Osheaga is nearly here!
In just a few days, music- and fun-loving masses will be assembling on the Parc Jean-Drapeau-adjacent Ile Notre Dame to catch headliners including the Weeknd and Lorde and second-tier acts such as Solange, Run the Jewels, Danny Brown, Belle and Sebastian, Die Antwoord, the Shins and Justice.
With that level of talent on the bill, there are clearly plenty of reasons why this will be another sell-out festival. But too many ticket-holders miss the acts playing early in the day, or wander or lounge aimlessly between big acts, unaware of what they’re missing.
To help these festival-goers out, our Music Team has assembled our annual list of acts worth hitting the site early for, and worth looking out for when you may think you have time to waste.
With only a half-hour on stage at the beginning of the day, local Mozambique-expat Samito isn’t likely to garner a massive audience, but his live set is surely not to be missed by an early riser wandering before the action hits. Carrying some McGill jazz program chops, acoustic and synthetic infusions and addicting hooks, Samito brings refined Afrobeat grooves to every performance as dashes of vocal effects and blistering instrumental breaks add a sense of flair. Our city’s fusion tendencies are deeply ingrained in Samito’s sound, making for the perfect choice for outsiders looking to get a taste of what makes Montreal tick. (Donovan Burtan)
Vallée, Friday, 1 p.m.
One of the few francophone Québécois bands on this year’s bill brings that vintage Psycho Beach Party vibe to the festival. The local grrrl group works multiple shades of retro into their soundscape, painting a strong sonic picture for those who like a little psych with their surf and feminist punch with their rhymes. (Nico Ogilvy)
Arbres, Friday, 1:15 p.m.
The new generation of British pop is embodied by this trio, with one foot in indie and all its quirks and eclecticism and the other firmly planted in mainstream accessibility. Excelling as much at ballads as they do at uptempo singles, the boys of Blaebavon will surely get the girls swooning. (NO)
Vallée, Friday, 2:05 p.m.
Olsen returns to Montreal nearly one year after a rousing, high-profile POP Montreal performance and the release of her stunning album My Woman. She’s been on the road the whole time supporting the record and her expanded touring ensemble has yielded her a lot more room for brooding rumination and gut-busting guitar solos to properly accomplish her seven-minute centrepiece “Sister” and reinvigorate the album’s wide array of raw vocal acrobatics. The early-afternoon set is sure to turn heads and kickstart the day with a proper dose of sunburst energy and pressing emotional weight. (DB)
Rivière, Friday, 2:45 p.m.
Having begun her trail to internet stardom with a feature on 2013’s Acid Rap — perhaps the most famous mixtape of this generation — Noname’s 2016 debut solo effort was extremely “long-anticipated.” Telefone showcased an inviting personality with an effortless melodic sense and songs ranging from carefree warmth to the dire realities facing people of colour. Noname certainly breathes reserved intimacy so the Osheaga set isn’t likely to be the most hyped up experience of the fest. Still, sharp rhymes and blissful melodies are sure to connect with an afternoon crowd as the young rapper touts her massive potential. (DB)
Vallée, Friday, 3:25 p.m.
De la Soul
This year’s fest is hip hop heavy with an impressive mix of what’s hot, what’s huge, and what’s next, but this year Osheaga brings it back to the altar of what’s golden to set it off with De la Soul. The seminal Long Island, NY trio’s creative boundary-bending, from their ’89 debut onward, long ago cemented their legend status, but their continued presence and contribution to the culture they helped shape is not only relevant — it’s necessary. Old heads forget where it started and whine about the flamboyance of current hip hop styles we’ll see on display later in the fest. The Plugs just smile. If you wanna see how hip hop got freaky — and who helped put Dilla, Mos Def, Common and no less than the Gorillaz, among many more, on the map — don’t miss this treat. It’s gonna matter if you’re on the left side or the right side, so choose wisely, you purdue chicken. (Darcy MacDonald)
Verte, Friday, 4:10 p.m.
If you’re with someone you love, you definitely oughtta go have an early evening slow dance to the soul symphonies of U.K. producer/nether-voice Sampha. Then again, if you miss someone, or you love yourself but that shit is complicated, you’d also be well advised to go have an introspective moment early in the fest. Sampha and his band completely melted a sold-out Corona Theatre last February like a Valentine’s chocolate in your lover’s mouth. While perhaps what I’m describing sounds quaint, understand that being at a Sampha performance means becoming an instrumental part of the emotions evoked. Be a feel. (DM)
Friday, Vallée, 4:55 p.m.
Hey, look, if these two awesome young Montreal ladies — who sing’n’rap’n’dance well and who generally just make their audience want to be them — can get up and be ready to party at 1:30 on Day 2, so can you, and Heartstreets’ grooves and love disposition are a great reason to get out early and discover something new, or support something you already love. Emma and Gaby started out singing into hairbrushes in the mirror together, true story. Today, they make proper pop credibly rugged, and raw rap and R&B gracefully silly. Cruise with them.
Verte, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
This Parisian chanteuse folds delectable pop melodies and rhythms learned from a life lived in the Middle East, Africa and Europe into an addictive and often danceable sound. Her 2015 debut album Zanaka is full of upbeat, infectious tracks that should go over great under the sun for a festival crowd. (NO)
Montagne, Saturday, 3:45 p.m.
This indie punk band from Philly is one of the heavier guitar acts at the festival this year, promising to bring some sonic heft to the Valley stage. The four-piece is on tour for their 2016 sophomore album A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, but you may know them (even if you don’t know their name) for their cover of Nirvana’s “About a Girl” on the tribute album Doused in Mud, Soaked in Bleach. (NO)
Vallée, Saturday, 2:05 p.m.
NYC duo Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern received a Grammy nod for the first track they ever wrote — “Drinkee,” one of the highlights of their 2016 EP Soft Animals. Danceable and upbeat without pandering to pop standards, their sound should suit a sunny day and Osheaga crowd perfectly. (NO)
l’Ile, Saturday, 3:45 p.m.
Lil Uzi Vert
This is exactly the type of thing old motherfuckers who haven’t bought a rap record since Chronic 2001 (released, ahem, in ’99) get all uptight about on Facebook at 8 a.m. after dropping their tweens off at school, afraid they’ll come home dressed “like that” (even though they let them wear a Joker or Tinkerbell costume without blinking for the first seven years of their life). It’s a threat to their long-abandoned sense of relevance, and possibly to how they are perceived while holding a green iced-something-the-fuck with an emoji sticker on it. I’m a bald, white dad pushing 40 and if you ask me, Philly kid Uzi not only loves it that parents just don’t understand, he switches their medication and locks them out of their phone. Just take it from, uh, wisdom, kids: easy on the goofballs before sundown. You don’t wanna have to call dad from the medical tent.
Verte, Saturday, 5:45 p.m.
Okay. It’s Sunday, and it’s 2 p.m. If history has proven anything it’s that Sundays are made for two things: worship and violent competitiveness. H09909 (that’s “horror, before you go telling anyone you’re trying to see nine hoes or some shit) marry both of those primal intentions with aggressive intensity to a punk/rap do-whatever-edness that pays out in deep blood. Yes, the H0U9 is a little early for H09909. But if, for example, you’re coming out to see Run the Jewels later in the day, aren’t yet familiar with these heirs-apparent to Death Grips and like your beats served in a shoulder sling from a pit bull attack, get down to church.
Vallée, Sunday, 2:05 p.m.
The Osheaga festival is happening on Ile Notre-Dame (access via Parc Jean-Drapeau) from Aug. 4-6. $320 weekend/$585 gold pass/$1,150 platinum pass, single-day passes $120/$325 gold pass
See our interview with Bernardino Femminielli (another must-see Osheaga act playing on Sunday) here.