Roadrunner Records - Slipknot's hard-hitting, aggressive metal anthems are getting…
- Posted on Aug 4th 2012 10:30AM by Melody Lau
As the sun began to set rapidly at Parc Jean-Drapeau, Icelandic ambient rockers Sigur Ros took the stage armed with a set of hits as cinematic as the darkening sky itself. Bringing out fan favourites like "Hoppípolla" and "Sfven-g-englar," lead singer Jón "Jonsi" Þór Birgisson and his 10-piece band built a personal soundtrack for the audience that can only be described as emotionally gratifying. Their celebratory and grandiose sound swelled across the entire festival grounds, at times competing with loud thumps from the electronic stage afar. It's not only striking live, but it cultivated an experience that was one of a kind -- a special feat for a band that undoubtedly plays this set every night.
The gorgeous swinging emotion of Sigur Ros' set did provide for a jarring switch immediately to the next stage, when French duo Justice's crushing bass hammered in -- equally as epic but on the opposite spectrum of sonics. They kicked off their set off with their 2007 album opener "Genesis" gradually pulsating through the crowd. Whether fans opted to leave on the high of Sigur Ros or stay for the dance party that was soon to erupt, festivalgoers were guaranteed to leave feeling satisfied with the first day of the three-day festival.
Earlier in the day, fellow Icelandic expats Of Monsters and Men rocked their folk-pop anthems in front of a packed afternoon audience. Still touring behind their debut release, My Head is an Animal, the six-piece has established a comfort level with those tunes, and it's evident through their effortless calls of audience sing-alongs and handclaps. Although not even remotely close to the sounds of Sigur Ros, Of Monsters and Men's own dynamic melodies, harmonies (especially between lead singers Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar "Raggi" Þórhallsson) and general knack for penning catchy festival-friendly crowd-pleasers have now positioned them as the newest Icelandic act to take over the throne as the country's next big thing -- a spot that has only been occupied by their festival mates and a well-known woman named Bjork.
Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand have been seemingly absent from the music scene since their 2009 album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, but last night marked their return to the spotlight as they knocked out a set of greatest hits to a crowd filled with eager fans ecstatic to see them again. Lead singer Alex Kapranos didn't debut any new songs, but he did sport a new moustache that would put Brandon Flowers' to shame. Ripping through a set of greatest hits, Franz Ferdinand appeared to be reenergized and ready to rock from the get go. Leaping around the stage like firecrackers, the four-piece had the crowd going all the way up until their most climatic point, pulling out their 2004 hit "Take Me Out." Maybe it was euphoric air of nostalgia or the fact that it was just one of the most rockin' sets of the day, but Franz Ferdinand's performance goes down as the most fun of the day, and quite possibly, of the entire festival -- even more fun that Fun.'s early afternoon set, which to be fair, was quite entertaining as well.
Battling out for the title of "most enthusiastic festival performer" was powerful pop songstress Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine. Clearly a festival staple at this point, Welch has become accustomed, and almost overjoyed, at the sight of the thousands of fans packed in to catch her set on the headlining stage. Welch's two-album discography is filled to the brim with effervescent, uplifting numbers, among them "Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)," in which Welch demanded people raise up their loved ones. Many fans complied, and draped in a floor-length blue gown, Welch practically glided around the stage with an energy that's surprising for a singer who recently had to cancel a number of dates due to a vocal injury. It was just the boost people needed to carry themselves into the home stretch of the first day of events.
Also performing on the first day were all-girl grunge-rockers Dum Dum Girls, who defied their goth-like demeanor to play their '90s-washed songs to a bright daylight crowd, and mystery man, The Weeknd, who is gaining live momentum with more shows under his belt. Born Abel Tesfaye, the R&B wunderkind is proving that his music can translate into a live setting, and that, indeed, his voice can soar as high above the crowd as we'd expect.