is more daytime behavior rather than giving the whole crowd the energy to tackle the Metro crowds after a long day.
So I would see Lana again in an intimate venue as what I did hear her play sounded fantastic but didn’t fill the park, her awkward stage presence wasn’t engaging for a crowd that size.