Osheaga 2015: The makings of a great weekend

1.The music makes everything else at Osheaga worth it. Of course, the festival wouldn’t exist without the music, but hear me out. (HA! The Saint-Lambert folks would probably like that one.)

(Photo via Osheaga’s Facebook page)

Without the music, Osheaga would be akin to something like the world’s biggest, worst and most infamous beach party. You take the subway to get to Osheaga, but the party has started long before you arrive at Parc Jean-Drapeau. As you board the wagon at Berri-UQAM station, there are about a kajillion others along with you and they’re all screaming, shouting profanities or belting the lyrics to the song that the musician in the subway is playing. (But they don’t tip him.)

And from the moment you step off the subway, you have to get used to standing beside, behind or in front of someone else, often all at once, and generally invading their sense of privacy because, hey, someone else is standing beside, behind and in front of you and doing the same thing so what can you really do about it? Oh BTW that other person beside, behind and in front of you? Most likely, he or she is dressed as if he or she is going to a beach party.

2. There’s no dress code at Osheaga, but maybe there’s one that’s implied: tank tops of various colours, along with cheap shades, the kind you find at the dollar store, for guys/bros, and bikini tops and short shorts for girls. Temporary tattoos too, for both bros and gals alike. You’re standing in the goddamn sun all day after all, so you may dress accordingly.

But you’re not exactly standing either, at Osheaga. You’re walking, again way too close to the person next to you, or you’re dancing. That music, remember? You haven’t come to Osheaga only to stand in place and do nothing, so you dance. If nothing else, you dance to forget just how many tatted sleeves and hairy chests you see — and hey, look! This guy has both nipples pierced. Nice. You hate him, but at least he’s dancing and singing. Milky Chance is playing at the Mountain Stage right now, and they’re singing ‘Stolen Dance’. You know, that song about “Dancing on, do the boogie all night long. Stoned in paradise.” You had never heard of Milky Chance but you realize that you had, you know, heard them.

3. You’ve had an idea of which bands you want to see for many months, ever since the Osheaga powers that be had released their lineup. But you only learned recently that Run The Jewels would play in the middle of the afternoon on the first day. “It’s too bad,” you think. Though you know that RTJ can’t be a headliner yet — big, but not big enough — you wished that Killer Mike and El-P would play on the second or third day. “You have to let the festival breathe a little before jumping right in like that.”

(Photo via Tim Snow)

But regrets are for losers, or YOLO something, and surely you’re at the Green Stage for RTJ’s set on the afternoon of the first day. It should be a bigger event, but whatever because Killer Mike and El-P still kill it. Next year, they will probably be a headliner, but right now their show has ended, and you move on to the next show on your schedule. To the next stage for the next band. Welcome to Osheaga, where you never stop moving/dancing except when you’re standing in line 1) for the bathroom, 2) for food or 3) for beer. It’s the Netflix of music: pay $275 and get all the music you could possibly want.

4. One headliner act is Florence and the Machine, and it’s easy to see why. Florence+The Machine is the kind of band that can put on a performance that will appeal to literally any- and everyone.

(Photo via Vanessa Leclair — SNAPePHOTO)

For one thing, they make actual good music, but there are other reasons for you to like their show even if you don’t like their music (read: have bad taste). In short, you can’t help but love the Florence+Machine performance, because they’re all so clearly enjoying themselves. Florence+The Machine are veterans who have been around (the world), first becoming a band in 2007 in London, and their singer Florence Welch knows how to work a crowd. And when she isn’t running, jumping, diving into the crowd, or just generally living and experiencing her songs and her lyrics as much as singing, well, she has the right voice tone to captivate her audience. With her, every song is a modern dance.

5. It’s just too bad that you’re standing near the front of the River Stage. You can’t dance there, at least not quite, but if this were the only evil then you’d gladly take it. But no. You can’t quite dance, because there are so many people packed so close to one another, and still people push. Still, people from the back push to get to the front, even though there clearly is no more place and “Yeah, you can’t possibly think I’m going to move to the side to let you go through. A-hole.” They want to meet their friends, or their family, or whatever, but basically they are all jerks who can’t help but step on your toes.

All of them who are pushing to the front when there’s no point in doing so are jerks, but especially three men who push and shove violently anyone who dares stand their ground as they make their way to what place they deem worthy of their presence. Too bad there isn’t any red carpet, because you’d surely roll out the red carpet of assholes for these three.

A-holes, all of them not just the three special a-holes. But you can’t quite differentiate between them and figure which jerks are which, because the Florence+The Machine set is at night. And when it’s dark, all jerks look the same.

(Photo via Susan Moss)

6. It’s only for the Chet Faker set that you figure out which are which. The 27-year-old Australian musician, Nicholas James Murphy, is on the Green Stage and to get there you had to go up and down a makeshift overpass, then past an H&M ❤ Musique boutique, which stands alongside the tents of most Osheaga partners, and the food trucks of Le Cheese and Alexis Le Gourmand.

You arrive at the same time as a large group of other festival-goers, including every possible kind of jerk that was at the Florence+Machine show. There’s the bro with the baseball (a Jays’ Colby Rasmus; get with the times, man!), basketball (i.e. a Lower Merion High School Kobe Bean Bryant) or football (an Ole Miss Michael Oher) jersey. The bro who wears his hat backward. The bro who can’t stop screaming, #becauseOsheaga. So, so many tattoos and torsos too, always. Too many for you to bother to keep a tally. You walk down a hill to join the crowd of jerks and to dance, by which time all is forgiven: music is perhaps the one time in our society where we can all get away with being blatantly obnoxious.

7. There’s a woman that catches the eye of everyone who walks by; people are coming up to her to ask her to take a picture with them, a distinction usually bestowed upon the mascots of Disneyland or Times Square. But see, at Osheaga, a place where the average girl will wear maybe a t-shirt, this woman stands out by how scantily dressed she is.

She isn’t dressed as much as she is wearing body paint and flowers, yellow and green and blue. She’s not naked, but she’s not really dressed either. And she’s having a great, great time, and you guess that this is all that matters.

And all of you, you’re all dancing and humming along as Chet Faker plays his version of ‘No Diggity’ You had no idea who he was when you bought your Osheaga pass, but it’s that old cliché about learning something new every day. The next morning, you’ll go on iTunes and buy his CD because goddamn did he kill it. Above all else, that’s Osheaga.

(Photo via Tim Snow)

8. Osheaga is an outdoors music festival, the most important of its kind in Canada, that attracts routinely over 120 000 music and arts fans and connoisseurs over a three-day weekend this year. This year, 119 artists were given the chance to perform in front of 145 000 people, of which 13 per cent were Americans, 35 per cent were from Ontario and a massive 65 per cent from out of Quebec. (Numbers from Le Devoir) But the rain is always a threat to ruin everything. Like so, right now. Oh, it isn’t quite raining yet, but it should be shortly.

You’re back at the Green Stage, now for Nas’s set, and it’s about to rain. Yep. Rain at a Nas show: we appreciate all the help, God, but you can make your next metaphor harder to decipher. Nas is a real legend: he hasn’t done much (read: anything?) of note in a good five years, but his show still attracts the masses. You don’t listen to his music anymore, but there was a time when you did, a whole lot, and anyway it feels right and good, right now, to hear him play most of Illmatic as well as ‘Nas Is Like’. (Boy, did Premo give him a great, great instrumental for that one.)

But then, the rain starts pouring down, hard, so you bolt. Nas is fun, but being wet isn’t.

9. EDM, or electronic dance music, is taking over the world, and it’s taking over Osheaga. With the Piknic Electronik Stage, it is the one musical genre that has its own dedicated stage. The place is sort of inclosed, a little apart on the site. It is a little off the beaten path, so to speak, even if the music is anything but. There was a time when EDM was a luxury item: you never minded the music if/when it played, but you never felt compelled to play it yourself. It was the kind of music you never heard on the radio: the music you always heard about, but never, you know, heard.

But EDM is all anyone hears at Piknic Electronik, so the place is just your kind of (beach) party. Right now, it’s The Black Madonna with her set, soon to be followed by Dusky and then ZHU. But whoever it is doesn’t quite matter as much as the fact that he or she plays and mixes the hell out of his or her songs. So long as the bass thumps. So long as the drop hits at the right time. So long as people can dance.

10. Everyone goes to the Piknic Electronik at least once during the weekend, whether for fun, for an entire day, an entire set, an entire song, a drink, or just to kill some time before the next show on their schedule. It’s where you want to be as you wait for the next thing. It’s EDM and it’s always good to dance.

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