Cap off the summer with style with these stellar, must-see acts
With every passing year, Montreal’s Osheaga Music and Arts Festival grows larger both in scale and in attendance with its programmers consistently enlisting some truly crowd-pleasing, multi-genre spanning acts.
This year is no different for the city’s biggest festival—this side of the esteemed Jazzfest of course; variety is Osheaga’s middle name. Though comparatively low in high profile hip-hop acts, this year’s lineup is nonetheless jam-packed with flavour, its headliners being nothing to scoff at. As we anxiously wait for the final acts to be announced, here are a handful of acts we’re already hotly anticipating come July.
Hailing from North London, Simbi Ajikawo, better known as Little Simz, is as prolific as she is undeniably fiery. Since 2013, the British rapper has put out over seven releases, from mixtapes to EPs, each with their own distinct blend of U.K. hip hop and the electronica-driven atmosphere of mid ‘00s grime. Her unstoppable flow and unexpectedly visceral aggression on the mic has earned her accolades from some of the genre’s biggest names, including Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z and Dizzee Rascal, the latter even offering her some studio time. Though younger than most of her peers, Little Simz showcases an incredibly assured hold on her craft, her acclaimed full-length debut A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons playing up some of her greatest strengths. The album’s hit single “Dead Body” perfectly encapsulates her cold and calculated, gut punch delivery. Given her already proven body of work as well as her numerous show stopping radio show appearances, Little Simz is bound to blow the proverbial roof off this summer.
Kurt Vile & The Violators
Having just played a sold-out Corona Theatre mere days ago, Kurt Vile and his band The Violators are already yearning to come back to our great city—not that we’re complaining. Though characterized by a laid-back, lackadaisical delivery and layers upon layers of reverberated psychedelic guitar tones, Vile’s oddball vocal delivery, engaging song structures and manic, livewire performances separate them from the pack. “Freak Train,” a concert staple from his 2009 album Childish Prodigy, serves up a chaotic, freight train-like urgency and continues to bewilder newer audiences with its amusing and spontaneous barrage of fuzzy guitars. The Pennsylvania-based singer/songwriter also has an impressively cohesive yet dynamic body of work under his belt, from the moody solitude of Smoke Ring for My Halo to the sunny uplift of Wakin on a Pretty Daze. As a late-summer treat, you couldn’t really ask for more.
Todd Terje & The Olsens
If the last few years in music have taught us anything, it’s that disco is here to stay. Though not as widespread and all-consuming as it was in the ‘70s, disco has found a new life in electronic music, specifically the throbbing stylings of ‘80s Italo disco pioneered by the likes of Giorgio Moroder. Though Norway’s Todd Terje owes much to Moroder’s signature pulsating loops and bright synths, his marriage of old trappings and new sensibilities is unquestionably modern and inviting. Terje’s full-length debut, the incredibly well-received and aptly-titled It’s Album Time, created a huge splash, benefitting from the appearance of his 2012 summer hit “Inspector Norse.” Rather than play a DJ set and call it a day, Terje has enlisted a full live multi-instrumentalist band, complete with a conga player and percussionist. The energy is real and the results simply can’t be missed.
“Who’s Skepta?” For many Westerners, this was the question they asked themselves at the end of Kanye West’s 2015 BRIT Awards performance. While performing his new single “All Day” with a veritable cavalcade of rappers on-stage, West was heard shouting “Yo Skepta! Thank you” before bringing the song to a close. So who is Skepta? Only one of the U.K.’s biggest grime artists, his speedy, precise flow and imposing demeanor simply unmistakable. Though it’s taken him seemingly forever to break out of his home country, Skepta isn’t going anywhere; his 2015 single “Shutdown” proved to be a huge hit, gaining support from many North American artists. With Drake recently signing to Skepta’s label and helping U.K. hip hop and grime cross over to the Western mainstream, it’s pretty likely we’ll be hearing about Skepta in the foreseeable future.
Let’s face it. If you’re going to Osheaga this year, you’re almost certainly going to catch Radiohead. You probably don’t need convincing. And if you do, know that they put on one of the best concerts around, with jam-packed, career-spanning setlists and genuinely awe-inspiring live mixing. They also tend to have pretty great light shows. Just go. Go see them. Do it. Go. But most of all, enjoy.