I consider myself very lucky to be calling this year’s Osheaga Fest my fifth! … I believe any long term commitment over four years in a 20-something’s life should be met with a high-five – what else other than some schooling and their favourite toothpaste do they really commit to for longer? When my best pals and I, back in 2007, started making the trips to Montreal for the fest, we were just like that punch-drunk lover. We would try very hard to maintain our cool and controlled composure as we walked through the gates at Parc Jean Drapeau, but after our first glimpse of the Mountain and River stages being set up for the likes of Metric, Broken Social Scene or N.E.R.D., our love struck gazes would return. Something we learned very early on at Osheaga was the stamina you had to have in order to pack in all the artists you wanted to see in a day. Mind you at Osheaga 2007, with its four stages, arts salon, smaller-scaled lineup, and less-numbered (but still hefty) audience, it was much easier to bounce around the island to catch almost every one of the acts. This cannot be said for the Osheaga of today.
Through the summers to follow, we noticed the number of festival goers growing and it was like a double-edged sword. We loved the turnout these musicians were getting, but found it harder to swiftly move between acts in time to get good spots. Such is the reality of big hit events!
My taste of day one at Osheaga 2012 proved this to be true. Setting myself up for the first half of the day, I was thankful that the acts I was preparing for were all within a stone’s throw of each other (the complex is laid out in two sections: the large field with the two main stages, and a set of three stages interspersed in the wooded area of the complex). What was unique about this year’s set up was that we had to cross over a small bridge to reach the wooded area with the Tree, Green and Piknik Electronik stages. I crossed over and planted myself at the Tree stage to watch one of Osheaga 2012’s first acts, Solids. The hometown Montreal duo flew right into their set, inducing the audience into a synchronized head bang before pausing to greet us and celebrate the beginning of the festival. Into their next song, I realized I should have picked a spot slightly further back, since the force of sound that drummer Xavier Germain and guitarist Louis Guillemette produced pounded over their vocals. These two were going for big sound and they certainly did achieve it, instrumentally.
Next up was Kelowna, BC’s Yukon Blonde, an act I had been looking forward to seeing that day. Here the crowd gathered in a larger horde – for these rockers have taken Canada and beyond by storm in the last couple of years! The four longhaired lads threw the crowd straight into dance with a melodic crop of songs off their recent album Tiger Talk. Coming to the end of their set, the boys turned to the crowd to choose their last song… a vote between Loyal Man and Wind Mill. Their effort to please the people paid off, as bodies worked up a sweat and sang out to the group even as they disappeared off stage. Still bubbling from the BC boys, I headed to the next stage over (Osheaga’s Green Stage, powered sustainably and ecologically by a combination of wind and solar power). Out in an open and VERY sunny patch of the wooded area gathered the biggest crowd I had seen that day. It was to this sunburning and sweaty crowd that out came Bombay Bicycle Club, hailing all the way from London, England. Seemingly glad to be away from the festivities back home, the group rejoiced the city and sported smiles throughout their set. The climax of their performance came when drummer Suren de Saram busted out a hip-shake-inducing drum solo, with fellow band members coming in to provide percussion extensions for him to hit. The band caught the audience by surprise when they announced the end of their set and evaporated into the heat, at which point my first day back at Osheaga came to an end and I wound my way through scores of people and out to the island’s exit.