By Day 3 of Osheaga, my cohort Sasha Geffen from Consequence of Sound and I had been out doing “music stuff” every night in the rad city of Montreal for more than 2 weeks straight. We’d done a ton (see exactly what, here) and we were EXHAUSTED. But goddamn it, we were going to power through, live to see New Order, and dance the end of the trip away with Hot Chip.
But first there was a little matter of getting some lunch. Something about lobster rolls, spicy tofu skin burgers and beignets – basically fried donut balls – covered in chocolate AND BACON. Montreal’s new predilection for food trucks benefited Osheaga – a few of them were parked in one space for us to plunder. Once full, bellies rotund and blood flow in short supply, we Weebl’d over to see Jessie Ware.
Wearing a brand new jacket, with the extra button still attached in a little plastic bag on the inside, Ware came out beaming to crowd that was, frankly, larger than I think both of us expected. Virtually unknown here, Ware didn’t let a great opportunity of playing “how d’yer do?” pass her by. Even if it had started drizzling again. In fact, the clouds were looking ominous. But Ware was chipper, singing “Devotion” and imploring fans to sing along. “Still Love Me” and “Night Light” were light soulpop fare. Then Ware wrestled with a sampler, joked about its rubbishness, threw it down, grinned wide at the crowd, apologized for the rain, and got on with her songs. Nice.
Following her, we’d had enough of the main camp insanity and went to seek refuge over at the calmer, more open Verte stage. Not because the music was good – but because neither of us really featured seeing another rapper in a dusty field.
Enter Icona Pop instead. Have to admit I was curious about this one. I like my bubblegum chewy and know that the radness who is K Flay is about to open up for these Swedish pre-fab sprouts on a North American tour. Add to it “I Love It” (the dis line “You’re from the 70s but I’m an 90s bitch” actually makes me feel pretty okay with being old) being stuck in my head forever and you get “huh, let’s check this out.” And moments before they came on stage, the kids were going mental.
Redhead Caroline Hjelt and dark-skinned Aino Jawo are what would happen if you fused the first-ever-single-era Spice Girls into two people. Kinda rough, kinda cute, kinda likeable, kinda irritating. The massive crowd jumped around like they’d mainlined espresso, bellowing for their new pop heroines. The girls on stage faffed with their samplers, cheersed the crowd holding cans of Coors Light aloft and were otherwise present and engaging, even if the music was primarily Swiss cheese. And then, as if the gods of really good music had been summoned, dark clouds gathered overhead. And just as “I crashed my car into the bridge. I watched, I let it burn” reigned over the tweens, so too did the heavens. IT HEAVED.
But only for a brief while. Just long enough for the lawn to become swamp, and the fans to flee to treeline. But with the sun out again, came Brooklyn’s Holy Ghost! I truly don’t know what to say about these guys other than the fact that while I was editing photos I FORGOT WHO THEY WERE. The lead singer’s facial expression stayed neutral behind sunglasses for an entire set, the other guys looked cooler the cool and duller than dull in leather and shades and their cookie-cutter indie electro rock was utterly charmless. Sorry, but.
Still we powered through. For sooth! For soon! It’s Father John Misty and his elegant 70s AOR-playin’ troubadours. Starting with “Funtimes in Babylon” and strutting his way through “Misty’s Nightmare 1&2”, “This is Sally Hatchet” and others, Misty’s Josh Tillman let his hair, hips, white mic stand and smooth grooves tell a tale as the sun beamed bright for him. He’s wry, charming, sounds great and looks ace in a casual suit. Basically: go see Father John Misty in your town soon.
Following Father, we packed up our muddy boots and headed over to the main stage to hear half of Kendrick Lamar – meh, yo, word, fa real – before waiting impatiently at Montagne stage for today’s “batch of legends”, aka New Order.
To hear “Crystal”, “Regret” and “Ceremony” while I snapped just feet away from Bernard Sumner was…incredible. “Bizarre Love Triangle” had folks of course heaving, and “586” was great…but then it happened…
“I used to think that the day would never come, I’d see the light of the shade of the morning sun…”
“True Faith” gave me goosebumps. And, then, as stitched under my skin as all those Cure songs, the jittery beat of “Blue Monday” pulsated, and morphed into a cloud of clubland memories. And they could have left it there, after “Temptation” (and I think they should have), but so came three covers of Joy Division’s “Atmosphere”, “Shadowplay” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” to wrap the end. Sigh.
And so, sensing the end was nigh, we trudged for a final injection of poutine and to patiently await the band I know to be THE BEST FESTIVAL CLOSERS EVER IN THE HISTORY OF EVERNESS.
It’s not because they’re the best band ever, or handsomest band ever, or because they’re legends. Because they’re not any of those. But what Hot Chip have is the ability to make you want to dance, smile, look around at strangers and dance and smile with them. They infuse community and energy and joyfulness and help you forget nearly three weeks of non-stop go. They are the geeks who, in all the instances I’ve seen them over the past year (at Pukkelpop in Belgium, in Vancouver at the Commodore, at Primavera in Spain and now in Montreal), have consistently inherited the earth while we dance upon it. They’re one of my favourite live bands ever and they have never, ever failed me.
Buzzing from a joint passed around by another photographer, the Chip took the stage with “How Do You Do?”, bounced through “One Life Stand”, got everyone raging ecstatically “Over and Over and Over.” While the Mumfords were pleasing their enormous crowd of fresh-faced uni students, bros and soccer moms with their banjos and deedly-deedly, Hot Chip were marching in tune for “Flutes” and asked if we were “Ready for the Floor”. And despite it being muddy, we were.
In the final moments of “I Feel Better” in the dark of a Sunday night, Hot Chip sang: “Nothing is wasted and life is worth living/Heaven is nowhere, just look to the stars/There is a day that is yours for embracing/Everything’s nothing, and nothing is ours” and at that moment, it was the perfect end to the festival and 18 days worth of Montreal moments.\m/