Both of these articles were written as part of a promotional agreement with evenko, and sought to prioritize local Montreal artists while also showcasing the diversity of talent present at the festival.
Now at its eleventh edition, it's safe to safe that Osheaga has truly become a flagship event in the North American festival circuit. With 40,000 music lovers in attendance each day, the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival has become as much an ideal venue for well-established outfits to stage a comeback as it is for emerging Montreal talent to represent their city on a global scene.
During this year's edition, there will be 113 artists performing on the festival's six stages over three days of non-stop music. Indeed, with so many acts performing in so little time, it certainly can seem a bit overwhelming deciding how to make the most of the festival. Luckily, CJLO's got your back! We've prepared a list of some of the shows we're most excited for. From world-renowned Montreal talent like Kaytranada, to a campus-bred nine-piece jazz outfit, here's a look at Osheaga that goes beyond the headliners!
FRIDAY, JULY 29TH
HAUTE – Piknic Électronik Stage @ 1:00-1:45
Composed of two recent McGill grads, vocalist Anna Majidson and producer Romain Hainaut, HAUTE is an up-and-coming R&B-pop duo with a unique sound that merges refined pop undertones with notes of smooth R&B, hard-hitting trap, and forward-thinking electro. With two EPs under their belt, they've quickly amassed a following in cities like Montreal, Paris and New York; so you can be sure their debut at Osheaga will be a show not to miss! Coincidentally, they've also been guests on CJLO's own Aloof Future, where they expounded on their eclectic musical influences and the trickiness in balancing pop and a penchant for the experimental.
GoldLink – Sonnet Green Stage @ 3:25-4:10
Hailing from the DMV, GoldLink has certainly succeeded in making a name himself in the Future Beats scene ever since he released his first mixtape, The God Complex. In the two years since that release, he has established his signature rapid-fire flow, and his ability to pick the best producers to collaborate with. His debut album, And After That, We Didn't Talk, is one that I have been blasting consistently since it came out last October, and has me looking forward to a high energy show with non-stop dancing.
SOPHIE – Piknic Électronik Stage @ 4:00-5:00
Despite being one of the main figures behind the über-trendy "PC Music" genre, SOPHIE was initially somewhat of a mystery when he first came into prominence in 2013. Now, with one full-length release under his name, SOPHIE - a.k.a. Samuel Long - has cemented his status as one of the most exciting electronic producers out there. He somehow managed to push PC Music - a genre replete with high-pitched vocals intended to create an excruciatingly sweet version of pop music - from a simple Internet fad to a viable platform for collaborating with artists likeLe1f, Charli XCX, and even Madonna.
SATURDAY, JULY 30TH
Busty and the Bass – SiriusXM Tree Stage @ 7:15-8:00
Composed of nine different band members, all hailing from McGill, Busty and the Bass truly is the classic success story of a campus band that managed to make it big because of sheer talent. After having amassed quite a sizeable following on campus, Busty and the Bass formally established themselves as a true force to be reckoned with when they took home the national Rock Your Campus competition back in 2014. It's no surprise they received the most votes considering just how infectious and crowd-pleasing their exuberant spin on jazz is. You can expect them to bring the most harmonious horns, vibrant vocals, booming bass, and the life of the party!
Kaytranada – Piknic Électronik Stage @ 7:50-9:20
If there's anyone in the city who has succeeded on refocusing the global spotlight back on Montreal's electronic music community, it certainly is Kaytranada. If there's an artist that has developed an instantly recognizable signature sound in the past few years, it definitely is Kaytranada. If there's any musician I'm most excited to see for what is most likely the 10th time, it is only Kaytranada. With a knack for sampling long-forgotten classics and creating the most unique basslines, he has rapidly established himself as a timeless artist capable of producing instant classics. In so little time, Kaytranada has come to represent the SoundCloud success story of a producer uploading his music for free online, and seeing his life completely changed. Indeed, he serves as a testament to how a massive following can be built purely off someone's sheer creative genius.
Jazz Cartier – Valley Scene @ 9:00-9:50
Yet another Canadian artist that has been making a name for himself on the international stage is Toronto's own Jazz Cartier. Following the release of his two first mixtapes, Marauding in Paradise and Hotel Paranoia, he's been able to establish himself as one of those few rappers redefining Toronto's sound in a manner that pushes the envelope beyond Drake. With stellar production and a penchant for creative storytelling as two consistent elements throughout all of his material, Jazz Cartier has been someone to watch.
SUNDAY, JULY 31ST
Skepta – Sonnet Green Stage @ 4:55-5:40
With grime having made its grand American debut - but really, resurgence - in the past couple of years, no one can deny that the rapper Skepta has been at the forefront of this wave of high-energy and strictly underground English rap. Armed with collaborations featuring a string of influential rappers like Drake, Ace Hood, and many a member from the A$AP Mob, Skepta has become the unofficial face of this 140 BPM genre's takeover of the North American club scene. If you're looking for something hard-hitting that isn't Future's Southern-inspired trap, Skepta is your man. Expect one hell of a show.
Little Simz – SiriusXM Tree Stage @ 5:40-6:25
Beyond her status as a woman in Hip-Hop, Little Simz has managed to define herself by her lyrical expertise, consistency in stellar output, and her wisdom beyond her 22 years of age. Already with a slew of releases under her belt (four mixtapes, six EPs, and one album), Little Simz is quite the prolific artist. However, that is unsurprising for a rapper that is so dedicated to charting her own unique path in the industry - one that's already been recognized by heavyweights like Kendrick Lamar. Her ability to adapt her flow to the most diverse range of beats while crafting intricate lyrical narratives is but one of the many qualities that make her talent so undeniable, and her presence so needed.
Evian Christ – Piknic Électronik Stage @ 8:30-9:30
Evian Christ first burst onto the scene in 2012 in the most low-key way: he anonymously uploaded the eight tracks forming his first release, Kings and Them, on YouTube for his and his friend's listening pleasure. Fast-forward four years and much critical acclaim later and you can now find him in the studio with Kanye West, as a member of West's creative company DONDA. From his production credits on "I'm In It", it's clear that Evian Christ's style of music is an eclectic mix of dark atmospherics, deconstructed references and samples, and throbbing industrial bass. That is experimentalism at its best, if you ask me.
As someone who's been to Osheaga five summers in a row, it's safe to say that, when it comes to this specific music festival, I've been there, done that. From the anticipation of arriving at Parc Jean-Drapeau on that first Friday, to the elation of running from show to show all weekend long, without forgetting the desperation of trying to get the hell off the island on that last Sunday night, I've seen it all – and then some. So, when I found out that I would be the lucky CJLO-er covering this year's festival, I was quite skeptical about how much fun I could still actually have during what would be my sixth weekend among a crowd of 135,000 boisterous attendees.
Long story short, I was – thankfully – so wrong in my jaded cynicism.
So, without further ado, here is my three-day recap of the 2016 edition of the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival. From the simple joy of walking around the park discovering new artists and meeting new people, to the many moments of pure euphoria spent dancing the day away with thousands of other music-lovers, this year's Osheaga was definitely one for the books.
FRIDAY, JULY 29TH
Prior to even commencing my sixth Osheaga weekend, I had decided that this would be the year I would truly take each day to discover as many new artists as possible – rather than simply following my friends to our favourite artists. Accordingly, I started my weekend at 1:00 p.m. sharp, and was greeted by the blissfully smooth sounds of my good friends over at HAUTE, the genre-bending R&B-pop duo I had waxed poetic about in my preview post. Although I've seen them multiple times at various parties across the city, there was a certain electricity in their performance that I had yet to witness. I mean, I guess performing at one of North America's premier music festivals right out of university is a pretty big deal worthy of new found excitement, right?
Following their early set at the Piknic Électronik stage, I began my quest to find new artists to fan girl over. With my friends in tow, we made our way across the park stopping by different stages throughout the afternoon. From GoldLink's high-energy set to Beirut's soothing melodies, it's true that simply walking around the site is the best way to experience the incredible musical diversity that Osheaga has to offer.
Towards the evening, as the mass of festivalgoers began streaming onto the island, I was able to get a nostalgic taste of old school Hip-Hop courtesy of Cypress Hill's classics-filled set. Following their performance, I made my way to the smaller stages, where I was able to catch the closing songs from Years & Years' performance. Fronted by a mesh-clad Olly Alexander, I was impressed by just how engaging the band's set was. A definite crowd-pleaser was their terrific take on Drake's "Hotline Bling", a track that unsurprisingly got everyone singing along. After a quick stop by the Tree stage, I made my first real band discovery of the day: Marian Hill, a duo based out of Brooklyn that composes a highly addictive blend of bass-filled electro layered under catchy vocals.
I ended my first night of the weekend with both Vince Staples and Låpsley, two drastically divergent artists who had both been on my extended list of must-sees. Whereas the former closed the night with an exhilarating performance that got everyone pumped for a night out, the latter ushered her fans off the island with a passionate performance that saw her showcase her tremendous vocal chops. On my way to the metro, naturally, I had to make a quick stop by the main stages to hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers belt out a nod to my adolescence. Just before getting into the station, I was able to chant along in harmony with thousands of others: Hey oh, listen what I say oh!
SATURDAY, JULY 30TH
My second day of Osheaga began a bit later than the first, with my first stop being yet again at the Piknic Electronic stage, but this time for the Canadian brother-sister duo, Tennyson. If you've never heard of Tennyson, go check them out now. Their performance was a superb tribute to the fuzzy, futuristic-sounding electronic music that got them noticed by Ryan Hemsworth, and featured as the first release on his label, Secret Songs. They're young, they're Canadian, and they were so damn good. After their set, I made my way over to the Tree stage for a jazzy and calming performance by Hiatus Kaiyote, a four-piece outfit I had only briefly heard about, but was excessively keen to see live. Lying on the grass enjoying the warmth of the sun's rays caressing my skin as I took in their soulful renditions is a memory that I already hold dear.
With a few hours between their set and the next performance on my list, I leisurely strolled around the entire park in an attempt to experience all that Osheaga had to offer – beyond the amazing music. From an amusement park complete with a towering swing ride to a full-fledged fountain and many places to simply chill within the wooded areas, year after year, I remain thoroughly impressed by how well designed the entire Osheaga site is. In fact, there truly is something for everyone: a kid's zone for those hip kids whose hip parents brought them to the festival; branded stands for those who love free stuff (so, in other words, everyone); and way too many delicious food trucks to choose from.
At the start of the evening, I made my way to the Valley stage for Post Malone's show. I was glad to see that he now had many more songs to perform other than his Internet hit, "White Iverson". That being said, you bet your ass I was excited to vibe with the crowd when he closed his set with said track. Afterwards, I rushed to catch Mura Masa playing at the Piknic Électronik stage. He was joined on stage by a vocalist who, although her name unfortunately escapes me, was certainly terrific. Listening to them perform all the tracks on his latest EP, Someday Somewhere, certainly made me appreciate just how versatile he is as a producer; from high-spirited tracks like "Firefly" and "Lovesick" to darker, more aggressive tracks like "Low", he sure has mastered his craft. Before his set ended, I had to make a run for the Tree stage to catch Montreal's own Busty and the Bass, who gave a terrifically entertaining performance that brought me back to their earlier days performing at McGill's Open Air Pub. As discussed in my preview post, they truly are the success story of just how far sheer talent can take any band, let alone a local one!
Speaking of local talent, there's no way I can recap Saturday's shows without talking about Kaytranada's electric set. Unsurprisingly, the stage was incredibly packed for Montreal's golden boy, who played an eclectic set filled with some of his most popular remixes, like Missy Elliott's "Sock It 2 Ya", and his most funk-filled original compositions, like "Lite Spots". Following his performance, I sauntered off to the Valley stage for Jazz Cartier's show, which saw him climb the stage scaffolding and perform with a view over the entire crowd amassed just to see him. To match his daredevil antics, he delivered a wonderfully animated performance.
After that, I ended my Saturday with a show, which I was certainly not expecting to enjoy as much as I did. Indeed, I'm still shocked by how much I loved every single second of Future's performance. To put it simply, it was a virtuous cycle of high-energy: the anticipation in the crowd truly was palpable at the start of his show, which further fueled Future's dynamism, thus making the crowd even more excited than ever to hear him perform "Jumpman", "F*ck Up Some Commas", "I Got the Keys", and a slew of other bass-filled tracks. Being among a sea of so many excited young people had never felt so damn exhilarating!
SUNDAY, JULY 31ST
Typically, Sundays at Osheaga are a day when everyone who's been there all weekend walks around "looking like a zombie" – to quote an eloquent festivalgoer. Indeed, after two days of back-to-back-to-back shows, the eating, the drinking, the dancing, then the pre-drinking, and the after parties, you can't help but be drained by the whole shebang.
Luckily, as I arrived on the site, I was gradually awakened by the sounds of MØ, the Danish electropop songstress most notably featured on DJ Snake and Diplo's infectious single, "Lean On". Seeing people dancing with such excitement so early in the day definitely was the wake-up call I needed to make the most out of my last day at Osheaga. After her performance and a bit of aimless exploration, I found myself back at the main stages, where I had the pleasure of hearing BØRNS for the first time. As I sat under the shade taking in their cool and upbeat rock-pop, it ended up being the best moment to simply smile and be grateful for the opportunity I was living.
Following their performance, I made my way to the Tree stage to check out Foy Vance, an artist I was previously unaware of, but whose moustachioed image on the Osheaga website got me intrigued. Not knowing what to expect, I was happy to be greeted to a cheerful blend of indie, folk, and country, which all culminated in a terrific cover of Prince's classic "Purple Rain".
That throwback rendition was certainly an appropriate precursor for the next show on my list: the straight-outta-the-50s Leon Bridges. Donning a simple white tee left bare except for the words "Texas Gentleman", Bridges' performance was without a doubt one of my highlights of the weekend. I had only listened to a few of his tracks before seeing him live, so it was with great joy that I swooned to the sounds of his soulful voice and Southern charm. I particularly loved his tribute song "Brown Skin Girl", dedicated to some of the most awe-inspiring – and woefully underappreciated – women to grace this earth.
Halfway through his nostalgia-tinged performance, I rushed to the Green stage for Skepta's show. As the MC leading the vanguard of the Grime resurgence, Skepta's performance at Osheaga is one that was long-awaited by many fans of this underground UK genre of electronic rap. I arrived at the stage as he was performing one of his biggest hits, "Shutdown", and the energy in the crowd most definitely rivaled that present at Future's show. With great fervour, I joined in the dancing, chanting, and overall celebration of a style of music that is finally getting the recognition it has long deserved.
After his show, I walked the short distance to the Tree stage, where another UK rapper was performing. This time, I was seeing Little Simz, an artist I've been playing repeatedly for the past few years, and was eager to finally see live. Her show was hands-down my favourite of the entire festival. There was something magical about how plain happy she was to be performing at the festival, and to see such a sizeable crowd gathered for her second performance ever in Montreal. Her joy was contagious, and her flow was hypnotic. She played a selection of tracks that ranged from "Wings," my favourite track off her debut album A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons, to one of her older hits, "Lane Switch", that have made her such a shining star in the rap scene. Awestruck by her energy, I had the chance of running into her later in evening at the Tory Lanez show, where I was able to confess my admiration for her.
Now that I think of it, I'm not surprised to have run into both her and Skepta – as well as Hannibal Buress – at Tory Lanez's show considering just how rousing and engaging it was. With him performing as much while surfing over the crowd as within the thick of it, Tory Lanez certainly is the king of hyping up an audience – especially when he performed his hit "Say It".
Another artist I was especially looking forward to see spin for the first time was Evian Christ, a producer/DJ I mentioned in my preview article. Although he started off his set with some questionable transitions – a glaring example would be switching from 2 Milly's Vine-classic "Milly Rock" to some throbbing, industrial techno beat – he ended with a superb selection of reggaeton and dancehall inspired tracks straight out of a warehouse club night in Bushwick.
To close off my weekend at Osheaga, I decided to let myself be enveloped by the pure magic that is Radiohead. As a result of Disclosure's last-minute cancellation (their flight from Chicago was cancelled, so they were left stranded after Lollapalooza), the band played an extra half hour, thus performing a lengthy 2.5 hour set deserving of their title as the biggest headliner at the festival. Although I'm not the biggest Radiohead fan, seeing them live definitely made me understand why they have had such a ground breaking career.
All in all, three days, two nights, and over 100 bands later, my experience at the 2016 edition of the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is a memory that I'll cherish forever. Having restored my love for music festivals, it far surpassed my expectations, and made me so grateful that it's possible to be surrounded by so much talent in so little time.
My sincerest thanks to CJLO - 1690 AM for having let me cover the event for the station, and to Evenko for the VIP access. Until next year!