It’s hard to believe that Osheaga is already celebrating its 10th edition. The Montreal based Music and Arts festival has evolved dramatically since its inception in 2006 with its original headliners Sonic Youth and Ben Harper. It’s now a huge three day event that rivals some of the bigger festivals from south of the Canadian border. The sold out 10th edition featured big draws such as Florence + The Machine, Kendrick Lamar and The Black Keys, but did it live up to the hype?
If there’s one thing the Osheaga organizers have learned over the years is how to please their 45,000 daily fans -- There really is something for everyone. There weren’t many risks taken when choosing the 2015 lineup: Florence, Kendrick, The Black Keys, Weezer, and Ben Harper have all graced their presence over the past editions and that’s kind of the point. This was a fan service and bringing in the favorites of Osheaga-past was part of the plan. Perhaps, on paper, the lineup may have felt a bit “been there done that”, but in execution, these bands and their repertoire have grown so much throughout the years that it was different enough to feel fresh.
Florence Welsh (Florence + The Machine) simply stole the first night away proving that she perhaps should have headlined back in 2012. Her set was electric; she journeyed through the stage almost as if she were a marionette experiencing an exorcism and the crowd loved it. Ship To Wreck, What Kind of Man and How Big, How Blue and How Beautiful, all hits from her latest album have elevated her set to a whole new level.
Weezer had a little help from Rivers Cuomo's kids Mia and Leo who joined the band on stage to perform. Mia was on an actual keyboard while the younger Leo sported an inflatable guitar. The band brought some much needed energy after the slower sets from Interpol and Patrick Watson.
Alex Ebert (Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros) looked desolate without Jade however, despite his appearance and lack of a set list, had a strong stage presence and kept the crowd engrossed and engaged. A wheelchair bound fan was carried to the stage as requested by Alex and remained there for the last couple of songs which featured the crowd requested Home.
While there were a lot of repeat performers, newcomers such as George Ezra and Milky Chance drew in large crowds. Perhaps the biggest disappointment was Tove Lo who had a hard time keeping the crowd interested after performing her hit song Habits. Better luck next time Tove Lo. The Kills had to slow down their pace as Jamie Hince was having some technical issues with his guitar that cut into their set time and flow.
The biggest surprise of this year's lineup was the decision to bring in the highly controversial Action Bronson who in the end, was replaced by Mos Def when Action was unable to get across the Canadian border.
In the end, it all comes down to the performances and despite the high heat and a strong downpour, most of the bands brought on their A-game making Osheaga 2015 another huge success for the organizers but most importantly, the fans.