Saturday September 9
First off, our apologies to our beloved Starsailor. The Oriole media ferry was unable to get us to you in time for the show, a beautiful boat and crew despite it's lack of speed. Where was Richard Branson's helicopter when you need it? Upon arrival, we pressed on to see Muse over at the Virgin Mobile Stage. What a great live band! Matthew Bellamy's soaring vocals, the divine instrumentation, each song was like a beautiful anthem. Muse has always been about spiritual seeking, and while I don't endorse the lyrical content of Black Holes and Revelations
, I think it was performed exceedingly well and that the band itself is extremely talented. Only Bellamy could belt "I want to touch the other side" in a red pant suit and get away with it.
Soon after Muse, a karate clad bunch of orchestra members and back up singers entered a la Polyphonic Spree and did an excellent job in orchestration for Gnarls Barkley. I was hoping to see the Star Wars - Chewbacca theme again, but karate is cool too. Cee-Lo came out in a red karate suit (Muse and now Gnarls with a red suit- what's the deal?) and got his soul on with driving power vocals. However, what had impressed on St. Elsewhere
appeared drained on stage, the focus became not on the talented soulful vocals of Cee-Lo but on how many times he could swear to get the crowd riled up and ask women to remove their tops, he even said he was using his tambourine to "put a spell" on the crowd so they'd buy the CD. Sure he meant it in humor, but where's the originality and respect in all that? The breaks between songs felt fraudulent and derogatory, which didn't help to enhance the live performance. Danger Mouse just kept quiet and bounced his hair to the beat allowing his sunglasses to add to his mystique, but having him not say anything or acknowledge the crowd felt more like it was Cee-Lo's band and not a collaboration. Also, most of the songs sounded very similar while on stage for the exception of "Crazy" and "Smiley Faces" which were great tracks in of themselves and the only reason why we stuck around.
Sunday Sept 10
MSTRKFT played an impactful set over at the small Future Shop stage getting many ravers dancing to their progressive beats, but we wanted to check out The Strokes over on the more popular Virgin Mobile stage. Julian Casablancas began to mention how he liked Canadian pride and how it's not as messed up as America, don't worry Julian we have our own issues, the grass isn't always greener. Stand out tracks of The Strokes performance were "Last Night" and "Room on Fire" because they were familiar and well played, several people were throwing beach balls and dancing with their friends to it. Many of the songs though had the tone of "Ask Me Anything" in which Casablancas says "I've got nothing to say" on repeat which sounds more like a broken record in a piano bar at closing time. Even he mentioned he always expects to be hit with a bottle during the song. Casablancas doesn't even try to sing, it's the "I don't care" attitude that seems to appeal to the poetic masses, yet is it poetic or just sad? Some of the actual music is energizing enough to take the set through, but the lyrical elements and vocal tone leaves me baffled as to how they could have received such acclaim.
The saving grace of the entire Virgin Festival experience was The Raconteurs. They brought originality, fun, energy, and an air of respectability that was unmatched by any of the other performances. Jack White is so well read in rock music history and his combinations and use of that really come through in the performance. The guitars were flashy and vibrant, and each member of the band had his own style, Raconteurs showcased what talented variety was supposed to look like. The songs ranged from sweeping dreamscape blues to high impact rock melodies. Brendan Benson and Jack White were incredible singing duets and their solos, Jack Lawrence aside from his incredible talent on bass just looked so cool, and Patrick Keelor hit the drums with lamenting and vigor whatever the song's mood called for. I thought it funny that Jack White mentioned that Canada was the hardest country to get into next to east Germany. So that's why there's an infrequency of wicked bands playing here
regularly. Music fans, what can we do about this? Lets petition the government to let the music live in Canada too!
The only thing better about Sunday would have been to see Massive Attack follow Raconteurs. I did hear that Broken Social Scene did a fine job, especially with Emily Haines doing some solo work with Amy Millan and Feist (supposedly looking ever fashionable in a cool black dress with red stockings). Overall, the festival was a bit over hyped for what it was, but Raconteurs performance made it worth the ride to what was temporarily known as Canada's "Virgin Islands".