Something had to give at some point.
The heavens finally opened up in Montreal Sunday morning, breaking the sun’s strangle-hold on the city. I was flying solo for this third and final day of the Osheaga Festival, so the ability to ram the site without wilting in the sun had me pumped and ready for one last push.
The commute to Parc Jean-Drapeau was easy, with next to nobody on the Metro. When I arrived at the gates with raincoat and bags for seats in tow, the sun had decided to peak out after all. I decided to get my bearings together over at the Green Stage, which had provided so much comfort the previous two days.
First band for the day was Peter Peter. Hailing from Quebec, Peter Peter sounded to me like a French version of Death Cab for Cutie, which is not bad at all. Bruised clouds hurried onto the site and a refreshing mist began halfway through their set. The band’s faithful were undaunted by the rain and slowly grew in size over the course of 25 minutes.
One act I was very excited to see was Zola Jesus, the stage name for Nika Rosa Danilova. It was also the first time I would take in an act at the Tree Stage, the smallest stage on the site (covered in trees). When Zola Jesus arrived on stage she defiantly said “Make it Rain!”
Careful what you wish for…. Seconds after this outburst, Mother Nature obliged and the rain just dumped down on the crowd. Zola Jesus still got down to business with her rich voice and sparse electronics augmented by a violin, while the stage crew mopped up water. For two songs she was mesmerizing, intoxicating and simply beautiful sounding. Sadly, the plug was pulled after the second song. I waited for about ten minutes for an explanation that never came.
Sunday was the one day riddled with conflicts for me, but thanks to Zola Jesus’ wishes, I had the absolute pleasure of catching Aloe Blacc. While the rain continued to come down, it might as well have been the sunniest of days based on the beaming faces in the crowd and on stage. Covering most of his Good Things album over the course of 40 minutes, Blacc provided some much needed soul to soothe the gathered and some irresistible funk for their soggy shoes. Easily my #3 highlight from the weekend.
An electro beat began to pulse from the second main stage followed by a falsetto voice for what I thought was Tame Impala’s set. A dance party erupted and even the sun decided to come out for Passion Pit who were played earlier than scheduled. Playing songs from both Manners and the recent Gossamer, the crowd was overjoyed not only with the sun, but the immensely danceable songs coming from stage. Even front man Michael Angelakos seemed to be surprised but loved this adulation.
I found some friends just before Common’s set and while catching Common meant skipping Michael Kiwanuka, Common made it worthwhile dropping beats and snippets of some old-school songs. A couple of girls way at the back of the field were dancing like they were alone and it made me smile. As the sun moved around, my dark soaked clothes began to absorb all the heat, so it was time to find more shade and a better vantage point.
I wish I had more time to absorb Santigold’s new album, Master of My Make Believe, before going to Osheaga. Her eclectic sound and outfit continued the dance party in the sun. Inviting members of the crowd on to the stage at one point, Santigold appeared to have as much fun as we did. I’m not sure what I was expecting from her, but this was another pleasant surprise.
Poor Tame Impala. Australia’s psychedelic rockers were moved to Passion Pit’s timeslot and not only were their jams a bit of a buzz kill for the sunny party provided by the previous 3 acts, they also saw the return of the threatening clouds accentuated with extra anger. I’m a huge fan of their Innerspeaker album, but they were the wrong band at the wrong time for this occasion. Their jams fell with a thud. I would still love to see them in a more intimate setting.
The main stage area filled for The Shins who were plugging their latest album, Point of Morrow. The clouds opened up and dumped a lot of rain on the crowd, but nobody seemed to care. Some lightning lit up the sky which I thought would end the festival but thankfully it didn’t. Still, with all the extra moisture and possible navigating through mud, it was time to venture back to the Green Stage for Bloc Party.
The crowd for Bloc Party was the most fanatic I experienced all weekend. Despite the torrential rain that fell through their hour long set, the crowd grew more wildly appreciative as the set continued. They covered all the essentials and included a couple of new songs from their forthcoming album, Four. By the end of their set, the rain sputtered to a stop, opening up the possibility of a dry ending.
The final act of Osheaga 2012 was the last and most colossal conflict for me: The Black Keys or M83? Having seen both acts many times, I decided to end the festival at the Green Stage that was my “home” for the festival. M83 played a fantastic set. It was identical to what they’ve been doing for the past year, plugging last year’s double disc opus, Hurry Up, and We’re Dreaming. A surprising mass exodus followed “Midnight City” but it would be a loss for the departed. A thumping “Couleurs” closed my Osheaga experience.
And what an experience the three days were! Looking back, Osheaga was a resounding success. A fantastic lineup scattered over three days in a great park contributed largely to this success. So did the biggest collection of beautiful people I’ve seen in a long time, coming to enjoy great music and make it a party. Montreal, you know how to throw one amazing bash and I can’t wait to do it again next year!