Published Aug 03, 2010Osheaga blossomed into its fifth year with the most attended festival to date, finally proving that sometimes you really can please all the people all the time. With a remarkably eclectic lineup featuring headliners like Pavement, Snoop Dogg, Weezer, Devo and a dizzying number of other bands, this year's Osheaga showcased your current favourite acts and brought your old ones back to life.
The afternoons were filled with great Montreal acts like Cotton Mouth, as well as soon-to-be headliners like the National and the Black Keys. On day one, the National played a surprisingly vibrant set despite most of their music not being conducive to a festival environment. The band made some shrewd choices and played selections from Boxer and High Violet, showing that they're more than just a band you listen to when you're trying to fall asleep. On Sunday, the raunchy Black Keys had the unfortunate 4:20 slot, but they prevailed and managed to justify all the attention they've garnered since the release of their latest offering, Brothers. Their live show is relieved of the glossy production that sometimes hinders the tracks on their albums, making them an ideal band to see live.
The evening was a celebration of new favourites like Arcade Fire and an exultation of yesterday's heroes like Pavement. The ever-epic Arcade Fire played a phenomenally generous set that featured anthems "No Cars Go" and "Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)" mixed in with songs from their new album, The Suburbs. But nothing could compare to the crowd's anticipation for Pavement who are "back from the grave," according to Stephen Malkmus himself. They kicked off their set with "Gold Soundz" and basically played the score to a Pavement fan's wet dream. Malkmus was in such fine form that when someone in the crowd catapulted beer at him he waited until after the song to say, "Someone's going home in a Montreal ambulance tonight." The seething crowed booed and hissed at the culprit whose face was magnified on the JumboTron for a modern spin on good old-fashioned medieval heckling. A blithe Malkmus sailed through the rest of the set undisturbed, and maybe his mood was so breezy because of Bob Nastanovich's show-stealing stage presence. Malkmus and co. ended the set on a sombre note with "Here," which brought a couple super fans to tears, or maybe they just had something in their eyes.
Sunday's unlikely hero was Snoop Dogg, who stormed the stage on closing night. Snoop's hardly a rapper anymore - mostly he's just a guy who talks into a diamond-encrusted microphone and says "ladies" every five minutes - but he was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the festival, even if he repeatedly asked his rapt audience if they smoked weed today and styles his hair like a four-year-old girl. A festival vet, Snoop Dogg knew to play one crowd pleaser after another. He and his live band (complete with a hip-hop equivalent of Travis Barker on drums) let loose on songs like "Gin and Juice," "Who Am I (What's My Name)?" and even did a cover of "Jump Around," giving the audience the most party bang for their festival buck.
On account of a Deadmau5's cancellation, Sonic Youth had to be relocated to the enormous stage next to Snoop Dogg. Though it would have been nice to see them in a more intimate setting, they endured this blunder like champs - even if it meant playing to people riding high from the Snoop Dogg show. Sonic Youth opened with a track from The Eternal and played only a couple from Daydream Nation, which left the crowd wanting more.
In a moment akin to the way Alice Cooper enlightened us with the etymology of Milwaukee in Wayne's World, a fellow festivalgoer explained that Osheaga is a Mohawk word for "the people of shaking hands" and was once used to describe the land we now know as Montreal. Today, Osheaga means one of the best festivals Montreal has to offer.