Photos by Sean Chin & Dale Tidy.
Even though this was my third time at Osheaga, I was just as excited, as I was the first time I went as a novice festie goer. One major change this year was the fact that Parc Jean-Drapeau, host of the festival every year since it’s inception is in the midst of getting a face-lift. The usual area on the island in the middle of fabulous Montreal is being renovated to allow for more people to attend so the grounds were moved to the other side of the park where the Montreal Grand Prix race is normally held. Instead of the famous side-by-side stage layout that allows people to pick a spot and hang out all day watching the biggest bands play without a break between them, you now had the main stages facing each other a few football fields apart. While the actual grounds took more walking to enter from the subway station, the stages themselves were all a lot closer and easier to navigate making this first of two years a welcome intrusion.
The weather did its best attempt to keep people away and to not have fun, but in fact it did the opposite. The rain just made people dance harder and sing along louder and the artists never complained about the adverse conditions. Unfortunately it wasn’t all sunshine’s and rainbows as some acts either had to be cancelled completely or have such abbreviated sets you wondered if it was really worth them taking the stage.
Navigating the stages something new and learning where all the best vantage points to navigate the crowds took some time, but when at the penultimate main stage comes into play, the only viewing spot that is perfect is from the Virgin Mobile Member’s Lounge. Situated above the massive crowds that packed the astroturf grounds lucky contest winners were treated to a view that was unbeatable. Perfect sightlines for the River Stage presented by Virgin Mobile were accompanied by eye level screens that you normally had to crane your head upwards for if you were on the ground. We also got to strike a pose with the beautiful Vibes Mural by Adrian Forrow. If the view wasn’t enough there was also a private bar always fully stocked, food service so you didn’t need to walk to the busy food trucks and lots of comfy chairs to rest your tired feet. The River Stage was home to the three amazing headliners in Lorde, Muse and The Weeknd.
Getting a chance to spend the festival from such great surroundings might seem elitist, but in reality it couldn’t be farther from that. Always cheerful and smiling Virgin Mobile employees were only too quick to strike up a conversation about how you were enjoying your experience and if they can do anything to help. Contest winners, meaning real fans that got to truly appreciate the specialness of it all, also surrounded you. Some other perks included the ability to watch a show back stage. We first tried to see Glass Animals perform, but the rain was so bad they didn’t get to play until much later and tech team needed all the space the ensure equipment wasn’t damaged. Thankfully on Day 2 the Live in Limbo crew and some other winners went backstage to watch up and coming Montreal rockers Heat, which was an absolute blast!
When in Montreal you need to eat their staples, I had poutine and smoked meat on a bagel, which in a festival is as authentic as you can get, but the best meal of the weekend couldn’t be found at any of the food trucks. Getting to walk past the security at the main stage, behind the stage where all the crew trucks were parked lead you to a secluded area where you couldn’t hear the music any more. Going to the artists private hang out spot and getting to experience a fully catered meal lead by celebrity chef Chuck Hughes was the highlight of the whole trip. Getting to pick from wood oven pizzas, roasted chickens, high end meat and cheese pairings, an open bar, cold press coffee station and of course homemade doughnuts was all to die for. I stuffed my face and made sure to save a little bit for later in the day.
The festival wasn’t just crazy once in a lifetime experiences, but also a way to knock a bunch of bucket list bands. While Sean Chin rocked out while against the rail for Muse I was on the Island Stage watching the moody electronic dance beats of Nicholas Jaar. Highlights for us included Foxygen on the Green Stage, Crystal Castles on the Island Stage, Justice on the Mountain Stage, Father John Misty on the Valley Stage and The Lemon Twigs on the Tree Stage. With seven stages running all throughout the day there was always something to be seen. Sure there were conflicts like having to decide between Cage the Elephant and Danny Brown, you were still guaranteed a great show (I was not disappointed by picking Brown).
We could not have experienced this without the generousness of Virgin Mobile who hooked us and other Members up big time. Whether it was buzzing about the last night’s shows with the friendly staff of the Member’s Lounge or cheering the other lucky winners it was a weekend that won’t soon be forgotten. It is nice to have an experience catered by music lovers for music lovers in one of the greatest cities in the world. I hope to see you there next year!
Want to be like us and get the VIP treatment to the next big music event? It’s easy. Become a Virgin Mobile Canada member today! Remember, Members Get It!