Osheaga Get Together Charlotte Cardin 2021

Osheaga Get Together: A fall festival gamble that paid off

The yearly summer music blowout got an intimate autumn makeover to give Montreal festival fans a taste of tradition.

If we sound sentimental, it’s only because we were so happy to be back at Parc Jean-Drapeau for a weekend of live music, outdoors, in as close to a normal crowd setting as we could reasonably have hoped for this year. And what Osheaga Get Together lacked in big-name, international superstar billings (not to mention mega-fest capacity or summer heat) it made up for with a sense of homecoming that found its groove over the course of a weekend filled with Québécois and Canadian talent programmed with balance and care to please as many music fans as possible given the circumstances. 

From early Friday afternoon well past twilight on Sunday night, Osheaga got it together safely, securely and entertainingly, with a well-conceived addition of sectioned off, limited capacity crowd “docks” and a pared down offer of two stages, compared to the usual six. 

One thing you rarely see at Osheaga is a long face. In that sense, this year’s special edition was as much a success as any other, despite some rain — and, tragically, a small one-passenger plane crash nearby on Saturday evening, very thankfully well away from the concert site.

And so the show went on. Here are our highlights, lowlights and reflections on this autumn edition of a Montreal classic.

Friday, Oct. 1


Hailing from the South Shore of Montreal, Soran was an artist I was unfamiliar with until he was announced on Friday’s lineup. The music I’d listened to before seeing him, while not the type of thing I’d generally keep in my own personal rotation, caught my attention enough to at least want to make it to day one in time for his performance, if not quite anticipate it. Soran and his band delivered about what I’d expected: competent, well-conceived, entirely inoffensive pop music, suitable for a festival that can draw real numbers with artists like Rufus Du Sol (who are, after all, someone out there’s favourite group, if not my cup of tea). Soran can sing and hold a stage, and doubtlessly earned a few new hometown fans. (Darcy MacDonald)


The “I’m Not Pretty” singer was excited to be at Osheaga, but I’m not sure that most in the audience were entirely reciprocal of her enthusiasm. Her stage banter seemed prepared for Madison Square Garden but the Vancouver-based singer’s distortion-chord infused pop works better on TikTok. Covering My Chemical Romance and Avril Lavigne was a nice touch, but was also safe padding for a set that only lasted 35 minutes to begin with. I’m told she also did a Frank Ocean cover but I must have been mentally checked out by then. Jessia’s aspirations are high but the nicest thing I can really say is that she reminded me of my downstairs neighbour belting out corny pop hits, day-drunk and presumably unaware how thin the walls are. When stopping to take a selfie with the band, her guitarist charmed it up by saying “fromage” instead of “cheese,” blissfully unaware that saying “cheese” has an actual purpose. Purposeless fromage sums it all up. No smiles here. (DM)


A sundown set from this Canadian-born, Cali-raised talent raised the bar for the rest of the day, adding some much-needed style and substance to a festival that is, under ordinary circumstances, resplendent with both. Osheaga treads reliably on the cutting edge of discovery and regularly takes chances on virtually unknown talents alongside the big names, so it was nice to get a taste of that with a weekend lineup that was, by and large, light on the latter. Reflecting a range of pop, R&B and hip hop influences, Odie fit the bill and gave a performance worthy of an artist compared in the press to Kid Cudi. One thing is for sure: he has a great voice and stage presence. Show-closer “North Face,” an ode to retail job woes, showed potential for future bangers. (DM)

The Franklin Electric

The Franklin Electric Osheaga Get Together 2021
The Franklin Electric. Photos by Cindy Lopez (Osheaga Get Together 2021)

Returning to their hometown and a crowd in fine form ready to greet them, the Montreal folk rockers brought an excitement to the air and a sense that we were finally at Osheaga, as the thousands gathered emitted our first audible, appreciable crowd roar with the unison that has been missing from the lives of local music fans for woefully long. The Franklin Electric has the singalong tunes, the stage energy and the bonafide fanbase exactly necessary to convert a plain but enjoyable day of live, outdoor music into a joyful atmosphere that actually felt like a welcome back to life and times long lamented, and now promisingly within reach again. Catalogue highlights and the power of brand new material from their latest, This Time I See It, made for a moment of true grandeur that could have easily carried on for double the set time. It was too short, but so sweet. Until next time, read our interview with frontman Jon Matte here. (DM)


The two-stage setup of Osheaga Get Together made for more than a few awkward moments. In Osheaga 2018, DVSN rocked a smaller stage at the festival while Florence + the Machine headlined. This year’s restrictions resulted in the duo who thrive in an intimate setting playing a hefty crowd just ahead of Charlotte Cardin. This should have been music to get in an excited mood. Instead, the slow jam-heavy set may have gotten their crowd in the mood for love making. Vocalist Daniel Daley has a truly mesmerizing voice, dazzling with a cover of Usher’s “U Got It Bad” while also running through tracks from their recent A Muse in Her Feelings and Cheers to the Best Memories albums. Simply put, DVSN gave one of the weekend’s best performances but their music just isn’t meant for the main stage. They played a fabulous set of bedroom music for the wrong crowd. (MW)

Charlotte Cardin

Charlotte Cardin

It’s hard to believe that it had been nearly three years since Cult MTL’s April 2021 cover star Charlotte Cardin played a Montreal show. The singer was welcomed back with open arms, offering her audience a homecoming for the ages.

For Osheaga Get Together’s biggest (and loudest) crowd of the weekend, Cardin’s versatility was on full display. Arriving on stage in a chic brown leather jacket, she segued from a full band, dancers and a choir to single-instrument piano and guitar performances. Her show is equally moving with a large body of instrumentalists alongside her as she is playing solo. “I still feel like an ‘emerging artist’ everywhere other than Quebec,” Cardin told this publication in an interview earlier this year. “I have been dealing with all of these really fun challenges, playing big shows in Montreal and then literally playing to three people sleeping at a bar in Denver.” There may be a long way to go before Cardin is a household name outside of the province, but here, she is pop royalty. Charlotte is a proud fan of Celine Dion. This performance proved her fit for the Quebec Queen of Pop title, whenever the reigning Dion is ready to pass down the crown. (MW)

Saturday, Oct. 2


Fernie Osheaga Get Together 2021
Fernie (Osheaga Get Together 2021)

A last-minute addition to the Osheaga Get Together lineup, the 23-year-old West Island up-comer was on my must-see list after two sold-out POP Montreal gigs last month and a word-of-mouth buzz proving merited. With a whip-tight, full live band and a moody, downtempo R&B sound perfect for the grey, drizzling afternoon, Fernie gave it all to a sparse early day crowd with the conviction and polish of a headliner. Impressive, especially considering a new project, Aurora, is barely two weeks old. Tying it all together was a completely kickass Hellraiser hoodie adorned in chainlinks. Read Cult MTL’s recent interview with Fernie here. (DM)

Haviah Mighty

Toronto rap strongwoman Haviah Mighty showed and proved with style and grace for a small but extremely devoted crowd of true fans gathered at the front of the stage for an afternoon set that could easily have played well after dark. She nonetheless helped set the mood for the rest of the midday’s hip hop lineup and definitely ranked among its highlights. The sweet spot between turn-up, club-worthy production and the powerful delivery and message of her rhymes and hooks is where Haviah Mighty’s blade cuts deepest, and the hundred-strong crowd, dancing and rapping along, made it a festival moment worthy of the “get together” billing, complete with a guest appearance from “Wishy Washy” collaborator Omega Mighty. (DM)

Zach Zoya

The Abitibi-born local fave is back better than ever after the year and a half that was. Zach Zoya’s confidence was never lacking and his presence Saturday confirms he’s neither resting on his rap laurels nor afraid to lean into his easygoing pop veneer. Shouting out collaborators Lunice and High Klassified along the way, Zoya, with a full band filling in the low end capably alongside his DJ, worked the growing crowd into the frenzy they sought on day two. His skills and range as a singer easily poise him for attention outside the province, and the credibility of his pop-and-rap duality suggest a promising future while delivering high quality live entertainment in the here and now. (DM)


One of Killy’s last treks to Montreal resulted in an “epic brawl” against fellow mumble rapper Lil Xan. This fight was more entertaining than any of his Osheaga set. At best, Killy had a solid 20-25 people excited to see him. Most people in the crowd seemed like they were simply by the stage to get good spots for the next performance. The MC has a voice akin to Sheen from Jimmy Neutron, as nasally as it is scrappy. Killy makes turn-up anthems that nobody wants to turn up to. There were two major highlights of the show: Killy’s diamond-encrusted Dragon Ball Z chain and when he finally put the mic down to leave the stage. (MW)

A tragic occurrence

“Are you alive? A plane just crashed,” texts my girlfriend at 6:35 p.m. Having not been on my phone since arriving at the festival, I assumed this was just an exaggerated message due to my lack of replies. Unfortunately, this was far from a dramatization. La Presse reported that a plane carrying a “Will You Marry Me?” banner crashed a few yards outside of the Osheaga site. The crash left one person dead and another rushed to the hospital. 

The news was a shock on several levels. All of the aforementioned news was not clear from the initial report. (It later turned out that the crash occurred in Dieppe Park and not on Ile Sainte-Hélène itself.) My priorities shifted from enjoying the concert in front of me to making sure my loved ones knew I was safe. Evenko took over an hour to report that Osheaga would continue as planned. Because of this, I was also scrambling to gauge any information I could from security. They were left equally in the dust but assured me that the crash was not a safety threat and expressed their doubts about anything being cancelled.

In a world following events like the 2017 Las Vegas festival shooting, hearing information about a plane crash near a festival was deeply unsettling. While I am grateful that myself and fellow festival goers remained safe, my heart breaks for pilot Gian Piero Ciambella and the family of the deceased passenger. (MW)


Manitoba-via-Morocco singer Faouzia seemed terrific but at this particular moment, it was hard for me to give her anywhere close to my full attention. A plane had just crashed a mere few hundred metres outside of the festival grounds. There were pockets of the set that caught my ear. Namely, these were jarring lyrics hitting too close to home, including, “It’s gonna crash down but not right now” and the unsettling, “Although I’m six feet under, my anxiety is taking over.” While the rest of Osheaga sang and danced along, my own anxiety had gotten the best of me. No artist addressed the plane crash. I would be surprised if most were even made aware of the situation. Although it was later addressed in a tweet from Evenko, it felt as if an announcement of sorts should have been made on stage. (MW)


Following a last-minute cancellation by Grandson, pop-rockers LANY filled in as a replacement, making them the only non-Canadian act to play Osheaga Get Together. The Interscope Records signees make fun, fitting festival music. Their music is inoffensive and near-calculated to generate big screams from every girl in attendance. The tunes are a bit surface-level, which was rectified by the band’s booming strength of character. For all those who were wishing that the likes of the 1975 or Troye Sivan were there to perform, LANY filled that role with style. (MW)

Roy Wood$

Roy Woods Wood$ Osheaga Get Together 2021
Roy Wood$ (Osheaga Get Together 2021)

Brampton-born Roy Wood$ is the black sheep of the OVO roster. He is the only artist (aside from the recently signed Smiley) on Drake’s record label to have never been featured on one of his boss’s albums. Roy Wood$ has the vocal intonations of the Weeknd with the swagger of Young Thug. It’s performances like these that make me wish the Metro Metro Festival could have happened this year. “Roymixes” of summer hits “Gyals” and “Essence” made for brilliant crowd engagement. No matter his gradual progression, Wood$ has experienced no bigger hit than his 2015 breakthrough single “Drama.” The crooner should be showcasing his talent on big stages, like Coachella or Bonnaroo, not headlining the CEBL Championship Weekend in Edmonton or playing to a far too empty “exhibition game” edition of Osheaga. Is it Drake’s fault for not taking more time to foster his artist’s potential, or should Wood$ have been doing more for his own career? The true answer is a bit of both but one can’t help but feel as if a guest spot on Scorpion or Certified Lover Boy would have young Roy’s trajectory looking brighter. (MW)

Majid Jordan

“It’s our first show in two years,” gleefully declared Majid Al Maskati of Majid Jordan. This was exemplified in the singer’s inability to hit most of his notes during this gruelling 50-minute performance. On one hand, it was genuinely satisfying to see the duo receive a well-earned placement, playing towards the end of the day at one of the country’s biggest festivals. It was hard to turn on any pop radio station this summer without hearing the ever-infectious “Waves of Blue.”

On the other hand, it is perfectly fine to need some fine-tuning after two years without performing. However, this should have been dealt with before a concert in front of thousands. After a stellar performance at Osheaga 2017, it was hard to see Al Maskati fumble through falsettos throughout the majority of his stage time. My last memory of seeing Majid Jordan was the duo DJing an afterparty and blasting a new R. Kelly song, only hours after news of his allegations had surfaced in 2018. This was somehow much worse. (MW)

Jessie Reyez

Jessie Reyez Fernie Osheaga Get Together 2021
Jessie Reyez (Osheaga Get Together 2021)

On an international scale, Jessie Reyez was the biggest artist booked for Osheaga Get Together. The Grammy nominee has written songs for the likes of Dua Lipa and Sam Smith, while racking up impressive collaborations on her own tracks, including Eminem and 6lack.

“Shoutout to the legend who made this song with me,” she said before diving into one of her three tracks with Slim Shady. Reyez has clearly taken cues from Mr. Mathers, merging comedy with sincerity for what was safely the greatest performance of the weekend. Her interludes between songs jumped from observing how Québécois say “waaeeeh” instead of “oui,” to a vulnerable recount of her experience with sexual assault in the music industry.

Among the many highlights was a performance of “Rain,” her duet with fellow Torontonian Grandson, made for The Suicide Squad. The track resembles a modern Bond theme, equally melodramatic and cinematic. A star in the making, we should get used to seeing Reyez receive other big placements in the near future. (MW)

Sunday, Oct. 3


Valence (whose members hail from all corners of la belle province) were described to me last month as a funk band. I was therefore curious to see them at Osheaga, so I made it in time for their set early Sunday. While “Corridor & Avoine” doesn’t quite have the same ring as “Hall & Oates,” Valence is committed to the aesthetic of a bygone era, right down to the haircuts and sax solos. Funk they’re not, but the music is highly palatable, supermarket-aisle-friendly soft rock, the kind that lined early-’80s FM radio programmers’ pockets with mad payola. If a reboot of that sound is gonna succeed anywhere, it’s chez nous. With extremely convincing audio-visual cosplay of an era, while Valence takes their musicianship seriously, the rest is obviously somewhat tongue-in-cheek. “Merci Osheaga,” their frontman signed off. “Coupe de cheveux gratis à la gate!” (DM)


This new project from Steve Dumas, Malajube drummer Francis Mineau and go-to Quebec studio maven Jonathan Dauphinais arrived with a debut album on Friday and a first-ever concert at Osheaga Get Together. Aptly following Valence’s ’80s rehash, the instrumental grunge trio evoked the moment in music history their name suggests, when G’N’R melted down and punk broke, again. With a nostalgic video show, heavy grooves and adorable kids running around on stage popping, locking and breakdancing, AXLAUSTADE’s first concert was an undeniable success. A good-sized and presumably unsuspecting Sunday afternoon crowd ate it up, embracing the oddity of it all.  (DM)


Stars Osheaga 2021 Get Together
Stars (Osheaga Get Together 2021)

Not to slight the Damn Truth, whose bombastic hard rock hit the spot for their local fanbase that turned up to cheer them on,  but if anyone was gonna match Montreal darlings and headliners Half Moon Run in terms of crowd pleasing Osheaga vibes, it was local indie scene vets Stars. I woke up on Sunday feeling legitimately giddy to experience this band once again. As they spread the love and majesty of their music with a career-spanning set that felt too short, but delivered on fun and fellowship, the people danced. Singer Torquil Cambpell hammered home the importance of community solidarity being our ticket to the future. The elders have spoken. Be good to each other. (DM)

Allan Rayman

Dressed like an average Plateau boy, Allan Rayman pulled up to the stage with a hoodie, faded jeans and presumably, a nose full of powder. It’s tricky to spot whether or not an artist is high while performing — some enjoy creating bizarre onstage personas. The strongest selling point of his true lack of sobriety came when the jumbotron would spotlight him, displaying larger pupils by the minute. 

“I barely ever leave my fucking basement,” he exclaimed in regards to how the pandemic affected him. This was quite believable, as Rayman exuded big “Ray Liotta midway through Goodfellas” energy.

Rayman’s staccato, Migos-like flows and gruff voice worked egregiously over the soft alternative backings. His band was the unequivocal highlight of the performance. It is a shame that such a talented group did not have a more worthy leader in their presence to exemplify just how great they were. (MW)


Sometimes, a boring performance can be just as grueling as a bad one. Case in point: Geoffroy. There was nothing inherently horrible about this performance but the artist lacked any semblance of enthusiasm throughout the set. Watching Geoffroy’s time on stage felt like a chore to get through. His utter lack of charisma casts a dark shadow on someone who is otherwise a rather technically talented musician. The saving grace? A percussionist who rocked a mullet and a rainmaker all night long. (MW)

Half Moon Run

(Osheaga Get Together 2021)
Half Moon Run (Osheaga Get Together 2021)

Friday night’s fest-defining performance from Charlotte Cardin was going to be a tough act to follow for any other band this weekend. Half Moon Run made the closing ceremonies at Osheaga Get Together memorable and gave a sense of importance to the weekend that was, and if Cardin’s fans are perhaps more doe-eyed in her presence, HMR’s blues-rock appeal made an autumn Sunday night perfect for a party crowd pent up with unspent summer energy.

While too often throughout the show a backing bass track was aggressively loud, there was no stopping the trio’s deftly synchronized, multi-instrumental virtuosity and powerful vocal harmonies, assisted at intervals by a four-piece string section. Channeling the acoustic rock greatness of Zep III and the ensemble force of CSN&Y’s brightest days, HMR’s greatest live appeal may actually be their obvious brotherhood as a band. Their onstage charm is undeterred, neither by the departure of longtime member Isaac Symonds nor due to live-hiatus-by-pandemic, and the audience gathered to celebrate the moment was captivated by the delight of it all.

Despite two shows scheduled at l’Olympia next month, band member Conner Molander reminded us to take it all in as though it was our last concert ever, a comment that would have sounded extremely ominous less than two years ago. As I made my way offsite, I took his words to heart and took a good, long look at the cityscape of Montreal to the front and the iconic festival logo lit once again behind the crowd on the hill at Parc Jean-Drapeau. 

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Osheaga Get Together together may have been a departure from the past in a lot of ways, but will be remembered by over 17,000 attendees as an entirely welcome, and welcoming, return. (DM)

Closing thoughts

Evenko took a risk with their decision to hold an Osheaga Festival during unpredictable times. Ultimately, some parts of Get Together paid off more than others. The three-day event should have been three headliners and a couple of opening acts. The attendance during the afternoons was more lackluster than ever, it did not feel fair for these performers to have such small and uninterested crowds.

There is no certainty that Osheaga 2022 will be business as usual. I applaud the promoters for using the 2021 edition as an opportunity to experiment with how to handle shows if these circumstances persist. (MW)

To see the complete Osheaga 2021 photo gallery, please click here. For more on this and future editions of Osheaga, please visit the festival’s website.

For more Montreal music coverage, please visit the Music section.