If you were to come face to face with your favourite artist of all time, would you know what to say? Occupying such a prominent place in your life, carrying you through the hard times, the good, and providing a soundtrack to your life, these people can connect with you as though they were your best friend but how could you convey your emotion in a “Hello” or your handshake? As far as I can see, the only real way to convey the slightest of that emotion is through your participation as a fan.
Having attended Osheaga this past weekend in Montreal, I can speak volumes about the emotion shared with the attending bands. The two-day event was packed with a star-studded lineup, hosting over 60 acts on 5 stages, not to mention the various other acts scattered “In the City” leading up to the event, giving bands and fans the ideal opportunity to show their love. Friday night’s packed Metropolis was treated to songs led by popular Youtube clips and a parachute in the crowd by the opening act, Rich Aucoin. Their huge energy and enthusiasm carried right into a stellar show from the headliner Of Montreal, full of their usual on-stage theatrics, including ghosts, samurais and dancing pigs. Leading the encore with “The Past is a Grotesque Animal,” they confirmed a certain tone for what would become my weekend. Belting the song with a renewed vigor, lead singer Kevin Barnes ended with a guitar flail, smashing both the microphone and guitar neck before destroying his guitar completely and throwing the pieces to the crowd. I was blown away.
With this precedent in mind, I expected great things from Saturday and was immediately rewarded with a performance by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Climbing down into the crowd to sing to fans and defying their time limit to play “Home” for the crowd, Alex Ebert provided a glimpse into a growing relationship between the acts and the fans. While not as forward, The National acknowledged the crowd with a monster performance laced with excitement, and let their show speak volumes about their dedication to their fans. Montreal natives Arcade Fire finished out the night as only they could. Enveloped by a huge screen, their show shouted experience, leading the crowd through an emotional journey within each song and throughout the set, taking us high before gently soothing before hammering home their closer, “Wake Up.”
Appreciating the intensity of the previous day, Sunday’s shows started loud and hard, introducing the more rock-oriented day. The set from The Black Keys early on was no exception as they presented a tremendous performance to a packed audience. Snoop Dogg also delivered, channelling the energy from the crowd and setting the stage for the evening headliners. Metric certainly took advantage, emerging with their solo-filled set, ripe with improvisation and emotion as well as sentiments from Emily Haines that Osheaga is what music is all about. I couldn’t agree more. It is about the expression of music; of the soul of each of these bands having the opportunity to come out and touch their fans. Conversely it is about fans having the opportunity to see dozens of their favourite groups in a few short days and let the acts know just how much they are appreciated. Osheaga is about the love of music, plain and simple, for as long as band and fan commit to sharing that love. Having experienced this incredible weekend, I can’t see that changing anytime soon.