If I had to choose one day to come to Osheaga, it would have been Sunday, for the simple reason that the top bands on my wish list were scheduled. It would be a day full of amazing sets to end the event with a bang.
If you were a Pop fan, you would have been with Machine Gun Kelly and Dua Lipa.
If you were a rock fan, you would have experienced Wet Leg and IDLES.
Either way, the Evenko team pulled it off and made us feel normal again, for the first time in a few years.
If we were in the UK, Sam Fender would be headlining this weekend. His rocket has shot into the stratosphere of fame over the pond, since I last interviewed him 3 years ago. Read the interview here.
I can’t recall such a crowd for a 2:40PM time slot, many sporting Sam Fender shirts, singing at the top of their lungs and having signs to invite Sam to party with them…or marry them.
Sam, dressed in a High Spirits Diner bowling shirt, admitted that the band was sleepless as they could not secure a tour bus, so they didn’t get much sleep in the available transportation.
The band started with Will We Talk? off Hypersonic Missiles and played many songs off the widely popular Seventeen Going Under which also topped the UK charts.
Sam could be Springsteen from another mother, especially with Johnny “Blue Hat” Davis on Saxophone.
The awkwardness of Dua Lipa’s stage, which blocked a good portion of the crowd on the left from getting close, didn’t dampen their enthusiasm.
Sam is a generous person, and it formed wave of generosity. The security were handing out ice cold water bottles, and I was even offered some deodorant from someone in front of me…which I appreciated, yet politely refused.
The set ended with Seventeen Going Under, but even as the band left the stage, the crowd kept chanting whoa parts, not wanting this experience to end.
On my way to Gracie Abrams, she started things off with Feels Like. I noticed that there was no lineup for the Monster Energy Drink barbershop! I love companies that go the extra mile to create an experience for the fans, and Monster made sure many of us looked our best and stayed caffeinated. Their Lemonade Energy Drink probably kept me going for a few hours!
While I was not able to watch the whole performance, I was able to fully listen to that beautiful voice sing 21, latest single, Block me out, and the finale with I miss you, I’m sorry.
The set went from chill to dance-worthy and at least one fan got a bonus hug!
Sirius XM Terrasse
There is nothing better to do in Montreal than hanging out at a Terrasse. Sirius XM had a nice little terrasse complete with games, swag and live interviews with some of the bands.
I would like to give a shout-out to Satellite radio. Streaming providers like Spotify are known for sharing very little of the profits with artists, except for the select few at the top of the charts.
Satellite Radio, on the other hand, are generous with artists when it comes to paying them for airplay. You have to respect that.
I couldn’t miss the set by Inhaler, who unfortunately cancelled their interview with MontrealRocks.ca due to 2 members not feeling well.
They saved their energy for a performance that would win over many, including myself.
The band’s name is from Elijah Hewson’s bout with Asthma. The Green Stage got a breath of fresh air from the Dublin band, who played many of the songs off It Won’t Always Be Like This, starting with the title track.
That song took on new meaning during the pandemic and became a rallying cry of hope for normality.
The drummer wore a Nirvana T-Shirt, hopefully forgetting the horrible attempt the band made of Smells Like Teen Spirit as they first began jamming. I was hoping they would give it a go on this set…alas…no.
Oh that voice…how can you not hear the link between Elijah and his dad Paul David Hewson, whom you might know as the one who sings about Sunday Bloody Sunday!
Let’s forget that fact, as the band are doing quite well on their own merits, and the crowd were enjoying every minute of it, especially when the water hose succeeded in cooling us down, if in their path.
They played When It Breaks, Cheer Up Baby and for the finale My Honest Face, which was my personal favourite.
The best word to describe the performance is: Insane!
Seeing Mike Kerr play the bass, but actually hearing both bass and guitar come out of that instrument defies understanding. It’s like Matt created a new hybrid instrument through the trickery of technology.
Add the antics of Tequila infused drummer Matt Swan, who pumped up the crowd like a Rock And Roll cheerleader at the big game, and you have an insane show.
The energy these two performers threw out was completely nuts.
Typhoons, off the album of the same name, started us out, but the song that started my head nodding was Lights Out.
Mike used Dua’s stage to get nearer to the fans, when he wasn’t singing, and Matt would depart from his station to jump down and frenzy up the crowd up close.
When the first bars of Figure It Out started, we all lost it. I could see the moshing and was glad to be at a safe distance.
We then had the most…and there is that word again…insane drum solo, complete with Matt keeping a beat with the pedal while pulling the cork out of the bottle of Patron Tequila with his teeth and taking a sip before pulverizing that drum set once again.
I loved the drum solo break, where he proceeded to slow things down and run his drumstick through the chimes…before kicking it off the pedestal stage, all the while staring like an angry dog not letting us cross his path. He was having a blast and played the part so well.
Matt also took full advantage of the giant gong behind him, after getting the crowd to understand the sign language for a countdown from 10.
Out of the Black ended the set with more, dare I say, insane antics.
Mike pole vaulted his guitar, which hit the stage at the same ferocity as the music hit us for the entire set.
Matt picked it up, played a few bars, and proceeded to pick up one of his cymbals, also going for Olympic gold in the Pole Vault category.
We then entered back into reality, knowing that we just witnessed the most insane performance of Osheaga weekend.
girl in red
Marie Ulven Ringheim is self-described as “quiet and kinda boring.” On stage, she is the antithesis of boring, displaying an energy and rawness that I was not expecting.
I’m far from being a teenage boy or girl, but those in the audience of that demographic and beyond were thoroughly engaged by the performance and stage banter.
I may only know dead girl in the pool, which she played, but respected the performance of someone who is just trying to figure out love and mental health.
The big buzz was that Wet Leg was playing the smallest stage but blew up since getting booked.
The band’s name comes from a game the band were playing, trying to create a band name from emoji combinations. 💦 and 🦵was the winner.
I arrived a full 30 minutes before the start, and it didn’t take long for a large crowd to form behind me.
The crowd roared upon their arrival to the stage, enough to make any band blush.
Being In Love started us off, and we were all overjoyed that this moment had arrived.
Hester Chambers seems to be the quiet one, while Rhian Teasdale is the awkward, quirky one. This was most evident during the stage banter, which was just adorable, as it was the exact personality you would imagine from a band that sings about beach chairs, the supermarket, Buffalo 66 and wanting to be abducted by a UFO.
The set got pretty heavy at times, and by the time Chaise Longue came, there was just enough energy left to blow the non-existing roof off the Tree Stage.
This was one of the most memorable performances, knowing that next time, they will be on a much bigger stage, making us dance and sing at the top of our lungs.
If this site were Montreal POP…then I would be at Dua Lipa, who apparently put on a great show, according to those in the Metro choosing their favourite band of the day. MGK also made the list, but we are Montreal Rocks, so I got to the IDLES stage early.
Let me pretend I was at Dua Lipa and review that. She sang, danced in sync with others…and walked the catwalk with lights flashing. A good time was had by all.
Under different circumstances, I would have enjoyed catching that performance.
I don’t think I was prepared for the pure madness that a band like IDLES from Bristol can unleash on the stage.
Luckily, I made barricade, which is that safe zone, with the chaos behind you. I wasn’t going anywhere now, even if I wanted to.
The set started slowly, with Colossus, but you just knew that crouching right around the corner would be a vivacious beat waiting to be unleashed.
Joe Talbot commands attention on stage with his theatrics and antics, often swinging the microphone in an arc of power, only to turn around and catch it behind his back.
Mark Bowen, who was formerly a prison dentist, and Lee Kiernan were able to match the intensity of their singer, as if standing still were a crime and they were not getting caught.
For Car Crash, the heaviness was in the pauses between the notes.
Songs like Mother, a song about his mother who had a stroke and was paralyzed, made sure some took public transportation via body surfing.
Shout out to the security for this particular set, as they just wanted people to have fun, and stay safe. They did a fantastic job and were really looking out for anyone that needed help.
Never Fight A Man With A Perm, was both good advice and crowd pleaser. The band also played other classics like Grounds, The Wheel & Danny Nedelko.
If you were there, you know there was a distracting so-called fan who kept wanting Joe to come into the crowd. That person happened to be right behind me for most of the show.
The way Joe dealt with this heckler was remarkable. He spoke directly to the individual, stating his position:
“Stop asking me to come into the crowd. I love you. Look at me. You’re the reason I’m here, buddy.”
Joe paid his dues to be on that stage, and he wasn’t going to give it up for anyone.
“Maybe I’m not in a good place, bro. Maybe I just want to stay up here, bro. Maybe just respect I’m not going to do something you ask me to do, bro.”
The guy, climbed over the barricade and was going in Joe’s direction before the security team escorted him out, while the crowd booed the individual.
Even at that moment, Joe asked the security to “not rough him up.”
Joe showed grace and kindness and stood up to what was, in essence, verbal bullying. That is true strength.
The set ended with an absolute tornado of activity, especially with Joe smashing the drums along with Jon Beavis for Rottweiler. It was as if they were trying to melt that stage and make it to the core of the earth.
IDLES set a new record for intensity to close out this year’s Osheaga with a sonic boom to the gut.
During a small discussion with Nick Farkas, we learned about all the efforts behind the scenes to put on a festival of this magnitude, which is like building a city from scratch.
It took effort and creativity to get this rusty bucket back to being a well-oiled machine.
There were many tweaks you may have noticed, like no sound structure blocking much of the view of the main stages due to technology that was recently acquired. Side-by-Side Valley and Green stages, which was an architectural feat.
Having Arcade Fire might have been a happy accident due to a sad one, but it seemed so right. A lineup that included Francophone music, local and International acts with the variety of a Vegas buffet was exactly what this city needed to heal, both emotionally and financially.
Most Memorable Moment: Singing along to Wake Up by Arcade Fire with tens of thousands of people as the rain washed away the last few years of our lives.
Most Energetic Set: IDLES, followed closely by Turnstile & Royal Blood
Band that gave us their all: MONOWHALES, with Sally ending on her bloody knees in the crowd for Hand That Feeds
Band to Look Out For: King Hannah
Band whose name will be massacred: Khruangbin
Band that you will say in 1 year’s time: ” I saw them on the small stage at Osheaga”: Wet Leg
Band you wish you saw 3 years prior on the small stage: Sam Fender
Fashion Faux-pas: Slowthai wearing the Swaztica t-shirt…even if it was part of the anti-movement.
Moment I wished I didn’t miss: Machine Gun Kelly getting cut off mid-song, which he understood and respected.
NOTE: I like to think of him as his character in the show ROADIES, which sadly only had 1 season.
Video: Various audience member contributions…thanks!
Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their day jobs with out-of-the-box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives. He created the Rock Star Today Music Business Jam Session for musicians. Randal is a collector of signed vinyl, cassettes and CDs.
Photos: Susan Moss, Tim Snow & Patrick BeaudryShare this :