The word Osheaga means music, mud, and endless crowds – at least to the people who attended this year. No one really knows, but over the weekend I think we all got a pretty good idea. With approximately 40,000 concert-goers at Jean Drapeau Parkin Montreal each day, it’s no question whether or not this year’s Osheaga was a success.
After grabbing a map and printing out an itinerary, Day One kicked off with Franz Ferdinand. It was the perfect way to walk through the gates, ‘Take Me Out’ kicking out of black Marshall speakers. The Weeknd took over soon after, serenading the crowd to reverberating bass kicks and soft-spoken verses. ‘High for This’was definitely a crowd favourite, as Abel Tesfaye pointed his mic out to the audience and smiled as his lyrics were sung back to him. I could’ve sworn I saw the girl beside me shed a single tear.
What got my eyes watering was definitely Florence + the Machine. Florence Welch with her liquid vocals left me in awe as she taught the crowd three different pitches to sing back to her during ‘Shake it Out’. To close off their set, Welch got the entire crowd jumping for ‘Dog Days are Over’.
To cool things off before Justice, we decided to sit and let Sigur Rós take us away to a place with high-strung vocals, echoing riffs and melting imagery. The visuals projected on screen were strange and elusive enough to hypnotize even those just strolling by the stage.
As Sigur Rós came to an end, bright lights and heavy bass chimed in, and Justice conquered the stage. The French electronic music duo bled electro-rock and indie through both music and image. With the most complex lighting I’ve ever seen at a show, it was just as awesome to watch as it was to listen.
A long night of dancing and four hours of sleep later, we were on to Day Two.
After a quick Mexican bite at the famous 3 Amigos on Rue Sainte-Catherine, we decided to see one of my long time loves, Brand New. Although I was hoping they would play more songs from their older albums, a majority of them were from The Devil and God are Raging Inside of Me, and Daisy. That’s not to say it wasn’t a great show; Jesse Lacey’s voice has aged like wine and still brings me back to high school days when he screams into the microphone.
Feist on the other hand, had me hopping on sore feet and not giving a damn. ‘My Moon, My Man’, was a personal favourite, and I couldn’t help but swoon to her charm as she commanded the stage. Before sending us off, she took a sip from what looked like a clear glass of water, then playfully whispered into the mic, “Just sippin’ on gin and juice,” a perfect transition into Snoop Dog’s performance that took place on the neighbouring stage.
I have to say, I was a little bit disappointed in Snoop Dog, as were thousands of fans who waited for close to 45 minutes after his set time to finally see him on stage. Aside from his act, the set times were pretty much a tight show all weekend. Eventually, after several minutes of boo-ing from the crowd, the newly incarnated Rastafarian Lion himself showed up on stage and boo-ing turned into non-stop cheers. Singing throwbacks such as, ‘What’s My Name?’, ‘Doggy Dogg World’, and Feist’s own prediction, ‘Gin and Juice’, Snoop had the crowd riled up and groovin’.
Day Three brought the heavy rains, and the heavier the rain, the crazier the crowd.
First on our list was Vancouver-born folk-rock artist, Dan Mangan. Currently one of my favourites, his lyrics are raw and truthful, and delivered with such power that he’ll have you wondering if the song is actually about you. If you didn’t know the song ‘Robots’ going into the show, you definitely left with it stuck in your head. Mangan got the whole crowd singing “Robots need love too, they want to be loved by you,” again and again until audience cheers eventually took over.
Next up to bat was Santigold, a refreshing sight to see decked out in green and gold foil, with her back-up dancers following suit. Bringing a select few audience members on stage was the definite highlight of her performance as screaming, crying, individuals danced and sang along while she hyped up the rest of the crowd. ‘Unstoppable’, ‘Creator’, and ‘Say Aha’were some of the few tunes that blasted from the stage getting everyone moving and shaking.
And that was it for sun.
Down came the rain and washed the event goers out and over to the electronic stage. Buraka Som Sistema, Madeon, Wolfgang Gartner, and Knife Party all lined up one after the other to put on an unforgettable show. Never have I seen such a lively crowd. Even when the power went out during both Buraka Som Sistema and Madeon’s sets, the crowd continued chanting acapella, clapping, and cheering to support their favourite artists – not to mention embracing the rain like it was part of the entertainment itself.
I’ll admit, Osheaga 2012 taught me a lot of things. It taught me to always wear my ugliest sandals, always wrap my phone in clear plastic, and never take “Sorry, my friend was standing here” for an answer. With all things accounted for, I’d say Osheaga was quite a success and definitely a festival to check out for next year.