Sunday, August 12, 2012

Osheaga 2012 Review - The Bad

On Friday, I highlighted my favorite aspects from this year’s Osheaga festival. Today I look at what I didn’t like.

The Bad 
View from the top of the hill

1. The crowd: When I attended Lollapalooza in 2008, I did so alongside 75,000 other people.  On Osheaga’s first day, I was one of 40,000 attendees. But despite the fact that Lollapalooza had 35,000 additional people at it, it somehow felt less busy and much less crowded than Osheaga (and had shorter lines for everything from food to bathrooms).

At times the congestion caused by the crowds was just over-the-top and made me really question if I would ever attend another Osheaga weekend. Several festival veterans that I talked to agreed with me about the crowds and said that this year was the busiest they’d ever seen Osheaga, something that none of them were happy about.

Thankfully both Saturday and Sunday were noticeably less crowded and because of that, they were a bit more pleasant.

2. The bridge stairs: Nowhere was the crowd more noticeable, or more irritating, than on the bridge stairs, which you needed to cross to get to the back halfway of the festival space and the two stages located there.
The infamous bridge stairs

At the best of times, the end of Saturday night after watching The Jesus and Mary Chain, we could make it from one half of the festival to the other in under 10 minutes. But other times, like basically all of Friday, it took as long as half-an-hour and the congestion on the stairs was a big reason for that.

I’m told that that the stairs were a new addition to the festival layout. Hopefully 2012 is their first and last appearance at Osheaga.

3. The Metro: As I said in my last entry, the Metro did a lot of things right. But it also did one thing very, very wrong and that was not prepping its stations for the thousands of people showing, all within in a few hours of each other, wanting to buy passes.

We waited, and I’m not exaggerating, at least 40 minutes to buy our pass. The reason for the wait was that the station we were at had one automated pass machine, one lone employee, who had to process every transaction through a cash register, and hundreds of eager concert goers. And to make things even slower, the price of a three-day pass wasn’t posted anywhere (and no, unlike in Toronto, you can’t buy just one ride in cash).

By the time we got to the front, there was an employee going up and down the line telling festival goers to have their $16 ready for a three-day pass but why this woman wasn’t doing that from the start, and why there wasn’t another ticket seller on duty (there was space for one) is a true mystery.

4. The lack of free things: While Osheaga had a good number of corporate sponsors, those sponsors were kind of stingy when it came to the freebies. I got more, and better stuff, just hanging out at Yonge and Dundas Square during NXNE. Even the free alcohol samples were a letdown.  Ginger Tia Maria? Really?

5. The food: Yeah, there was poutine and yeah, the selection was better than what you’d find at say, the Molson Amphitheatre but ultimately, the variety was lacking. A good chunk of the food vendors were selling basically the same food items and anyone who was selling anything different had a massive line come meal time. This really surprised me since the variety of available alcohol was so vast and so easy to get.

6. The weather: OK, this one’s not really fair but it needs to be mentioned since it did impact how I enjoyed the festival. Friday was hot while Saturday was even hotter, pushing 40, and because of that, we ended up heading out to Osheaga later in the afternoon than we had planned. While this meant that we missed some acts, in the end I think it was the smart thing to do.

On Sunday we were treated to a mix of heat and rain. I actually didn’t mind the rain since I brought my rain jacket and it seemed to be keeping the crowd size down but oh, that sun. I’m shocked that I only saw a couple of people pass out from what looked like heat exhaustion.

I think there’s something to be said for holding a music festival over the Labour long weekend.

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