Photos by Katrina Lat
I’m sure everyone gathered at Parc Jean-Drapeau this past Friday for the 2017 edition of the Osheaga Festival could have used a crystal ball to predict the stormy first day of the fest.
With the original site closed for the next two years to renovate and significantly increase its capacity, the festival had its work cut out in getting attendees used to the new surroundings.
What has made Osheaga such an enjoyable experience and why I’ve attended for at least 6 years now is the park itself and the vibe it inspires in the people occupying it. The move to the Formula One area of the park proved to be a grand task and organizers fared admirably in the face of an impossible task.
Rather than having the two main stages side by side, the stage3s faced each other across a vast field with a fountain in the middle. Most of the concessions were out in the fringes of the field, but you could get a drink right in the middle of the field.
Entrance was really swift the first day – I literally walked up to the security detail, got scanned and walked in. The walk from the gates to the stage area was significantly longer in the new set-up but once there all the stages were pretty close to each other.
Barns Courtney I had never heard before but they made an impression especially the singer’s voice and less importantly that he looked to be playing with a significantly banged up leg but still managed to churn out an energetic set.
Up next across the field was American rock outfit Muna who did a fine job in revving up the party vibe for those gathered to continue the lively start.
Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans and some ominously dark clouds rolled in to blanket the site. A couple of flashes of lightning and Muna cut their set short. The heavens opened up and the crowd ran to what little shelter they could find, with most of us gathered under trees in what was a very foolish idea but I found very little information given to make informed decisions.
The weather would significantly alter the day affecting the lineup and the overall mood. Both Noname and De La Soul had canceled before the weather was an issue and that would kill Angel Olsen’s slot. While the skies teased us with clearing, the rain wouldn’t really stop for the rest of the day.
London Grammar would salvage a short set but the heavens opened up again. Maybe Mother Nature had the same instinct reaction to “Strong” which gets my tear ducts flowing. Despite this, I really love their new album so while they were only able to offer up a handful of songs, it was mostly the debut that got the airing.
The Shins also got a shortened set but seemed to make the most to squeeze in a bit of fun courtesy the tunes from their fabulous latest album.
From there we ventured over to the side stage area, the mud and rain helping my shoes feels like waterbeds strapped to my feet. Car Seat Headrest was banging out a frantic set with their indie rock for a sizeable crowd.
The rain cleared briefly for Scotland’s Belle & Sebastian who made it feel like the sun was out. I’ve been a fan of the band for a long time and this was my first time seeing them but I wish I was in a better mood to really enjoy them.
England’s Rag N Bone Man is huge over the pond but relatively unknown over here, but his gravelly soulful tone was just the blues that I needed and the crowd gathered finally felt some warmth.
French duo Justice was the second headliners over at the main stage. They did their hits and the heavens opened up again. So I waved my white flag and decided to call it a day even though it meant missing Lorde who I wanted to hear present her sophomore album.
She did get to soundtrack my walk around the park trying to find an exit which I would eventually find. So despite the rough time, I still managed to meet some really great people who made the situation tolerable.