Somewhere in between the beautiful and the profane is the Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts, back for its 10th time. This is to be expected from a festival that has to cater to both its corporate sponsors and a large base of young, passionate music fans. The Tribune is attending all three days of the festival. Here’s your recap for day one:
CRi, a local Montreal duo, kicked off the festival. Playing a set much more upbeat and dancier than their recorded content, they gave a more energetic performance than a cerebral electronica band has any right to.
Iron & Wine with Ben Bridwell (of Band of Horses) were next, playing a series of covers from an album that they released together. Their sound was well-balanced—each song alternated between sounding more like Band of Horses or more like Iron & Wine. Their contrasting styles complemented each other more than expected. A fantastic backing band—complete with piano and slide guitar—added an extra layer of authenticity.
Run The Jewels, were, as expected, incredible. The rap duo played to their usual strengths of handing off verses to each other with ferocious intensity. Killer Mike was charmingly self-effacing in his banter between tracks.
Angus and Julia Stone, an Australian folk duo, were another standout. On “Big Jet Plane,” they showed their ability to go past typical indie folk trappings, creating a soundscape full of lush guitars and synthesizers. “A Heartbreak” was another gem, with the pair speak-singing over a thumping rock beat that tore the house down.
The biggest surprise of the festival was Marina and the Diamonds, who shot onto the stage with a punk-infused rendition of “Bubblegum Bitch” in a blue body suit and pink platform heels. Over the next few songs, her music proved to be incredibly versatile—jumping from genre to genre and skirting up to high notes that I didn’t know were possible to hit. Of all of the performers on the first day, she was the one who looked the most excited to be there.
After a disappointingly apathetic performance from The Kills, The Avett Brothers reenergized the crowd with frenetic country music. Their retro feel is apparent in everything from their genuine reverence for the country and blues standards that they’re influenced by to the banjos and upright basses that they play. However, their sound is also full of modern elements like catchy hooks and anthemic choruses. This contrast gives them a sound that is rooted in both the present and the past but beholden to neither. All of the band members gave off an infectious sense of enthusiasm that seemed to radiate outward into the crowd.
With synth-y, dreamlike melodies and plumes of fog bellowing across the stage, FKA Twigs seemed ready to bring the festival into the night. Then the lightning started. Wind picked up and blew cold across the field, kicking up dust, but the British singer-songwriter didn’t seem to notice as she played most of the songs from her fantastic album, LP1. There’s always a worry that electronic artists won’t be able to replicate their sound on a live stage, but that was not the case here as she drew on her earlier career as a background dancer to glide across the stage in fluid motion.
Make sure to come back tomorrow for a recap of day two.