Thursday, August 9th, 2012
The Jesus & Mary Chain, Kathleen Edwards, Garbage, and more at Osheaga
Frank YangMy writeup of day one of Osheaga mentioned a few times how hot it was, but it bears repeating: it was hot. 40 Celsius with the humidity – that’s 104 Fahrenheit, my American friends – and not even much relief in the shade. Why is Friday’s heat relevant to Saturday’s recap? Because Saturday felt even hotter. And why is the heat relevant? I guess it’s not, really, but even days on I still feel like complaining about it. It was damn hot. But even though any rational person would have opted to stay indoors and air conditioned, tens of thousands still headed back onto Parc Jean-Drapeau in the middle of the St. Lawrence River for another day of music. In the heat.
And the earliest or most masochistic of those – your call – were there in time to see The Dø, arguably the best French/Finnish band going, do their thing to kick off the day. Having seen them on their previous to last visit to Toronto in Fall 2010 – their most recent visit being the night before – I remembered that their live experience was a much less eclectic one than you got from their records, focused more on their pop side. But there’s only so much smoothing out you can do for an outfit as artistically restless as they and throughout their set, their odder/proggier tendencies would manifest themselves in outros, jams, what have you. Singer Olivia Merilahti’s charisma works better as slinky than sweaty, but you take what you can get.
Photos: The Dø @ Scène de la rivière – August 4, 2012
MP3: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
MP3: The Dø – “At Last”
MP3: The Dø – “Tammie”
Video: The Dø – “The Wicked & The Blind”
Video: The Dø – “Gonna Be Sick”
Video: The Dø – “Too Insistent”
Video: The Dø – “Slippery Slope”
Video: The Dø – “At Last”
Video: The Dø – “On My Shoulders”
Video: The Dø – “Playground Hustle”
Video: The Dø – “The Bridge Is Broken”
Immediately following on the Mountain stage and way at the opposite end of eccentric was Canada’s sweetheart 2012, Kathleen Edwards, with the first set of the weekend that came with a simple, “yeah it’s hot so why not lay back and soak it in” vibe. Indeed, looked at it from a different perspective, it was rather the perfect place for Edwards’ earnest and genial sort of roots-rock, bolstered by the fact that she’s pretty hellaciously funny – case in point, her comment to the stage hand turning the fire hose onto the audience: “hey, hose guy you and me have a date in 20 minutes”. I don’t see her live enough to not need to be reminded of this, but I did have enough of a reference point to notice that Edwards seemed happier and more content up there than I’d ever seen her, particularly in her older material which was represented by the singles though she did turn to her breakout Voyageur for some deep cuts. I don’t usually expect happiness to translate into great art, but Edwards wears and uses it well.
Huffington Post Music has a feature piece on Edwards.
Photos: Kathleen Edwards @ Scène de la montagne – August 4, 2012
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Asking For Flowers”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Copied Keys”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “National Steel”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Six O’Clock News”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “The Cheapest Key”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Hockey Skates”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Six O’Clock News”
Following Edwards – though with enough of a break between to allow a water run – was Calexico, who thanks to their Arizona roots probably didn’t even notice the heat, and if they had something to say about the humidity, they politely refrained from doing so. And indeed, if any artist on the lineup made music that sounded beaten down and bleached by the sun, it was Calexico. The usually workaholic band had been relatively quiet since 2008′s Carried To Dust, focusing on some archival reissues before getting around to making a new record in Algiers, due out September 11. But their set didn’t worry too much about proving they’d been making new music – opening with “Crystal Frontier” circa 2001′s Even My Sure Things Fall Through, they were much more about creating a deliciously parched, mariachi-tinged atmosphere and maybe getting people thinking, “hey, this heat thing isn’t so bad”. Methinks they succeeded.
Photos: Calxico @ Scène de la montagne – August 4, 2012
MP3: Calexico – “Para”
MP3: Calexico – “Two Silver Trees”
MP3: Calexico – “History Of Lovers”
MP3: Calexico – “Cruel”
MP3: Calexico – “Alone Again Or”
MP3: Calexico – “Black Heart”
MP3: Calexico – “Quattro (World Drifts In)”
MP3: Calexico – “Crystal Frontier”
MP3: Calexico – “Ballad Of Cable Hogue”
MP3: Calexico – “Service And Repair”
MP3: Calexico – “Frontera”
MP3: Calexico – “Spokes”
Video: Calexico – “Para”
Video: Calexico – “Two Silver Trees”
Video: Calexico – “Cruel”
Considering they were a local band whose last album Shapeshifter had been a real breakout record – it certainly got me onside after years of indifference – I was a little surprised that Young Galaxy had drawn a mid-day time slot on the festival’s smallest stage. But considering they’d spent much of 2012 writing and recording the follow-up to said record in Sweden – though their Rockethub campaign didn’t reach its target, they made it over anyways? – perhaps they wanted to ease back into the live thing. In any case, they weren’t helped out by the fact that the technical difficulties that plagued the acts I saw on the Forest stage on Friday persisted, the overall mix rather shoddy, or the fact that Young Galaxy have never been the best live act, but the vibrancy of the Shapeshifter material still came through. Interestingly, their live sound seemed more built on conventional instruments and less reliant on electronics than I remembered; it remains to be seen if this was just happenstance for this performance or if it marks another change in direction… the one new song they offered up didn’t stray far from the Shapeshifter formula but I wouldn’t assume what was heard onstage necessarily resembles that which came out of Dan Lissvik’s Gothenburg studio. I look forward to hearing it.
Daytrotter recently posted up a session with the band.
Photos: Young Galaxy @ Scène des arbes – August 4, 2012
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Youth Is Wasted On The Young”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Cover Your Tracks”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Swing Your Heartache”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Phantoms”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Blown Minded”
Video: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
Video: Young Galaxy – “The Alchemy Between Us”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”
Back at the mainstage, it was soon time for Garbage. As much as I hate people who equate bands falling off their own radar with having ceased to exist at all, I have to admit that I had completely forgotten they’d released two albums this century; I thought this year’s Not Your Kind Of People had been their first record in much more than seven years. I wasn’t even really a fan back in the ’90s and had not paid any attention to the Toronto stop of their tour earlier this year, but festival math is different and in this setting, Garbage were a must-see for me if for no other reason than I never had before and I’d surely know a lot of the songs. After all, they weren’t a cult band by any measure, but genuinely successful across their first two albums and ubiquitous across radio and television. Not that any of that necessarily meant anything to much of the Osheaga demographic, who were probably in primary school when Garbage were at their apex, but I digress.
Boasting surely the most spartan stage setup of anyone at the festival – there was almost no gear onstage – they turned in a thoroughly polished performance befitting the 3/4 of the band who’re studio perfectionists and with frontwoman Shirley Manson responsible for providing any and all rawness, which she did with aplomb. Looking as fierce and confrontational as ever – and probably thankful they had an early evening timeslot for even SPF10000 sunblock couldn’t have prevented her paleness from spontaneously combusting at high noon – Manson prowled and strutted around the stage like she owned it; time hasn’t diminished her charisma, that’s for certain. Their tunes have also aged surprisingly well; though their electro-grunge pop sound is inseparable from its era, the hooks and melodies are forever. And I appreciated their seeing the Pretenders’ “Talk Of The Town” quote in the outro of “Special” – probably my all-time favourite Garbage moment alongside the hard-panned guitars on “Vow” – and raising it an extra few lines from “I Go To Sleep”. A nice moment in one of my unexpectedly favourite sets of the weekend.
Photos: Garbage @ Scène de la rivière – August 4, 2012
Video: Garbage – “Blood For Poppies”
Video: Garbage – “Tell Me Where It Hurts”
Video: Garbage – “Run Baby Run”
Video: Garbage – “Sex Is Not The Enemy”
Video: Garbage – “Bleed Like Me”
Video: Garbage – “Why Do You Love Me”
Video: Garbage – “Shut Your Mouth”
Video: Garbage – “Breaking Up The Girl”
Video: Garbage – “Cherry Lips”
Video: Garbage – “Androgyny”
Video: Garbage – “You Look So Fine”
Video: Garbage – “The Trick Is To Keep Breathing”
Video: Garbage – “When I Grow Up”
Video: Garbage – “Special”
Video: Garbage – “I Think I’m Paranoid”
Video: Garbage – “Push It”
Video: Garbage – “Milk”
Video: Garbage – “Stupid Girl”
Video: Garbage – “Only Happy When It Rains”
Video: Garbage – “Queer”
Video: Garbage – “Vow”
En route from the mainstages to the far end of the festival grounds, I made my first and only stop at Osheaga’s electronic stage in order to see Sweden’s Little Dragon. I was there well in time but the band were extra-late in getting set up and underway, thus limiting my time to get acquainted with them. I hadn’t really heard much from them before, but an elevator pitch of three Swedes fronted by a little Japanese girl while cranking out beat-heavy electro-soul was enough to get me interested. For the few songs I was able to stick around and with frontwoman Yukimi Nagano was all over the stage, dancing and going to town on her tambourine, they certainly delivered what I’d hoped for and did with a good deal more energy and ferocity than I expected. As I said, I’d have liked to stay and watch more, but I had a long-standing appointment to keep.
Photos: Little Dragon @ Scène Piknick Électronik – August 4, 2012
Video: Little Dragon – “Crystalfilm”
Video: Little Dragon – “Brush The Heat”
Video: Little Dragon – “When I Go Out”
Video: Little Dragon – “Fortune”
Video: Little Dragon – “My Step”
Video: Little Dragon – “Never Never”
Video: Little Dragon – “After The Rain”
Video: Little Dragon – “Twice”
Video: Little Dragon – “Constant Surprises”
An appointment that dated back to March, when I got to within ten people or so of seeing The Jesus & Mary Chain in Austin at SXSW, but no closer. This was before they made it clear that they’d be on the road for much of 2012, mind, so being shut out and listening to them from the street felt extra painful at the time; needless to say, missing them again was simply not in the cards. Though if I had any fears about the Green stage being jammed before I got there, they were unfounded – the band may have been legends to many, but there weren’t more than a few hundred people gathered to see them close out the night, most of a certain generation and more than a few with kids in tow. No doubt a club show, as they’d sold out in Toronto the night before, would have better suited but this was what it was, and what it was was pretty great.
If you were to drop someone from the ’80s in front of the stage, they probably wouldn’t have had any idea who they were looking at – William Reid may have looked similar to how he did back then, albeit heavier-set, but Jim Reid’s wild shock of hair has long been traded for a rather office-looking cut and it’s hard to imagine the younger him wearing a red Flying Burrito Brothers t-shirt onstage as he did. The time-traveler might also ask why Phil King of Lush was there on bass. And just as they didn’t look like they once did, they didn’t entirely sound like they did either – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While still exceptionally loud, the white noise screech that was their signature circa Psychocandy was localized mainly to Reid’s guitar as opposed to across the entire sonic spectrum and the melodic pop polish that they’d achieved by the end of their recording career (1999′s Munki) was applied to all of their career-spanning set. And while the younger Reid may have looked rather more proper than he once did, his voice still had that Glaswegian sneer and the misanthropic spirit of his lyrics remained – it’s hard to sugarcoat a song like “Reverence”, after all.
We didn’t get to hear Jim Reid berate his brother for messing up at all as I’ve heard he’s done at other shows – some things never change – but he did apologize to the audience for forgetting the words to “Happy When It Rains” and forcing a start-over (the second time that day I’d heard a Scottish person sing about how they enjoy the rain, coincidentally). And while I’m sure they intended having Mad Men actress and Montréal native Jessica Paré come out to sing backups on “Just Like Honey” and cover Hope Sandoval’s parts on “Sometimes Always” as a surprise, the fact that she’d done the same at the previous Buffalo and Toronto shows kind of took some of the wow factor out of it. Unsurprisingly, that’s what most of the reviews of the show focused on but the real important take-away was that even if they never make a new record – and maybe we don’t even want one – The Jesus & Mary Chain still sound amazing and still don’t give a fuck. All hail.
Photos: The Jesus & Mary Chain @ Scène verte – August 4, 2012
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “I Love Rock’N'Roll”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Cracking Up”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “I Hate Rock’N'Roll”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Come On”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Sometimes Always”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Almost Gold”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Something I Can Have”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Far Gone And Out”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Teenage Lust”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Reverence”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Head On”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Blues From A Gun”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Darklands”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Happy When It Rains”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Some Candy Talking”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “April Skies”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Just Like Honey”
Video: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “You Trip Me Up”
Some other things that you may want to know about… Cat Power has announced the North American tour dates in support of Sun, out September 4. She’ll be at The Kool Haus on October 20, tickets $34.50 in advance, and a second track from the new record is now available to download.
Bob Mould is streaming the first single from his new one The Silver Age, out September 4. It sounds like going through those Sugar reissues reinspired him in the very best way, and if you’re unfamiliar with Mould’s extensive body of song but want to start investigating, The AV Club has a helpful beginner’s guide.
Stream: Bob Mould – “The Descent”
Circuital may be over a year old, but that doesn’t mean that My Morning Jacket can’t release a new animated, Galifianakis-powered video from it to coincide with their tour which brings them to Echo Beach next Wednesday, August 15.
Video: Lower Dens – “Candy”
Tom Waits had everyone convinced last week that he’d be announcing his first tour in forever this week. He didn’t, he just released a new video from Bad Like Me. Never before has such a cool video been met with so much disappointment.
Britt Daniel chats with Exclaim about his new band Divine Fits, his old band Spoon, and about his other new band, Spl:t S:ngle. A Thing Called Divine Fits is out August 28 and they’re at Lee’s Palace September 5.