The theme of this years Osheaga Music and Arts Festival could have been titled The Price of Success. What had been building as a niche event for musically aware fans since 2006 turned into a juggernaut in 2012, seemingly overnight. For the first time in their history, Osheaga organizers had to deal with sellout crowds, even with the grounds at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Saint Helens Island having been expanded considerably. The lineup was that good, featuring a mix of artists parachuting in and out of Lollapalooza, as well as some band grabs exclusive to Montreal that had the fest community buzzing in the months leading up to it.
Try as she might, Mother Nature could not put on a damper on the enthusiasm that spread throughout the entire weekend. Extreme heat and the threat of thunderstorms? Pfft, bring it on was the mantra chanted. Nothing was going to get in the way of anyones enjoyment. Considering the insane level of festival coverage devoted during these three days, Consequence of Sound decided to focus on what were deemed the absolute best, most unique and special sets during Osheaga 2012.
Friday, August 3rd – Virgin Mobile River Stage 5:50 p.m.
When Osheagas lineup was first announced, Franz Ferdinand turned plenty of heads. Everyones favorite band named after the Austrian archduke responsible for World War I have been shrouded in a little mystery in recent years. There still hasn’t been a formal announcement of a fourth studio album, which might explain why their set time was curiously early. However, once they finally materialized in Montreal for their first North American show in almost three years, scrutiny over Franz Ferdinand quickly turned to blame. Their scorchingly danceable set also introduced two new songs: Right Thoughts! Right Words! Right Action! and Scarlet and Blue. The latter is classic-sounding Franz Ferdinand, with revving guitars supplemented by sparse notes played on an electronic organ. We were also treated to the infamous Franz Ferdinand drum circle on Outsiders. And I have to add that while Im sure no woman in attendance Friday would ever kick him out for eating krÃ¤ckers, if you know what Im saying, whats with the new stache Mr. Kapranos? -Gilles LeBlanc
Friday, August 3rd – Sennheiser Green Stage 8:45 p.m.
All day dedicated fans waited patiently to hear and see the return of MGMT. Many hoped for a sneak preview of their forthcoming self-titled third studio album, while others just wanted to hear their favorite song. Those in the former category walked away (slightly) disappointed, but, rest assured, many favorite songs were played. Sticking to a set heavy on Congratulations material, the Connecticut outfit did manage to squeeze in a few oldies like “Future Reflections”, “Electric Feel”, and an extended rendition of “Time to Pretend”. A welcome surprise highlight of theirs was a psychedelic cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Angie”, which received a stamp of approval from the crowd. They didn’t play “Kids”, despite an onslaught of crowd demands, but they offered up one new track: “Alien Days”. Synths and acoustics layer an oddly nostalgic anthem about missing “those alien days.” Some might have been disappointed in the lack of newer material, or the exclusion of one particular track, but most settled for a band aging on. -Stewart Wiseman
Saturday, August 4th – Budweiser Mountain Stage 1:30 p.m.
On Saturday, The Mountain Stage started the day in a mellow and joyful mood with a performance by the ever-smiling Kathleen Edwards. Playing a mix of songs that spanned her entire career, Edwards left her fans in good spirits by the end of her set. The performance began with Empty Threat and Comedian, before Edwards strapped on an electric guitar for the country-tinged title track to her album, Asking For Flowers. Although the singer-songwriter grew up in many different places around the world, she considers Ottawa her home, and recounted a story of how she drove to Montreal the night before. She spoke of a stretch of road that she drove by that made her think about how Canada is a part of her, and how she’s still a part of Canada, and that we should all hold our identities dear to our hearts because our homes are what shape us. One thing to take away: Edwards has a freakish but powerful talent of making darker themed songs (e.g. Six Oclock News) still sound pleasant, always bringing joy to the audience
regardless of the subject matter. Pretty cool. -Stewart Wiseman
Saturday, August 4th – Budweiser Mountain Stage 3:00 p.m.
Unlike MGMT the previous night, Calexico was more than happy to try more than one new song on the audience. Although the band is based out of Tucson, AZ, frontman Joey Burns was actually born in Montreal, and the festival was a homecoming for him of sorts as he had a large contingent of family and friends come out to see him. Montreal has never been a city known for embracing country and Latin music (this is the city that brought you Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, and Leonard Cohen), and sadly the audience was unresponsive to Calexico. Burns attempts to get the audience excited (counting down in French, simultaneous clapping) didnt last very long, which was a shame as they were the guinea pigs for several new Calexico songs. The band played two exciting cuts off their upcoming release Algiers, starting with the haunting Para and continuing with the eerily quiet Splitter. The new material will no doubt be embraced by Calexico fans; however, its too bad they couldnt test the songs on an audience that would truly appreciate them. -Stewart Wiseman