osheaga 2014 / review

crowd

i have a strange relationship with osheaga. this is my seventh year taking to montreal’s parc jean drapeau for the three day music and arts festival. you might say i’m a veteran. you might also say i have not ever learned my lesson. true, i know how to come prepared, dress for the weather, sneak in booze, and maneuver through the crowd, but i have not yet learned how to party in such a way that i don’t hate myself for the entire week following the festival. maybe some things are just unavoidable.

this year, like last year, i spent most of july shrugging that i was “not even that excited for osheaga” (that didn’t stop me from spending a whopping $250 on the full weekend pass), but i always change my mind when i arrive on site. i have a pretty well documented love of music festivals, but there’s something special about osheaga — sun shining, with my friends, in the city that taught me how to love music. the weekend was definitely not without its lows, though, so my coverage this year will cover both.

HIGHS /

jon hopkins

jon h

what can i say about jon hopkins? i have been mildly (okay, madly) in love with him since he first started out playing keys for imogen heap (my high school sweetheart). we’re always talking about “osheaga moments” (like last year‘s raindance at icona pop or when the skies cleared at passion pit 2 years ago) and jon hopkins certainly brought out a few, namely when he pulled in this dark, deceptive trancey number that dropped so heavy it had everyone, including hopkins, getting down.
++ photo via osheaga

ryan hemsworth

ryan hemsworth

ryan hemsworth is basically the embodiment of “the other side of my love of electronic music.” if you’ve ever seen hemsworth live you know that he, like no other, knows how to perform with a sense of humour. his sound is so signature — if you didn’t know it was him playing, you would know it was him playing — and he consistently impresses me with his quirk, and more importantly, his impeccable mixing skills. his remix of r kelly’s trapped in the closet and yann tiersen’s la valse d’amelie playing out under the sun while he danced like a maniac was a high, naturally.
++ photo via osheaga

jacques greene live

jacques greene live - eva blue

another member of the “other side of electronic music” for me, i still listen to jacques greene’s “motivation” on at least a weekly basis. that said, i saw him DJ at piknic a couple years back and it was supremely disappointing; trying to inject the quirk and humour that hemsworth excels at, but falling short because i honestly think he lacks a lot of personality. his music is pensive, not playful. his live at osheaga put that to rest though — lots of goodies from his new EPs, including that sex-filled jam with how to dress well.
++ photo by evablue

odesza

odeszaq

odesza is the musical love child of catacombkid and beachesbeaches. i wasn’t super familiar with their music before heading over to the piknic stage to see their set, but i fell completely under their spell. even their dance moves were completely in sync. there was certainly something about their swinging melodies, overflowing lows, and pitched up (and then down) vocals but it was their incomparable chemistry that made their set a high.
++ photo via osheaga

outkast

outkast

i’m gonna get real with you for a second. i know like 2 outkast songs. well, maybe 3 including one i didn’t know was by outkast until they started playing it. this is a constant battle for me, but get over it: i don’t listen to hip hop. that said, i had so much fun at outkast. it was definitely one of those “osheaga moments” — the main stage area was packed, it had finally cooled off and everyone was singing along to that miss jackson song (“woo! i am fo reeeal”). my motto for the hip hop shows we saw was “how do you dance to this?” but that did not stop me from getting down on a picnic table at outkast’s set.
++ photo via osheaga

four tet

fourtet - eva blue

despite four tet’s innately awkward stage presence (read: none), his set was definitely a high. layered and experimental fueled by beaty integration and lots of his originals, it was the perfect danceable set for an hour spent under an overcast sky.
++ photo by evablue

london grammar

london grammar - tim snow

another cute  thing about osheaga is that it, at times, gets so hot that you feel like it’s entirely possible that your skin will actually melt off your body or that your hair will catch on fire because the sun is radiating so strongly. so it was for london grammar’s set at the green stage, so we hid out in the shade, which, as it turns out, was just the right setting for their offering of haunting vocal-driven electronica. their rendition of “sights” was absolutely unbelievable.
++ photo by tim snow

cut copy

cut copy

by the time the cut copy show rolled around on sunday afternoon, i was fading fast. it was a scorcher, and humid, and the warm whiskey i was drinking straight from the bottle i had snuck in down my shorts was not doing much by way of energizing me. we were crowded on a blanket listening to a lively number from the australian three-piece when suddenly, a group of red and white clad people in marching band and sailor uniforms with wigs and inflatable flamingos came in dancing, and had everyone that was sitting on their feet in seconds. that sounds made up but it is totally true and would only ever happen somewhere like osheaga. high.
++ photo via osheaga

chase & status

chasestatus

much like my relationship with hip hop, drum n bass has always been a very strange, foreign thing to me. it’s so fast. like any of DnB’s sister genres — grime, jungle, etc — it just makes no sense to me. it is so fast. how do you even…i just can’t. i tagged along to chase & status’s closing gig on the friday and, despite ringing in my motto of “how do you dance to this” i had a really brilliant time. the music was high energy, interesting, and honestly pretty fucking dirty. if you’re wondering, my dance moves consisted of drunkenly half-falling over on every second beat.
++ photo via osheaga

lorde

lorde - patrick beaudry

i have my gripes with lorde. mostly because she’s 7 years younger than me and like 85 times more successful. i also really hate when people hop on musical trends (see lana del rey, rita ora et al). i allowed myself to be taken to see lorde mostly because at that point it felt like my feet were going to fall off my body. lorde surprised me — she was humble, but with a ton of personality. her performance reminded me a bit of the knife and her voice a bit like london grammar and her style a bit like a tomboyish rooney mara. all great things. so lorde, if you’re reading this: i was wrong.
++ photo by patrick beaudry

motel raphael

motel

no introduction necessary. i rushed down to the festival to catch motel raphael’s osheaga debut, bursting with pride all the while. it was really something special to see these girls belting it out on this megasoundsystem, performing songs i’ve kind of grown up with the past couple years. “jameson” and “walk back to me” on the breeze were highs, definitely.
++ photo via osheaga

LOWS /

skrillex

skrillex

i’ve been told i can be a snob when it comes to music. and that is totally fine with me. everyone has their preferences. that in mind, i decided to give skrillex the benefit of the doubt and not be a completely judgemental asshole during the last 15 minutes of his set (while waiting for outkast to start). he spent a lot of time talking, trying to get people to cheer, and calling men dogs (and the guys would respond by barking or growling or wolf calling, which was very confusing to me). i was bewildered. then the music came on. it was sensory overload. you know how your parents always yelled at you to turn that noise down when you were a kid? i felt like a grandma. it was noise. it was literally just noisey and then it got more incomprehensible with every “drop.” someone please explain skrillex to me because apparently i’m an adult now. quite possibly one of the worst things i’ve ever heard.
++ photo via osheaga

flower crowns

flowercrown

i know this is not an artist but for fuck’s sake, nothing makes me rage for no discernable reason quite like a fucking flower crown. first of all, you are not a flower child. a flower child is a symbol of peace, love, universality and belonging. none of which has anything to do with osheaga (or worse, coachella). second, i’m all in favour of self-expression, but it must be really tiresome to constantly jump on every single trend. find your own style and wear it with pride. come on ladies, we’re better than that.
++ photo via mtl blog

clockwork

clockwork

i didn’t know who clockwork was prior to stopping by his set while waiting for flume to start. he is, evidently, part of the mad decent crew, which explains why the crowd was so mental. it was just bad. just generic, uninteresting EDM, lacking in a lot of soul. next!
++ photo via osheaga

cyril hahn

cyril

so bad. so very, very bad. i really love cyril hahn’s productions — particularly his remix of destiny’s child, and his own “perfect form” with shy girls. that said, i have it on good authority that he isn’t incredibly personable. his set was dry to the point that i didn’t even enjoy his drop of solange’s “losing you.” sadly, it felt very liner, and i chose to abandon ship rather than wait for my favourite “say my name” remix.
++ photo via osheaga

flume

flume

i have nothing bad to say about flume. his set (from what i heard) was great. sadly, all of that was ruined by the insane amount of people packed into the piknic area for his set. flume has a pretty mental social following, so it’s really no surprise there. the only surprise is that they booked him at one of the smallest stages: bros and flower crowned girls were climbing the metal installations above the bars and food tents to get a better view. pandemonium that absolutely distracted from the entire experience.
++ photo via osheaga

stairs

you know exactly what stairs i’m talking about. they should just get over it, shut down the entire island and let people cross the damn road instead of building a precarious bridge that bottlenecks the pilgrimage from the main stages to the smaller stages.

metro

leaving jean drapeau is consistently a nightmare. especially because by the end of the day, crowds are not my thing. particularly when the crowd is full of juiced up beefheads and 16 year old girls in denim shorts so tiny you can see just about everything. and then everyone starts doing that ole ole soccer chant. sadly, i also have no solution to offer for this problem. maybe one day there will be hoverboards or water taxis or shuttle busses or personal helicopters, but for now, i think osheaga handles the metro situation as best they can.

 

++ top photo via osheaga

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