Posted in music on September 13, 2007

by BrooklynVegan Mike

Osheaga 2007 (CRED)
Osheaga 2007

A label rep I was talking to told me that it takes a festival four to five years of good reviews and turnouts to be considered a serious destination on the festival circuit. In its sophomore year, Osheaga has followed up their triumphant debut with an impressive lineup that should continue the reputation they built for themselves last year. Once again, I was granted the task of covering this event...

Thunderheist @ Osheaga 2007 (CRED)
Osheaga 2007

Arriving for day one of the two day festival around 12:30, I could hear the tail end of Apostle of Hustle opening the festivities on one of the alternating main stages. I made my way to the smaller stages on the other side of the park. Hopes were high for Thunderheist, a local hip-hop/house outfit comprised of DJ Grahm and female rapper Isis,. Taking the stage, Isis seemed to apologize in advance saying "we've been up all night." What followed was a rather limp set that took the wind out of my sails. I chalk it up to just a bad set, as I've heard that their smaller shows around town have been really good. It happens to the best of them. Over on the main stage, Jamie T performed to a somewhat apathetic audience. Unfamiliar with his music before that day, he vocally reminded me a lot of The Arctic Monkeys, a point I'm sure he'll have to have to answer questions about for years to come if his career gains traction.

Continued below...

Editors @ Osheaga 2007 (CRED)
Osheaga 2007

Next up was Editors, and though enjoyable, they seemed rather pedestrian. They seem to have a firm grasp on their sound and stay firmly entrenched in it. Being at the end of the summer and festival season, their performance gave the feeling that this is the same set that they've done time in and time out over the past few months, and this was just another day at the office. Over on the MEG stage, The Clientele performed a strong set to an appreciative audience. And though they were very good, their music and the circumstances surrounding them (small stage, playing largely to an audience unfamiliar with their mid-tempo sway) just fed into the overall malaise. The seeds, it seemed, were planted for a "blah" day.

The Veils @ Osheaga 2007 (CRED)
Osheaga 2007

Then The Veils took the Trees Stage. The London band, by way of New Zealand, are an enticing mix of early Nick Cave, revenge blues, and garage rock. Sporting a six o'clock shadow and wearing an open, sweat-drenched dress shirt and wide, flat brim hat, singer Finn Andrews looked like a strung out Amish peasant. The band showed the rare combination of being intense while displaying a sheer level of fun. The tiny stage area was filling up as the set moved on, attracting everyone within earshot. Their performance brought to mind the thought that too many of the lower-tiered bands at festivals don't take the opportunity to really win over an audience. They don't see them for the opportunity they present. But like Tokyo Police Club and Land of Talk did before them at last years festival, The Veils certainly got crowd's (and my) attention, and I will definitely see them the next time they are in town.

Blonde Redhead @ Osheaga 2007 (CRED)
Osheaga 2007

Up next on the main stage were Blonde Redhead. Their atmospheric-dense set, which would normally cool off a festival crowd, was eaten up by the Montreal faithful. Dancing seductively when not playing, Kazuseemed very much in her own world, a world that was only accentuated by the Pace Brothers' diligent playing. The only setback was that it became evident during "Equus" that the band was playing along to a backing track, which is a minor gripe, but felt it worth mentioning.

Then it was back to the Trees Stage where the always awesome Panthers played a blistering 30 minute set. Someone next to me referred to their music as a combination of "proto-punk power" and "corvette bomber cock rock." I have no idea what "corvette bomber cock rock" means, but it sounds oddly fitting. They were the second band as part of Vice Magazine's takeover of the stage - part of their "corn roast", complete with giveaways of corn to anyone willing to wait in line for it.

Feist @ Osheaga 2007 (CRED)
Osheaga 2007

On the main stages were the one-two combo of BSS affiliates Stars and Feist. Both commanded the largest audiences at that point in the festival. Stars delivered, as always, with their indie-pop goodness. The crowd received the tracks from their new album Our Bedroom After the Wat very well, which suggests either their music release strategy has worked (it has been available for iTunes download since May, while the physical copies aren't available until the end of this month), or everybody now only gets their albums through piracy. Feist was next. She performed a confident, fun set that at times kept the crowd at a hushed silence. No small feat at a festival, to be sure. The biggest crowd pleasers were "My Moon and My Man" and "So Sorry" from her Polaris Music Prize- nominated The Reminder.

For as much criticism and bile Billy Corgan has received for reviving The Smashing Pumpkins in the indie rock press, there is no denying that the band still has a large following. I haven't seen that many Zero shirts in one place since I was a junior in high school. Tonight was the chance for many people to see the Pumpkins for the first time. They haven't played as a band in several years and their last appearance in Montreal was in 2000. I, coincidentally, was at that show. It was the Summersault festival, and featured them, Our Lady Peace, A Perfect Circle, and Eve 6. Times have changed.

Smashing Pumpkins @ Osheaga 2007 (CRED)
Osheaga 2007

Opening with the thunderous "United States of America," they were a were a tight, at times too professional outfit that just commanded the stage. The Pumpkins first started playing arenas and stadiums in 1996, so a festival like this is old hat. Despite their complete mastery of the circumstances, they didn't play by the numbers. Billy looked like he was genuinely having a good time on stage, even at one point breaking into laughter mid-song. The set was also a good mix of old and new, including long adored album cuts like "Silverfuck."

The highlight of the night was "Tonight, Tonight," supplanting synths over the ubiquitous strings from the original. The crowd was with it, singing every word, playing the role of rapturous backing vocals. Compared to "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," which they played earlier in the night at double speed, Corgan and Co. appeared to still be emotionally invested in the song and played it out of want as opposed to obligation. Staying another 20 minutes, I made my way to the metro, dead tired and having been on my feet for about 11 hours straight.

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stay tuned for 'Day two' of BrooklynVegan Mike's coverage of Osheaga 2007 (Sept 8-9 in Montreal).

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Comments (16)

dude, again, who the fuck cares if there's a backing track. you for one should appreciate the fact that these guys can even keep up with the groove on the tracks (which the drummer controls). i'd love to see some fuckin indie band do that. couldn't even keep up witha disco beat.

amen

Posted by Anonymous | September 13, 2007 5:41 PM

(post above) im obviously speaking about blonde redhead.

Posted by Anonymous | September 13, 2007 5:42 PM

backing tracks suck, boo-hoo.

Posted by Allen | September 13, 2007 5:46 PM

i agree. who the fuck cares. the backing track during 'equus' doesn't take anything away from blonde redhead's show or performance. obviously you're not a fan and/or are familiar enough with them to realize this. stick to what you know i.e. sucking the guy from wolf parade's balls

Posted by Anonymous | September 13, 2007 6:21 PM

i saw blonde redhead open for interpol in dc a few years ago. for half the set my friends and i were like "this is the best live sound we've ever heard." it was unbelievable....then we came to the realization that half the stuff we were hearing wasn't being played. i'm not trying to sound like an elitist snob or anything but it was really disconcerting and marred the set for me.

Posted by Anonymous | September 13, 2007 6:23 PM

yesss! blonde redhead's musicianship outshines most other bands. brooklynvegan should fucking appreciate their ability to do what they do.

i know for a fact that i wasnt the only one who was almost brough tot tears at their pool show.
so beautiful

Posted by Anonymous | September 13, 2007 6:55 PM

yeah, they use backing tracks, but who cares. what they were playing sounded great, and what was on the tracks sounded great too. again, it is so dificult to play to a track, especially when the music is as comples as br's.

this argument should be over

Posted by Anonymous | September 13, 2007 6:57 PM

Editors was the best act I saw at Osheaga, I thought their set was great, disappointed to hear you didn'tenjoy their set.

After Apostle of Hustle's set, I planted dead center in front of one of the main stages, with a perfect spot for Stars, Blonde Redhead, Dumas (who is this guy?), Rahzel, and I forget whoever else was on the main stage. Festival was a lot of fun, well organized, all acts were on time, my only complaint was the dirt, there was no grass. Weather was great, I'll definitely be back next year.

Posted by fishermb | September 13, 2007 8:20 PM

editors were so blah.. the backing track took away nothing from blonde redhead in my opinion.

Posted by Anonymous | September 13, 2007 11:56 PM

Not even a mention of Patrick Watson? or Miracle Fortress?

Posted by Anonymous | September 14, 2007 9:16 AM

Hey, everyone. Good to see people have strong opinions on the piece. About the Blonde Redhead, I just want to clarify that I did enjoy their set, very much so. I had been a fan since La Mia Vita Violenta but had never seen them live.
But as I wrote in the piece, I did feel an obligation to mention the backing track. It's not something you come across at a regular indie-rock show. I also admitted it was a petty gripe and certainly didn't take a hard a stance as some people's reactions to it seem to be.
As for the Patrick Watson, I didn't stay to watch his set, instead opting to go see Panthers, so I couldn't talk about their performance. And Miracle Fortress played Day two.

Posted by BVMike | September 14, 2007 10:05 AM

Blonde Redhead suck anyway.

Posted by Red Blondehead | September 14, 2007 10:32 AM

too bad you missed Patrick Watson. Clearly the highlight of the festival, I felt. On the other hand, I couldn┬┤t see the Panthers, but I doubt they would match PWs craftmanship and intensity. It was amazing!

Posted by Anonymous | September 14, 2007 12:17 PM

My favorite surprises from Osheaga were Maxime Robin & Tony Ezzy - they performed at that little art tent on Saturday afternoon. Tony Ezzy looks exactly like Gallagher but without the watermelon!

Posted by ellie | September 14, 2007 3:18 PM

red blonde redhead needs to stick his own cock down his throat.
and i'm glad you DID enjoy BR's set. But I wouldn't call it INDIE

Posted by Anonymous | September 15, 2007 12:38 PM

The simple fact that so many people mention their disconcertion with the backing track shows that it takes away from enough people's experience of the show to be fairly objectionable. Personally that does kind of irk me. I understand that a band can't duplicate the sheen and production of an album track live, I don't expect that, just bring an equal level of rocking. Anyway, I don't want to hear the same thing as the CD when I go to the show, they should give you something different, otherwise what's the point.

Posted by Ben B | September 16, 2007 2:18 PM

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