Contrary to popular belief, Eminem isn’t all it takes to pull in a historic audience. In another hot Montreal summer, the OSHEAGA MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL shattered its previous attendance records, and for the first time in its seven years, sold out tickets to each of the three days. While a total number of around 120,000 fans posed quite a few challenges with water availability, bathroom lineups and cell phone service (a Twitter addict’s worst nightmare), the festival held it’s strengths close to its chest and even prepared for a dreaded tornado that was swooping about. There were bands, babes and doses of rock n’ roll, but here’s the best and the worst hidden underneath it all.
BEST RECOVERY FROM A WEIRD MASH-UP: Justice are known to bat their own tracks around tracks (which they rightfully did) but while Common played a pretty solid set full of hits, the veteran rapper stayed slightly off-course when he attempted a mashup of songs that didn’t quite mesh. His recovery though was as smooth as his serenade of “Come Close To Me” where he pulled one lucky lady from the crowd.
A FESTIVAL JUNKIE’S BEST FRIENDS: Glitter, Grumman ’78 tacos and dancing.
BEST UNEXPECTED STAGE PROP: The fireworks taking place in Montreal on the Friday coincided with MGMT’s energetic performance and sparkled down throughout their Congratulations-heavy set. It wasn’t the only unexpected move though as Andrew VanWyngarden and Benjamin Goldwasser Rolling Stones cover (“Angie”) distracted the audience from the absence of everyone’s favourite “Kids”
BEST CELEBRITY CAMEO: Jesus And The Mary Chain riffed heavily through most of their set but the softer moments came when Mad Men’s Jessica Pare made a surprise appearance as a vocalist for a few songs including the Psychocandy favourite “Just Like Honey”.
WORST BUZZKILL(S) FOR A HIP SOCIALITE: Mystery water, cell phone providers, long walks home.
MOST FORGOTTEN ABOUT: The “I Can’t Believe I Forgot How Much I Love This Band” award went to indie outfit Bloc Party as their crowd loved “Helicopter” and “Banquet” so much that even frontman Kele Okereke thought the audience had went mad throughout their entire set.
CRAZIEST THING TO HIJACK: A VIP golf kart. We didn’t do it, but we dared Freelance Whales.
NUMBER OF PUBLIC SHOUT-OUTS BY MUSICIANS TO CHEF CHUCK HUGHES’ CATERING: 16. We blame the deep-fried Mars bars, the Japadog, the smoothie bar and of course, the local poutine.
BEST ALDO RAINE MOUSTACHE: Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos’ lip hair screamed as the Scots funked out and debuted new material such as “Right Thoughts! Right Words! Right Action!”.
MOST POPULAR BAND FLUBBED WITH THE LEAST POPULAR SET: With MGMT across the Parc and Justice tipped to instruct their own rave right after, Sigur Ros didn’t attract as many post-rock lovers as they should have. A different time, a different stage would have been perfect for “Popplagio” to close their set.
SPONTANEOUS BEER CHUGGING CHAMPIONS: The Black Lips accepted our challenge just a few hours after their set and, of course, succeeded. So we rewarded them with Olympic gold medals.
BIGGEST BRAIN MELTER: Australian outfit Tame Impala and their Woodstock-vibing performance that even made their new track “Elephant” stomp around like Obscured By Clouds.
MOST POPULAR INSTAGRAMS OF THE WEEKEND:The Osheaga Sign, The Beer Guys, The Weeknd.
BEST VOCAL SEDUCTION: Abel Tesfaye, otherwise known as The Weeknd, is known for his voice that just smolders on banger after banger but the notes he hit on his Friday set imitated art. During “Wicked Games”, he didn’t need the shadow of a dark club or the sophistication of a high-rise as his delivery of “So tell me you love me” towards the end of the track burned a hole in everyone’s heart.
CHILLEST PERSON IN MONTREAL: Though she seems too artistic not to have an ego, Polica’s Channy Leaneagh is the perfect Montrealer who isn’t from Montreal. The same can be said for the Minneapolis quintet who married electronica with R&B on-stage and didn’t hold back a single drop of emotion.
NEXT BADASS BUDWEISER ANTHEM: The crowd for Gary Clark Jr.’s slice of Austin could have been used for the sexiest beer commercial ever with babes in bikinis dancing to “Bright Lights” as they double-fisted beers in the sun.
MOST LIFE-CHANGING SET: After numerous cancellations, Passion Pit’s set at Osheaga was in question and even with rain pouring down onto the island, thousands bundled together to see the five-piece rage on. With hands in the air, they latched on to the band as they took the stage and Michael Angelakos’ fed off their energy, with “Take A Walk” opening a set that even angels parted clouds to shed a little light on and watch from above.
BEST MOMENT TO MOSH LIKE YOU’RE 14-YEARS-OLD AGAIN: Brand Neware a band made to perform at a festival. Releasing hit after hit from their four-disc catalogue, the Long Island group destroyed with “Seventy Times 7” convincing nostalgia to be a powerful thing and sending all of our staffers into hysteric, head-banging fits while unforgettable lines like “I hope you choke and die” blasted from speakers.
BEST NOD TO FATHER JOHN MISTY: War Child had an array of bands busking all weekend long and though Brand New’s Jesse Lacey performed an acoustic set, Memoryhouse’s cover of their label mate translated beauty.
BEST DIY “BAT SIGNAL”: While Feist and Metric were presented with palm trees and crowds were scattered with pool noodles and inflated creatures, The Squid Man was the easiest to spot in the sea of festival-goers.
WORST REBRANDING: Although his set was well worth the 45 minute wait, Snoop Lion should reconsider his name change given every one of his songs seemed to contain the words “Snoop Dogg” in them.
MOST GENIUS MAKE-OUT SPOT: As Aussie dubstep makers Knife Party slammed beats against a reckless crowd to help close out Sunday night, security managed to hear something rustling in the bushes. Literally. A unidentified couple was found… “frolicking” in a tree as the duo powered through a sweaty, tripped-out set. Dangerous? Maybe. But considering Sunday night’s dismal weather and the difficulty of climbing a tree, a slow-clap is well deserved.