The 14th annual Osheaga festival gets underway at Parc Jean-Drapeau tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 2, bringing three days of pop, rock, hip hop and electronic music to the newly renovated and landscaped Ile Ste-Hélène site — the original site, after two years in makeshift mode on Ile Notre-Dame.
Summer fun is a guarantee, so why not make the most of it? Here is our guide to some under the radar acts that you should get to the site early for (or skip the mediocre main-stage acts for), and a few tips for sidestepping pitfalls of outdoor festival life.
In a last minute effort to fill in for an injured Jessie Reyez, alternative rapper Mick Jenkins has been added to Friday’s line-up and is now undisputedly the festival’s most lyrical performer. While unapologetically Chicago, Jenkins has consistently been welcomed as an adoptive son in Montreal. With Bob Ross-like abilities, he paints vivid imagery over bouncy beats — including many produced by Montrealers Kaytranada, High Klassified and Planet Giza. In a city that has fostered the careers of recent rap superstars like Chief Keef, Chance the Rapper and Noname, Jenkins remains a diamond in the rough. (Mr. Wavvy) Green stage, Friday, Aug. 2, 6 p.m.
It’s not all sunshine and floral dresses after dark at Osheaga, and especially not so as the aptly named New Orleans aggro-rap duo of Ruby da Cherry and $crim, to the raging sounds of producer $lick Sloth, list off all the creative ways to off yourself in verse with music designed to make the listener re-examine their options and opt to mosh or die — or possibly both at the same time. Think Ho99o9 with a nihilist suburban whiteboy twist. This stands to be one of the more urgent and relevant sets of Osheaga 2019. (Darcy MacDonald) Green stage, Friday, Aug. 2, 9:30 p.m.
My summer has been soundtracked in part by Beat My Distance, the debut LP from Montreal’s Anemone. Their breezy psychedelic-pop has made the hellish humidity feel less like a harbinger of the impending climate crisis and more like some grotesque faux-boho Coke commercial (pleasant but violently on the nose.) The five-piece plays Saturday afternoon, a favourable slot if you’re looking for some mid-day good vibrations. (Brandon Kaufman) Tree Stage, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2:20 p.m.
Montreal’s own Jerico has gone through many career incarnations. First a hip hop artist, then making lo-fi music, the producer found his fit when he started engaging in Montreal’s club scene. A Ti-Agrikol and Moonshine regular, Jerico linked with the latter collective this year to release the Run That EP, his official reintroduction with a fierce new house and Haitian-Creole-motivated sound. The milestone of opening the Island stage on Sunday is an important step in the right direction for this young talent. (MW) Island stage, Sunday, Aug. 4, 1 p.m.
While Sunday co-headliner Tame Impala are arguably the biggest force in Australian music at the moment, Mallrat is the country’s next up. The 20-year-old is a testimony to the new generation’s neglect to conform to genres, combining pop, rap and electronic elements to pave her own lane in a competitive market. Her honest, confessional lines allow listeners to feel a profound connection with the bubbling artist, all this depth masked over a rather bubbly soundscape. Osheaga is known as a Nostradamus festival of sorts, predicting who shall blow long before it happens. This year, Mallrat is one of the most promising acts about to pop. (MW) River stage, Sunday, Aug. 4, 1 p.m.
Dublin’s Fontaines D.C. is among the most talked about post-punk acts of the year, and their first Montreal gig will happen at the Green stage on Sunday afternoon. I’m intrigued to see how they translate the intensely emotional cuts from Dogrel, their debut LP, to the stage. A friend who’s seen them described one set as “skull crushing” — so if that’s any indication, they do it pretty well. (BK) Green stage, Sunday, Aug. 4, 1:40 p.m.
The Black Madonna
The Kentucky-born house legend is sure to offer Osheagans one of the hardest, deepest dance sets of the weekend in an extremely rare Montreal appearance at sundown on Sunday. If you can still party on two feet by this point in the fest, the reclusive Madonna, who has only visited these shores on one previous occasion two years ago at Piknic Élektronic, will give you something to gyrate about. (DM) Vitamin Water Island Stage, Sunday, Aug. 4, 8:15 p.m.
Ski Mask the Slump God
I was into this Florida rapper’s name before I even heard a note of his music. He’s on that trap/meme/mumble tip most olds like myself relish in shitting on, but unlike some of his less polished contemporaries, the Xxxtentacion and Juicr WRLD affiliate has more to say in lyrics than catch phrases and catcalls. Slump God brings the feel of true grit and an audible appreciation for hip hop to his music, which can, admittedly, get a little repetitive on headphones. In the live setting, however, I predict a set perfectly suited to make your final hours at Osheaga feel you earned them. If you already know, you know, and if you’re out to discover what’s out here these days, this is it. (DM) Honda Valley Stage, Sunday Aug. 4, 8:40 p.m.
Gel insoles: It’s hard to stay stylish and comfortable at festivals, especially when it comes to footwear. Walking from stage to stage all day can be truly tiresome by the end of a day. Styles such as flat bottom shoes or flip flops can both be a recipe for disaster. Both lack proper support and could result in significant soreness, with flip flops in particular putting you at risk of getting stepped on.
Having a great pair of insoles can make the world of a difference. Particularly, gel insoles are known to massage the feet, eliminating any cramping or pain so that you could get your one-two step on all festival long! (MW)
Don’t green out: Hey weed people, have you heard weed is legal now? And weed people are weeding it up here, there and everywhere nowadays like weed was a new invention and they’re the Samuel de Champlain of weed exploration. Faster than you can get into an in-depth discussion about trichomes and CBD levels with a couple that look like the Zig Zag guy and the Janis Joplin Muppet (and who may also want you to sleep with them after the Lumineers) you may also, if you’re not careful, green out under the hot sun and miss most of the day due to spins, dry mouth and the lack of a $2 Sloche and pepperoni sticks in your immediate vicinity. Nothing worse than harshing your overwhelmingly overstimulated 3 p.m. high as a lightweight walking in circles looking for the Green Stage with your tongue glued to the roof of your mouth and thousands of bros whirling past you in every direction sporting identical NASA t-shirts. Honestly, feeling like a dope and looking like a dope does not equal being dope. I have a feeling this year’s crowd is gonna smoke itself stupid so remember, pace yourself accordingly, be safe with whatever you indulge in and remember you aren’t in Josh’s parents mad lit air conditioned suburban basement this weekend.
Safety and prevention outreach organization GRIP will be on hand with volunteers on hand around the site to answer any questions you may have about safety issues in terms of drug use. And it’s always a good idea to identify where medical tents and security points are before consuming any variety of substance, legal or otherwise. (DM)