By Andrea Rojas
August 1, 2014
PARC JEAN-DRAPEAU, MONTRÉAL
Childish Gambino (5:35 p.m., Scène de la Montagne Molson Canadian)
On Friday afternoon at the two main stages, most festival goers were walking sweat factories, plodding through the dusty humidity and synthetic grass to find a place to sit or stand or put their $10 beer. But the Hawaiian-shirted aural aggression of comedian, writer, actor and emcee Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) made it worth the struggle. Gambino, who started by pulling out several tracks from his most recent release Because the Internet (“I. Crawl”, “II, Worldstar”, “III. Telegraph Ave. (‘Oakland’by Lloyd)”) succeeding in keeping well-known songs fresh for new listeners with the help of a live backing band. He embraced the challenge of performing an album with lots of quirky audio samples and interjections by keeping some, leaving out others, and always adding his own in-person vocal stee. This was especially apparent on “I. The Worst Guys,” where Gambino made up for the absence of featured artist Chance the Rapper by alternating between yelling, singing and rapping. Soulful backing synths made the usually combative “Do Ya Like”dreamlike and sun-baked, where Gambino played with usually-rapped verses by singing them. Screams abounded when he pulled out favorite “Heartbeat”. As one of the first major performances of this year’s Osheaga, polymath Glover killed it. The sweat was well-spent.
Mac DeMarco (9:50 p.m., Scène des Arbres Galaxie)
By some horrible twist of divine fury doled out by the festival gods, Mac DeMarco, Outkast and Band of Horses were all playing overlapping sets Friday night. The first stop was Mac DeMarco, who made light of this dilemma by poking fun at other artists. “We’re called Outkast,” he pronounced as he came onstage, later chuckling at Skrillex’s expense and claiming that his band was called “Sheryl Crow’s Dirty Snatch.” But his lack of tact is what makes this kid loveable, that and the fact that he’s no-frills. He banshee-screams into the microphone intermittently. His backing band is made up of chill-looking older dudes who are genuinely good at what they do —no custom-fit motorcycle jackets and careful coiffures that their hairstylists messed up on purpose, in the vein of some of DeMarco’s 20-something “indie-alternative”peers. DeMarco did what he wanted in a humble enough way that made those listening think he was pretty alright. From “Blue Boy”to “Treat Her Better”, once we relaxed into it with him, everything was OK.
Band of Horses (9:15 p.m., Scène Verte Garnier Fructis)
Outkast (9:05 p.m., Scène de la Rivière Virgin Mobile)
These artists will be reviewed in tandem, as if you weren’t at one, you were most likely at the other. Or you tried to bounce back and forth between the two almost two-hour sets, letting your brain adjust to two vastly different crowds, sounds and vibes. But that’s what festivals are for, right? Constant assaults and stimulation of all of your senses at once and then some that require quick adjustment and perhaps the consumption of controlled substances. Band of Horses was the peaceful premature comedown, Outkast was the stimulant. Horses played a surprising number of tracks from 2006’s Everything All the Time, reaching far back into their catalogue with a retrospective gusto that was appreciated. Awash in purple light and occasionally with strobe effects (which seemed a bit out-of-place considering the genre of music performed), the ambience was spacious, wooded and almost-serene. A few minutes’walk away, Southern rap legends André3000 and Big Boi delivered a playfully irreverent experience with well-oiled finesse. The backup singer looked like an African-American Lady Gaga/Catwoman hybrid. Big Boi’s enunciation and flow were flawless. Andréheld a cornet up to his crotch and swayed to “Roses”while Big Boi scatted. “The energy is impeccable tonight”, Boi told the crowd, and André’s jacket reminded us of something crucial —“Life is short. Take more baths”. One of the hardest things I have had to do in my short time on Earth is to turn my back towards Outkast performing the Stankonia epic “So Fresh, So Clean”and walk away, the bass taunting me by literally rattling my sternum. But alas, leaving at the very end of the last headliner’s set would have put me in a furious tussle with métro crowds, so the adult in me made the logistical decision. Today was a good day.Band of Horses, Childish Gambino, Mac DeMarco, Montreal, Osheaga, Osheaga 2014, OutKast