Montreal’s festival season has offered up a gamut of high-octane events for years, but one of the youngest events on the summer bill has quickly become the city’s biggest.
On August 1, the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival rang in its ninth edition with big acts, bigger crowds and a satisfying combination of new sound and old favourites.
2014 was the biggest year yet for Osheaga, attracting over 130,000 attendees to what has quickly gained a reputation as Canada’s most anticipated music festival, rivaling the likes of international standouts such as Coachella or Glastonbury.
The festival kicked off with an impressive line-up that included some homegrown talent. Rocker Sam Roberts and the electro-funk duo Chromeo reminded us that we were still in Montreal, which was easy to forget in a crowd where Quebecers were scarce (67% of the audience came from out of province).
To end the night, OutKast had the masses moving to hip-hop gems Bombs Over Baghdad and Ms. Jackson. Frontman André 3000 belted out Hey Ya like it was still 2003, reminding the crowd that hygiene comes first in a jumpsuit emblazoned with the slogan “Life is short. Take more baths.”
According to Osheaga organizers, the name of their festival comes from the phrase “O she ha ga,” which they claim is an old Mohawk term for “people of shaking hands.” Whether or not that claim is actually true, it felt as if the entire island was shaking on Saturday as Jack White provided the crowd with a rock buffet under a firework-lit sky. Australian goth-king Nick Cave also gave a rousing performance that included a stroll into the crowd on his fans’ shoulders.
Although some Canadian festivals have taken steps to ban the wearing of traditional feather headdresses at their events, Osheaga has not made any statement on the issue. We spotted one (very poorly made) headdress, but the Native appropriation that has plagued festival fashion in recent years appeared to be on the decline.
Osheaga’s busiest and last day closed out with a rousing performance by Lorde. The Kiwi songstress was a crowd favourite with chart-toppers Royals and Team.
To close out the festival, British rock group Arctic Monkeys lit up the stage with glaring lights and pounding bass that could reportedly be heard across the river.