NYC’s Catalpa Music Festival

New York City’s Catalpa Festival took place on scenic Randall’s Island. There was an eclectic mix of artists including some oldies but goodies.  The festival was not packed by any means (comparing it to Governor’s Ball), which made it more enjoyable to dance and jump from act to act.  It was filled with other attractions as well including Jeep’s obstacle course, silent disco, and a little white chapel you could (unofficially) get married in.

Saturday’s notable performances were Zola Jesus, TV on the Radio, and The Black Keys. Although it was pouring rain, that didn’t stop the festival goers to continue watching the festivities. The Black Keys performed all of their hits including several songs from their first album. The crowd was going strong throughout their entire performance and it was fun to see them perform with the NYC skyline as the backdrop.

Sunday was a bigger day for the music acts and also had the beautiful weather as well. The Big Pink started off the day with their electro beats and echoey vocals. Cold War Kids wooed the crowd with their new tunes as well as the favorite hits off their first record. Matt and Kim officially received the title as the most energetic duo. They began their set with their rendition of “Zombie Nation.” They incorporated comedic transitions (Kim talking about her kangle exercises) and other covers within their performance as well.  Snoop Dogg (or should I say Snoop Lion?) was a personal highlight because he played his tracks that had featured Dr. Dre, as well as, most of the songs off of the Doggystyle album.

Osheaga Day 2: Saturday Review and Roundup

Saturday is always the best day at Osheaga. It kinda sucked last year because someone at evenko (the promoter of Osheaga), decided to make Elvis Costello the headliner. That failed. Big time. So how bout this year? With Snoop Lion/Dogg headlining the night, and a bunch of superb acts all around Parc Jean-Drapeau, Saturday could easily be the highlight – right?

Young the Giant - By Patrick Beaudry
After checking in at the media tent, where MVRemix is actually listed as MTVRemix, I headed to the Green stage to catch a bit of Cursive. On the way, Kandle was rocking out on the Tree Stage and sounded tremendous. But Cursive? Wow. Despite the small crowd surrounding them, they put on a set full of energy and tenacity. I’m pretty sure they’re no stranger to Osheaga (I remember seeing them on the line-up three years ago), and they should come back again soon. Who knew Omaha indie emo rock could… rock so hard?

Young the Giant took to one of the main stages to what seemed like a less than interested crowd. “Cough Syrup” and “Apartment” sounded amazing live, but the people in my area were more interested in their social lives than what was happening on stage. My colleague said the same thing about the other side of the audience. They kicked it up a notch for “My Body,” and it begs me to ask why they don’t have more songs like it. I understand that its their prerogative as artists to write what they want – but that song kicks ass live. Side note: Someone put Quebecois indie rocker Dumas on the main stage. The mostly out of town crowd ceased to care.

Brand New absolutely kicked ass. There’s no other way to put it. The Long Island alt rock group does not get enough recognition for how amazing they are. “Sic Transit” had everyone singing along, “Sink” and “Gasoline” had people crowd surfing – which never happens at Osheaga, and “Seventy Times Seven” reminded everyone of the band’s early pop punk roots. Honestly, they were the best set of the day, and the best set of the fest so far. Amazing amounts of energy and passion are noticeably infused into their live performance. It’s a real shame that they don’t tour very often. And whenever they do, you can rest assured that no two setlists are ever the same. It’s an unpredictability I really admire about them.

Garbage followed them, opening with some new songs, but then transitioning into “Paranoid.” Seven or eight years removed from their last show in Quebec, the band still had it. Butch Vig hammered away on drums while Shirley Manson said, “We’re Garbage, and if you don’t know us, then I guess we’re Garbage anyways.” Osheaga always has that token 90’s band that fails to disappoint. And over on the Green Stage, A$AP Rocky and his crew were running things. My colleague, Lana, was unsure if the A$AP was really good, or the crowd was insane. The girls in the crowd had apparently been pulled straight from rap music videos, as their moves were, um, bootylicious? (I’m gonna bring that saying back…)

A few quick electronic dance acts to note: SBTRKT were mixing synths with steel drums, cowbells, and piercing vocals; Nosaj Thing was ambient, sounded great – but his equipment kept messing up; Adventure Club decided to remix Brand New – on the day Brand New was perfoming – and they slayed the Picnik stage.

Phew. Okay. Two more acts: Yeasayer and Snoop Lion/Dogg. Yeasayer sounded better than they do on record, had some incredibly trippy lights, and the crowd was insane. “Longevity” may be my new favorite song, and I’m so glad I caught them over on the Green Stage. To finish off the day, I had to witness the reincarnation of Snoop Dogg. After a forty minute delay, turns out Snoop Lion is just Snoop Dogg with a rasta beanie doing a Snoop Dogg verse medley, singing “Gin & Juice,” “The Next Episode,” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Throw in his verse from Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” his new single “La La La,” and it’s a complete set. Snoop has turned into a novelty act, and seeing him once at Osheaga (two years ago) was enough for me.

All three days of Osheaga have ended up selling out. If they want this to happen next year, I’d hope they take their headlining acts more seriously. There’s nothing wrong with Snoop Lion as a festival act – but headliner? Forget it. Take a gander at some photos of the day provided by the festival. We’ll be back tomorrow with more.

Snoop Dogg - By Nick Leger

Brand New - By Patrick Beaudry

Nosaj Thing - Osheaga 2012

Plants and Animals - By Patrick Beaudry

Black Lips - By Nick Leger

Snoop Dogg - By Patrick Beaudry

Thanks to Lana, Alex, and Willow.

Osheaga Music and Arts Festival 2012 – Sunday August 5th Preview

Wait, you survived two days of Osheaga and you’re crazy enough to come back for a third? Join the club.

Before I get to all the rock, pop, and rap acts, let me just comment on how good the EDM lineup is on this final day of Osheaga: Madeon, Wolfgang Gartner and Rob Swire’s Knife Party play one after the other. I know EDM isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so please feel free to shove this under the rug. If not, they’ll be on the Piknik stage as of 7:45 till 10:45.

Chappo has been getting a lot of play on Sirius XM lately, so I’m not surprised to see the group opening up the main stage. Toronto hip-hop artists The Airplane Boys will hype up the Green Stage early in the day. Following them, you NEED to see The Airborne Toxic Event. I saw them just over a year ago, and they were one of the tightest and best live bands I’ve seen. Ever. Then, you should head over to see Australian psychedelic rockers Tame Impala on the Mountain Stage. Just don’t drop too much acid.

Common, Santigold, Passion Pit, and The Shins one after the other? Say no more. Stay in the main stage area for a solid three hours for four acts. Metric comes on a little later, and have been appearing at Osheaga for many many years now. Catch them. Seriously. There are two more big choices you’ll have to make now:

City and Colour or Bloc Party? And The Black Keys or M83? I’ll make this easy for you. Dallas Green is a great musician, but he played Osheaga just last year. Bloc Party are amazing live, and you should take advantage of their performance on the Green Stage. And go see at least a bit of M83 on the same stage, as you’ll see just how much better they are live than on an album. The Black Keys? You’ll be able to catch the end of their great set even after M83 is done.

That about rounds out the fest. If you survive, see ya next year!

Osheaga Day 1: Friday Review and Roundup

Friday at Osheaga was kind of a nightmare for me, and several regulars who have been attending this festival for a while. First off, I was denied photo pit access and my two DSLRs were reduced to paperweights. Second, I left halfway through the day due to an intense migraine or heat exhaustion or… something. This review would be more in-depth otherwise, and  I sincerely apologize for that. And third – it was the most packed day at Osheaga. Ever. Forty thousand people. The Montreal music festival has been around since 2006, and has grown every year. Last year was nearly a sellout crowd when Eminem decided to show up. And today, it actually sold out.

Fun. by Pat Beaudry

Fun. is probably one the best bands to book at a festival. Yes, they’ve gone mainstream with two radio hits, and perhaps they’re overplayed – but they’re just so damn fun, for lack of a better word. Nate Ruess kept the huge early crowd singing, clapping, and dancing throughout their set. Their electric opening with “One Foot” proves that they’re an amazing live talent, while “We Are Young” and “Some Nights” proved that they’ll be a success for years to come. Down With Webster was, uh, interesting. I stuck around for a couple songs as they had gathered a rather measly crowd. I suppose it wasn’t their “Time to Win.”

Icelandic phenoms Of Monsters and Men gathered a huge crowd over on the Green Stage. Like, huge. Near headliner huge. And they sounded amazing. “From Finner” had the crowd “la-la-la”-ing along, and “Little Talks” had everyone moving their feet. They aren’t all that active on stage, but I don’t think they need to be. After hearing some weird African/French stylings from Amadou & Miriam, I had to high tail it out of there before I passed out. The following is a consensus I got from my fellow festival goers and associates.

The Weeknd was in top notch form, despite all those whisperings months ago that he just sucked live. I heard he was better in the sunshine than in a dark club environment. He sounded sharp, soulful, and chill as ever. Though I’ve gotta ask – why the hell is the dude always wearing camo? That shit went out of style when I was six, didn’t it?

Wanna know who was apparently the best performance of the day? That redhead lady from across the pond: Florence + The Machine. At first, she had everyone put someone on their shoulders to start the set, and descended into some of her hits like “Dogs Days are Over,” “Shake It Out,” and “What the Water Gave Me.” She seems to be fully recovered from her recent vocal strain, and we’re happy to hear it. Over on the Tree Stage, I heard Montreal’s own Half Moon Run was pretty awesome. Give them a chance if they ever make their way to you.

Finally, there’s the matter of MGMT. Yes, they played “Time to Pretend.” And yes, they sung a bunch of songs off their sophomore album that I detest. There were glow sticks. There were a bunch of people on shrooms. No, they didn’t play “Kids.” And apparently, there are no pictures online of their performance. People left midway through the performance, and their overall setlist just didn’t have enough to keep the casual fans entertained. Their performance itself? Lackluster, or so I hear. Unrehearsed, and probably something you could enjoy if you were really high. Sigur Ros would’ve been a better choice to check out, so I hear.

“But Jake! What about Justice?”  said no one who visits this site.  I’m not gonna comment. I love Justice, and was thinking about coming back to the fest if I was well enough just to catch them. Some people say they can’t get over how amazing it was. Other say they were underwhelmed and were merely staring at a huge light-up cross all night. This is pretty accurate:

Justice by Pat Beaudry

I don’t know what the complainers were expecting. Now, the big question is – will Snoop Dogg perform as Snoop Lion tomorrow? And will hologram Tupac make a reappearance? I’ll have the answers tomorrow.

Of Monsters And Men - By Tim Snow

The Weeknd by Pat Beaudry

Florence by Pat Beaudry

Osheaga Music and Arts Festival 2012 – Saturday August 4th Preview

And so it’s Saturday. Day One is done.

Who should you start with this morning? Memoryhouse’s dream pop tunes will start the day off well on the Green Stage, and The Dø will give you some French-inspired indie pop over on the main stage. Follow that up with Kathleen Edwards, and an old favorite in Portugal. The Man, and then go grab some lunch. After lunch, local indie rockers Plants and Animals should deliver after you catch a bit of Cursive‘s set.

Young the Giant are incredibly fun live, and are going to be a highlight of the fest on the main stage – I guarantee it.  Now, here’s a big dilemma: emo alt rock band Brand New, much hyped about rapper A$AP Rocky, and Juno Award-winning Arkells are all scheduled at the same time on different stages. It may be easy for you to choose, but my musical interest spectrum is very broad. This is going to be my biggest decision of the fest.

Garbage reunited, so they’re obviously back at it on the main stage, while SBTRKT is going to be wearing some weird tiki mask and mixing at the Piknik stage. Feist and Yeasayer at the same time? Feist hits up Montreal every few months, so if you’re a native, I wouldn’t worry about seeing her. Yeasayer is a different story, so check out the alt rock group on the Green Stage.

Saturday is typically the BIG headliner day. This time around? Snoop Dogg is probably going to bring along Hologram Tupac or something to wow the crowd. Snoop performed at Osheaga two years ago to a pretty big crowd. The only reason I’ll be watching his set? No other headlining act on any stage is any good. Who the heck is The Jesus and Mary Chain? An 80s alt rock band before my time, and I’ll be surprised if they garner a huge crowd. The Sheepdogs at the Tree Stage are more likely to have a big crowd.

The Fixx – Beautiful Friction album review

Kids, the 80s was a weird time. Boys were wearing makeup, girls had big hair and padded shoulders, everyone was putting powder up their nose, and computers, while a far cry from the dubstep phenomenon of today, were being used in recording for the first time. Bands like Joy Division, Depeche Mode, and New Order became popular for their somewhat melancholy take on life in England in the late 70s and early 80s. And they were hugely popular.

The Fixx has a history spanning over 3 decades, and they return this week with their original lineup and their first album in almost 10 years. Beautiful Friction is the bands 10th studio outing, and welcomes original bassist Dan K. Brown back to the pack for a decidedly British demonstration. For example, singer Cy Curnin sounds like U2’s Bono, and in the very next line displays a Bowie-esque quality.

The characteristic synth-pop prevails throughout the album, from their opening track and first single Anyone Else, to Small Thoughts, a soothing farewell that leaves you feeling good about your guilty little imagination. Take A Risk has that passion missing in so many modern rock and roll tracks of the last few years (listen to that riff for God’s sake!), and if they can capture even half of the energy displayed here in a live performance, it shows they’re a band worth seeing. It takes a breather with Second Time Around, before amping back up with Follow That Cab. A personal favourite is Something Ahead Of You, the imaginary soundtrack to a film noire directed by the late, great John Hughes.

The Fixx does not show their age on Beautiful Friction. Rather, they explore and celebrate new wave many years after its heyday. If there is a way to introduce new listeners to this style, The Fixx has it.

Foxygen – Take The Kids Off Broadway album review

Foxygen. A name that’s open to various interpretations. A new way of envisioning one of our body’s much needed elements? An appealing alien substance that seduces the mind? Foxy generation? In any case, perhaps an immediate opportunity for the band to showcase their cleverness and vision.

Foxygen comprises 22-year old band members Sam France from Olympia, Washington as vocals and NYC native Jonathan Rado as guitar and keyboard player. As teenagers, they were both involved in other bands, but it was differing artistic visions that caused Sam and Jonathan to form their own band in 2004. Since then, the duo has grown from writing songs throughout high school to exploring different genres and sounds, including rapping. Although the band took a break to pursue college education and join other bands in the meantime, the duo never officially broke up and ended up conglomerating once again. To date, they’ve written and recorded at least eight albums, leading up to their latest EP Take The Kids Off Broadway.

Take The Kids Off Broadway—the group’s first physical EP—was released on July 24th 2012 under Jagjaguwar. “Make It Known” was the album’s first release. Its tracks pay homage to psychedelic punk rock, with sounds reminiscent of The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and MGMT. The most romantic track on the album, “Waitin’ 4 U” channels love and restlessness with a Mick Jagger-like vibe. The far out “Teenage Alien Blues” is psychedelic voyaging at its best while Sam’s voice divulges strong emotion in “Why Did I Get Married?,” with intense shouting lyrics asking “does it matter?!” hinting at irony and frustration.

Fans of ‘60s psych-rock music will relish Take The Kids Off Broadway. There’s no denying that the high school years spent experimenting have contributed to a polished sound. While Sam France and Jonathan Rado are young and will doubtless further grow in their craft and artistic interests, if the skillfully crafted EP is any indication, then the future looks nothing less than promising for these kids.

Jimmy Cliff – Rebirth album review

In the tradition of late-career back to basics albums we now have Jimmy Cliff’s “Rebirth”.  One of reggae’s finest practitioners his early high point was his appearance on the soundtrack to the 1972 movie “The Harder They Come” which he also starred in (though we shouldn’t dismiss the other artists on that record).  His career started as reggae was still emerging from its horn heavy precursors, before Bob Marley had cemented it as guitar based Rock Hero territory.  This gave his sound a certain openness and bounce and fun that I think reggae lost as it started to take itself too seriously.

Cliff had a problem, however.  He wanted to expand beyond reggae and into a whole world of pop styles.  This led to a number of different albums, collaborations, and genres and even the occasional hit.  But somewhere we lost the reggae genius that started it all.  Rancid singer Tim Armstrong has never had the problem of casting his net too wide.  He’s a man who knows his small place in what he loves. Thank God he somehow managed to hook up with Cliff.

I remember reading an interview twenty years ago with Armstrong, in Guitar World magazine, where he said, I paraphrase from memory, “The first time I heard the music in the Harder They Come it was huge, gothic, like a medieval cathedral.”  He’s completely correct.  And he managed to bring it back to Cliff as producer and bandleader on the record.  There are a few nods to punk, a cover of The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton” and a surprising highlight in a cover of Rancid’s “Ruby Soho”, but this is really a pure roots reggae record.  And like Cliff’s early material it’s roots reggae that hasn’t forgotten about ska.

It also hasn’t forgotten about the black American music that started all of rock music in general, including reggae.  In short, this isn’t just a great reggae record it’s a fantastic rock’n’roll album.  I won’t bother to attempt to describe any of the songs here with a little verbal nugget.  There’s no point.  If you like rock you have no business not liking this.

Osheaga Music and Arts Festival 2012 – Friday August 3rd Preview

Yo, so I heard you’re going Osheaga, and you want to know what to expect and which bands you should see? Alright. Let’s make your trip to Montreal a little easier for you:

In my humble opinion, Friday’s lineup makes for the best day of Osheaga. Last year was the first time the festival expanded to three days, and I guess they made enough cash to keep it as a three-day fest.

Vancouver’s own Hey Ocean! are always a solid live band, and they’re one of the first bands on the bill over on the Green Stage. You might wanna stick around at the Green Stage for a bit, because Polica‘s indie rock stylings should impress, and Bombay Bicycle Club is one of those up and coming bands that you’ll be wishing you didn’t miss. And who could forget Of Monsters and Men? That Icelandic band is brewing up a storm of hype lately.

What about over on the main stages? Fun. is fun. Simple as that. Go check out their recent festival performances, and you’ll see why I can’t wait to see them. As the evening arrives, The Weeknd will hit the Mountain Stage. I’ve heard that he’s stepped up his live performances since his early tours several months ago. He should be a staple for your Friday night. If RnB isn’t your thing, maybe rap is, and Classified will be over on the Green stage at the same time.

Florence + the Machine haven’t cancelled their performance yet, but hopefully Florence’s vocal chords will be fully recovered by the time the fest rolls around. I don’t really like Sigur Ros, but maybe postrock is your thing.

Any others, you ask? Dum Dum Girls on the Tree Stage, along with Wintersleep and Freelance Whales.

Friday was all about Eminem. This year? I don’t think Justice, the French producer duo headliner, is going to be the big attraction. Look for MGMT to steal the night away from the main stage headliners over on the Green Stage.

MONO – Legend video

MONO have released a video for the previously unheard album opener “Legend” from their forthcoming album For My Parents. The 12 minute epic is paired with unimaginably gorgeous time-lapse photography of Icelandic landscapes by celebrated nature photographer/filmmaker Henry Juh Wah Sun.

See the video here:

For My Parents is out on Temporary Residence LTD on September 4th, followed by an extensive tour of the states – dates below

9/11 Pittsburgh, PA Mr Smalls
9/12 Toronto, ON Horseshoe
9/13 Montreal, PQ Il Motore
9/14 New York, NY LPR
9/15 Brooklyn, NY Glasslands
9/16 Boston, MA Brighton
9/17 Buffalo, NY Soundlab
9/18 Cleveland, OH Now That’s Class
9/19 Columbus, OH Ace Of Cups
9/20 Bloomington, IN The Bishop
9/21 Chicago, IL Subterranean
9/22 Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry
9/23 Iowa City, IA Gabes
9/25 Omaha, NE Waiting Room
9/26 Kansas City, MO Riot Room
9/27 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge
9/28 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
9/29 Boise, ID Neurolux
10/1 Vancouver, BC The Media Club
10/2 Seattle, WA Crocodile
10/3 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios
10/5 San Francisco, CA Rickshaw
10/6 Los Angeles, CA Bootleg
10/8 San Diego, CA Casbah
10/9 Phoenix, AZ Rhythm Room
10/10 Albuquerque, NM Launchpad
10/11 El Paso, TX Lowbrow Place
10/12 Dallas, TX Sons of Hermann Hall
10/13 Austin, TX Mohawk
10/14 Houston, TX Fitzgeralds
10/15 Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon
10/17 Tampa, FL Crowbar
10/18 Orlando, FL Social
10/19 Jacksonville, FL Jack Rabbits
10/20 Birmingham, AL Bottletree
10/21 Atlanta, GA Masquerade (purgatory stage)
10/23 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506
10/25 Washington, DC Rock N Roll Hotel
10/26 Hamden, CT The Space
10/27 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie