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Music

Osheaga bigger and better than ever

Fans by the tens of thousands tough out the heat for a day full of music by their favourite artists. Photo by writers.

Like most music festivals, this year’s Osheaga passed by in a flurry of stellar performances, overpriced food, crowded washrooms (crowded everything, really) and free merchandise.

However, this year’s line-up was bigger and better than ever, proven by the almost unreal number of tickets sold. Friday, Aug. 3 was the first day in the history of the festival to be completely sold-out (this was announced a matter of hours after yours truly purchased her own tickets, praise be!) Approximately 120,000 tickets were sold and by the end of the day both the Friday and Sunday performances were completely sold-out.

A blend of household names and up-and-coming Canadian talent, Osheaga sported something for everyone. Headliners for Friday included Justice, Florence and the Machine, Franz Ferdinand, Sigur Ros, MGMT and more. While Florence offered a magical, almost unearthly performance, MGMT brought their music video for “Electric Feel” to life, distributing glow-sticks and psychedelic vibes to all. Sigur Ros, the genre-defying Icelandic band, put on a characteristically unusual and ethereal show and Justice, the last show of the day on the main stages, was an electronic party, with screens flashing brightly on the stage and the La Ronde fireworks exploding into showers of colour over the nearby amusement park.

But the performance that delivered the most surprises was the second Icelandic group on the program (likely a first for the festival), Of Monsters and Men. They were not quite as big a headliner as the above four bands, as evidenced by the fact that they played before sunset and on one of the secondary stages, but they drew an enormous audience (even the band members expressed surprise at the number of people), which was itself enormously enthusiastic, singing along and filling every gap of quiet with cheers and applause. And, despite the rather intense heat in the tightly packed and shadeless standing area, the show was fantastic – I would venture to say that Of Monsters and Men might be better live – and worth the full-body-sweating experience.

Unfortunately, due to the overlapping performances, we could not catch all of the artists who played during our stay, but some of the lesser-known artists that we enjoyed and deserve mention were Yukon Blonde, a Canadian indie-rock band and luxuriant hair collective, who played a really fun show and shared some banter between the lead singer and guitarist onstage. Another was Charli XCX, with a drum set and keyboard decked with flowers and Charli herself in an outfit so outrageous that you (or, at least, I) immediately wanted to be her best friend.

A thorough review of the festival would not be complete without mentioning the impact the sheer number of people had on the experience. In all honesty, it really did take a ridiculous amount of time to get from one stage to another, thanks to the combination of a large crowd and a small staircase. More than one story of people passing out while waiting in line for food and water circulated amongst concert-goers.

Yet, many would argue that this is all part of what makes a festival, well, a festival. The constantly-having-your-toes-stepped-on closeness of bodies and hours spent waiting to buy four dollar water bottles, punctuated by performances by a varied and impressive array of artists, give the experience that certain je ne sais quoi that makes us all proud to say we were there.

Categories
Music

It’s going to be a musical summer in Montreal

The season of flip flops, short shorts, fedoras and tank tops is upon us. Some of the best things are securely tied to the summer months in Canada, like patios, sangria and sun tans, and so too are some of the best music events in Montreal.
This year’s lineup for Osheaga Music and Arts Festival promises to be Montreal’s biggest music event. The city’s crowning festival glory has secured what has got to be the festival’s dopest musical lineup in recent memory, featuring S-n-double-o-p D-o-double-gee, Florence and the Machine, Sigur Rós, The Black Keys, Justice, Feist, and quite literally tons more. Weekend passes are available starting at $217, with day passes available later in the summer. The three-day-long festival will be rocking Jean-Drapeau Park from Aug. 3 to 5.
Montreal’s most famous musical event, however, has got to be Montreal Jazz Festival. In the 30 years that the festival has been bringing world-renowned musicians to the various festival venues scattered throughout downtown Montreal, it’s rare that the organizers have received a bad review. This year’s festival runs from June 28 to July 7. Performers include James Taylor, Montreal’s own The Barr Brothers, pop music icon Liza Minnelli, ‘90s R&B romantic Seal, Ontario folk project Timber Timbre, blues sweetheart Nora Jones and Roma-style indie rockers Beirut, among others.
If you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a few days early, treat yourself to a performance by the ‘80s and ‘90s princes of funky alt-rock: the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After announcing their split following the tail end of their Stadium Arcadium tour in 2007, fans weren’t sure if or when they should expect the L.A. outfit to make their comeback. In August 2011, they finally released their tenth studio album I’m With You and began planning their next tour. Although their tour was postponed due to frontman Anthony Kiedis’ foot surgery, it’ll be worth the wait.
As if that wasn’t enough good music to blow your brains out, Radiohead plans to make a stop at the Bell Centre on June 15 after thoroughly touring the U.S. and before jetting off to Europe for the remainder of their tour dates. Supporting their most recent album, The King of Limbs, it’s the band’s first full release and subsequent tour in four years.
If you long for some real nostalgia, The Beach Boys will be bringing a little slice of retro California sunshine to the Bell Centre on June 20, while Roger Waters will be performing The Wall live at the Bell Centre on June 26. Looking for something with a little more weight? Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper will take the Bell Centre stage on July 11, and don’t forget Vans Warped Tour on July 14, which will feature tons of heavy punk-rockers, including Lostprophets, Yellowcard, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, All Time Low, Anti-Flag and Senses Fail.
No matter what your musical taste, Montreal is where you’ll find great music practically every night this summer. Hundreds of bands, from jazz to rock to pop to country, will be making a stop in this lively summertime metropolis, so keep your ear to the ground for concert announcements and you won’t be disappointed.

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