‘They came, they listened, they conquered’

Florence and the Machine perform on Friday. (Photo by Adam Lazzarato).

If Osheaga 2012 had a motto, it would be this: they came, they listened, they conquered. The seventh and largest festival Osheaga has ever put on (ticket sales were approximately 125,000), Canadians no longer need to save up and fly down to attend Coachella if they are craving the ultimate music festival experience. The biggest and most notable festival of this summer, Osheaga 2012 set the bar high and generated three days of endless dancing, drinking and of course, music listening in Montreal.

Day One of Osheaga was not only the most dry day of the festival but it also accumulated the largest  attendance (and the first day to sell-out on single tickets). The River and Mountain coincided perfectly for acts to start immediately one right after another making it easy for attendees to see more acts without having to run across the park to a different stage. The biggest and most recognizable bands were placed on these stages making it easier for the volume of attendees to stay in one spot and consistently listen to a string of bands without necessarily having to move.

Crowds move towards the side stages. (Photo by Adam Lazzarato).

The downfall? The placement of the other three stages made it overwhelming and sometimes almost impossible for fans to get to the locations to see their beloved bands on time. In order to access the Green and Tree stages, attendees would have to cross a bridge made out plywood that crossed a main road within the park. Sure, 10-15 people walking across should not make people weary but the bottlenecking of the bridge to get to the stages sparked questionable remarks as to why these stages would be placed in that location and if the 50+ people stomping across the bridge to get to the sets on time would result in serious injuries. Fortunately, that worry did not come true.

Although the stages were placed strategically to block out sound coming from the other stages, they were not compatible with the high volume of people.

For the most part, the flow of the festival was consistent and managed to give off rewarding performances to the attendees. Day One started off with a pleasurable set done by The Walkmen, wooing the crowd with their songs such as “Heaven” and “Heartbreaker”. The award for the largest afternoon attraction was granted to the Icelandic band, Of Monsters and Men who were able to erupt roars and high volumes of people dancing to their saddest but most lovable song “Little Talks”.

Florence + The Machine took the prize as attracting the largest crowd. Florence’s presence captured the hundreds of attendees who watched attentively every move that she made on the stage, singing back and praising her with loud cheers and claps as she bounced around the stage. The set took a spiritual turn when Florence asked the crowd to partake in a “human sacrifice” ritual; audience members immediately started lifting their pals into the air as she counted all the sacrifices with a huge smile widening across her porcelain face.

That was not the only set that attempted to bring surprises. Fiest managed to get a fake palm tree delivered on stage (remarking “Now this feels like Coachella!”) while Santigold sang with a giant fake horse dancing in the background. Noted for their vulgarity while performing live, The Black Lips ended their set with one of the guitarists vomiting at the end, on the Tree stage. Jesus and The Mary Chain’s Jim Reid stopped performing in the middle of the set to yell “Can anyone else sing the words for me? I f*cking forgot the lyrics to the song.”  Strange, unusual but midly entertaining, these little antics made the festival much more memorable and gave the audience something to talk about.

Dum Dum Girls impatiently trying to figure out sound issues (Photo by Carly Basch).

However the eyebrow-raising incidents were not limited to crazy performances but also reflected interesting and questionable issues that came up throughout the entire weekend. Sound issues put a strain on some of the performances that occurred during the day. Dum Dum Girls were delayed for over 20 minutes after their sound technician was having issues trying to connect their instruments and microphones to the speakers. This resulted in them playing for only ten minutes; cutting out eight songs that they were hoping to perform and making it an overall disappointing set. MGMT’s speakers sparked a piercing shriek that interrupted their thirteen minute song, “Siberian Breaks,” causing difficulty for audience members to hear the last four minutes of the song.

Sunday raised concerns of safety when the weather showed inconsistent patterns of heavy rain. Although main acts such as City and Colour, Metric, and The Black Keys were able to fight against the rain and not suffer any shutdowns, Zola Jesus was forced to stop playing at around 2:10 p.m. for “safety reasons”. Having only been able to play two songs and the “downpour” stopping literally two minutes after she was asked to leave the stage, Zola made it up by sticking around and talking to her fans. Yet, the rain didn’t seem to ruin anyone’s experience and only added excitement to the three-day festival which was consistent with good weather up until then. Besides, a festival isn’t truly a festival unless you’re able to dance around in the rain while listening to Passion Pit belt out “Take A Walk” or sway along to The Shin’s “New Slang”.

The seventh, and biggest Osheaga managed to pull through and deliver everything festival-goers were expecting: big sound, big bands and a big crowd to share the experience with. After a long day of singing and dancing, the attendees were able to bottleneck back into Montreal’s Metro station every night, sporting festival souvenirs such as burnt faces, dried-up sweaty bodies, sore muscles and the most uncomfortable one of them all: very, muddy feet.

(Photo by Carly Basch).

Favourite sets of the weekend: MGMT and The Walkmen

Most disappointing set: Dum Dum Girls

Most boring set: The Weeknd
The “I shouldn’t have chosen to see this band” set: Brand New

Weirdest yet most fun set: Santigold

Most Nostalgic set: Garbage

Favourite Stage: The Tree Stage – the smallest and most intimate stage guaranteeing a nice view of the band

Least Favourite Stage: The Green Stage – due to its hard-to-get-to location and size, it made it impossible for large masses of people to move into and out of the stage depending on the act

Random Festival Perks: The Osheaga App being able to send notifications of any set or stage changes and also letting you know what band is playing in the next 15 minutes, huge variety of food, portable beverage vendors managing to go into large crowds during performances, large bean bags for people relax on, viewers constantly being blasted with a large hose during sets to cool them off, and the discovery of The Pizza Cone.

Worst parts of the festival: lack-of merchandise options, travelling to the far stages, getting off the island at night and for the germaphobes who already are iffy about public restrooms, the porta potties.

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