The 14th annual music and arts festival featured various hidden gems and one breathtaking performance from a headliner
The initial March release of Osheaga’s lineup was met with mixed reviews as many disgruntled concert-goers believed the roster lacked the star power that prior years brought to the stage.
With questionable headliners and supporting acts, some Montrealers doubted whether they would attend the 14th annual music and arts festival. However, those that did were pleasantly surprised by Osheaga’s organization, accessibility and the hidden gems in lesser-known acts.
Osheaga’s relocation to their original site on Ile St-Helene after two years made a tremendous difference in the festival’s flow. Lines seemed to move quicker, travel time between stages was reduced and less congested, and the ground’s layout made everything more accessible than the years the festival took place on Ile Notre Dame.
Spread out over three days and six stages, Osheaga caters to all music lovers by hosting acts of many genres. With over 30 acts per day, people can expect to catch shows ranging from rock n’ roll, to hip hop, to EDM, to pop, and more. This year’s headliners included the Lumineers, The Chemical Brothers, and Childish Gambino.
Friday featured notable acts like Australian DJs Fisher and Flume, Atlanta rappers Gunna and Gucci Mane, 88rising solo member Joji, hip hop duo $uicideboy$, and The Lumineers closing out the main stage. As all the artists play at different locations, oftentimes overlapping in time slots, people were encouraged to download the Osheaga app to create their own schedules on their phone to remind them of the acts they wished to attend.
Hip hop artists Denzel Curry and JPEGMAFIA saw many of the same audiences flocking together from one stage to another in the early hours of the festival. In the scorching hot sun that blessed attendees all weekend long, hoses fired water onto the crowd to cool them down. While necessary at times, the hose seemed like overkill on other occasions, causing people to back away to avoid drenching their festival outfits (and photographers’ cameras!).
However, the hose seemed most necessary during trap rapper Gunna’s performance – one that had the most energetic crowd of the day due to the success of his recent hits (“Drip Too Hard,” “Speed It Up”) that have gained massive popularity in the teenage demographic. While one would have expected the same from veteran rapper Gucci Mane, his stage presence was not as enthralling despite it being his second-ever performance in Canada following years of legal issues.
Saturday saw a slew of singer-songwriters dominate the main stage, including Ravyn Lenae, King Princess, and City and Colour. During the intermissions, people could turn their attention to the adjacent stage to catch performances from Young the Giant, Janelle Monae, and Logic. All the while, the Scène de L’Ile stage featured nonstop electronic music acts from 1 p.m. until the festival’s close just before 11 p.m.
The last rapper to take the stage was New York native A Boogie wit da Hoodie, who recently secured his first Billboard number one album with the release of Hoodie SZN. Speaking to the Concordian following his performance, A Boogie spoke about what it’s like to get into the studio with veteran rappers such as 50 Cent.
“It’s really motivational in a way where, it’s like going to see a psychic basically,” said A Boogie. “You’re going to see the person that you’re going to be in the next 10 years, depending on who you’re talking to. So, I was talking to 50 Cent right before I got live and everything, and it made me feel like ‘Alright, he’s telling me the steps. He’s telling me how this shit is, so how can I go wrong?’”
“Canada – I come here, I feel like, a few times a year – and every time I come here they feel like I’m in New York,” A Boogie said. “When the lights come on and the show comes on, it’s like the same thing. New York’s probably a little more lit,” he laughs. “But you know, if I’m comparing this to that, there’s really something special here.”
Sunday’s lineup showcased various Montreal talents including Jerico, The Franklin Electric, and singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco. Producer Kaytranada also attracted a massive crowd, who came to show their support for the hometown hero who has gained worldwide success over the past few years.
Yet, Sunday’s lineup would be nothing without the mention of the festival’s final act and weekend highlight – Childish Gambino. The writer-turned-actor, turned-television-director, turned-rapper is a man of many talents. One can’t help but see these talents blend into his performances. Gambino told the crowd early on that he would be taking them on a “church experience,” and nothing seemed more fitting.
Rising from a platform in the middle of both stages, shirtless and surrounded by white fog, Gambino’s raw vocals were enchanting enough to convince anyone that this man is much more than just a rapper. His beautiful falsettos and the church choir who performed backup vocals were crisp and powerful. His interaction with the crowd appeared genuine and heartfelt, urging us all, following a weekend of multiple mass shootings in the United States, to simply “have fun and love yourself…and put down your phones. This is for us right here.”
Watching from the back hill of Osheaga’s main stages on a widescreen display, the whole of Gambino’s performance felt like an extended version of his ground-breaking “This Is America” music video. The artist stared deep into the camera’s soul. His dance moves were impeccable and captivating. In a crowd of thousands, Gambino somehow made you feel like he was speaking directly to you.
Anyone who had been skeptical of Osheaga’s choice of headliners was immediately corrected as they left Ile St-Helene late Sunday night; if not for the entire set, then solely because of the stellar performance that Childish Gambino gave to everyone willing to listen.
Feature photo by Laurence Brisson Dubreuil