I confirmed my love for Montreal this long weekend at the city’s annual Osheaga Festival. I can’t get enough of Montreal’s hidden cobblestoned streets, Parisian styled cafes and 24 hour poutine places(Lafleur is greasy but welcoming at 3am). There is a sense of revelry in the M.(can I call it that?) that can’t be found in Toronto. Maybe I’m biased but there seems to be a freedom to celebration in Montreal that I don’t feel in my hometown. It might be because I can walk into any convenience store to score a bottle of wine or it might be that the city seems to remain electric with partiers until the wee hours of the morning. The city not only hosted the Diversite festival this weekend but also Francofolies and the Osheaga weekend music party.
My goal was to devote my attention to indie rock this past weekend so I took the metro(for free with my ticket!) to Le Parc Jean Drapeau which covers L’ile Ste. Helene to line up with the other music fiends. There were a mixture of hipsters, tattooed rockers and casual summer dressed listeners that peppered the massive crowd. I haven’t seen so many pairs of brightly coloured sun glasses and hightops in one place since the eighties.
As I entered the park I tried to listen to the French conversations going on around me. I felt a thrill as certain words were familiar to me. I began to feel the excitement of travelling to a different land even though I’d just taken the morning express bus from Toronto to be there.
I had texted my friend but I wasn’t quite sure where he was amongst all of the people. So I decided to check out Somali born Toronto based artist K’naan until I could figure out where my friend was. The Polaris prize nominee was wearing his cool fedora atop his dreads and it was almost as if he’d romanced the crowd. They were swaying and smiling to tunes like Take a Minute, and Fatima. We joined in with Knaan to sing some lines from his Wavin’ Flag song and it felt like we were marching for some great cause. We repeated: When I get older I will be stronger/They’ll call me freedom just like a waving flag. His somali beats made me feel as if I might be in Africa dancing under a tree listening to his songs.
I finally found my friend and he said that he’d checked out a couple bands including Parisian rockers NLF3 and British Electropop synth band La Roux. The next amazing act that we caught were The Roots from Philedelphia who have been Jimmy Fallon’s house band on his late night talk show for awhile. It’s strange to think of this lively hip hop/jazzy/rock group as being a houseband. I’d never seen the group live and was completely impressed. I hadn’t danced that much in a long time. The greatest part was their tuba player who jumped and danced around with ease despite the weight of his great instrument. Their guitar player also immitated the sounds of chords perfectly with his voice. My friend and I were both blown away by their renditions of Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child of Mine” and Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant”.
We closed out the day with Coldplay. I saw these guys last year at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto in the nosebleed section for 60 bucks. At the festival I was closer and actually in front of the band, so I was happy. Even though I’d heard the tracks live before I still sang along like a mushy fan remembering the times in my life that I associate with “Fix you” and “The Scientist”.
They rocked the other tunes off of Viva La Vida even though they’d sung them a million times before. Chris Martin did some solos on the piano and the group ran out into the crowd to sing “Billie Jean” and to do a cute rhyming song about the night with the gorgeous moon and the brilliant fireworks that were going off in the distance.
For the festival, the band set off giant yellow balloons during the song “Yellow” that bounced throughout the crowd and near the end thousands of coloured paper butterflies were shot into the air and fell down around us like confetti. Completely unforgettable!