Saturday, August 4th
Portugal. The Man is the other band that made me cheer among all that were featured on the program, an absolute favourite of mine that I wished so dearly to watch in concert for all these years, and ended up seeing them twice in one summer (they made a stop in Toronto earlier this year and even took the time to sit and chat with me). Needless, they are one of my absolute favourites, making most inspired psyche-pop music that could truly elevate your mind. Judging by the mass of fans piled up in front of the stage, screaming loudly every single word of every single song, the most Portuguese of all American bands were really due for an imposed visit in Montreal - the last time they had their feet here was in 2008, and no less then three records were released by then. Yet, no one was deceived by this fiery one-hour gig, I would rather say that it was beyond all expectations we could have had. Portugal. The Man is known for sounding very lively on disc, making superbly built wild-pop anthems of their dangerously catchy tunes, yet it is another totally different, albeit positive story on disc; think loud, jamming, progressive and explosive psyche-rock, the sonically mind-blowing type. All with fervid riffs and groovy, pounding rhythms, frenzy energy, this impetuous delivery was almost outshining John Gourly’s glorious falsetto vocals; this hypnotic performance only left us in pure awe. Back to back we were thrown all the best of Portugal. The Man’s rich catalogue: "All Your Lights, Work All Day", "The Devil", "So American", "The Sun", "People Say" and a few more, and what about the spirited version of "Helter Skelter", rightfully thrown over a chord progression; mind-blowing, just like the rest. This band seriously deserves all the honours they are and will be getting.
Calexico, from Tusco, Arizona is another world-music ear opener with a serious knack for enticing self-thought. Reaching far out influences (think traditional Latin sounds) to come out with the delicately built type of alternative-folk, harmonious and brilliant. The music, flowing effortlessly and deeply engaging, these sounds travel in the mind and in the air; it’s as ardent and soothing. It all surprisingly worked well in the frenzy atmosphere of Osheaga, a much-appreciated breeze in the afternoon to the sound of the trumpets and guitars.
One strange realization I’ve been coming to lately is the fact that my love for Plants and Animals keeps growing and growing everyday; the more I listened the song cuts from their three opposed albums (folky Parc Avenue (2008), orchestral La La Land (2010) and heart-rending The End Of That (2012)), the more I get something out of it: under its first post-classic rock coat hides a complex world made of duality and deep feeling. For the rest, this music is intuitive, melodic, groovy, and this band is just awesome to watch live - no matter the occasion, they always manage to give a good show. For the connoisseurs went off their live kicking ones such as a heartfelt version of "Undone Melody", the mellow "Song for Love", chair-sucker "Crisis!" and the giant surprise of "Lola Who ?" which is rarely heard live for very good reason, mainly its progressive craft: its starts off with a soft, almost fast-strummed, softly sung verse, cautiously building up into an unexpected bridge where it pops a crazy pentatonic riff; when you think its over, it finishes off in a finally ardent chorus - "Lola, Lola who?" and the note is left hanging on, just like an unresolved wonder, it is truthfully intense then oddly striking. Next, "Bye Bye Bye" was magnificent and redeeming as usual, featuring Nick Basque on the autoharp. Next up, we received the treat of another one we don’t hear all the time, hence "The Mamapapa" and its fast-paced harmonic sequence. The crowd did request "Lightshow" and then they heard it, the now signature cathartic and liberating one closing the show. Edge, soul and rock, here’s what Plants and Animals are about, making them one of the best band of Montreal.
Up next, The Ravoneattes occured like one good surprise off my Osheaga experience. They had an impressively concrete, only too-short set: they were surprisingly solid at working out their lo-fi aesthetic. This involved lots of shoegazing and reverb-slash distorted melodies, but it’s all notably mellow, successfully building an impressively rich soundscape out of the spacy noise. It just seems like these enfants-terribles simply absorbed all the best elements of the original makers of fuzzy alt-rock and two-parts folk harmony to spill it out in one efficient original formula, which comes out very well live. Sweet and savage and inventive it is, and we all just really dug it and bought it note by note to the very end.