Osheaga Music and Art Festival

by Eleni Armenakis

105 bands, three days, and some 34,000-odd trees. The latter fact remaining of questionable importance no matter how many times the Osheaga info board flashed that nugget of trivia. Osheaga, where Garbage and Feist can open for Snoop Dogg (Lion??), and MGMT and Classified appear on the same stage mere hours apart. Reportedly the biggest music festival in Canada, this year’s Osheaga  boasted an attendance of over 120,000 people. It felt like it too, with the sun beating down and hundreds of sweaty bodies pressed up against each other for three consecutive days.

My Friday began with Fun. on the main stage, shortly after making my way through the hoards of hipsters clogging up the Metro leading to the festival, two hours later than anticipated. My dismissal of this band as a one-hit wonder may prove to be completely incorrect if their live show is anything to go by.

Carrying on with the indie mood was The Jezabels of Australia and Of Monsters and Men from Iceland, both drawing huge crowds. Both bands seemed quite impressed with their Canadian following, and gave excellent performances.

The main stage took over for the rest of the evening, as the sun finally started to go down and standing in the open space became bearable again. Franz Ferdinand woke the crowd up from their sunstroke-induced haze, The Weeknd seduced us all, and Florence and the Machine charmed us with her accent. MGMT closed the night on a smaller stage (part of the new, and somewhat irritating layout).

Saturday was another late start, kicking things off with Plants and Animals, Young Galaxy, and Quebec’s own Dumas. Things were jolted out of the indie zone with performances by Brand New, Garbage, and Snoop Dogg, but Feist and The Sheepdogs kept the balance. Snoop Dogg drew a massive crowd Saturday night, and kept everyone waiting in sweat and smoke for forty-five minutes before coming on stage—not the best way to please fans who’ve been out in forty degree heat all day, but every other performer at the festival was delightful and punctual.

Punctuality was key on Sunday, which was by far the best and most packed day. A lot of running happened trying to get through the maze of paths that made up the expanded festival grounds, going from Dan Mangan to Airborne Toxic Event, back for Passion Pit, Common, Santigold, and The Shins. More running to get Bloc Party, Metric, M83, and the Black Keys into one evening.

The layout was especially troublesome on Sunday when a lot of performances had to be left out of my plan at the last minute because there was no time to get to all of them. Still, with most bands starting on time and sticking to their assigned slot, scheduling as much running as possible was an easy task. The heat broke up on Sunday because of two massive downpours, but the crowd just seemed to grow more energetic, and the musicians definitely put more into it when they looked out and saw an audience of drenched fans still toughing it out to hear them.

Notable performances came from The Jezabels, The Weeknd, Dan Mangan, Airborne Toxic Event, and M83. As excited as the crowd was, these artists managed to draw out even more energy and really got everyone involved by putting on truly excellent performances.

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