Friday, August 10, 2012

Osheaga 2012 Review - The Good

One week ago today I was in Montreal at the Osheaga music festival, which this year was headlined by The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg and Justice.

While it wasn’t the best festival I’ve ever been to (Lollapalooza still holds that title), it was very pretty good. Below, my five favourite aspects of it (and yes, there will a future five least-favourite aspects post).

The Good

1. Having the main stages side-by-side: Most festivals have their biggest two stages at either end of their space but at Osheaga, they’re side-by-side. While it’s an unusual set-up it’s also a great one because it means that as soon as an act on the one stage is done, the act on the other stage can start playing (and yes, performances usually did start within minutes of the last one ending). If you positioned yourself in the right spot, you could easily watch band after band perform, without having to leave your spot.
The main downside to this layout is that the festival can’t have opposing headliners each night but given the lineup for the festival, I was OK with this fact.

2. The Metro: Montreal’s subway system will also be appearing on the Bad list due to a particular, and completely unavoidable, incident but for the most part it was great. Once we shuffled our way to the front of the subway line, we never had to wait more than five minutes for a train. And multiple times I was able to get a seat by simply positioning myself for the last car (people really don’t the whole “move down” thing do they?).

I was also impressed that at the end of Friday night, when I encountered the thickest crowds, Metro staff had people just run through the turnstiles and into the station, no tickets needed. Sure, doing that likely lost the Metro money but it also got people through much faster.

Garbage on stage
3. A variety of reasonably priced alcohol: I don’t drink at festivals because drinking leads to port-a-pottie usage but if I did drink I would have easily dropped a lot of money of Osheaga. Besides beer you could get wine (OK, it was Wild Vines but still…), a variety of Barcardi products and even shots of vodka (ranging in quality from Prince Igor to Grey Goose). And the prices were actually pretty reasonable given the environment. A cup of beer went for $5.75 while a Barcardi cooler could be had for an extra dollar. That’s cheaper than some bars.

4. Mobile beer/lemonade/fruit people: To someone from Ontario, land of the beer pen, the sight of vendors walking around in the crowd, selling cups of beer from racks they held, was amazing. And even better, vendors weren’t just selling beer, they also sold lemonade and cups of frozen fruits (OK, these were overpriced but still…) Besides providing entertainment (I kept waiting for some unfortunate vendor to spill his rack of beer), the vendors also kept lines at the beer  tables to a minimum and made a lot of people very, very happy.

5. The music: Yeah, I guess I should mention the whole reason why my husband and I went to Montreal, to see some fairly good live music. Overall, the sound quality was good and sound bleed wasn’t generally an issue as long as you stood in the right spot (and the band you were listening to wasn’t Sigur Ros; they really aren’t a festival band).

My fav act of the festival was a French DJ named Madeon who looked like he was having as much fun as his very amped up audience. I really liked that he included several tracks by other Osheaga bands into his electro-heavy mix. Justice also made me and the crowd dance (though judging by their body language, Osheaga was child’s play to them) and did an impressive job of featuring their hits without out-and-out playing them.

Madeon - Minimix (Annie Mac Radio 1) by Madeon

Other bands that wowed me included Florence & The Machine, Garbage and much to my surprise, The Jesus and Mary Chain (I should have skipped Snoop and caught all of TJMC's set).

Besides Madeon, I didn’t discover any new acts at Osheaga. Part of the reason for that was because we skipped at least the first two hours each day, due to the weather. But more about that pesky weather in my next post…

Yes, Mad Men's Jessica Paré performed "Just Like Honey" with The Jesus and Mary Chain.

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