Osheaga Festival 2013 Day Two: Beck, Stars, The Breeders, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and more | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Beck performs in the rain at Osheaga 2013

Beck, Stars, The Breeders

Osheaga Festival 2013 Day Two: Beck, Stars, The Breeders, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and more, August 3rd, 2013

Aug 04, 2013 The Breeders Photography by Pat Beaudry Bookmark and Share

The second day of the Osheaga Festival might best be summed up as a love fest to Montreal and the festival itself. Nearly every artist we caught on Day 2 mentioned how beautiful the festival was (The Breeders, Deap Vally), how much they loved Montreal audiences (Beck, Macklemore) and how Osheaga is the best festival they’ve ever played (Imagine Dragons).

It’s true that there’s a lot to love about the Canadian festival. While it’s big enough to attract sizeable talent, it’s still small enough that it doesn’t feel like you’re caught up in an endless maze of bureaucratic red tape. It’s very easy to enter and exit the festival with no major security checks, the lines for food and drinks are blissfully short, and while it’s not always easy to get close to the main stage headliners, there are bleachers and large screens set up for comfortable viewing from afar.

The day kicked off with a raucous set by female blues-rock duo Deap Vally. Comprised of singer/guitarist Lindsey Troy and drummer/backing vocalist Julie Edwards, the band is a force to be reckoned with. They’ve taken a page from the Black Keys’ book, creating big bluesy sounds with an economy of players, but they’re grittier, dirtier and much sexier. Having just flown in from Chicago where they played at Lollapalooza the day before, they seemed thrilled to be at Osheaga for their very first Canadian gig. “It’s our first show in Canada and it’s beautiful here!” Troy gushed before tearing through several songs from their debut album Sistrionix.

Next up was Stars, who have become Montreal’s hometown heroes (along with Arcade Fire, who didn’t perform at the festival but were spotted in the crowd watching Beck’s set later in the evening). Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan are always affable performers, and it’s hard not to like their unique brand of intelligent indie pop that’s often laden with irony. “This is for the one you hate most in the world,” Campbell said when introducing “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead.” The band drew such a massive crowd to the main field that Campbell asked the audience to back up a few steps for fear of smothering the “young ladies at the front.” They performed several songs from their most recent album, The North, as well as tunes spanning their 12-year career.

On the other side of Parc Jean-Drapeau at the Green Stage, The Breeders trotted out their landmark 1993 album “Last Splash” in celebration of its 20th anniversary. Never ones to choose style over substance, twin sisters Kim and Kelley Deal looked as casual as ever as they ably performed every song from the record. Not surprisingly, the crowd went wild when the band played their hit “Cannonball,” jumping up and down and throwing paper airplanes and beach balls around, not letting the rain that had started to fall dampen their spirits. “Thanks for asking us to play here,” Kim said. “It was really fun coming up to such a beautiful city.”

Darting back across the festival in the rain, we caught Imagine Dragons on the main stage to see what all the hype was about. It was shocking to see that the young Las Vegas band drew what appeared to be the biggest crowd of the festival so far. Although their emo-rock melodies are quite high in saccharine content and sound like Coldplay on steroids, it was hard not to get caught up in the enthusiasm of the crowd and frontman Dan Reynolds, who gushed, “I love this city! This may be the best festival we’ve ever played.” It’s true that the crowd’s reaction must have been a humbling experience for such a new band, as they sang along to nearly every word of their radio-friendly hits. Before saying goodbye, Reynolds gave a shout-out to Beck, who performed on the same stage later in the evening. “Beck’s gonna be on this stage and he was a childhood hero. The fact that we’re even on this stage is amazing.”

Seattle rapper Macklemore and DJ/producer Ryan Lewis seem to have found a winning combination by teaming up on an album that made history with its first two singles hitting the top of the Billboard charts – a first for a duo. Not surprisingly, the crowd ate it up, and Macklemore looked upon it as an opportunity to wax philosophical on a number of topics. “No government, stage or institution can tell you who to love in your heart,” he said before introducing Tegan and Sara, who joined them for the tune, “Same Love,” which starts with the lyrics, “When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay, ‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.” While some of the audience sang along and cheered, others seemed bored and looked at their watches, waiting for headliner Beck to arrive.

Beck’s late arrival (a rarity for this punctual festival) fueled audience speculation that the enigmatic musical prodigy may not show up. Then, just as the sky opened up and it started pouring, Beck and his formidable backing band took the stage. Rather than previewing new material or playing several tunes from his Song Reader book of sheet music, Beck primarily stuck to his hit songs and threw in a few entertaining covers for good measure.

Kicking off with “Devil’s Haircut,” Beck sounded great, but somehow seemed a bit restrained, like he was holding something back. He continued the hit parade with “Modern Guilt,” the title track from his 2008 album of the same name, and seemed to loosen up a bit on “Think I’m in Love,” when he threw in some bars from Donna Summer’s disco hit “I Feel Love.”

“I love being in Montreal,” he told the massive crowd that stayed to brave the rain. “We’ve played here a lot, in ’96 on the ‘Odelay’ tour…everywhere we went, nobody was moving, nobody was dancing, except Montreal.” While there wasn’t a lot of dancing tonight, the crowd offered up plenty of energy and a resilient spirit in the downpour.

Beck included one song from his Song Reader, and apologized for trying to sell his book at a rock show. Then, noting that they had to be mindful of their curfew, Beck squeezed in a few more great tunes, including a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean,” during which he busted out some impressive dance moves, reminding us how much fun his live performances can be when he lets his hair down.


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