If there was a theme for day two of Montreal's Osheaga festival, it was heat.
That's not particularly out of the ordinary for a major summer music festival - Coachella takes place in a desert, for Christ's sake - but for many of the visiting music pilgrims and touring bands, the unrelenting sun beating down on the stages seemed to come as a bit of a shock.
"It's hotter than down South," remarked the Black Lips, visiting from their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
"It's hotter than a motherfucker," echoed A$AP Rocky in a later set. The hotly-tipped rapper only sounds like he's from the south; he actually hails from Harlem. Still, you'd think he might be used to it by now. Since dropping his buzz magnet LiveLoveA$AP mixtape, the 23-year-old has seemed to work the entire festival circuit. Playing shirtless, A$AP Rocky had the Scene Verte crowd in the palm of his hand. Much of his hazy, narcotic style is lost in the live setting where he relies much more on energy and charisma than setting any sort of mood, but the audience was eating it up, crowdsurfing, dancing and going wild (including a couple of dudes inexplicably dressed as Elvis) despite the extreme heat. And he may have inspired more weed-smoking than Snoop Dogg, which is saying something.
With so many new acts gaining buzz online before playing live, it makes sense to change it up for the live stage. Rising UK producer SBTRKT did so in the best way on the rave-like Picnik Electronik stage. Much increased in size this year, the sidestage still wasn't big enough for the crowd assembled elbow-to-elbow. That made dancing difficult, but that didn't mean people didn't try. SBTRKT tends to refer to producer Aaron Jerome, but they're a live duo, with frequent collaborator Sampha handling keys and vocals, while Jerome plays live drums. That creates a much more "live" sound, but it also suits the more upbeat song transformations, turning the glitchy electronic R&B into full-on ragers. SBTRKT's surprise hit Wildfire went over huge in its remixed state, but considering Little Dragon performed next on the same stage it was curious she didn't reprise her recorded guest vocal spot.
Back on the main stage, Canada's darling Feist worked through a set of new and old hits, upgraded with a trio of eye-catching backup singers. It's almost a cliché to say so at this point, but Feist's set was as musically appealing as the singer was charming. Her bilingual banter made her worth catching almost as much as hearing My Moon My Man on a live stage. And she expressed hilarious befuddlement at playing before Snoop, the first and likely the last time she'll ever do so (unless he decides to ditch reggae and go indie rock next, changing his name to Snoop Wolf or Crystal Snoop).
The official Osheaga schedule listed the headliner as "Snoop Dogg," but considering he just announced he'd be changing his name to Snoop Lion and going reggae, it was unclear which Snoop we were going to get. That added an air of anticipation to the set, and one that would continue longer than the crowd had hoped. Snoop was budgeted for an hour and a half set, but it seemed the extra time was only there so that he could come on 30 minutes late. That made him the only act not to meet their starting time - the festival usually runs with clocklike precision - but it'd probably be bad for his image if he didn't.
When he finally did hit the stage, the vocalist was dressed in a red Adidas tracksuit and a rasta-style hat, clutching a diamond encrusted mic with the name "Snoop Dogg." He did perform his new reggae Snoop Lion single La La La midset, but otherwise this was a rollout of classic Snoop Dogg (and Snoop Doggy Dogg) rap hits. Snoop has said his "reincarnation" is part of a maturation process, that he wants to be able to perform for children and grandparents, but his renditions of songs like Gin And Juice, P.I.M.P. and Akon's I Wanna Fuck You, complete with dancers giving him a lapdance on stage, didn't exactly fit that bill. Snoop may eventually adopt his new Snoop Lion performance in full, but at the moment it just seems to mean different coloured hats.