Nestled in the beautiful metropolis of Montreal, Quebec and boasting six stages, Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is Canada’s premier experience of its kind, offering a reliable mix of big names, ascending acts, and regional talent. Although the annual roster often shares several names with American counterpart Lollapalooza, the lack of overlap this year is enough to make a trip north of the border worthwhile if you’re up for something different (and that cheap Canadian dollar doesn’t hurt, either).
In the event that you are, and if, like us, your tastes slant omnivorous, our itinerary below should help you soak up as much as you can. Luckily, there are enough reunited legends (Outkast, The Replacements, Modest Mouse), indie darlings (Local Natives, Mac DeMarco, Jon Hopkins), prolific titans (Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Nick Cave) and zeitgeist bullseyes (Lorde, Haim, London Grammar) to accommodate any preference.
3:00 Ryan Hemsworth @ Zone Piknic Electronic
Even though several acts will debut starting two hours earlier (Bleachers and Manchester Orchestra among them), Ryan Hemsworth is the first act we are truly jazzed to see following the cancellation of Chance the Rapper’s appearance. If Old Crow Medicine Show aren’t your speed, then the sample-heavy work of this homegrown DJ may be the answer.
4:20 Pusha T @ Green Stage
That start time cannot be a coincidence. A pit stop from Kendrick Lamar seems highly unlikely, but the longstanding hip-hop fixture is a renowned expert at energizing his audience, and should provide a nice mid-afternoon boost. Hopefully he takes to the stage on time.
5:35 Childish Gambino @ Mountain Stage
Yes, this conflicts with the act below, and yes, they’re also a winded sprint away from one another. Donald Glover is a hell of an entertainer, so we will be catching at least part of his set.
5:55 London Grammar @ Green Stage
They’ll likely be a bit of a comedown after Pusha and Gambino, but the polished R&B emoting of London Grammar is too good to pass up, no matter the context. Considering how high-tempo the rest of the night is shaping up to be, a breather may not be a bad thing in any case.
7:30 Chromeo @ Green Stage
Good vibes. That is all.
8:10 The Men @ Tree Stage
The Men have dropped three albums in three years, each one landing in the first week of March. That sort of predictability is usually reserved for celestial bodies. The garage rock workhorses are a good bet for a blistering live show, and are a just quick step away from Chromeo.
9:05 Outkast @ River Stage
After something of a disappointing start to their 20th anniversary reunion, Outkast have rounded into form over the summer, dropping in on every festival that their schedule has permitted. The prospect of catching “B.O.B”, “Hey Ya” and “Da Art of Storytelling” live is already making me giddy. If you plan on skipping all of the evening acts to stake out a good spot to see the Atlanta legends, we wouldn’t blame you.
9:50 Mac DeMarco @ Tree Stage
Skip out on the tail end of Outkast to catch the court jester of indie rock? Given the strength DeMarco’s new album Salad Days and his reputation for ridiculous onstage antics… probably.
1:00 Kevin Drew @ River Stage
One half of the Broken Social Scene brain trust, Kevin Drew is now going it alone, having dropped his second solo effort Darlings earlier this year. This one promises to kick off the strongest lineup of the weekend the right way.
2:20 Against Me! @ River Stage
No need to move after Kevin Drew, park and absorb the raucous stage presence of Laura Jane Grace and her band Against Me! Saturday is a very indie-heavy day, so the Floridian punk act will provide a bit of a change-up.
3:40 Local Natives @ River Stage
There seems to be a pattern here. California upstarts Local Natives have been touring in support of their excellent sophomore alubm Hummingbird for the better part of two years now. Expect them to be subdued but sharp.
4:25 Volcano Choir @ Mountain Stage
And if you would now just look slightly to the left, Volcano Choir will saturate your Saturday afternoon quota for bearded frontmen. Those crescendos on their latest album Repave (one of PMA’s favourite albums of last year) were tailor-made to ring out at summer festivals.
5:15 Haim @ River Stage
And if you would now just look slightly to the right, the irresistible rhythms of sister act Haim will ring out immediately following. I love me some bass face. On a side note, your presence here means that you will be missing out on Four Tet and Phantogram. Heartbreaker.
6:05 Modest Mouse @ Mountain Stage
They haven’t released an album since 2007, but with a catalog this rich, Modest Mouse could tour for the rest of their lives without releasing any new material. Crowd-pleasers “Float On” and “Dashboard” are sure to be on tap, along with a handful of new ones from their long-awaited sixth record.
6:30 Jon Hopkins @ Piknic Electronica
He overlaps with Modest Mouse, but Jon Hopkins’ singular brand of glitch and ambient is worth investigating. Gesaffelstein, one of the braver line-up choices at this festival, is on immediately after.
8:05 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Mountain Stage
What is there to say? The man is a legend and a must see. You have to think that around 80% of the audience probably wasn’t alive when the first Bad Seeds record came out, but the set will heavily favour material from his most recent effort, 2013’s foggy, restrained Push The Sky Away.
9:05 Jack White @ River Stage
So it turns out I won’t be moving much on Saturday. Jack White, arguably the greatest guitarist of his generation, will likely close the evening out with a blend of solo material and White Stripes tunes. Let’s hope he’s in a better mood than he was last week. Unfortunately, SBTRKT, who just announced his long-awaited new album, will be playing his set midway through White’s.
1:40 Hey Rosetta! @ Green Stage
Sunday is a little thin, but the regional folk rock of Hey Rosetta! is worth trekking out a little early for. These guys know their way around a hook, and have unjustly flown under the radar for several years.
4:00 Portugal. The Man @ River Stage
Following Wake Owl, nothing feels essential until Portugal. The Man (though chameleonic indie act Bombay Bicycle Club is worth checking out). The prolific Alaskan psychedelic specialists seemingly haven’t stopped touring or recording for the better part of a decade.
4:50 Chvrches @ Mountain Stage
I’ve yet to meet someone who has heard of Chvrches and doesn’t like them. Their stage setup is less than impressive, but the Glaswegian trio’s booming, uber-anthemic electro translates surprisingly well live.
6:50 Cut Copy @ Green Stage
I saw these guys in a tiny indoor venue in my hometown a few months ago and can’t wait to see them again. The early evening timeslot is damn near perfect for their deep catalog of feel-good electropop. An early departure is required, however.
7:20 The Replacements @ River Stage
They intersect with Cut Copy, but the reunited alt rock pioneers are a must. During their first run from 1979 to 1991, the Replacements were notorious for showing up to shows too shitfaced to play their instruments. They’re now in their 50s and have probably mellowed out a bit, but are still something of a wildcard.
8:20 Lorde @ Mountain Stage
I’m really intrigued by this one: Ella Yelich-O’Connor isn’t even 18, and 2014 was her first year on the festival circuit. Her lean, hooky-laden pop is an ideal sunset act, and some audience call-and-response is guaranteed.
9:20 Arctic Monkeys @ River Stage
Choosing Arctic Monkeys or Lykke Li, who will be playing Green Stage, really comes down to how exhausted you are. Still touring on their “comeback” album AM, the Monkeys have been on the road on and off for over a year, and are sure to be in fine form. If you want to end your weekend with a bang, the lairy lads from Sheffield should more than do the trick.
See you there!