It was a true homecoming as Osheaga welcomed us all back to the original festival site after two summers of renovations. They did little to change the layout, which I love and everything seems a little bit more accessible! The new pathways make for better crowd control and the bathroom lines and water stations moved so much faster than previous years. Incredible job! If I had one complaint it would be just getting some hand sanitizer dispensers outside of all bathrooms! I’m not sure how I feel about massive crowds of festival-goers walking around with genital smegma on their hands! See Osheaga, you made me have to say genital smegma, let’s change this! On to the music.
Speaking of genital smegma, how bad was We Are Monroe’s set on Friday!? I’m kidding guys! Every time I see this band it’s on a bigger stage as they continue to grow and expand their sound. I had originally compared them to Franz Ferdinand, and while you still very much could, they have chipped away at creating their own sonic landscape in the indie rock scene and uprooted the entire tree stage at Osheaga. The sound at some of the larger stages was lacklustre at the start of the day, I couldn’t pinpoint if it was the band’s performances or some difficulties back in the sound booth, but I was underwhelmed by Kodaline and Interpol. I was particularly psyched to see Interpol, the band I feel could get me the closest to experiencing what it would have been like to witness Joy Division live. Maybe their dispirited, gloomy alt-rock wasn’t best suited for an afternoon at an outdoor festival on one of the most perfect days of summer, but I still took joy out of hearing some of the classics, spanning their fifteen plus year career. No one could touch The Lumineers on Friday though, as they got the largest heart reacts of the day. Opening with “Sleep On The Floor” and never looking back, the band was in rare form. They even made their way over to a tiny stage setup, specifically for three songs to get a little more intimate with us, if that were even possible and teased a few new songs from their upcoming third album. They’ve already announced a show in Montreal in March for that album and I implore you to get tickets.
The sound issues seemed resolved by Saturday, but maybe it’s all the drugs I took before hitting the festival. Ahhhh, I’m just yanking your chain! I’m a professional. But ultimately Saturday was my favourite day. I could spend the whole paragraph talking about Beach House, but before I do I’ll mention that Radiant Baby, another local up and coming act started my day off nicely with some 80’s electro-pop vibes. SALES was a very pleasant new discovery and The Chemical Brothers put together a party that had the entire island bouncing and reminded me that there’s way more to this band than just “Block Rockin Beats.” Ok…Beach House. Not only are they one of my most beloved bands of the last fiveish years, but Saturday they put on a show that I have to make room for in my top five performances ever! I’m not kidding, the sound was pristine, the setting was immaculate, the setlist was biblical! Pure transcendence, you’ll be a better person if you get to see Beach House live. “Walk in the Park” set the tone as they continued to hit every note with pinpoint accuracy and inflection into “Drunk In LA,” “Space Song” and ended with “Dive,” which made hairs I didn’t even know I have stand up on my body.
Sunday was a solid, respectable day. But just like The Secret of the Ooze was a great sequel, you can’t touch that first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie! Hashtag Casey Jones is legend. The Franklin Electric took to the main stage and fucking owned it, be proud Montreal! They just released their latest EP In Your Head a day before their performance and commanded the stage like consummate professionals. My personal highlight of the day was Tame Impala. The visuals were stunning, as the crowd was doused with confetti and laser beams. Tame Impala have truly blossomed since they burst onto the scene in 2010 as a neo-psychedelic rock revivalist band, into what now just seems like an absolute pop-rock powerhouse band, defying and bending genres with every subsequent release. The largest crowd of the weekend was not surprisingly for Childish Gambino as I sauntered back to the hill to take it all in from afar. Like Tame Impala, Childish Gambino defies categorization; though he borrows a lot from seventies soul and R&B there is way more going on inside these songs. Jesus fuck is that band ever tight, undoubtedly all professionally trained the entire set felt like a religious experience. I didn’t stay long enough to receive communion, but it was a fascinating scene to witness and an appropriate way to close the festival. Hope to see ya all there in 2020 for the fifteen-year anniversary!
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Mike Milito