MONTREAL MUSIC FESTIVAL AT A GLANCE
Story by Laura Hermiston
I took off for Montreal before the break of dawn last Friday and had no idea I was about to have one of the best weekends/festival experiences to date.
Francophone bands are still clearly alive and well in Montreal in 2012. This band reminded me of The Growlers with the lead singer, Cedric, dancing aloofly but then interacting with the crowd ala Freddy Mercury. From music videos like this, they seemed to have had a mod/Horrors-esque vibe going on. When I saw them, they looked a little more releaxed wearing vintage hawaiin button downs (not the ones your Dad wears) or no tops at all. The songs were all in French so I was unable to sing along, but they were jangly and catchy enough that it made for the perfect sweaty dance party on a hot summer night in the Plateau area.
The next morning I woke up and meticulously picked out an outfit that I would not sweat too much in, mind getting dirty, but still look good enough in hopes of running into any member from the Jesus and Mary Chain.
Here is a tip: wear a bathing suit, bring toilet paper, and a huge water bottle. You’ll thank me later!
The first band I saw was the Black Lips. However, I got there halfway through the set and being on the outskirt of the mosh pit during your favorite song (“Katrina“) is a terrible feeling. The Black Lips are one of those bands that play consistently good sets no matter if they are playing to 10 or 10,000 people or in a basement or in this case, at a hot sweaty outdoor festival. This was the first time at one of their shows that I was not up front, and I could see that they make the crowd feel a part of something special.
Photo by Riley Taylor
After learning that to get front row, one must get to a stage early, I headed to see The Raveonettes. I was quite happy as both Sune Wagner and Sharin Foo were a part of their set up. In my opinion, I find watching bands setting up the most interesting part of the show as you can see the dynamic between the band mates under pressure and not entirely in the spotlight. I’ve seen them a couple times, but this show was my favorite because they played a little bit from their entire catalogue. After playing one of my favorite songs, “That Great Love Sound”, they had some sound tech issues. It got a little awkward when Sharin Foo said to “talk amongst yourselves”. However, it came off cute and the crowd laughed. I guess no matter how comfortable you get on stage, some people are just not good at making small talk. At the same time, this makes these modern shoegaze icons appear down to earth and “just like us”.
Photo by Riley Taylor
The next band I saw was an interesting compliment to The Raveonettes as they are one of their biggest musical and style influences. I’m talking about the legendary Jesus and Mary Chain. This band (among other “older” fans) was the main reason why I spent $90 on a ticket. I made sure I scouted a spot at the very front (as in, right up against the gates). Second song in they played “Head On” and the entire crowd lost their minds. A couple songs in, they brought on stage the new Scarlett Johansson; Jessica Pare from Mad Men. She sang on Just Like Honey, and she wasn’t loud enough to hear- but at least she wasn’t flat!
Halfway through the set, Jim Reid forgot the lyrics and they restarted the song. The rest of the band looked at each other and the set seemed to go downhill from there. It became clear that there is some tension amongst the now 50 year olds. My friend yelled out “play Darklands” and they looked over at us and responded “we got to go- see our bus is sitting right there”. Despite the fact that they are still ramming their guitars into their amps to create fuzzed out feedback, I forget that the Chain are now a little older and out of sync with each other and their fans.
Still on a Jesus Mary Chain high, I and thousands of others paraded into the muddy and wet festival for the third and last day. Tame Impala is a huge favorite over here at Plaid, and I was excited to see these youngin’s play for the first time.
They all went to music school and are trained jazz musicians which becomes apparent when you listen carefully to their detailed song structures. They were so tight with all their starts and stops, that it became apparent that they are a very well practiced live band. They played on the main stage and the crowd went crazy when they played songs such as “Half Full Glass of Wine”, “Elephant”, “Alter-Ego”, “Apocalypse Dreams”, and “Expectation”.
I noticed Kevin Parker plays a Rickenbacker, quite similar to the one John Lennon so often used. Parker also has a voice that is quite similar to Lennon. I started to make a connection (maybe it was heat stroke); seeing such a young band play well developed songs, and touring the world, made me think that if todays fast paced- ever changing-band saturated generation had an equivalent to The Beatles- Tame Impala would be it. They are incredibly popular as seen by the huge crowd of fans at Osheaga dancing and singing along to the Australian bands music, and will clearly (hopefully) be around for some time to come. How is that for a grandiose statement?
Osheaga 2012 was definitely worth the money as the line-ups were stellar (subway line ups were not so stellar). Being able to drink affordably ($6 for a Budweiser) at an outdoor event and constantly have music surround you, is a recipe for pure fun. Montreal is clearly a great city to discover new music and to spend time with friends in the sun seeing legendary bands you thought you would never have the chance to see.