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Osheaga 09 Festival Review (Elbow,Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, La Roux, Ting Tings, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and a few rants

Here’s my review of the 2 day festival (from the music ‘n the interviews right on down to the potta-potties!)

Montreal’s annual 2 day music fest was off to a great start Sat Aug 1st with great full-on summah time 30degree-ish weather (as it had been pretty shitty of late (read: rainy) here this summer) and a big crowd that only grew bigger as the day went on. hmmm maybe cause Coldplay was headlining that night?? ..more on that later aligator…

ELBOW

Afternoon of Day 1 (cause I did have to *get to Montreal that morning) started off with a great interview in the sun with Elbow – last year’s undisputed Mercury Prize winners (goes to best UK/Irish album of the year). During the interview, Jesse Hugues from Eagles of Death Metal walks by, pointing at Pete from Elbow and in all seriousness under his big floppy mustache says “this is the best band in the world.. this is the best band in the world, right here”. He smiles and walks on.  With Elbow I discuss their Mercury Prize win of course, how it’s changed things and them, their favorite recording studio, influences and factors in each of the band member’s lives that affected the creation and development of their winning album “Seldom Seen Kid”, and predictions for this year’s Mercury winner.

Elbow also put on one of the best shows of the festival (but you knew this just watching them perform in the afternoon of day 1). The crowd was way bigger than expected and most surprisingly, made up of all age groups, with a pretty even distribution of men,women.

They came out with their trumpets and blasted things right off with Starlings, the lead track from Seldom Seen Kid (SSK). More SSK tracks (eg, loneliness of a tower crane driver – which btw, lead Guy Garvey said he was shocked to hear on the BBC one day as he never intended it for ‘radio play’ — shows you how wide and far this album’s net has cast). Some attention was paid to tracks past albums (they do have 4!) but SSK got the majority. What i noticed almost all throughout was that while everyone seemed to be (almost) entralled by their performance, few were ‘singing along’, which made the think alot were there on heresay. This is though, a band that supports U2 at Wembley this month, so it’s only a matter of time before more know of Elbow. In the meantime, they no doubt left our crowd a happier, more chilled out bunch.

Pictures of the Elbow performance and our interview are HERE

LA ROUX

After the Elbow interview I ran over in time to catch La Roux’s performance before interviewing her afterwards.  She palyed at my fav Meg Stage – it’s a more intimate setting (oooo), it’s by the water surrounded by trees, it’s great at sunset, has its own food & drink (read alcohol!), services (loos!) where you stand a much better chance (as a girl) of going before the year 2010, and you can get really up close to the stage. all for ah dolla ninety-nine folks. The LaRoux fan club has grown i see… quite a diff from her last time here – as she even mentioned in our interview shortly afterwards. ..what a difference it makes to have a merc prize nom & an album out in full swing with some its vids playing on MusiquePlus to boot.  so good for her. She worked 4ish damn years on that album..bring em on. So arriving late i was stuck trying to find a good vantage point but dressed in her polka dotted top and ‘tards and red hair sticking out she’s easy enough to track on stage.  (Btw Meg stage area ran out of some food later on that day which was NOT cool after you’ve been standing in line for any length of time). Little did we know this was the beginning of longer food lines to come…

The interview went really well..I was of course ready with questions but at one point, we got off track (but interestingly so!) when she started to talk about some stuff that seemed pretty personal to her so I thought it best to continue down that route.

Pics of the La Roux’s performance and our interview are here.

OTHER BANDS on DAY ONE

Other bands I checked out that day were Swede Lykke Li – i’ve been an ‘observing fan’ let’s call it..since January. Watching to see if Canada takes to her or not. She certainly had the crowd NOT going for the first 20 min but she finally started to wake up around the time of her hit ” little bit” and from then on you’d think you were watching a different performer.  Unfortunately the bass was reverbing all over the grounds so ruined some of her electro based sounds.

Then off to see the The Roots at a more main stage, who were playing at the same time as Lykke. They had a good crowd and kept everyone attentive until Coldplay…you could feel the anticipation growing …

COLDPLAY

Coldplay, ah coldplay…where to begin as I was ‘forced’ to watch them perform this night… To explain my mixed emotions, here’s the background: The first time i saw their Yellow video in..2000?  Just this lone guy walking down the beach, singing to himself… my first thought was ..who. on EARTH.  puts out such a bland, straightforward video!  Where’s the flash, the .5second edits, the graphics for our ADD generation?  C`mon mahn!  hmm who’s gonna watch this thing?   By 3rd viewing of the video, i had no problem watching Chris walk 😉 ,  and i was hooked on the anthemic build up and riff…and thinking to myself… who. ON EARTH.  is this ??  and realized this band was different and so began my repetitive listens of CD1 Parachutes, appreciating so many other tracks (eg, Trouble, Everything’s not lost, Shiver).  When they played my city on Feb 24 2003 (cause yes, i still have the sticker up on my mirror along with many others) for the 1st time, it was exciting.  Btw, “The Music” opened for them which made a great UK  double bill.   I was surprised at the turnout but then realized song recognition was low when the crowd’s biggest (and almost only big reaction) was to Yellow.

Then, excited was i  when CD2 came out.  I was in Europe in Aug 02 and bought it the day it came out i believe, deciding it must however be christened back home in my livingroom on my wicked speakers & sound system (my ritual for all special CDs).  The guy in the Amsterdam railstation (stationsplein?) record store hadn’t heard of the band even tho they played nearby Lowlands festival in 2000.  sighhh I left wondering how much longer will people be able to say that?  But maybe the spaniards were more in tune with them cause later that trip while at a favorite Malaga clothing store Blanco, i was trying on clothes while In my Place played on the sound system overhead (i`ve no idea why i remember that fact and not more important things in life… hmm i still have never worn the skirt i bought that day…).  ANYHOW! as for the CD, I wasn’t dissappointed (considering it was the soph. album and it’s almost impossible they can ever be better than number 1).  Again, great tracks that never got airplay (title track Rush of Blood to the Head, Amsterdam (where I omminously happened to be at time of purchase), Warning Sign) but at least the band was gaining good traction with The Scientist and Clocks (which one had that great video that went in reverse?)…  .

Far as i’m concerned, they hit their musical creativity peak here.   By 2005’s CD3  X&Y I was getting concernedironically the hype they’d long deserved had finally arrived, cd pre-release review’s of X&Y were aplenty (giving it so-so ratings with general comments about Chris’ weak lyric writing), and old and young I knew had now either been to their concerts or knew a song or two.  X&Y was their final step to the mainstream.  The video for their opening single Speed of Sound was … over the top/glitzy, and showed the grandeur they were now expected to be.  ..what about our long walks on the beach Chris?… or just 3min of you walking backwards? ahhh the good ol days..   More mainstream hits followed with Talk and Fix, with Low being the outstanding overlooked album track.   I bought the album and gave it its requisite repetitive plays but my suspicions were confirmed.  Coldplay had now ‘arrived’ but the band i’d hyped for so long was no longer that band musically, and more importantly – artistically. They’d found a niche and you werent gonna budge them for hell or high water.   You know those CDs you have that need a listen to at least annually, year after year? Well CD3 hasn’t been in my player since 2006. I can’t even remember how some of the songs go anymore (though I should go back and give Low and a couple others a good once over).   I can’t say this about 1&2.  There are moments in a year I find myself humming a CD 1 or 2 track unconsciously until i drive myself to the CD player for relief through the speakers.

By 2007 news came out that CD4 was to have 2 names. I thought the concept of two titles  – from a marketing point of view and from an artistic-choosing-of-names point of view, was, to put it politely, not their best choices yet (read stupid).  When it arrived with open arms by the world the cover made no sense – but honestly, by this point i’m not really giving them a fair shake anymore and reading up on some good reason the french revolution is on their album cover.  So i broke tradition and stopped buying their CDs and let radio moments feed me the tracks i was supposed to love that everyone talked about.  It didnt happen ..sure Violet Hill’s pretty and Viva is their anthem but the flower was off the bloom and apart from a couple of full CD listens one day I havent really given that CD the time of day.  Especially when there’s SO many exciting new (and not so new) UK bands that regularly appear on the scene.  Why listen to the same ol same ol?   We love buying new clothes, new gadgets, why not new sounds?   SO. when i heard Coldplay was headlining Osheaga on night 1, and when I saw the crowds growing GROwing GROWING every hour on the festival site as we neared 9pm or whenever they started, and as line-ups for food concessions, drinks and toilets became UNbearable as they hadnt anticipated the “coldplay effect”, i groaned – groaned – groaned.

But as never having had the opportunity to see them live, my companion in arms really wanted to witness some of the fuss.  And had it been me who’d never seen them I would’ve requested the same.  They came out to massive applause & cheers.   While there were songs from all 4 CDs, the most amazing thing was the change in audience reaction when they played their newer material (CD4).  Those that were previously swaying or just enjoying, say, God put a smile upon your Face, just went CRAY-zee when Viva la Vida started.  Looking around I felt like I was at a different concert all ov a sudden.  And that’s when it really sunk in HOW many bloody new fans Colplay has pulled in in recent years.   and of allll ages.  I have to admit, they put on quite the show (ack!).  Chris since the early days has always been a great entertainer and that night I saw he still does one of his signature moves … knees on the floor, feet under his legs and arching his back down to the floor to his feet – singing away.

There were moments of over-the-topness but they *are a stadium world famous band now so…  At one point, yes there were fireworks but that only seemed to complement, not overshadow, their performance.  When Yellow started, out from nowhere came these huMONgous yellow (what else?) balloons that everyone started volleying over their heads, around the crowd.  Some pierced the balls with lighters and they`d explode and out came little bits of paper (no fortune cookie messages on them tho 🙁  )   When they finally made it to the area i was standing, a fair ways back from the stage, i kept one that landed on me and sat on it and watched the rest of the show from my coldplay-ergo-yellow-ball.  .. had a great little workout while drinking a rum n coke listening to CP. so all n all it was bearable.  We left about 20min before it ended…based on suspicions that somehow the crowd size and the metro/underground back into centretown were *not on par.  Reports later confirmed there was heavy backups to access the underground till finally it closed and surprise surprise, a mass of tired, drunk  people apparantly got quite angry. not a fun way to end your evening but this is where chiling out comes in i guess. easy for me to say…  Unfortunately, seeing CP meant missing Girl Talk who were playing at the same time and who i`ve since heard n read nothing but good things about  catch them at some other festy i guess.. rrrr

Coldplay summary

Worst fashion statement: each band member in a different colored shirt for the remaining Coldplay newbies in the world.    Do you think the purple guy played well? No, i liked the green guy better.  …sigh

Best moment: Big yellow balloons mosh-bouncing over the audience as you looked towards the stage and watched the band play VS.  watching the fireworks go  off in the opposite direction and just appreciating the audio.

Best surprise song played : Green Eyes

Worst song: Billie Jean (enuf! enuf! enuf! MJ already!  i liked him too but seriously folks…)

Best song:  remixed version of God put a smile upon your Face (but i left around Politik)

Best clips, overviewhttp://www.coldplaying.com/forum/showthread.php?p=2860784

————–DAY 2————-

Sunday, sunday…. well, technically Sunday starts at 12:01 am so i need to count the interesting night of accommodations had on Sat night… stayed at this australian guy`s apt i found in an ad.  Everything sounded great on paper and by email..but sat night around oooo who knows… middle of the night…he and his girlfriend start fighting. and she`s yelling ..you don`t love me, you’re selfish, (repeat 6times in various ways) and he basically just listens, riding it out.  She sounds like she’s about to throw things and i’m wondering..is she coming into my room at some point ..do i need to find a HoJo? hmmm kinda late to look for a room… then it ended as quickly as it started and the  next night (sunday) arriving back at the apt to sleep …the million dollar fun question is…will i be getting australian theatre 2 nights in a row? … could I *be this lucky??    Yup.  turns out night 1 was just the opening act.  luk-key me.  Sunday night included door closings, stomping up down the hall, starting the washing machine (i guess they multi task while fighting), and finally – silence. …or maybe i just fell asleep already used to it all.  in any event when i saw mr australia the next morning he acted like nothing happened as he was showing the next couple coming in the door their (my) room they’d have that night and the apt overall …and i couldnt help but throw out how there’s entertainment thrown in for free when you stay here.  he just looked at me, giving me the – dont blow this for me i need the cash – look.  i looked right back at im, kinda laughed and let him know he had my sympathies.  ahhh relationships… SO! MUCH! FUN!  they can be.

But i digresss… this is about the festival…

TING TINGS

uhm, not much to say bout the Tings. they were enjoyable, entertaining..all you`d expect from them. And they made everyone stuck in the afternoon rain feel happier and jumpy.  They started with one of their best tracks and CD title track – We  Started Nothing.  They didnt leave before hitting That’s not my name, we walk, and of course – the one everyone this side of the ocean knows because of a Telus ad Shut up and Let me go (btw, this is actually about their (ex) record company).  Funny thing about the Tings is …  they get, on average, more traction in N.A. than alot of UK bands do.  And for many U.K. bands, their goal is to ‘make it’ over here.  Yet, whenever UK artists I’m speaking with mention the Tings, it’s usually with mild disdain or they dont really seem to have much respect for them.  Jealousy? somewhat, as they feel they havent put in their dues and they’re kind of one trick ponies.  Time will tellll.  In the meantime, Osheageans were quite attracted to the Tingers.

Pics of the Ting Tings performance are below.  They weren’t doing interview (don’t get me started)

OTHER DAY 2 EVENTS,ACTS

Passing Rufus Wainwright…I could have lived another day to not have heard those sounds from stage where he played… ah well, let diversity rain. i mean reign. …cause Day 2 it was rain. rain rain. then amazingly, the sun came out and my plastic cover (that made me look like a condom) and the umbrella we were forced to buy in town that morning cause the rain was just DUMPing on you, were sacked away for the rest of the day pretty much.  thank you sun gods!

Between bathroom breaks (hey, i`m not a camel) and rum n cokes (sadly, the only alchohol offered by festival organizers apart from coolers and beer) there were acts here n there but i was off to interview Alex Turner (lead) and Jamie Cook (guitarist) from the …

ARCTIC MONKEYS

Well, the boys were SO tired when i saw them i thought they were going to fall asleep standing up.  So I went into overdrive mode to shake em up and thank goodness it worked – we sat in a great place, on a bench in the sun, aways away from the noise.  Alex came alive and, based on the interview feedback gotten to date – spoke more than he usually does – so looks like my efforts werent in vain.  Jamie did some fun air guitaring and at times they each wanted to answer the same question so I was having to balance out who should get to answer `this time`.   I’ve gotten tons of great comments back on the interview (thanks to everyone).

The show was spot on. OMGoodness these boys have grown up since 2 Osheagas ago, when I sort of cringed at their lack of stage presence.  And they got to play in a better slot and as far as i`m concerned – the best slot … cause you see them in the daylight (see their faces,expressions,get that daytime concert atmosphere), then as the sun`s setting behind the stage (beauty, chill), then when it`s dark (get the light show, the mood changes) – best of all worlds in my books!   They even had tons more people show up this time, and speaking to fans afterwards, well, they were clearly fans and not spectators who just “happened” to catch them cause they were playing Osheaga.  There was a  british flag flying and crowd surfing.  fun fun.  At the end I bumped into a young guy with his mom!  she had become a fan after hearing him play them (maybe it was the 60s rock influence off the new cd?).

Pics of the Arctic Monkeys performance and our interview are HERE

YEAH YEAH YEAHS

The night closers.  The replacements. As much anticipated (by me and everyone i heard talking about it) Beastie Boys pulled out to due Yauch`s battle with cancer.  Until then I`d been looking forward to the YYYs but when the festival announced their 4:45 ish slot was being bumped to final act I was annoyed.   NYCs All points festival the day before got Jay-Z to replace the BBoys, and we were getting bumper-uppers.  Hey, Osheaga, if you plot them as an afternoon act, they`re an afternoon act.  It`s not a movable thing. You need to find final acts worthy of the title.  this isnt checkers damn it.

Needless to say, this 3 cd band does rock and Karen O. (no, we`re not related ha) does give a performance, but they`re just not end-of-ni` material yet. Their (her) banter between tracks was corny and I felt they were removed from the crowd.  She came out wearing a mask or something and looked ridiculous (hey i normally love her clothes,fashion antics) but ..what? are you going to eat us?  sigh. I felt she was trying to amp it up and i just wasnt buying.  And based on Nick and Brian’s energy levels, you’d think she had hired them as a back up last minute band.   The played tracks from across the albums and there was a great crowd turn out and of course pple enjoyed those off their latest It`s Blitz most.

While Coldplay’s performance & electricity on night one was clearly in another galaxy, the YYYs need more stage time to develop into what could become a show closer band.

My next festival is Bestival in the UK and I`ll be sure to tell you all about that when I get back in late Sep.


Osheaga 2009

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