Arcade Fire Osheaga 2022 photos

Osheaga 2022: 28 sets that made up a momentous weekend for music in Montreal

From the heights of headliners Arcade Fire and Dua Lipa to the WTF stupidity of Machine Gun Kelly and Slowthai to killer sets by the hyped Wet Leg and relative unknowns Khruangbin, this weekend there was no place like home.

Osheaga 2022 has come and gone, not without controversy, cancellations and complaints that befall every festival of this magnitude — expecting perfection, especially under the circumstances of the past 12+ months while this event has been in the making, is asinine. But overall, the revamped site seemed well-oiled, people seemed happy and the festival achieved what it set out to do: Bring the hordes back to Parc Jean-Drapeau for three cathartic days of good music, good vibes and good memories.

As for what went down on stage, our critics and photographers were more than ready to return to the field.

Friday, July 29

Gus Dapperton

The first artist I saw all festival just so happens to be the most Québécois-looking one. Sporting a thin, quasi-John Waters moustache and sunglasses (with a pair of baggy white Hammer pants to boot), New York bedroom pop auteur Gus Dapperton’s quirky yet earnest and sentimental style shone brightly during a warm first day at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Playing an acoustic guitar shaped like an electric, his tunes suited his early-ish afternoon time slot nicely. He disappointingly shied away from the high notes live, but still delivered a solid tone-setting performance for Osheaga’s first edition in three years. The set closer “Post Humorous” is especially excellent in a festival setting. (Dave MacIntyre)


PinkPantheress Osheaga 2022 photos
PinkPantheress. Photos by Cindy Lopez

Heartbreakingly, this was probably the most disappointing set I saw all weekend — mostly through no fault of the artist’s own. An exciting young English songstress with a childlike voice and beats indebted to classic U.K. dance genres like jungle, drum & bass and 2-step garage (notably on “Just for Me”), PinkPantheress drew me in with high hopes. Unfortunately, she’d lost her voice before the show, even asking the crowd to help her by singing along. Even when she tried to sing, the backing track would largely overpower her. Though she was bubbly and interactive with the crowd, she’s clearly still a young artist, as her live vocals — even if her voice was 100% — and timid stage presence still need improvement. (Dave MacIntyre)


Parcels Osheaga 2022 photos

I hadn’t initially planned on seeing this Aussie electro-disco outfit, but they were a fun, ’70s-reminiscent show to have on right as the sun began to set. Their tunes are defined by groovy rhythms and heavy nods to dance trends of the past — namely, Nile Rodgers-esque guitar chucking and even early 2000s trance (plus a cover of the Magician’s enduring remix of Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers,” for good measure). Perhaps their music is better suited for a disco instead of a festival, but I’m glad Osheaga had them nonetheless. (Dave MacIntyre)


Turnstile Osheaga 2022 photos

This was my most hotly anticipated set of the weekend, and boy oh boy did they deliver the goods. With bassist Franz Lyons rocking an Expos cap, these Maryland hardcore punks have pushed that genre’s boundaries on a mainstream scale while compromising little of their musical integrity — and as a live band, they’re an appropriately well-oiled machine. Frontman Brendan Yates’ heavy eye makeup and dance moves might look weird in front of a band with chugging metal riffs, breakneck punk rhythms and a John Bonham-like solo by drummer Daniel Fang, but everything came together beautifully during their performance. Perhaps that’s also what adds to this band’s charm and intrigue. Either way, they killed it. (Dave MacIntyre)


After I had to run back and forth between his set and Justice’s back in 2017, I’d hoped I’d finally get a chance to see Atlanta’s 6LACK — no, it’s not pronounced “six-lack” — perform live in full. Sadly, this wasn’t to be, as his set overlapped with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who were about to make way for Arcade Fire. What I did see of the singer/rapper (one hell of a transition after Turnstile) also left me wanting more. Even though his monotone voice and deadpan expressions fit his style perfectly, he didn’t really command the stage enough to make those things less noticeable during his set. (Dave MacIntyre)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Osheaga 2022 photos
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

20 years after popping out of the Brooklyn scene, Yeah Yeah Yeahs still have the fire to get a festival crowd riled up, and Karen O has retained that special fusion of Kate Bush’s eccentric allure, Cherrie Currie’s punk rock fumes and Bon Scott’s panther vocals (which carry over beautifully into her between-song exclamations). I feel a bit burned on this band, personally, having seen them too many times to count, but I would’ve gladly pogoed to their early standout track and former set staple “Date With a Night” if they’d played it. That said, “Maps” was a great nostalgic slow-dance, and the crowd getting all in for “Zero” and set-closer “Heads Will Roll” made for a fun lead-up to the night’s main event. (Lorraine Carpenter)

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire Osheaga 2022 photos
Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire has been the crown jewel of the Montreal indie rock scene for the past two decades, with all their classic albums, classic songs, international notoriety and near-mythical status locally (and yes, despite the fact that its core couple now lives in New Orleans for the better part of the year). This made them the perfect choice to headline the opening night of the comeback edition of Osheaga. Of course they weren’t the original choice, and a tribute rang out mid-set for Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters drummer whose untimely death in March forced that band to put all touring on hold.

Though I’d been on site all afternoon, the magnitude of being at Osheaga, three years later — something I’d literally dreamed about early on in the pandemic — only hit me after dark, 10 bodies back for Arcade Fire’s set. This, coupled with the nostalgia factor of watching Arcade Fire headline Osheaga again (as they did back in back in 2010) and all the French-language shout-outs about Montreal and Haiti from Régine Chassagne, and the thinly veiled anti-Legault pro-multiculturalism comments from Win Butler, made the experience extremely emotional. Sure, “Afterlife” always brings out tears — I could hear it faintly in a supermarket and it would still get me — but ugly-crying during “Ready to Start”? Damn.

The band covered nearly all the bases during their 20-song set, kicking things off appropriately with the pandemic-isolation-inspired “Age of Anxiety I,” from the latest album WE. Butler thanked the crowd for “pretending to like” the nine-minute “End of the Empire,” a live experiment he felt was the right move in front of a Montreal crowd — phone lights and lighters were held aloft in what looked like pretty genuine appreciation to me. “The Lightning” (II) was an uptempo highlight, while the back-to-back “Reflektor” and “Creature Comfort” similarly got the crowd raging.

Following a shout-out to new Arcade Fire (touring) member Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Operators, etc), the band played a cover of Wolf Parade’s “Hearts of Fire” with Boeckner on lead vocals, which was a fabulous surprise twist for fans of both bands. Another treat was the inclusion of one of Arcade Fire’s oldest songs, “No Cars Go,” which Butler dedicated to long-gone founding band members Brendan Reed and Dane Mills, reminiscing about being an aspiring songwriter while working in a St-Viateur sandwich shop.

“No Cars Go” was bittersweet on a couple of levels, being the only track included from Neon Bible — I mean “Keep the Car Running” is such a good live track. (The band also, curiously, dropped Funeral‘s energetic “Neighbourhood III (Power Out).”) The song also drove home the absence of Will Butler, who recently left the band, taking his unhinged energy with him. He is missed. That said, percussionist and keyboardist Paul Beaubrun did an admirable job in the hype man role throughout the show.

Predictable set-closer “Wake Up” and its grand confetti finale seemed cemented the feeling among fans and other festival-goers that they’d experienced something special and savoured a generous bite of sweet normality. For those who missed it, the band will be back in town at the Bell Centre on Dec. 3. (Lorraine Carpenter)

Saturday, July 30

Pierre Kwenders 

Pierre Kwenders Osheaga photos 2022
Pierre Kwenders

On the heels of a new LP, José Louis and the Paradox of Love, Pierre Kwenders received a hero’s welcome on his hometown return at Osheaga, getting the early afternoon crowd moving and swaying. Genuine happiness was in the air as Kwenders offered up a balanced selection of big tunes from each of his projects. Everyone dances at a Pierre Kwenders show, sure. But he’s the best dancer there, make no mistake. Don’t call it a comeback. This was excellent as always. (Darcy MacDonald)

Sampa the Great

Sampa the Great Osheaga photos 2022
Sampa the Great

Without gushing, the rapper and her band made it clear they were thrilled to be at Osheaga. 

“(Music is about) opening doors,” Sampa exclaimed to an enthusiastic, sun-soaked crowd.

“Even though we’re the first Zambian band at Osheaga…we’re not the last Zambian band at Osheaga!”

Singing and rapping in no less than five languages and backed by players who have just enough presence to complement the magnitude of Sampa the Great’s bombastic energy, the trait that distinguishes the young talent the most is a ferocity and aggression that bubbles right beneath her charming demeanour. The overall effect suggests an artist who knows when playtime ends and fight club begins. (Darcy MacDonald)


Skiifall Osheaga photos 2022

From DR Congo with Kwenders to Zambia with Sampa the Great, my travels led next to St. Vincent and the Grenadines by way of NDG and the patois-laced, downtempo hip hop of Skiifall. 

“This is the only way I’ll get away with cursing in front of my mom,” the 20-year old rising star joked. “Je vais m’en profiter.” 

Skiifall’s set included a good chunk of his limited (but legitimately exciting) body of work, a new song, and an attempt to engage the possibly-greened-out but sizeable and excited crowd gathered at the tree stage in a sing-along to Chaka Demus & Pliers’ “Murder She Wrote.”

“You guys are terrible!” the young MC proclaimed.

In a move that could have gone terribly wrong but landed amazingly, he invited some rando from the crowd on stage to join him on the mic toward the end of the set. A happy mess was enjoyed by all. (Darcy MacDonald)

Freddie Gibbs

Freddie Gibbs Osheaga 2022
Freddie Gibbs

Freddie Gibbs’ entertainment career is a bit of an anomaly. Widely embraced in hip hop’s underground since the early aughts, his profile in the rap world truly sparked in the last half-decade or so. Two collab albums with producer extraordinaire Madlib pushed him further into the conversation; his Alchemist-produced record Alfredo was nominated for a Grammy last year, and he’s edging further into the mainstream with a successful acting stint on Peacock’s sleeper hit Bust Down

So he was received warmly at Osheaga. But if we’re keeping it a buck, it was a pretty sleepy performance, marred by poor sound quality. All that Madlib bass wasn’t quite carrying as it should. And Gibbs didn’t seem to give a shit. But that said, he got the job done. 

Right after Gibbs on the stage next door, Northampton, England’s Slowthai gave a boring, paint-by-numbers rendition of what an edgy rap show is supposed to emanate. (Darcy MacDonald)

Slowthai (with the swastika shirt)

Call me jaded, but when the most interesting thing about a performer is a T-shirt that says “Destroy” over a swastika — immediately discarded in favour of showing off his skinny, tatted torso — I simply don’t have 40 minutes worth of fucks to give about the hype. It was break time. (Darcy MacDonald)

Slowthai (after the shirt came off)

Slowthai Osheaga photos 2022

Not to be confused with Fastthai, this British rapper (born Tyron Frampton) played Osheaga’s Scène de La Vallée with no shirt, a longer haircut, pulled-up white socks, shoes that almost look better suited for tap dancing, Union Jack undies and an abundance of swagger, confidence and sheer attitude. He also got the crowd fired up and moshing eagerly as he jumped up and down and shouted in his snarling delivery — not to mention getting the crowd to chant “cunt” back to him (choice quote: “How are you beautiful cunts doing tonight?”). In other words, exactly what you want from a Slowthai show. Especially without that shirt. (Dave MacIntyre)


Mitski Osheaga 2022

Another artist I had to miss at a previous Osheaga due to schedule overlap, Mitski is equal parts eccentric, ethereal, stoic and hypnotizing — and her live show drives that home even further. Wearing a full baby blue outfit and dancing theatrically enough to make Kate Bush proud, she’d maintain a stern expression on her face the whole time, starkly contrasting her having excellent stage presence and performing ability. Sadly, I missed the end of her set due to a time conflict with Slowthai, but I’m glad I got to see more of her than I did last time around. (Dave MacIntyre)


Khruangbin Osheaga 2022

Good God, this was fantastic. The Houston, Texas trio threw down a dirty discotheque party for a huge crowd at the River Stage that, frankly, had no idea what to make of their stone-y cool and slick indifference to anything but their own jams. Never in the history of partying have so many people on molly not danced. It was a real head-scratcher, but whatever, they were a total coup-de-coeur pour moi. I may never learn to pronounce their name properly, but Khruangbin is the band you want to see at dusk on a Saturday at Osheaga. (Darcy MacDonald)

Burna Boy

Burna Boy Osheaga photos 2022
Burna Boy

As if Khruangbin’s set on the opposite main stage wasn’t enough of a pure, unadulterated vibe, Burna Boy took that energy and cranked it up big time. The Nigerian Afrobeat heavyweight brought a distinctive presence to Osheaga’s programming this year, as the genre didn’t seem to have much of a presence at the festival previously. In any case, his tunes are intoxicating, hype but not too hype, and scream summer, beaches and warm weather. Pretty much everyone seemed to be grooving, swaying, smiling and just generally having a grand old time, and it’s a set I’m really glad I ended up seeing. Oh, and he had a 15-piece band backing him. Fucking awesome. (Dave MacIntyre)

Porter Robinson

Khruangbin and Burna Boy both absolutely killed it on the main stages, but if anyone’s up to the task of topping those sets, it’s Porter Weston Robinson. One of my personal favourite artists, and consistently putting on one of the most visually dazzling and emotionally gripping live shows in music, his set at Scène Verte on Saturday night did not disappoint. Sounding great both in his normal voice and his pitched-up one, Robinson did a fantastic job adapting his live show to the world he built around his most recent album, Nurture. Playing piano onstage as well as a launchpad, and showing home videos of his younger self during “Mother,” he brought new dimensions to his live show while also reminding fans why he’s such a great performer to start with. (Dave MacIntyre)


Future Osheaga photos 2022

Hotlanta was in the house to close things out. I’ve seen Future be better, and I’ve seen Future be worse. As far as a Saturday night headliner with currency in the pop culture world, and with a big, dumb, fun show to put on, you’d be hard pressed to say anything bad about Future’s hit parade. Banger after banger is what the people were looking for after two years of climbing up the walls waiting to wild-out at a mega-fest, and the mumble rap superstar delivered. 

If he seemed, figuratively speaking, to be looking at his watch as the performance went on, I mean…his name is Future. And in his near future, there’s always another plane and another fat paycheque to cash at yet another music fest. But at Osheaga, he was money in the bank for a successful Day Two. (Darcy MacDonald)

Sunday, July 31

Boy Golden & the Church of the Better Daze

Did I roll on down to Osheaga at 2 p.m. on a Sunday to catch a country band from Winnipeg? Bet your little heart I did. Having never heard of Boy Golden until the day before the show, I was compelled by his name, drawn in by his album and won over by his and his band’s simple authenticity and country rock connection. And his backup vocalist’s banana harmonica? Definitely that, too. And I wasn’t alone. On a beautiful, hot, sunny Osheaga Sunday that drew an abnormally large early-day crowd for Sam Fender, Boy Golden and company set the table for a great afternoon. (Darcy MacDonald)


Mahalia Osheaga 2022 photos

U.K. R&B singer Mahalia is all about breakup songs. And since I got dumped in the worst, most immature way possible by a grown-ass woman earlier this week, I could relate. Though I can acknowledge that everyone is the villain in someone else’s story, heartbreak is cruel no matter what plumbing you were born with. 

“I like to write songs about people that piss me off,” the butter-voiced lady of the hour explained. “People are horrid.

“Not all men are twats,” Mahalia reasoned. “Some of them are. And I’ve dated all of them.” 

At least she got some amazing songs out of her experiences, right? Great show from an exciting artist who sounds to me like someone who could very well pen a Bond theme and hit as big around the globe as she has back across the pond. (Darcy MacDonald)


Inhaler 2022 photos Osheaga

This is the type of thing that makes me happy that teenagers still play guitars. Nothing unusually exceptional about these kids, but they mean it when they sing and play, and that’s what it’s about. (Darcy MacDonald)

Safia Nolin

Safia Nolin Osheaga photos 2022
Safia Nolin

More heartbreak and more love from the belle province homegirl, who seemed a little more distant on stage than usual. But that’s cool. Fans at the Tree Stage were treated to the electric Nolin-land experience: a grunged-out four-piece carrying tunes from last year’s great Seum EP and intensified covers of the Quebec star’s adored acoustic material. Whatever else was on Safia’s mind, she still managed to bust funnies and touch the crowd, letting us know that in a few short hours, her crush on Dua Lipa would make her day. In the meantime, though, she made room in her heart to crush another Osheaga set and leave ‘em cheering. (Darcy MacDonald)

Girl in Red

At only 23 years of age, Norwegian singer-songwriter Girl in Red has become one of music’s more captivating young voices, and her live show backs it up. Playing hard-edged indie pop somewhere between Sonic Youth, Interpol, Billie Eilish and Avril Lavigne, she boasts genuine charisma and has some truly well-written pop songs (“Serotonin”, “Dead Girl in the Pool”) in her arsenal. Seeing people around me mostly talking amongst themselves was a huge bummer — but it was a fantastic show regardless. (Dave MacIntyre)

Machine Gun Kelly

Machine Gun Kelly Osheaga 2022 photos

“I haven’t slept in 52 hours!” Then get a fucking real job, asshole. If barf were an influencer, this is what it would look, smell and sound like. (Darcy MacDonald)


I could only catch the first few songs from the Bristol, England post-punkers but they were simply fantastic. Moody, aggro and dangerously charming, if a narcissistic personality were a band — and I’m not encouraging disgusting, untamed borderline behaviours here — these are the boys you would want to love you and leave you. (Darcy MacDonald)

Glass Animals

Glass Animals Osheaga 2022 photos
Glass Animals

For a second, it looked like history was about to repeat itself. Infamously having to cancel their rained-out Osheaga set in 2017 after playing only two songs, technical difficulties struck Glass Animals again this year. Upon launching into opener “Life Itself”, the band wasn’t able to hear themselves save for frontman Dave Bayley (“This is how you know it’s real and not a CD,” he jokingly told the crowd). They started again, only for the sound of certain instruments to suddenly not be audible. After a few minutes offstage, the band came back and started the song once more, and their set was smooth sailing from then on out. They’re an entertaining group with some catchy pop hooks, upbeat yet eerie songwriting, vibrant imagery and technology-themed stage props—and their crowd was huge and very sardine-like. (Dave MacIntyre)

Wet Leg

Wet Leg Osheaga 2022 photos
Wet Leg

Though I missed the tail end of Glass Animals, it was worth it considering Wet Leg were playing the small Scène des Arbres on the other side of the park. Chances are, they won’t play a space that small in Montreal again anytime soon. The massively hyped indie rockers from the Isle of Wight played their first-ever Canadian show at Osheaga this year, and they made their simple yet memorable tunes stand out in a live setting. Lead vocalist Rhian Teasdale brought some hilarious stage banter to the equation, too. (Choice paraphrased quote: “It’s getting dark! The sky right now is like a slushie when you ask if you can have it mixed.”) This was one of the most fun sets I saw all weekend. (Dave MacIntyre)

The Halluci Nation

As I walked back over to the main stages to catch the second half of Dua Lipa, I made sure to stop and check in on the Halluci Nation (fka A Tribe Called Red) and they were absolutely doing their damn thing. I can’t figure out why they weren’t booked to headline the dance-heavy Island stage but the dancers going nuts to these First Nations hellraisers had a comfortable, intimate moment together. This was where the wild ones truly were after dark at Osheaga. (Darcy MacDonald)

Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa Osheaga 2022
Dua Lipa

In 2018, Dua Lipa played the type of Osheaga set that made us hope she wouldn’t fade out after one summer in the sun on the tails of her first hits “One Kiss” and “IDGAF.” 

Well, here we were. Dua Lipa is a bona fide, certified and, above all, totally deserving megastar, and one with the clout to give Osheaga 2022 and the return to form of our beloved festival a sendoff into the starry night that legitimately made magic. The tens of thousands of fest-goers gathered got what they came for, left with the widest of open hearts and smiles, entertained to the last second by a pop goddess in the most meaningful sense of the word. 

Dua Lipa delighted us, and Osheaga reignited and united us. It’s not enough to say it’s great to be back. It was great to be together. (Darcy MacDonald) ■

For more on Osheaga, please visit the festival’s website.

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