Published Aug 01, 2011The enduring question, after three days of Osheaga, was: Why is Wayne Coyne still so sexy? Maybe it was the lead singer of the Flaming Lips' fur collar in 40 degree heat that tempted the ladies so, or the strains of his synth-tinged psychedelic mooning, but probably his crowd-surfing from inside his space ball, or the way he tried to induce orgasm in 15,000 people under hot summer starry skies on the fest's closing day.
The festival on Montreal's city island Parc Jean-Drapeau was stretched from two days to three this year, on five stages in searing heat, but the whole thing went off with almost no hitches and once again staked its claim as the ne plus ultra of Montreal music festivals. This is why Coyne's orgasmic attempts almost worked. By the end of the Lips' long-for-Osheaga set, in which they played 1999's The Soft Bulletin in its entirety, they had won over the crowd with a potent mix of confetti, guitars and sex-coloured wailing. Two old-school fans, who apparently told organizers they had "fallen in love to this album," even requested the right to get married onstage by the band during the show -- and they did.
All in all, the oldsters had it in the love department at this particular Osheaga -- the other highlight being Elvis Costello and the Imposters, ever the showman with dancing go-go girls onstage and eight-minute extended versions of both "Blood and Chocolate" and "Watching the Detectives."
There was much discussion of how the Eminem fans, who drove attendance this year well over 80,000, would adjust to some of the acts from before their time -- but though the crowd on Friday night for Em wasn't exactly "One Love," everything went smoothly -- the crowd was there for the groove, not for the grind.
"How was Em?" asked Jesse Keeler Death From Above 1979 in the middle of the band's set. "Is he still mad at his mom?" In fact, moms were something of a theme the whole weekend. Australian pop sensation Sia, on the Green Stage a bit earlier, responded to a heckler's request that she "show us your tits!" by answering, brightly, "They're just like your mum's."
As is often the case, the Green Stage was the place to be for several acts, including Ratatat, the crowd pleaser on Saturday night (some said there was a bigger crowd there than at Costello). Nothing makes a pretty Osheaga night like robot music among the trees, and Ratatat delivered enough space bleeps to keep the crowd happy.
As with every year, there was simply too much going on to keep track of it all, leading the existential epiphany that the music festival is happening wherever you happen to be at that moment, so there's no point worrying about what you're missing. With that in mind, other highlights included Montreal "it band" Uncle Bad Touch (Mikey Heppner from Priestess), the big-band rock energy of Eels, the lively set by the Mountain Goats and the bumpin' oldies of Cypress Hill. And while Janelle Monáe was nicknamed an R&B robot by a naysayer in the crowd, she proved to be one of the most intriguing acts of the festival, even if a massive rock fest in broad daylight just wasn't her ideal venue.