The early afternoon genre diversity continued when Brazillian native Seu Jorge took the stage next. Best known to me for his acoustic Portuguese David Bowie covers in the movie The Life Aquatic‚ I found Jorge's appeal to be diluted by his rock backing band. The voice I had fallen in love with was often muddled by effects‚ and the intimacy of his solo performances was lost in translation amidst predictable rock riffs. Near the end Jorge and his band Almaz did cover "Ziggy Stardust‚" but even that felt cheapened by the generic rock that supported him. However‚ it should be noted that I laid down in the shade rather than watching the next band -- at the time fighting a battle with a splitting headache that my girlfriend ended up losing later that night -- so perhaps my cranky demeanor should be factored into this review.
When I finally did drink enough water and absorb enough shade to sweat my way to the other end of the festival grounds‚ I found Blitzen Trapper's eclectic mix of folk‚ jam‚ alt-country and Southern rock from the very Western city of Portland‚ Oregon. Switching from harmonica tinged all-American anthems to keyboard heavy songs with harmonized group vocals in the spirit of Queen‚ and jamming‚ rocking or folk-ing with anywhere from one to three guitarists at a time‚ Blitzen Trapper always kept their performance fresh.
Back at the main stage‚ I boldly stepped out of the shadows for the first time‚ fully emerging myself in the dirty‚ sweaty sexiness that was the Black Keys. I had heard the Keys' studio stuff before‚ and never really thought it stood out‚ but witnessing their raw energy live reminded me of another duo‚ the White Stripes‚ that demolishes live audiences' preconceived notions by churning out bluesy garage rock. Midway through their set‚ Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney expanded to a quartet‚ adding keys and bass to their primal core‚ but the Black Keys' highlights came early on‚ when we witnessed just how much noise two people could make on their own. Blaring through new hits like "Howling For You‚" and classics like "Your Touch" alike‚ the Black Keys reminded me of a taboo sexual encounter -- it was really hot‚ dirty‚ and sweaty‚ and I enjoyed it at the time‚ but afterwards I couldn't stand to look at myself in the mirror.
After another shade break (this time complete with a three dollar hot dog)‚ I trekked across the festival grounds again to catch a (personally) highly anticipated Montreal dance punk trio called We Are Wolves. The first 10 minutes were underwhelming‚ as the group were finishing a leisurely sound check before going backstage to change outfits before the show. Though I never fully recovered from We Are Wolves' choice to place fashion above rocking the fuck out‚ it was entertaining to watch them thrash around with giant band logo signs attached to their backs on long black poles. With tri-lingual lyrics (French‚ English and even a bit of Spanish)‚ it was great fun hearing vocalist Alexander Ortiz make the language of love sound like the language of drinking too many Schnapps and sleeping with your best friends' sister. Though they sounded like brutal punk with a club worthy backbeat‚ native fans somehow found ways to dance to the music rather than moshing. If nothing else‚ it's worth noting that We Are Wolves were by far the loudest band I heard all weekend‚ an impressive feat when you consider the fact that they don't even have an electric guitarist.
Though headliners were still hours away from taking the stage‚ the crowd became hardest to navigate in the early evening when Mr. Calvin Broadus‚ inventor of such fine English words as "Shiznit" and "Televizzle" took the stage. Snoop Dogg's set followed a pattern all too familiar to anyone who's seen a 90s gangster rapper in the 21st century. He performed a top heavy set‚ loading the early going with huge hits like "Gin & Juice‚" and key verses from Dr. Dre classics like "Nothin' But A G Thang‚" and "The Next Episode‚" before fading away with forgettable new stuff. One minute Snoop was making deals with the devil on "Murder Was The Case‚" and going 187 on undercover cops on "Deep Cover‚" and the next he was stealing 50 Cent beats and covering "Jump Around." However‚ Snoop definitely scored style points by maintaining his trademark laidback demeanor. I've seen way too many rappers over the days ruin their casual flows by attempting to yell at concerts‚ but Snoop kept his cool‚ only breaking his laid back drawl when he got particularly excited about his two passions -- weed and sex with anything lacking a Y chromosome. It was a fun trip down memory lane‚ and amusing to see his pimped out gold plated hand protector/knuckle bling. But his duet with a posthumous recording of the 14 years late 2pac on "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted‚" was a startling reminder of the only two fates left for the endangered species of gangster rappers -- burning out or fading away.
The members of Sonic Youth may have looked older than Snoop Dogg‚ but musically they sounded closer to their heyday. A wrinkly Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore took the stage along with a silver haired Lee Ranaldo‚ and though they were weathered in appearance‚ they still sounded youthful sonically (har har). A last minute addition to the main stage‚ Sonic Youth had trouble captivating a young audience. The crowd thinned significantly over the group's hour set‚ with restless ears departing before Sonic Youth's epic compositions gradually built to climax. Though their hour set omitted several canonical songs like "Teen Age Riot‚" it was a milestone moment getting to watch Gordon‚ Moore and Ranaldo trade vocal duties alongside a hotshot youngster bassist they just recruited by the name of Mark "Pavement" Ibold. Watching Ibold again not only gave me nostalgia about the icons I was witnessing‚ but it also gave me time to reflect on my Osheaga weekend in its entirety as it drew to a close.
The remainder of night two was fairly anticlimactic. In another case of bizarre set arrangements‚ electronic pop rockers Metric won the weekend's penultimate spot (though they are on the new‚ ultra popular Twilight soundtrack‚ so maybe I'm out of touch thinking a bunch of geezers from the 80s should have earned a better set time). Fueled by reverb‚ synthesizers and vocalist Emily Haine's frantic stage presence‚ the group put on a show that I would have enjoyed had it been earlier in the week and had my girlfriend not acquired a migraine.
Sticking it out to the very end‚ we rallied and caught the beginning of Weezer‚ another band from my past as a music lover. It's somewhat embarrassing for me to admit that I loved Weezer now that their career has gone in the direction of watered down radio crap and Lil Wayne collaborations (which are pretty much synonyms). But my weekend of nostalgia had reminded me of the good old middle school days‚ when I thought posting the lyrics to "El Scorcho" in my Instant Messenger profile would make any girl I had a crush on realize how clever I am and fall madly in love with me. Having never seen Weezer before‚ it was nice to end the weekend by catching some of my blue album favorites like "Undone" and "Say It Ain't So‚" but the arena rock version of Rivers Cuomo seemed more interested with running around the crowd‚ jumping on shit and smashing ukuleles than he was with actually playing the songs I connected so deeply with all those years before. It was about the time when Rivers put on a blonde wig and started covering Lady Gaga that my sickly girlfriend said she thought she might puke‚ so we decided to beat the crowd and head home. Smelly‚ sun baked and sleep deprived‚ we recalled the euphoric highs and regurgitating lows of our Montreal trip on the drive back to Maine‚ both grateful that festival season only comes exactly once a year.