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Osheaga, day two: Elvis Costello leads a bona fide guitar orgy

Osheaga, day two: Elvis Costello leads a bona fide guitar orgy

Whereas the first day of Osheaga 2011 was very much about hip hop, R&B and soul, day two was a veritable rock fest building up to the amazing set by the mythic Elvis Costello.

Costello didn’t give the trippiest performance. That had to be Karkwa, last year’s Polaris Music Prize winners, who were playing Osheaga for the first time, surprisingly enough. Almost entirely focused on their most recent album, Les Chemins de verre, the Quebecois band’s set neatly showcased their brand of sophisticated, proggy yet catchy rock. Even audience members who didn’t understand French must have had a great time.

Costello didn’t deliver the wildest performance. That was probably Death From Above 1979, whose comeback is clearly more than successful. Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler kicked major ass with a wall of distorted guitar, thundering drums and warped vocals combining to form some kind of post-punk stoner metal, if that makes any sense.

Costello wasn’t the loudest either. Oh, Ratatat certainly won that crown with their deafening show at the Green Stage, where there was a huge turnout (more folks than at some of the main stage gigs!). Using a laptop, keyboards and percussions (electronic and otherwise), but mostly a whole lotta guitar riffs and solos, the New York duo showed that making people dance and rocking hard aren’t mutually exclusive. Add what about those badass projections, including clips from Predator!

Today, I also saw bits of the New Wave-ish Twin Shadow, of the energetic folk-grunge power trio The Mountain Goats, of the in-your-face indie rock duo PS I Love You, of Yoav who played solo with sampler/looper pedals a la Joseph Arthur, of Lupe Fiasco whose rap-rock hybrid set included a pretty cool version of Modest Mouse’s Float On

All the same, the high point of my day was Elvis Costello, who I got to see up close, maybe 25 feet from the stage (it helped that the attendance was around 20,000 today, in contrast to yesterday’s crazy 38,000). With the help of three excellent musicians (keys, bass, drums) and of a go-go dancer in a cage (!), the 56-year-old veteran blew away the competition with a nonstop, filler-free run of killer songs, including Watching the Detectives, a super groovy Everyday I Write the Book, Alison, Uncomplicated, Radio Radio (“One, two, three, four!”), the bluesy I Want You, (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea

Costello seemed to be having a lot of fun, singing with a lot of conviction and proving to be quite the six-string samurai! And for the encore, he finished us off with the absolute classic Lipstick Vogue, Pump It Up, (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes plus covers of Nick Lowe’s (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding, The Who’s Substitute and even Prince’s Purple Rain!

Photos courtesy of Osheaga / evenko

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