Well that’s a wrap, folks. The first two days of this year’s festival set the tone nicely for yet another solid Osheaga weekend — even if low volumes for artists’ mixes threatened to mar the festivities a bit. Regardless, the three-day festival capped itself off with not one, but two headliner-calibre artists closing, and a boatload more people seemingly in attendance as a result. Here are our takeaways from Osheaga 2019’s final day.
- Of all the newer artists on this year’s bill, Nilüfer Yanya stuck out. The 23-year-old Brit deftly blends styles like soul, jazz, and indie rock throughout her musical repertoire, and she did exactly that on the Mountain Stage. Yanya treated early birds to cuts from her critically-acclaimed debut, Miss Universe, as the sun shone down and bodies started flowing into the site. Though it’s perhaps a shame she wasn’t booked later in the day where more ears could be there to listen, Yanya’s blues-tinged voice complemented her tunes nicely, and fans seemed to dig it. One of the better choices as an early main stage artist without a doubt.
- Norwegian pop singer Sigrid was a ball of energy throughout her mid-afternoon set on the River Stage, bringing her spirited vocal delivery to an enthusiastic crowd, and shimmying while doing it. Her somewhat left-of-centre, yet radio-friendly, take on pop and electropop is clearly indebted partly to fellow Scandinavian artists like Robyn, but Sigrid isn’t comfortable sticking to a particular musical niche; channelling ‘80s sounds on “Mine Right Now” and “Never Mine”, as well as performing piano ballad “Dynamite” that could easily pass for an Adele song. Her songs are well-written, easy to sing along with, and she performed them confidently on Sunday afternoon.
- Mac DeMarco has essentially been indie rock’s resident class clown throughout this decade, and his performance — not to mention his antics during Normani’s performance on the opposite main stage — played that up like his live shows always do. The former Montreal resident returned for an Osheaga set that saw him go through many of his most well-known tunes while only playing two songs (“Nobody” and “Choo Choo”) from his unfortunately weak fourth album, Here Comes the Cowboy. In particular, he started a mosh pit right before “The Stars Keep on Calling My Name”, which led to people in the front rows getting pushed around and/or crushed during several songs thereafter — and one hell of a time for this writer trying to get out of the crowd as his set came to a close.
- Set time conflicts are one of Osheaga’s harshest realities (and that of festivals in general), and on Sunday, this led to me missing much of both Tierra Whack and Boy Pablo on the Valley and Tree stages respectively. Although both sets ran from 6:45 to 7:30 p.m., the small sample sizes I saw from both acts left me hungry for more. In Boy Pablo’s case, the Norwegian band channelled Mac DeMarco in both guitar tones and onstage liveliness. In Whack’s, the Philadelphia rapper/singer brought plenty of energy, swagger, and very colourful clothes to the table. Too bad I couldn’t see both in full.
- Local boy made good Kaytranada unfortunately overlapped with Tame Impala’s main stage set, but what I did see from the South Shore-bred producer extraordinaire was impressive — even if it’s a show his fans have seen many times before, with his distinctive bounce carrying much of his setlist. The set brought some excitement early through newer singles like “Chances” and “Dysfunctional”, as well as bringing his rapping younger brother Lou Phelps on for “Come Inside”. Again, this is a moment where scheduling conflicts be damned.
- Tame Impala arguably should’ve been headlining the first night instead of the Lumineers, had it not been for Kevin Parker and co playing Lollapalooza on Friday night in Chicago. That said, they did their best with their relatively limited stage time, even if it provided fans nothing in the way of new music aside from already released singles “Patience” and “Borderline”. The crowd was already hugely concentrated at this point, making it incredibly hard to find a decent spot. Therefore, I was relegated toward the back for one of my favourite bands, even if a “band” isn’t technically what they are. Regardless, they brought kaleidoscopic visuals, confetti and reminders of Parker’s fantastic songwriting throughout.
- And now, the grand finale. Donald Glover is more than a rapper, singer or actor — he’s a full-on artiste, and his festival-closing set as Childish Gambino was fitting for someone of his stature. Starting the show literally standing on an elevated platform, Gambino welcomed the crowd to his church service by asking people to put their phones away (“This is a church experience, we don’t need to commodify the moment,” he said) and bask in the moment without recording it. While some didn’t comply, he nonetheless gave the tens of thousands in attendance a set full of older bounces like “Sweatpants” and “3005” all the way to “Redbone”, “This is America”, and “Feels Like Summer”. It had fireworks, showmanship, and boundless charisma — in other words, everything you’d want from a headliner on any night, let alone the last one. The fact that getting back into the Jean-Drapeau metro station after its conclusion took the better part of an hour didn’t matter — the crowd ate up every last bite of what he had to offer. One can hope this isn’t the last we see of him on stage in Montreal any time soon.
Words by Dave MacIntyre (Featured image credit: Pat Beaudry)