OASIS with Sam Roberts, Soundtrack of Our Lives, Mercury Rev and Sloan at the Molson Amphitheatre, August 17. Tickets: $10.21-$45. Attendance: 16,000. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Seems like most folks don't have the stamina to sit through almost six hours of solid tunes, even on a summer afternoon. Poor opener Sam Roberts, the current Canadian indie rock It Boy, played a solid set to a sparse audience. The lawns filled up with people by the time Swedish second-stringers Soundtrack of Our Lives took the stage, but thousands of seats in the cavernous Molson Amphitheatre stayed empty for several hours afterward.
With his bushy beard and flowing druid cape, Soundtrack of Our Lives frontman Ebbot Lundberg looked like he'd wandered over the fence from Medieval Times. He vaulted over security barriers to meander bear-like through the ecstatic audience, forcing his techie to reel out yards of microphone cord.
The Swedes were incredibly entertaining, ripping through bluesy rock tunes like 21st Century Ripoff and the pseudo-goth dirge of Nevermore. There was something campily Siegfried and Roy about their black button-down shirts and unrelenting energy. Hard to believe they had the stamina to play another set at the Horseshoe only a few hours later.
Unfortunately for dreamy psych-rock outfit Mercury Rev, after Soundtrack's over-the-top rock assault the beer-fuelled frat-boy crowd was in no mood for lush, spacey shoe-gazer soundscapes and vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Donahue's ethereal falsetto. By the end of Mercury Rev's set, howls of "Slo-o-o-o-aaan!" drowned out the scattered applause.
Judging from the insane cheers that met lead track If It Feels Good, folks were just as stoked to see the shaggy-haired ex-Haligonians as they were about the battling Gallaghers -- impressive, considering Sloan played a sold-out Kool Haus mere months ago.
Sloan rode the delirious wave through their explosive garage set, leading crowd sing-alongs during The Other Man and The Good In Everyone, and playing raunchy versions of tunes from their older indie discs. Guess that's what happens when shoe-gazers grow too mature for their Value Village sweaters: they end up rockin' out and posing like some Satriani-style guitar gods.
Speaking of maturity, it was a remarkably subdued Oasis who ambled onstage long after the sun had set. Against a stylish backdrop of Mod graphics and black-and-white Gallagher photos in the style of VH1's Behind The Music, Liam Gallagher whined his way through tracks from the newer Heathen Chemistry and Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants discs. Intermittently (and oddly), he kept disappearing offstage to let big brother Noel Gallagher belt out a couple of numbers.
There were no brawls and no outbursts from assholes. In fact, it was a little bit boring. Oasis wound up peacefully with a rapid-fire progression of older tunes, including a downright beautiful version of Wonderwall that saw Noel alone onstage with an acoustic guitar. By the time they reached the seething cover of the Who's My Generation, which capped off the set, it was only 10:45 -- still well before the witching hour.
Not so very rock 'n' roll.