*Hey Virgin Mobile Members! Be sure to try your luck and win the ultimate Osheaga experience by entering the VIP Access contest!*
Osheaga celebrated their 10th anniversary last year and most people expected the lineup to be stacked to the teeth considering how much they were hyping up the supposed epicness of it. While in the end the lineup was solid it has now started a consecutive trend where the lineup is no longer one of North America’s best after the highlights of the 2012-2014 bills. The festival started out with a few leaks including having one of Radiohead’s only fest stops this summer. The world eagerly awaits their follow up to 2011’s The King of Limbs a span of 5 years now, the longest wait between albums by them so far. Any festival that has the kings of the indie world is one that is worth going to, unfortunately it seems like most of the festival’s money was spent on Radiohead leaving the undercard a bit underwhelming. If you haven’t seen them before, or don’t know their music very well their show is an absolute must, plus you will get to hear new material before most other people!
Red Hot Chili Peppers look like a great headliner when you think about their back catalogue, but they haven’t been the same insane live band for well over 10 years now especially since guitar wizard John Frusciante left an album ago. I saw the band back in 2012 at Bonnaroo (also managed to see Radiohead that same fest!) and while they were fun and they played all their hits it wasn’t an overly memorable performance. Not everyone cared for I’m With You but some songs like The Adventures of Raindance Maggie were a blast to see live. Expect their upcoming album to be similar to the last one and some new songs to be played at Parc Jean-Drapeau.
In a bit of a head scratching move Osheaga picked Lana Del Ray as the third headliner. Sure she does well on her solo tours and has three critically successful albums. Normally people expect a degree of upbeat fun from a headliner and Del Ray skewers more towards dour than uplifting. Del Ray offers a degree of diversity from the other two rock oriented headliners.
Being a Toronto based publication it is impossible not to look at other festivals and compare them to decide what is worth your hard earned dollar. Wayhome being the new challenger on the block looking to supplant Osheaga as Eastern Canada’s top festival is the first name you look at comparing it to as most people can only afford to do one festival. In a staggering move Osheaga booked 28 names that are also playing Wayhome. From big names near the top of the lineup including M83, Haim, Future, Beirut, The Last Shadow Puppets, The Arcs, Foals and Kurt Vile and the Violators to Canadian acts Half Moon Run, Wolf Parade, Torey Lanez, Keys N Krates, Coleman Hell, White Lung, Marian Hill, Dilly Dally and Tennyson. Some other repeat acts are Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Oh Wonder, Vince Staples, MO, The Paper Kites, Goldlink, BORNS, Lucius, The Struts, Marian Hill and Banners. Making it not a wise choice for Toronto folks to make the trek out to Montreal unless they think they won’t be able to make it to a Radiohead show when they inevitably come back here.
Osheaga has always done well booking dance acts before they get huge and this year they have managed to snag some big and under the radar names. Disclosure went from being 30th on the 2013 lineup when I went to being the top non headliner this year. They are far too big to play the small Piknic Electronik Stage now and their crowds have grown exponentially. They throw it down so don’t miss them. On the more rock side of things you have St. Lucia and Walk the Moon destined to get people to shut up and dance along to their tunes. For more straight forward EDM Kaytranada, Boys Noize and Grammatik are the big names this year and weirdo Euro electronic star Todd Terje and The Olsens should draw an interesting crowd.
Outside of Future, Hip Hop is either amazing or really weak at Osheaga depending on what you think of the acts. Mac Miller is someone who you either love or you think only frat bros love leaving not much room in the middle for casual fans. UK Grim sensation Skepta continues to make a name for himself over in Canada after riding buzz provided by both Kanye West and Drake. Going along with the trap style that made Future famous, Post Malone is a similar artist who will be more well-known after appearing on The Life of Pablo. Legendary Latino rap metal group Cypress Hill will get the juices (and smoke) flowing and Jazz Cartier will continue to prove that he is the next big thing to come out of Canada’s burgeoning hip hop scene.
While I complained about Osheaga being too similar to Wayhome, they certainly have their share of great gets leading the pack with Grimes who has yet to schedule a Toronto stop this year after the release of her amazing album Art Angels late in 2015. The Lumineers have been relatively quiet the past few years as they try to figure out a way to follow up their insanely popular debut album and having just released their first single called Ophelia from their Cleopatra album due out in April so expect their set to be heavy on the new tunes (with an obvious encore of Ho Hey). Heavy-gentle rockers Silversun Pickups will quietly yell in your face while Bastille will bring their arena ready indie pop to the masses. Up and comers like Daughter and veterans like Frightened Rabbit also make the festival a unique one.
If you live in Quebec, this is easily a great festival, but if you are in the Toronto area it doesn’t stack up to what is happening here. While there are close to 30 names that will play Wayhome, expect a bunch of the other unique names to be at festivals like Bestival, TURF, Digital Dreams, Veld, NXNE or CMW (the small festival Field Trip shares 2 names already). Radiohead alone makes it one to consider and if you love what other acts there, then you will appreciate what a world class city and a fantastic venue can do for you as everyone should experience Osheaga at least once.