Before heading to Montreal this past weekend, Zack and I dreamed of simultaneously taking a load off, while exploring the city and still rocking out hard to every last musician* we were dying to see at Osheaga. I didn’t want to admit it to myself, let alone out loud to Zack, but there was something about that first day we were there that just wasn’t what I’d hoped for.
*We tried to do way too much.Waking up at 4 am Friday to take two flights, a bus and two trains to get to a festival to see six bands in the heat before fighting festival crowds to take two trains home after midnight was our plan. How did we not realize how insane this was?
Here’s us right as we’re about to land. Caitlin didn’t like that the plane was making “sharp turns.” The top picture is Montreal from the air.
We kicked our whirlwind weekend off with the alarm going off at 4 am*. We couldn’t sleep on the plane and had an uneventful, yet exhausting travel morning. “Here for business or pleasure?” the security guard at customs in Montreal asked, without looking up at us. “Uhh…Osheaga!” I said to Zack’s amusement. “Pleasure,” he offered to the guard, and the guy stamped our passports and sent us on our way. We stopped by the currency exchange** while waiting for our luggage to come out and this was the moment the Wittbloom Catchphrase of the Weekend was established.
*I got less than two hours of sleep. I always toss and turn the night before a festival.
**We got totally ripped off. They gave us 92 cents on the dollar instead of the 1:1 exchange like every currency exchange outside the airport.
Zack saw the French “Exit” sign nearby, which said “SORTIE,” and he half-sung in his best L’il Jon*, “Sor-tay-ee!” Had we only known that the word for “exit” in French was “sortie,” we could have added this to our 10 predictions list. Zack probably said “Sortie!” about 50 times throughout the weekend, and it was the best gauge I had to tell if he was feeling well** or not.
**If I passed a SORTIE sign and didn’t sing “Sor-tayy-eee,” you can bet I was not in a good mood.
We bought weekend passes for the Metro and nabbed a bottle of red wine with a screw top* before hopping on a bus. The bus ride was stressful, because all we had to go off of directions-wise were a saved Google map. When we discovered there was Wi-fi on the bus, Zack hopped onto Google Maps and we watched our blue dot edge closer and closer to our hotel stop. A few times, Zack tried to post a tweet to Twitter**, and right as he got to finishing it, every time the bus would slow down, the Wi-fi signal would break, and everything Zack had typed would disappear in a black screen***. He tried 3 times before finally giving up the ghost.
*We got incredible amounts of use out of that weekend pass and wine bottle. The only good deals of the weekend, honestly.
**I wanted to say, “Got WiFi on the bus to our hotel in Montreal. Eating ketchup chips. They’re amazing. Everyone is speaking French.” Whew, glad I finally got that out.
***I really didn’t mind not having my phone all weekend. I used my iPad twice in the lobby for a total of 20 minutes all weekend and the only thing I really missed knowing was that Passion Pit and Tame Impala switched set times.
When we got off at our stop, as we dragged our suitcases down the hill toward our hotel, Zack spotted a terrible clothing store with ugly blouses and shapeless, dated dresses, and he looked at me in an exhausted delirium and said, “We can goooo DRESS SHOPPINGGGG*!” We both burst into laughter, and this was another of his trademarks throughout the weekend: every time we would pass that store heading down the hill (and only down, not up**) he would say the same thing. We also passed some restaurant or club called “Beaver Hall” and Zack gave me a devious youthful grin each time as he snickered at the name***. This would then elicit an eye roll from me.
*Caitlin dress shops online for a solid 4-5 hours a week, minimum*. I really only said it because the store looked horrendous. There’s no way she’d actually want to go inside.
*This is a vast exaggeration. It’s 30 minutes MAYBE, tops, a day just peeking at the “New Arrivals” section at ModCloth.com.
**If it wasn’t right next to me, I’d forget about it.
***Huh, huh. Beaver. Huh, huh.
We checked into our hotel, the Delta Centre-Ville, and were given the keys to our room on the 20th floor. We also asked about the nearest Metro stop, and the woman checking us in explained there were two ways to the entrance: one where we’d head outside the building and across the street, and the other through the hotel restaurant and underground and then up some stairs. Outside seemed safer to me, so when we dropped our bags off in our gorgeous room* (with a beautiful view of the city, I might add), we headed out to seek adventure and music.
*I took a really quick shower. I had gross travel feeling and was still exhausted.
Before we even touched down in Montreal, while we were still in the airplane, Zack very sweetly leaned over to me and said he’d had an idea for the weekend. He said that, in Montreal, we should always introduce ourselves to people as “Hirsch and Marie.” These are our middle names, and seemed more fitting for our European setting. I absolutely loved it, and loved him for thinking of such a great twist* on our weekend, and decided I was totally on-board.
*I’m not particularly proud of this. I feel corny seeing it in print and felt just as corny when I thought/said it.
This map was the least confusing thing we saw all weekend. Seriously, we mastered it. Caitlin mastered it.
We met the first group who we might introduce ourselves to while getting lost on our way to the Metro. We saw a sign for it across the street from the hotel, but couldn’t get in. We got lost inside a building which housed one stranger who ignored us, one pair who didn’t speak any English, and a clueless guy. Upon leaving, we saw a group dressed in festival gear and asked them if they were headed to Osheaga. They were, but didn’t know where the Metro was. Someone finally pointed us in the right direction and we chatted with our newfound friends a while, but never had a chance to exchange names, as they needed to buy a train pass and we already had ours.
One thing I thoroughly enjoyed about Montreal were signs around the Metro that designated areas and times where musicians could busk. Sometimes we’d get lucky and hear gorgeous flute music* or someone playing the Beatles’ “You Can’t Buy Me Love” on guitar, and sometimes we’d get the guy with long hair who wished he’d been in the Grateful Dead**. Either way, I still appreciated the thought.
*This was really cool. But the guy playing an upside down bucket outside the metro in front of the festival who drowned out the late night acts as we left the fest was my sworn enemy.
**Giving the guy way too much credit. He wishes he was the roadie for Lovin’ Spoonful.
The festival grounds were really gorgeous. See this grass we’re sitting on? It’s fake, which is a pretty ingenious idea.
Once we finally arrived at Parc Jean Drapeau, we were spat out of the Metro right at the festival entrance. Even though Zack and I bought weekend passes, we ended up being sent a ticket for each day via e-mail, so we had to keep track of the paper tickets all weekend. I did not like this; I was hoping to trade the lot in for a wristband*, but otherwise the check-in process was quite quick and painless. Once inside, we had very little time before Of Monsters and Men were to take the stage, so we headed straight for them.
*This festival was so crash-able. The security was mild and no wristbands would have made it a cinch.
Bacardi and coke. In the same can. A good thing to have free samples of.
And by “straight for them,” I mean we followed signs that took us across a bridge that was over a small pond, then on a path through the woods past tents set up for various sponsors, including free Bacardi* shots (which Zack partook in), and free Coke (which we both partook in). Then we were packed in like sardines as we waited to traverse over huge, tall metal bleacher-stairs to cross a functional road below, then down into the dirt around the first far-side stage, past a kid’s playground, and finally out into a big field, surrounded by hills and, off to one side, amphitheater-like stone steps. Whew. Without any foot traffic, we could make the trek in about 10 minutes, if we were hustling. But in the crazy over-hyped Of Monsters and Men rush, it took us a good 20. Zack and I stood out in the sun for a while, listening to the band, and we were unimpressed to the point where, after 2 and a half songs and during the band’s big breakout hit “Little Talks,” we wandered off to seek shade and rest.
*Bacardi and coke.
I was so out of it, and didn’t have Internet on my phone, that I decided to take a picture of myself on the beanbag while Caitlin got us Red Bull and waters. Let’s be real. Even if you weren’t out of it, you sometimes like to take photos of yourself. It’s OK to be a ham.
We found our shelter at the Red Bull tent, as Zack lounged and I dug up some energy drinks for us, and we listened to the Jezabels from afar. They were decent — enjoyable, really — but still not amazing enough to pull us off of the giant bean-bag chairs we sunk into. We stayed there, recuperating from a crazy day of travel, while the Dum Dum Girls took the stage and acted as the perfect surf-rock soundtrack to our lazy, hazy summer afternoon of festivaling.
We moved back to the “main” side stage for Gary Clark, Jr., finding repose under a shady tree up on one of the hills, and Gary was the first show-stopping* act we had seen of the day, so he began to rejuvenate us. I was already feeling a little downtrodden, though, because as Zack and I had wandered around the festival grounds, I found myself surrounded once again by young kids dying to be fashionistas more than fans**. It was like Coachella all over again, and I felt out of place, jealous and resentful all at once***. I tried to just take a deep breath and be in the moment as best I could, though, and when Gary Clark was done riffing, Zack and I headed back to the real main stages at the festival entrance to grab some grub and set up for Sigur Ros.
*He was incredible. Can’t wait to see him again at ACL.
**All I had to do was google “Osheaga 2012″ and the picture above was one of the first pictures I saw. That should explain it.
***It’s weird. Individually, we liked everyone we met, but collectively, they gave off a bad vibe.
Breuvage? If you guessed it meant beverage, you’re right.
After a long wait for pizza and a $10 tray of poutine that was totally worth it, we camped out for Sigur Ros dead center, about 20 feet back from the stage. We had to listen to Florence & the Machine do their whole boring spiel while we waited for Sigur Ros, but we passed the time making a couple friends from Edmonton in the crowd who’d just seen Sigur Ros perform in Toronto. They gushed, I gushed, and my adrenaline started pumping. I was reminded of why I was at the festival, why I was in Montreal, and why I wanted all of this so badly. As the sun went down and right before the band took the stage, a pair of drunken and/or high numb nuts ended up pushing their way right next to our Edmonton friends. They were crazy loud and obnoxious, and I feared the worst. Luckily for us all, these guys, slightly d-baggish* though they were, were true fans, and shut up completely save for the in-between-song moments where one of them just kept yelling, “Oh my God!” over and over again in his disbelief at Sigur Ros’ greatness.
*I loved those dudes. They were drunk/high on something, but they were good dudes. They were so locked in on Sigur Ros, which is not what you’d expect from high dudes.
We had an hour to kill before Sigur Ros went on. The sun still had some setting to do.
I was so overwhelmed with joy to see these gentlemen who soundtrack my life so well in the flesh, that I just became totally emotional the second they walked on stage. Jonsi took to his guitar, the fringe on his jacket arms flowing around him like visual representations of the sound waves he emitted from his instrument, and drummer Orri’s golden-blonde hair caught the light just so to give him an angelic look. I was just filled with happiness so that I shook crying, and was able to close my eyes and slow everything down as they poured through songs, old and new. I applauded as loudly as I could when they took their final bow, with Georg bringing his young daughter, clad in giant pink earmuffs, out onstage and holding her at his side as the crew dipped to roaring adoration. It was a perfect show. Zack and I trudged over to the other side of the stage to dance around to Justice for about 10 minutes, but then Zack’s body gave out and Justice were still just not quite Daft Punk, so we headed out to our hotel for much-needed rest and nourishment.
This isn’t our food. This food actually looks good.
It was crowded escaping the festival grounds that night, but we still made it home by 10:30, and immediately looked at the room service menu to pick out what we were hungry for. We were both starving, but not much on the menu sounded that great. We ended up ordering a cheese plate with crackers and bread, a fruit salad apiece, a “Creme caramel” dessert and a 7up for me. We ordered, were both able to shower, and we sat around watching the Olympics* from our comfy bed as my stomach turned itself into knots. I started getting impatient and begged Zack to call down to check on things at 11:40 if we hadn’t heard anything, since room service was supposed to close at 11:30 and I assumed they’d forgotten about us. Right at 11:40, a knock on our door. Relief set in and I prepared for a delicious treat. Reality: the cheeses were delicious, but the bread was super hard, the fruit salad was insanely overpowered by the mandarin oranges in the mix, the dessert was awful, and the best part of everything was my 7up which I think used real sugar and was therefore superior to normal 7up. Not to mention, everything was EXPENSIVE**. Those snacks together cost us a mean $45 CAD, which turned us off from ordering room service for the rest of the weekend.
*This was a real treat for us. In the year we’ve lived together, we haven’t had TV, let alone TV in bed. I look forward to having that again some day.
**The 7-up itself was $3.45. A can of 7-up.
We slept in well into the morning on Saturday, and finally dragged ourselves out the door at 11:30 because I was starving again and practically jumping on the bed to awaken Zack*. We had heard a few suggestions from friends about vegetarian-friendly places to eat at in Montreal (apparently not a particularly vegetarian-friendly city, I discovered that weekend) but as we began to Google them, many were very far away from us and we panicked, not knowing where to go or how to get there even if we did. The front desk lady named a place I’d found on my Google search, Le Commensal. We trudged up the hill, Zack seemingly still waking up and not as perky as normal (no “Sor-tayyy-eee!” from him yet that morning), and made our way to Le Commensal on St. Catherine. When we finally turned onto the famed street, it looked just about like any other big city street with loads of clothes shopping, restaurants and a movie theater.
*Caitlin showered as I slept in, waking me up cheerfully, saying “Time to get up!” I was still nowhere near caught up on sleep, so all I could muster was a pathetic, “no.”
This actually was our food and it was quite good. We didn’t realize until after we paid that we got charged separately for the entrees, fruit and desserts and it ended up being almost $25 a person, but oh well. We needed it.
The restaurant is a buffet-style vegetarian joint, with lime-green trays you can set heaps o’ plates on top of, covered in an assortment of food types. I opted for a couple different salads, sweet potatoes, french fries, a quesadilla, an eggroll-type thing and some scrambled eggs with veggies in there. I got a Raspberry Lemonade canned drink, tons of fresh fruit with yogurt to dip it in, and for dessert, a Maple pie slice. My french fries were a huge disappointment, tasting not-quite-cooked-through, and my quesadilla tasted like it had the egg roll ingredients inside of it. However, everything else was delicious, particularly the fresh fruit in the yogurt, and the Raspberry Lemonade drink (made by Smuckers! Please oh please carry it, Whole Foods America). But the best of all was that Maple pie. Mm, mm, good! I finally learned what the Maple craze was all about up north. Plus, the whole thing felt like it was a good choice for my poorly-nutrated body from the day before, and I was ready to festival. But, we still had one more adventure to partake in before the music.
We grabbed a Metro close by right after getting out of the restaurant, and headed on the green line to the Biodome. We were able to figure out its location by looking at the Metro map, and as soon as we got off at our stop, we saw the giant scorpion-like building looming in the near distance. We grinned broadly, dreaming of penguins and plants and more penguins. But as soon as we made our way around to the entrance, we were greeted by the site of the longest line we’d encountered all weekend. It was moving alright, but then we heard someone in line behind us who was quoted an hour-and-a-half wait time by someone at the front desk. There was no way we were going to waste so much festival day in a line to see a Canadian zoo, so we ran to the restroom and headed right back to the Metro.
Saturday was not nearly as jam-packed as Friday, so we made it swiftly inside and to the “main” side stage through the woods (stopping for a free Coke along the way) and settled in for Cursive. There was practically no crowd at all to watch them when we arrived, so Zack agreed to go stand in the sweltering heat with me when the band took the stage. We made it 3* songs before having to move back to the shady hill, and then left after a super slowed-down version of “The Recluse.” Tim Kasher was still hilarious** and fun to watch, but perhaps because he knew English wasn’t the native language of Montreal, he offered no banter between songs, as he had at his Austin solo show. This was a trend throughout the weekend — if an artist didn’t speak French, they didn’t talk too much. I appreciated it in a high-brow sense of respect, but was bummed to not get more interaction from some of my favorites.
*It was five songs. Several years ago I quoted “Billy Madison” in saying “I hate cursive and I hate all of you” as a one sentence review of the band Cursive. I still feel that way.
**He may have been hilarious the last time she saw him solo, but he did nothing hilarious this time.
Pizza cone! Yum town!
Zack and I made it back to the main stage to see much of Plants and Animals, and then Young the Giant. We stood midway through the crowd for the latter, but even with one of the best lemonades I’ve ever tasted in hand, we couldn’t bear the heat and retreated to a patch of astroturf laid down on the rocky ground behind the sound stage. There, we stretched out and listened to the rest of Young the Giant, all of Dumas (terrible French artist — think if Bono went solo and French and was a little more boring), and then the even more terrible screamo-hardcore Brand New. But as Zack and I suffered through the bands waiting for Garbage to play, we entertained ourselves by telling stories, making future plans and creating our own secret languages. Hirsch and Marie were in full effect, even if nobody else knew who we were.
We were able to get fairly close for Garbage — centered and about 30 feet back — and when the band took the stage, they seemed almost as excited as the crowd to be there. Shirley Manson was fierce, with her red hair fashioned up like a scorpion on her head, ready to attack. They played some oldies to the delight of the crowd before Zack and I begrudgingly left to get good spots for Yeasayer at the “main” side stage. This time, it only took us 10 minutes to trek through the woods, and we headed straight for the stage upon arrival. We were able to locate a great spot, Ira-side, and settled in for a fantastic show.
Yeasayer did not disappoint (they never do). Their new stuff, which made up a large chunk of the set, was incredibly catchy and danceable live, despite sounding a bit formidable in their preview of the stuff on YouTube. Their old stuff as as fabulous as ever, eliciting the most excitement from the crowd, although the band even managed to spiff-up old favorite “O.N.E.” with totally different instrumentation. I still love them to pieces, even though Ira’s “white trash” look made me a little less fan-girlish.
We decided Yeasayer was such a high note to end our Saturday festivaling on, we didn’t even bother to stop for Feist — we just enjoyed her as we headed out of the festival gates in zero crowd, down to the Metro, and back to our hotel to clean up for a night on the town. This was our chance to really embrace Montreal, the city, and get into some fun. We headed for a bar that Zack’s Canadian friend recommended right near the crossing of Saint Laurent and St. Catherine, and strolled leisurely along the way. We were still surrounded by tall, cold buildings, but we did start to see some life in a community building covered in multi-color panes of glass.
As we walked up Saint Laurent, we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of Asiatown: there were Japanese restaurants, karaoke bars, and tons of people dressed up in Manga costume, which we later found out was for some Anime convention taking place that weekend. We weren’t feeling Asian food, so we continued up the street until we came to St. Catherine. Suddenly, we found ourselves surrounded by Sex shops — shops with toys, clothes, strip clubs and other erotica, everywhere you looked. Obviously this was not something we wanted to partake in, so we kept walking towards our designated bar, trying to stay positive. We finally found the bar, and when we walked in, it felt exactly like an Austin bar. There was nothing special about it — it was youngish, but incredibly hot (apparently Quebecians don’t know about A/C because this was an issue throughout the weekend, save for our hotel safe haven) and just not that special-feeling. We crossed the street to grab pizza and poutine and recollect ourselves, and then decided to just wander down St. Catherine in the other direction until we found a place that felt a bit classier.
Many of the restaurants with bars that we came across were already closed (at 10:30PM on a Saturday, mind you) but we finally came across a spot that would be open until 11:30 and had margaritas. Margaritas?! Sold! We saddled up and told our waiter we were interested in a strawberry and regular. He laughed and said, “Well, the thing is we can’t serve you unless you order some food.” For a split second I thought he was joking and laughed back, but then I suddenly realized he was being serious and said, “Oh, OK, sure, of course.” Zack was skeptical a little longer, asking, “Are you serious?” The waiter explained that they had a restaurant license, not a bar license, so yes, we had to order food. We opted for dessert, ordering a brownie with vanilla ice cream on top drizzled with Kahlua. I didn’t want the drizzle at first, but the waiter convinced us to order with it and it wasn’t terrible. Still, I tried to eat the ice cream around it and left a larger chunk of the brownie for Zack.
The margaritas were good, albeit very different from the frozens made stateside. We’ll review them in a separate ‘rita post, but I’ll just say we enjoyed them well enough. While we were sitting enjoying our evening, suddenly and without warning, about 20 guys and 1 singular girl on bikes rode by with police escorts — naked. Well, the girl was wearing underwear and the police were fully clothed, but the rest of the guys were super nude, but I luckily only saw tons of buttocks. Until one lonely straggler rode past about 5 minutes later, junk flying in the wind. That image is burned forever in my memory, and not in a good way. The group rode by once more while we were sitting with our drinks, and when we continued down St. Catherine street after we were finished, we saw the nude cyclists taking photos with their butts facing out* on some steps. Zack said he wanted to run and take a photo, but I said that was kinda super creepy and convinced him to pass.
*Yeah, we saw a lot of dong and pubes at this point. Not a good scene.
After walking down St. Catherine and realizing we had another long day ahead of us and nothing was all that interesting to do, we headed back to our hotel for more bed relaxing and Olympics watching. Some of my favorite time was just spent luxuriating on the bed and watching the Olympics. We saw one tragic story replayed about 5 times, where a Canadian triathlon finished close to last in the race because of a previous haunting injury. When the news interviewed her, she was in tears, apologizing to Canada and saying how ashamed she felt. Zack asked if I wanted to watch the girl cry, or if he should change the channel. “No … let’s watch her cry*,” I said, deadpan, and Zack laughed out loud at me. What can I say? I’m usually no rubbernecker**, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off of the poor athlete. We also watched diving, which we agreed was 100% impossible to judge correctly as a spectator, and trampoline, which was one of our favorites to watch. Races were fun, too, and much easier to follow.
*I still can’t get enough of this line.
**I’m a total rubber necker.
We woke up early the next morning to partake in some famed Tim Horton’s doughnuts and coffee. I got a caramel doughnut which ended up being waaay overkill, and we got 10 “Timbits” (doughnut holes) in a mixed variety as well as a coffee apiece. Unlike in America where you get to pick your variety of holes, Tim Horton’s chooses for you, so we watched as tons of different flavors were poured into our little box. My coffee was delicious, although it tasted like no other coffee I’d had before (maybe more hazelnut-y? I never could put my finger on it), but the Timbits were the best part. Once I had my 5, I dug into my doughnut and it was just far too much sugar, and my body shut down for a moment.
The greatest poutine of all time. This could be my last meal one day. No joke.
We then bought some souvenirs for our friends, the Doodlehouse, to thank them for taking care of Scooby while we were gone, as well as a couple maple-flavored treats to bring home for ourselves. Finally we showered and headed to the 24-hour diner we’d come across the night before, Dunn’s. This is where Zack partook in a plethora of poutine meat-porn, with a bowl filled with french fries, cheese curds, gravy and meat, meat, mea*. He also ordered a meaty sandwich, thinking the poutine would be in the normal small cup portion. Wrong. There was a tub hauled out filled to the brim with meat. Zack had had a lighter breakfast than I, though, and did good damage on his adored lunch. I did not fare so well. I ordered an egg-salmon sandwich, hold the salmon, with a side of fries, and I barely ate half the sandwich and a third of the fries. Still, we were satisfied enough to head off with full bellies to the festival.
We arrived at the festival on Sunday earlier than any day prior, and the second we emerged from the Metro at Parc Jean Drapeau, the skies opened and it poured rain down on us. Luckily we’d smelled it in the air and had our ponchos at hand, and we threw them on and trudged through the wet to wait for Aloe Blacc. While we waited, we got to enjoy one of my favorites, Dan Mangan. During his song “Robots*,” he brought an audience member who was clad in a cardboard box headpiece fashioned like a robot onto the stage, and had him assist with the song. It was adorable and heartwarming, as Mangan tends to be, and we enjoyed his energy on this last day of the fest. Although many folks would probably hate rain at a festival, the rain is what finally pushed me over the edge and into full-on festival mode. We were in ponchos, nobody was looking that great because everyone was drenched, and in that, we were all unified. It was official: if you were still standing at the fest in the rain, you were there for the music, and a huge crowd remained despite the downpour.
*This was an adorable song. I was glad we caught it and the cardboard box guy was a great addition.
Aloe Blacc was one of the best acts of the weekend. It felt like I was watching a peer of James Brown*, as Blacc danced skillfully and sang soulfully and got the crowd to participate in more clap-alongs than any other act during the weekend. I got to hold Zack’s hands during all of the romantic songs, which was most of them, and smile from beneath my blue Fandango-branded poncho, smiling from the heart.
*If James Brown is the godfather of soul, Aloe Blacc is his Godson.
Despite a consistently off-and-on rain for the rest of the day, I really finally felt like things were turning around. Passion Pit took the stage earlier than we expected — in fact, we almost went to sit back and relax during what we thought would be a set by Tame Impala, but for unexplained reasons, those two bands had swapped slots and all of a sudden, Passion Pit were opening with “Take a Walk.” They put on a solid set, and we followed it up by sitting on some picnic benches for Common and most of Santigold. Then it was time to grab food and rest until the Shins, so I grabbed some ice cream and Zack got his final helping of poutine*, and then we headed to a merch table by the side stages so I could inquire about a souvenir shirt for the weekend. I tried to track down a Sigur Ros tank top, but they were out, so I ended up buying an Osheaga shirt from another merch stand in a complete downpour. We stood in the rain during the Shins, and then decided to pass on Metric for back-to-back sets from Bloc Party and M83. There was a break between the two to take down Bloc Party’s gear and set up M83′s, but again, these two acts were on the “main” side stage and Metric was way back on the main stage, so we decided to just camp out and set up close for M83.
*They had just run out of gravy when I ordered, so I waited ten minutes for them to make some more. In the rain. That’s how incredible poutine is.
I was incredibly excited for M83. I’ve been obsessed with them since their set at Stubb’s a few weeks ago, and I guessed they’d be my no. 2 act of the weekend, behind only Sigur Ros. We were just off to the right of center and about 6 rows back from the front, and we made friends with some music nerds around us — great, we thought. No way this crowd would get that rowdy. Zack actually said the words, “Nobody in this crowd is going to crowd surf.” First mistake. The band came out without their weird, furry creature friend introducing them and began playing “Intro.” Even though Zola Jesus was at the festival, she didn’t come to sing her part of the song, but the band seemed to have tons of energy and I was excited. Then, all of a sudden, as if a switch was flipped, it started. The crowd surfing. Just as in Yeasayer, I can handle one person at a time with big breaks in between — that gives me enough time to dodge, if I have to, and let Zack do the work. In this case, people came in groups, one after the other or even two at a time, overlapping each other and landing heavy on top of us. It was somewhat worrisome at first, and quickly became just too much to handle. I did the best I could holding people up, but after I got kicked in the back of the head twice by two male assholes, I was simply done*. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Though I’d waited for this moment and camped out for a good spot and the day had been so perfect and I wanted so desperately to enjoy myself, it was just too much. I grabbed Zack and we moved further right, away from the centralized surfing, and I started bawling. A short girl nearby had given me a mean look because I’d moved to stand right in front of her, and she must not have realized I came from the center and was just trying to escape and still have a spot where I could see. I cried and cried, feeling sorry for myself and disappointed that a show I wanted to be as transcendent as the last M83 performance devolved into a shitshow**.
*When Caitlin said “I want out!” I had a crowd surfer in each hand. Ugh.
**M83 put on an incredible show. We did not have an incredible time.
I tried as best I could to breathe deeply and not be such a child about everything, and finally pulled myself together during one of my favorites, “Steve McQueen.” I pumped my fist and sang as loudly as I could, “Nothing will hurt me today!” I focused on the band, not the jerks around me talking insanely loudly and falling drunkenly all over everyone, and still enjoyed the show. I was able to find joy in the songs and in the passion the band performed with. But I didn’t even get to enjoy M83 mastermind Anthony Gonzalez’s banter, because it was all in French, so I still felt separated from the band and it ended up being only my 4th favorite set* of the weekend, behind Sigur Ros, Yeasayer, and Aloe Blacc.
*I’m impressed you ended up with Aloe ahead after trying to convince yourself you had more fun at M83. It just was not a fun set at all b/c of the crowd surfing and drunk dickheads. I had Yeasayer 1, Sigur Ros 2, Aloe Blacc 3 and then a big drop off.
Zack and I had every intention of checking out some of the Black Keys’ set after M83, but we were so worn down from the surfing and the weekend and the roller-coaster of emotions that we decided to head home* in hopes that we would get at least some sleep before our 7:20AM flight the next morning. When we made it back to the hotel, we asked at the front desk what he recommended for transportation to the airport, and he said even though it was twice as expensive, a taxi would be better, since we needed to arrive 2 hours early. 2 hours!! OK, taxi it was.
*We head less than one song. Really disappointing.
So. As we flew back to Austin, totally exhausted and just a little bit cranky, I reflected. No, Montreal did not live up to my expectations. Nor did Osheaga, in the slightest. However, I had a whole new invented language that I shared with my boyfriend that we’d be able to pass on to our kids someday, just like his family had with “BBB” and “D for Q” and all of their other inside-joke-stories. We had met new people, even though we never got to share with them our secret names. We figured out that, if we really want to take a vacation, it might be better to pick one or two concerts in an area to check out instead of a whole festival*. We found out we could handle navigating unfamiliar streets labeled in different languages. We discovered that I hate poutine but Zack lives for it. And we discovered that Montreal will never be the city for us to make a home in. All that, plus incredible memories of Yeasayer and Sigur Ros and other amazing musicians, which are now getting me through my work week. Well worth the adventure.
*I think what it comes down to, is like this post itself, we just tried to do way too much and we couldn’t enjoy all of it. Still, I’ll remember this weekend fondly. Even if it comes with an asterisk.