This is the 12th iteration the Osheaga music festival, this year will look a little different than past years as the main space of the island it is located at is being renovated to fit more people. Where on the island it will be located and how the stages will be set up is something to be seen still. In recent years the festival has been spending a ton of money of headliners to entice fest goers that sometimes means a weaker under card but the fest as a whole has maintained its status as top dog in Canada. This year’s headliners follows the trends of last year’s where they get two of the biggest names and settle for a smaller third headliner (last year they had
Radiohead and Red Hot Chili Peppers with Lana Del Ray rounding it out).
The poster lists the headliners in order of appearance so on the Friday, Toronto’s own The Weeknd goes up to bat as he joins the ranks as a newly minted headliner. He is playing at Bonnaroo this summer too and how that set goes will be a great indication how he will handle headliner duties. I wonder if Daft Punk might make an appearance at Roo, but thinking that might happen at Osheaga is a fool’s errand. He will bring the hits and potentially some guests for what might be a legendary set.
British rockers Muse will take the stage on Saturday. Sure they haven’t released a great album since 2006’s Black Holes and Revelations (although The Resistance and The 2nd Law have some solid tracks on them too) but they easily put on one the best live shows in the world right now. How they will translate their arena show with their unique stage set ups and lighting rigs to a festival will be interesting, but their energy and presence will be high regardless. Having seen Muse five times myself, they are a can’t miss live show.
Another new member of the headliner tier is Lorde, who previously played back in 2014 where she was billed 4th. While she is a smaller headliner like Lana Del Ray from last year, her live show is much more up beat than Lana’s. Osheaga seems to be hedging their bets by bumping Lorde up to headliner status as Lorde’s new album is apparently going to come out in March. If it is a massive hit like Pure Heroine then Osheaga getting her will be huge.
It is impossible to look at Osheaga without also looking at Wayhome for a few reasons. First we are a Toronto based publication and we are the center of the universe and many Torontonians will be looking at both fests to see what suits their needs more. Second is Wayhome has positioned itself to try to be the top fest in Canada a title Osheaga currently holds. The two festivals shared a ton of acts last year and this year they have 18 names playing at both fests making them seem quite homogenous. Huge acts like Justice, Solange and Vance Joy are big festival draws this year while Canadian acts like Tegan and Sara, Death From Above 1979, PUP, Daniel Caesar, Harrison and Andy Shauf all provide a low cost booking option but they should attract large crowds. Indie kings The Shins and new kids on the block Car Seat Headrest and Rag’n’Bone Man will rock out, Hip Hop fans can catch Danny Brown back after a few years away and newcomer NoName and Electronic acts like Phantogram, Honne, Russ and Skott.
Osheaga also has plenty of gets that other Canadian fests like Wayhome haven’t booked (yet) that run the gamut of all different styles of music. From Rock oriented bands like Cage the Elephant to Electronic infused artists like Foster the People, MGMT and Glass Animals. There are huge Hip Hop bookings like Run the Jewels and throwback legends De La Soul, for pop fans Tove Lo is a mix of fun and sexy tunes that can be contrasted to what ever the hell you want to describe Father John Misty as. Three big scores though include moody electronic producer Nicolas Jaar, soulful singer of the future Sampha and Hamilton Leithauser, a guy who made an amazing record with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam last year.
Some fantastic up and comers that are lower on the poster include Rock oriented acts like Angel Olsen, Beach Slang, The Districts and Muna. Electronic acts like the blue haired Mija and indigo tinted River Tiber while Hip Hop fans can see Mick Jenkins and the super group Swet Shop Boys that consists of Heems from Das Racist and Riz Ahmed from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Year in and year out Osheaga books solid headliners, must see sub-headliners and some of the best undercard acts in the world. The fact that they have six stages allows them to cater to everyone at once, meaning if you don’t care for 20 acts, there will be at least 50 others that will grab your attention.