“LET’S HUG IT OUT!” reads the July 28 release on Osheaga’s Facebook page, “You did not receive your bracelet yet? We understand this is stressful and we are REALLY sorry for the delays. It’s obviously not ideal and we wish it would be different.” Festival goers had the option to either get bracelets at the Bell Centre ‘billetterie’ prior to the festival, or on-site the days of.
Despite the wristband confusion, the 10th anniversary of Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts did overall run quite smoothly. Two adjacent main stages (scène de la Rivière and scène de la Montagne) shared the back-and-forth duties of performance hosting and sound set up. The second set of stages (Verte and Vallée) operated likewise. A mostly electronic stage was situated in between the Rivière/ Montagne and the Verte/Vallée pairings, which hosted danceable artists including A Tribe Called Red, Daphni and Skylar Spence.
Friday highlights began with Run the Jewels’ hype set, heavy on their current album, Run the Jewels 2. Songs included “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)”, “Lie Cheat Steal” and “Love Again”. The Kills followed with a set that included “Future Starts Slow”, “URA Fever” and “Kissy Kissy”, until Jamie Hince, struggling to hear properly from his earpiece, announced a departure from the prepared set list. What followed were bass-heavy selections, easier to follow melodically than an unreliable earpiece missing elements of his electronic drum track.
Saturday’s main stages closed with Kendrick Lamar, who followed Weezer’s nostalgic guided tour of their greatest hits — “Hash Pipe”, “Island in the Sun”, “Beverly Hills”, “Say it Ain’t So” and “Undone – The Sweater Song”. The adoring sound of group “aw”s could be heard from the crowd as Rivers Cuomo’s children took stage alongside the billed band. The audience was left with “Buddy Holly” as an encore. Kendrick Lamar’s set kicked off with fan-favourite “Money Trees” and then his verse of “Fuckin’ Problems”. Other hits included “Swimming Pools”, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”, “i”, as well as “King Kunta”, followed by “Alright” which featured a freestyle by rapper Mos Def who also accompanied Nas’ set earlier that day. After receiving a chanted request for “one more song”, Lamar returned to finish with “Compton” — while Caribou conflictedly completed the night at the ‘Green’ stage.
In addition to the two feature spots, Mos Def performed his own set as replacement for New York rapper Action Bronson who no-showed the festival under mysterious circumstances. Following a successful petition to have the rapper dropped by Toronto’s NXNE, Osheaga cited “last minute travel issues” for the disappearing act. On the day ofthe supposed performance and ultimate cancellation, August 1, Action Bronson wrote via Twitter, ” Im hoping one day to be let into Canada (because I did no wrong) so I can make it up to my fans who have been with me since the beginning.”
Sunday’s Verte and Vallée stages wrapped up with a bass-y and pitch-perfect set by Banks that included many tracks from her album Goddess, including the self titled track and “This is What It Feels Like”. Although the audience seemed relieved to hear “Begging for Thread” as the final song, “Stick” was a glaring set omission. Sunday main stages hosted alternating performances by Father John Misty, Future Islands, The War on Drugs, Hot Chip, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Alt-J and The Black Keys.
The music ends and the lights go out as ‘sécurité’ usher out the last of those flopped in the hammocks and chairs of the sponsored ‘WiFi Chill Zone’. Two general groups culminate at the festival exit gates. Those in a rush cram the direct route to the subway station from Parc Jean-Drapeau to Montreal proper. Those unwilling to push past and squeeze by others or put up Dennis Rodman rebound elbows chat civilly en route to the same Montreal Metro.