The rise of EDM at Osheaga

So, I’ve slid past the thousands standing in line this morning at Osheaga and am now in the press tent— there’s free water and a cool view to a couple of stages.

Let’s get it in. First went over to the Piknic Électronik stage to peep the Dream Koala set. Dude was so young and gracious. He took the stage with a black telecaster and proceeded to tweak a few knobs on his console— the bass drop hit me in the solar plexus like a black belt’s front kick. The crowd was laid right back, plumes of acrid smoke arching up over the bouncing ballcapped heads. This one guy had one of those scrying balls, which he slid from hand to hand preternaturally. Really fresh set and nice to see a performer who is still unjaded in their new-found fame. Plus I saw my Mom and her boyfriend in the crowd and got to share that moment with them.

Next I moseyed over to see July Talk, one of the rockingest acts of the day— they had a big Toronto crowd and they knew how to wind them up. Peter Dreimanis, who co-fronts the band, took the stage like a banshee with a large bottle of wine in hand, then toasted one of the greatest cities in the world to visit. Werd up MTL!?!

The femme side of the lead vocals, Leah Fay, brought her own bag of tricks. At one point she captured a beach ball, shoved it up her shit and halfway through a song gave birth to it. I wasn’t real struck with these guys when I heard them on the radio in recent months, but they put on a great show.

Of course I had to check out NYC rapper Pusha T, at exactly 4:20 – he meandered his way through some new trap stuff and treated the red-eyed crowd to snippets of Clipse bangers from the past. Big bass and clean, clear vocals made for a pretty dope set. His lyrics about bubbling crack and other dark fantasies really changed the crowd’s vibe— not for the worse, just got a little grimy; elbows out as you walk through the masses!

After that I was getting kind of tired so I went to find a couch in the VIP lounge— that’s when shit got live. I ended up sitting down beside a Montreal DJ that shall remain nameless. Suffice it to say that he knows everybody. We drank some special water and booked it over to the Piknic stage to see Flume. As soon as we were in the vicinity the whole vibe changed like something out of Fear and Loathing and suddenly we were in a zoo.

Girls with flowered crowns had taken to climbing the I-beam structure, there we people in the trees grinding their teeth— and the crowd was a sweat-drenched leviathan writhing wildly; I was caught in its coils.

Flume really spun fire. At one point I had to turn and seek more stable ground, and find water. By this time I was wide-eyed and mud covered and remembered I had a camera; so I went back to shoot some of the debauchery.

The Piknic stage was out of control. This moment was one of profound introspection and connection with the external world— paradoxical and true and definitely the highlight of my experience at Osheaga. The scene at the electro stage marks an important shift toward the EDM subculture, and the wave’s not cresting yet so that there’s still this visceral authenticity to be accessed. The Piknic stage was absolutely fucking bananas. I have no words.

Then we went to the big stage for the second half of the Skrillex set. I’ve had different things to say about him over the years. Granted, I’ve always thought he was genius, but felt at times his sound was getting homogenized. I don’t know how many of you have seen this guy play a festival or an after party, but I gotta tell you he murdered it; his set was beamed in from Andromeda, and it was a pristine feed. W#Rd.

There were at least 20 000 from the stage to the hill. And as the sun sank and the lasers cut through billowing clouds of smoke and mist, I though for a second I was gonna pass out. By then I’d lost my homies from the VIP lounge and I was on my own. I ended up trekking up the hill and bumming some cigarettes from a girl whose eyes were all pupils—.

I did stay for a bit of the Outkast set, but yo, it didn’t even come close to the sub-60 bass and photon blasts from the previous set. I’m not saying Outkast was bad, I’m saying Skrillex straight up destroyed my cerebellum. Good night in a Tom Waits voice, know what I’m saying.

Very fresh day— saw my Mom, met some insanely cool people, ate free gourmet sandwiches in the restricted area before and after chilling with journalists in the press tent. A lot of people ask me why I do these articles for FTB and I always say because, in doing so, I get to witness some of the dopest shit that goes on in our city, chill with artists and get to know them then share what I find out with other people. I do it because that’s what I do. Yesterday was way off the meat rack. Fuck getting paid— LOUWBRE.

Osheaga 2014: FridayOsheaga 2014: Friday

Click on the photo to activate slideshow. Photos by Jesse Anger.

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