Photographs by Sarah Rix.
By the third day, bodies at Montreal’s Osheaga Festival start to show their wear and tear. Good intentions give way to body aches and survival meaning I was parked at the mainstage area for the third and final day. While I missed some artists I would have liked to have seen (Glass Animals, Charli XCX, Tyler the Creator) I was rewarded with solid sets all day without having to move much.
X-Ambassadors rode into town with a hit from a car commercial and drew the biggest opening crowd of the weekend. They were impressively funky, everyone sang their hit “Renegades” but they almost lost me when the singer broke out a saxophone. It was light Kenny G moved the hair from his head to his chin and saxed the crowd up. Still, it all somehow worked.
A schedule change meant First Aid Kit swapped for Ryn Weaver. Weaver definitely benefitted from the mainstage exposure but she didn’t take it for granted and endearingly worked the crowed up with songs from her upcoming EP. She asked the crowd to meet two new friends and I counted her as one after her brief set.
England’s James Bay delivered a better-than-expected set with an urgent 40 minutes of rock that defied the laid back vibe of his recorded output. The growing masses roared in approval and we might have all witnessed the birth of a future headliner.
The rock took another blistering turn as Gary Clark Jr. smoked the crowd and his fretboard with new songs from his upcoming album and highlights from his major label debut Blak and Blu.
Former Fleet Foxes drummer Father John Misty injected some humor into the mix with his set, although I found his banter a bit condescending at times. But the selections from Fear Fun and I Love You, Honey bear were the perfect tonic to bliss out in the sun.
Aside from myself, the sweatiest person at the park had to be Future Islands frontman Samuel Herring. While their songs are catchy enough, the man’s enthusiasm and passion along with those guttural growls exuded throughout his performance as the sweat marks on his grey shirt simply took the garment over. Like the Little Engine That Could, Future Islands gave you no reason not to love them.
Along with Run the Jewels, the War On Drugs seemed to be on every festival bill. The constant touring has turned the band into a ferocious beast live. I saw them at Lee’s Palace over a year ago and can only assume the bigger stage has given them room to breathe and really hit the throttle. Their 50 minute set breathed so much fire that even the sun decided it was time to come down and that descent soundtracked to an-almost-off-the-rails “Under the Pressure” was a beautiful thing.
Hot Chip brought the sun down with a dance party that brought the house down. Opening with new track “Huarache Lights”, Hot Chip gave the crowed the second wind everyone needed to make it through the night or drained what remaining energy was left depending on the person. They were a highlight for me a couple of years ago with a set up against Mumford and Sons that was euphoric. Their rightful position on the mainstage was solidified with a set closing cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” that morphed into LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” that had my legs way ahead of the rest of me.
Alt-J were a stunning way to greet the night. Opening with “Hunger of the Pine”, the three piece played most of their two albums before an impressive light show and a very rabid audience. I thought their set a couple of years ago was a bit limp in the Sunday sun, but at night, Alt-J ruled with “Every Other Freckle” and “Matlida” inspiring massive singalongs.
Following a break from touring their most recent Turn Blue album due to injury, the Black Keys returned to close out the 2015 edition of the festival with a crowd pleasing set that barely touched on the new album. It has taken me a number of times to get into this album so maybe it isn’t getting its proper due, but nonetheless, the main area erupted into one last big party before having to navigate the Metro and try to get some sleep following the adrenaline rush that was this year’s 10th anniversary.