Three days, 100 bands, and 120,000 people in attendance. My music-loving sidekick, Hannah Stewart, reports on her wild weekend at Osheaga 2012.
Having been an avid concertgoer my entire life, my recent obsession with music festivals was something that was bound to happen sooner or later. After attending smaller scale festivals in Toronto during my teens and reading various festival coverage in Rolling Stone magazine throughout the years I knew I was destined to attend one of the massive American or European festivals I had always read about and dreamed about. Experiencing Bonnaroo last summer definitely set off my festival addiction, as I vowed I would try to attend as many as possible in my summers off from school. The second I got home from Bonnaroo I immediately purchased my ticket to Osheaga, a smaller scale festival in Montreal that brought in headliners that were seen at the larger European and American music festivals. Osheaga is the perfect music festival: it’s close to home, it has amazing headliners and I don’t have to spend 3 days in a tent! My experience at Osheaga last summer was amazing and if you can believe it, this year was even better. Here’s why:
Arriving in Montreal late Thursday night with looming bad weather, I was skeptical as to what this weekend would entail. The forecast called for rain everyday of Osheaga but my friends and I vowed we would not let it stop us from having the best time. When we arrived to Parc Jean-Drapeau on Friday afternoon the clouds had cleared and the boiling hot sun and humidity had set in. We decided to first go check out Of Monsters And Men, this was very hectic, as they expanded the festival and added another stage at the other end of the park. To get to this stage you must cross a bridge over a road, imagine thousands of people trying to get to and from the stages using ONE bridge…it was frustrating to say the least and caused a lot of stress throughout the weekend because you would have to leave various shows early in order to make it on time to the next one and not get stuck in a huge traffic jam on the bridge. I hated that bridge! Because of the time it took to get to the stage where Of Monsters And Men were playing we pretty much missed their entire set, but from what I saw they were super fun and quirky and I hope to see an entire show by them soon.
Next up, we headed to one of the main stages to catch Franz Ferdinand play. The Weeknd, Florence and the Machine and Justice were set to play the same stage one after the other so this worked out perfectly for us. No more bridge! Franz Ferdinand was great for reliving my middle school days when they were my favourite band but they didn’t even compare to the acts to follow. I couldn’t believe that The Weeknd’s voice is so perfect live that it sounds exactly like the album – it was nice to see some of Toronto’s own talent play a huge festival like Osheaga, and it made me proud to come from such a talent-filled city. I expected big things from Florence and the Machine (who I had seen at Bonnaroo the previous summer) and she did not disappoint. She appeared on stage in the most beautiful, striking blue dress and soared around stage like some sort of fairy . My only complaint was that the sound was not loud enough; I could barely hear her when she was singing and this made it difficult to sing along.
Luckily, Justice brought enough noise for the whole day, being the loudest and best act of the entire day (and maybe even the entire festival). I was excited and nervous for Justice to hit the stage, I was completely obsessed with their first album in my first year of university but didn’t love their second album. When they opened with “Genesis” I knew it was going to be an amazing DJ set and to date it was the best electro show I’ve ever seen. These days DJs tend to focus on the “show” aspect of their sets – crazy light shows, dancers, 3 dimensional cubes (ahem… Deadmau5) – which can often distract show goers from the music itself. Justice is simple in form, appearing in a normal DJ booth bearing their classic cross and surrounded by sets of speakers piled onto each other. My favourite part of the their set was when they dropped Jay-Z’s “Onto the Next One” in the middle of “D.A.N.C.E.”, it was a dream come true! This show literally kicked ass and I’ll never forget it.
When we woke up Saturday we were amazed to see that there was not a cloud in the sky. The humidity was insane so we kind of hoped it would rain more to get rid of this sticky heat. I was super excited for Saturday because my favourite rapper of the moment, ASAP Rocky would be our first performance of the day. I had heard mixed reviews of his live shows so I was excited to see his performance and to see what he was wearing, as he is always decked out in Alexander Wang and Raf Simons. ASAP did not disappoint, he put on a great live show and really got the crowd going. Next up we saw Yeasayer, I was super excited to see them because I’ve been trying to catch them live for years. They had a super fun show and a really cool stage set up, although I couldn’t get too close to the front because there were people spraying the audience with massive water guns. Pink silk rompers and water guns do not mix! Next up was SBKTRKT and Little Dragon, who both put on the best live shows of the whole festival! I vowed to get to the front for these two bands and ended up getting completely hosed down by one of the giant water guns, I had to eventually move to the sides so I could take pictures without getting my camera wet. Can’t wait to catch these two acts in Toronto.
Final act of the night was Snoop Dogg (or is it Snoop Lion?). This show was the funniest and weirdest of Osheaga. I had expected big things from Snoop, having listened to him since I was a kid and to be brutally honest he really sucked. First off he was half an hour late for his set, we almost left thinking he wasn’t going to come on! When he finally did come on he opened his show by playing three songs that weren’t even his own and sang along to them as if they were. Even when Snoop played his own songs, we could barely hear him since he appeared way too stoned and could barely rap. Overall, Snoop seems really washed up and the name change was pointless since he didn’t even rap any of his new reggae stuff. I’m thinking he should probably just retire before he gets laughed off stage. ?(Editor’s note: Gracie saw her beloved Snoop live in London, UK right before she moved home and he ruled!)
Sunday was our final day at Osheaga and we had an interesting start to the day… we woke up to a torrential downpour and crazy thunderstorm. There had been on and off rain all weekend but this was something else. We jumped in a cab fairly early on Sunday to make it down to the park to see Passion Pit. By the time we had gotten down there it was super hot and humid and the sun even came out for a bit! Passion Pit put on a great show despite the weird weather and we were very curious to see how the rest of the day would go, since we had caught wind that Lollapalooza had been evacuated on their Sunday because of bad thunderstorms. Next up we saw Tame Impala, who sounded like a mixture of The Vines and The Beatles. I had never heard of these guys but they also put on a great show. I love discovering new bands and festivals are the perfect way to do this.
I was dying to see Santigold and she put on an amazing show, even playing every song I wanted to hear. Her show was wild, she had brought people up on stage and had back up dancers dressed in maid’s costumes! This show was unforgettable. At this point in the day, the sky had turned super dark and stormy. We decided to head to the beer tent to grab a drink and shelter ourselves from what looked like a potential hurricane rolling in. It began to pour as we were getting our beers but we refused to stand under a tent for The Shins. We made the best of the rain and had a wet, rainy dance party along to The Shins. Usually I hate being rained on and I hate being wet but this day I could have cared less. I wasn’t going to let the rain stop me from having fun. Thank God I wore waterproof liquid eyeliner and mascara!
Then came Metric who I was very excited to see since I was completely obsessed with them all through high school. Emily Haines looked awesome as usual and they put on a great show, finishing with my favourite song “Dead Disco.” After Metric we had to catch the end of Bloc Party (another high school favourite) who put on a crazy show that blended well with the noise from the thunderstorm. We left Bloc Party early in order to get up close and personal with The Black Keys, who were the festival’s closer. This was my third time seeing The Black Keys and if you haven’t seen them live make sure you do! They truly put on the best live show of anyone I’ve seen.
After The Black Keys I felt very bitter sweet. I was sad that the best weekend of my summer was over but happy that I would finally be dry again. I cannot wait to return to Montreal next year for Osheaga 2013. Best weekend ever!
(all images by Hannah Stewart for GracieCarroll.com)