Just a year short of its 10th anniversary, Osheaga Music Festival is like a young kid who appears streetwise and all the cool older kids let him hang out on the corner. What I mean is, it’s pretty impressive that a festival not even a decade old sees Nick Cave rocking out on a stage beside Jack White, where HAIM ends a set just as Modest Mouse begins, where Shlohmo rocks the after-party, where Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day makes a guest appearance with The Replacements, where the forest is full of hammocks and white lights and, because this is Montreal, there was a lot of painting.

Dazzled by the Hollywood-esque Osheaga sign that glittered from the hill, impressed by the Mark of the Beast-styled wristbands this year (you had to get the chip in your bracelet scanned by cellphones and gate devices before roaming free to different areas), I also found myself intrigued, in an anthropological sort of way, by the thousands of girls in flower crowns.

In my Top Picks, I wondered if Modest Mouse would still be relevant. Answer? Yes. “Float On” will never fade. “The Good Times are Killing Me?” Are they ever. Isaac Brock had painted his fingernails turquoise and pulled off a live performance satisfactory enough that I actually stayed in one place for almost all of it.


When Nick Cave came on…goddamn, I still don’t think I’m ready to talk about it yet. It’s been burned into my brain like a brand of awe and now I understand. I can’t write about this. It was too good. As for Jack White, well, this goes out to the entire crowd in front of the stage: FUCK YOU. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. I wasn’t even trying to push to the front, I was trying to push to the BACK and the aggression…My life flashed before my eyes. I thought I was going to get my skull crushed. And it wasn’t even from females. It was from males. Tall, aggro males who glared down at my lil’ 5 foot 3 self and refused to budge.

Finally, I raised my face to the sky and roared, “Let me the fuck through, and nobody touch my fuckin’ camera!” When the crowd realized that I was a loose cannon, they shifted uneasily. When I made it out of the pig pen, I climbed up the hill overlooking the grounds; as Jack White reminded us that being cool is still a concept that does in fact exist, fireworks exploded white hot in the background and I pulled an Irish exit to the metro so that I wouldn’t be stuck in line for three goddamned hours.

I want to use this area of screen to say a huge thank you to the people who were running about in green T-shirts, cleaning up after the troglodytes who still think it is acceptable to litter. And another thank you is due the festival itself, for providing such a great area for media and artists: Beanbags by the water, the comfiest outdoor furniture; mad style; bathrooms that weren’t traumatizing…I was rolling around back there like a pimp in a fur coat, totally drunk on my own power and sense of self-importance. Thanks, Osheaga! That wouldn’t have been possible without you.

Photos by Pat Beaudry courtesy of Osheaga.


So you’ve scanned Montreal’s Osheaga lineup for the 9th year in a row, getting that feeling of desperate excitement, visualizing how you’re going to stake out the stage and trample the audience in your madness to get to the front… I’m doing the same, only I have a forum to air my arrogant, opinionated top picks and you all have to be subjected to it. I love it.

Anyway, this is my own personal list of who I wanna see at one of Montreal’s most explosive music festivals. Unlike Rolling Stone’s Best Guitar Players of All Time, this is not a popularity contest masquerading as a definitive collection. Nope, this is just me going through the list and saying yea or nay, in no particular order. Here we go:

Jack White

Naturally. Is that too obvious for you? Who the hell cares? He’s innovative as hell (check out his record-breaking record pressing!), and for our generation — a generation of fast food/shopping mall/computerized music/apathetic cellphone relationship crap — we should all be going down on our knees and thanking God that we’ve got Jack White. And that he’s coming to Montreal.

Half Moon Run 

These guys keep getting compared with Mumford & Sons. Honestly, fuck Mumford & Sons. Half Moon Run’s album has nothing to do with that country folk revivalist crap. They’re local to Montreal, and when artists like Half Moon Run do what they do, they’re keeping the standard of incredible Montreal musicianship high. You’ve probably heard their songs from debut album Dark Eyes being played every two seconds on the radio, but it’s about time the radio actually played something decent.


I want to see Temples for one reason, and one reason only: my band was going to be called Temples first, but these dorks beat us to the punch. Like every new band, they’ve branded themselves “psychedelic rock” and they’re coming all the way from England. They’re probably great too, the bastards.

Modest Mouse

Remember when Modest Mouse was relevant? (Good News for People Who Love Bad News changed me. But that was 7 years ago…) Anyway, are they still relevant? I’m going to Osheaga to find out.


The first time I heard him, it was in the early morning and ‘Places’ was coming from someone’s bedroom, breaking my goddamned heart. That’s how you know it’s good. I’ve never heard anything quite like his album Bad Vibes, and I started using it as my sleep album when I suffer from insomnia because Shlohmo is about as close to dreaming as you’re going to get without having to close your eyes.

Mac DeMarco

He’s twenty four years old. He’s from fuckin’ Duncan. And his albums, 2 and Salad Days, my god. Photo shoots with cigarettes raining down from heaven and songs that are so beautiful they’ll rip holes in your very existence, DeMarco is COOL. His songs are dubbed “blue wave” (probably because that’s what it feels like when you dig his stuff) and “slacker rock” (which is just silly but makes me feel better about my life), I scanned that list and couldn’t help but smile and chuck on “My Kind of Woman.” Oh baby.

Honourable Mentions

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Like God, Nick Cave is just so grandiose, I don’t even have to mention him.

Reignwolf: Another fucking wolf band?! Are you serious? Get creative, you fucks. There are more animals out there besides wolves. Aids Wolf, Wolf Parade, Wolf Mother and Reignwolf, you should all just form one big pack and go howl at the goddamned moon together.

The Dismemberment Plan: Yes, that is an actual name of an actual band. No, it is not a band made up of three homely, scorned feminists. It’s actually a couple of tragic looking white males. Maybe they’re eunuchs.

So that concludes my top picks. See you at the stages.

The 9th edition of Osheaga Music and Arts Festival takes place August 1 to 3 at Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Photo by Chris Zacchia.