Osheaga 2019 Day One

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Osheaga 2019 Day One

The Lumineers @ Osheaga

This year, for me, was all about the small font bands. Evenko can put on a world-class festival, with impeccable organization.  Their other superpower is finding the bands that are on the verge of being a shooting star and booking them on the smaller stages before they go big. Their curation is second to none. 

I remember Twenty One Pilots playing the Valley Stage in 2015, who recently filled the Bell Centre.  Flume in 2016 on the Green Stage to the Mountain Stage tonight. 

Osheaga is the buffet of festivals.  Typically, I hate the buffet…I don’t want to overeat mediocre food just because it’s all you can eat.  This buffet is different, it’s all about variety of genres.  If you enjoy modern music, there is something for you…somewhere.  You might just have to walk to find it.  I did 21,626 steps for this article (15.5 km) and I’m ready for two more days.

Osheaga 2019

Original Renovated Location

We are back to the newly renovated original location this year with the side-to-side stages (River/Mountain), Island stage for EDM and the walkway to Tree, Valley & Greenhouse stages.  In between, plenty of chill spaces, food trucks, activities and all-around festive spirit.

The new space allows up to 65,000 fans to enjoy art, music and good times.

Some of the sponsors got creative this year. You could get a free haircut at one of the Monster Energy Drink spaces.

If you want a free Jack on the Rocks…Jack Daniel’s was the place to be. Well… it was a statue of Jack standing on a large rock. They took advantage of their space by giving free temporary tattoos, VR tours of the distillery, barrel building contests (for prizes), as well as an unlock the safe game, which is based on the fact that Jack Daniel died of complications due to kicking his safe when he forgot the combination. What a way to go…death by toe infection.

Osheaga had their own game, which consisted of participating in certain activities, posting pictures on Social Media and collecting recycling. Points exchanged for a variety of Osheaga swag.

Osheaga really upped their game when it came to recycling and doing their best to lessen the environmental impact. Something the boys from Young the Giant mentioned during our interview.

Security & First Aid

Security was exceptional this year. The security staff was kind, yet still held the respect that if you crossed the line, there were consequences. This is important as a majority of fans are made up of women, and it’s crucial that it is safe for all. I saw them hand out water to those in front, and make sure that everyone was safe.

I witnessed the first aid responders quickly deal with situations, in a dignified manner. Top-notch care.

Rosalia

It was the perfect weather, albeit a little hot, but sunny with a nice breeze in certain spots.

One thing to watch out for is the random water canon that doesn’t just sprinkle you…it’s a torrential downpour.  Refreshing…but be prepared to be wet if you decide to inhabit two first dozen rows. 

Dear Rouge

I started with Dear Rouge who took the River stage hostage for their high energy set.  It’s hard to be the first band out, at the beginning of the afternoon, but Dear Rouge delivered a solid and entertaining set.  “Back To Gold” was my favorite and Danielle McTaggart used red smoke to highlight the song. 

Dear Rouge (Shot by Randal Wark)

It’s always good to get the lay of the land, so I walked the facility go get the layout back into focus.  

We Are Monroe

I couldn’t miss We Are Monroe as I was scheduled to interview them a little later in the day.  

We Are Monroe (Shot by Randal Wark)

On top of that…they are known for their live performances and they are on home turf.  

The best advice about listening to their material was from a CKUT interview which suggested you open a window and get big-ass speakers…crank it up and annoy the neighbors. 

The trouble with that plan is the neighbors might not get annoyed, but might join in the party!  “Midnight Cruiser” would be a good choice, and they delivered it with panache.  You can feel the Interpol/Killers influence in the sound, but they make it their own.

For “Funeral” you can detect a hint of Arcade Fire mixed with other indie bands.  

WAM were on double duty as they played the after-party with Kodeline at the Corona Theatre at around midnight.

Looking forward to seeing more from these talented boys.  

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

I caught the last song by soulful St. Paul & The Broken Bones.  As I mingle into the crowd to catch a part of their set, I see on the giant screen the guitarist is sitting on the singer’s shoulders.  

I guess I missed a party because if the crowd was any indication, this was a band that was having a blast, along with their audience. 

It was a taste of the buffet that left me wanting more.

JPEGMAFIA

I went to check out the Green stage and found JPEGMAFIA whipping up a mosh pit of dancing to his rapping.  Shirtless and filled with energy, he paced back and forth spewing out his rhymes.  

He definitely had the crowd in the palm of his hands.

I returned to the big stage to take a sample bite of Dean Lewis.

Dean Lewis

Dean Lewis

There is an innocence to Dean as he comes on stage to sing. Although he would fit well performing in a coffee shop, it was clear the big stage was meant for him as he starts to strum his guitar and sing.  

The crowd around me is instantly in a good mood, swaying in the sun.

Talented and catchy, Dean delivered the goods today. Non stop solid performances, and this is only day one!

I was intrigued by Sharon Van Etten, so I headed to Valley stage, a little early to get a good view.

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon is described as indie-rock, but there is an intensity there that is mesmerizing.  Siouxsie Sioux came to mind as she sang, that same intensity of emotion. 

Although I only had time to catch a few songs, it was enough to make we want to explore her catalogue of songs further over the next few days. 

NOTE: I did download “Remind Me Tomorrow” and “Comeback Kid” brings back memories of her performance. 

Randal getting a haircut by Pope the Barber (shot by Jaime Antonio Luna)

Interpol

Interpol

I was getting a free haircut from Pope the Barber (Vatican Barbershop of Santa Ana CA) thanks to Monster Energy drink when Interpol started. Luckily, I only need a quick trim, so I rushed to the River stage to see them perform again at Osheaga.

You can’t deny the coolness factor of Interpol.  While they might not prance around on stage doing cartwheels (Joji did those)…they are mesmerizing.  

Being able to hear “Evil” and “Slow Hands” was the highlight. 

Joji

Joji has many fans, and it’s not just because he kickstarted the “Harlem Shake” meme.  Joji has great talent, and he can belt out a tune!  

Joji (Shot by Randal Wark)

A fan around me shouted, to no one in particular:  “Make your tickets easier to get and play bigger venues!”  

Yeah.  Seeing Joji is a special occasion for the selected few.  Having him at Osheaga was special and the crowd went nuts.  

Joji introduces his songs in a typical “dad joke” style. Hey…I’m a dad…I found the intros funny. 

“Yeah Right” and “Test Drive” were two that I most enjoyed. My kids play Joji often, so it was in my sub-conscious. “Test Drive” was stuck in my head the next day.

Joji even managed to do some flips to keep the energy up, but it was clear the crowd was enjoying every minute of the performance, singing as loud as he was.

Definitely the most dedicated crowd so far at Osheaga.

Flume

Flume is a crack-pot…literally.  Sporting a lab coat, he started by sitting at the front of the stage playing his electro contraption but eventually moved to the center of the stage to do various art projects on this little table.  

He re-potted some cactuses, and later on in the night, smashed the pots…hence the crack-pot title.  

“Never Be Like You” featured Vera Blue which was great. She just flowed on stage as our mad scientist played with his various electronic setups.  

I decided to make my way to the Island stage to catch some EDM with Belgian Charlotte de Witte.

Charlotte de Witte

It was my first time at the EDM stage, and even if it was night, those water cannons were in full force.  

She arrived a little late but got right into her set. Lights, smoke and sparks marked some momentous moments.  The beats were hard and this stage was where the party was at.

I can see why some choose to spend 3 days at this stage and dance to the wee hours of the morning.  Well…till about 11 PM…then to some afterparty.

Charlotte came to my attention on YouTube with a full vinyl set…so she is the real deal.

Lumineers

The Lumineers

Can’t miss the headlining band, the Lumineers.  

Hearing songs like “Cleopatra”, “Ho Hey” and “Ophelia” brought the joy level to 11.  They played a few songs from a platform partway into the crowd which made it all that much more interesting.

As I left home after day one, I was impressed at the organization, the vibe and the curation of some of today’s leading artists.

The band I wished I saw (there is always at least one) was Mitski, who I heard was phenomenal.  

Osheaga 2019…you rock!

Mitski
Bayonne
Gucci Mane
Kodaline
Kurt Vile
Naya Ali

Review: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube.

Photos – Steve Gerrard

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