The crowds started the moment I headed for the Yellow Line platform at Berri-UQAM. It took a good 30 minutes of queueing deep underground in crowded and swelteringly hot conditions before I managed to get on a train. There was a large police presence too, but it’s all part of the Osheaga experience I suppose.
I had the honour of attending Montreal’s Osheaga Music and Arts Festival for the second year in a row. Osheaga is famous among Canada’s music festivals for bringing in the big acts to play on the tiny island of Sainte-Hélène, producing a unique blend of Anglophone and Francophone music. In a city renowned for it’s amazing festivals, Osheaga is the one I anticipate the most.
The festival consists of five stages: ‘River’, ‘Mountain’, ‘Tree’, ‘Green’ and ‘Zone Pikinic Electronik’. Unlike the previous year, the festival has expanded to take over more of the island, and the number of people in attendance shot through the roof compared to previous events. That said, the festival was spacious when compared to English staples such as Glastonbury or The Reading Festival.
I was mainly there to see Franz Ferdinand and Sigur Rós, but got exposed to a number of great bands I’ve never heard of, as well as enjoying Montreal’s scorching hot summer weather.
With the festival taking place on its own island, which is sandwiched between the main island of Montreal and the South Shore, you’d think that a boat would be the obvious method of travel. But, most people get there by way of the Montreal Metro.
My first sight after emerging from underground was the recognisable sculpture where Picknic Electronik usually takes place. This time around, it was surrounded with food stalls and places to buy beer; The ‘Picnic’ had been moved to its own stage.
In case you’d left your programme at home (like I did), you needed to find one of these stands to discover when and where your favourite bands were playing.
The food court, where you could buy extortionately overpriced Canadian beer and poutine. What more could you need in the way of nourishment?
Up close with one of the island’s many sculptures.
Since the festival was so big this year, getting from one side to the other involved traversing the above bottleneck. Doesn’t look too bad now, but just wait until later.
Bombay Bicycle Club, London’s finest?
The tree stage. Just look how chilled out and at one with nature everyone is.
Virgin Mobile had brought an authentic London bus to the festival. I felt like I was in the presence of a little bit of home.
I have no idea who these two inflatable characters were.
More Bombay Bicycle Club.
Then, it was time to make my way across the bottleneck again to stake my position for Franz Ferdinand.
So many people attempting to make their way in opposite directions. It’s like London’s Oxford Circus during the Boxing Day sales!
To keep everyone cool during the shows, the organisers had a giant hose that they used to hose down the audience. Getting soaked definitely helps to keep cool, but does nothing to prevent the sunburn.
Franz Ferdinand! I’d wanted to see them for a while, and here they with all the energy you’d expect of a band straight out of Glasgow, Scotland.
The heat is rising off the top of the stage.
One of many crazy crowd surfers.
The crowd behind me. I think I did well to get so close to the stage.
The charismatic singer of Franz Ferdinand, Alex Kapranos. And here he is sporting a Freddie Mercury style moustache. I wonder why that is?
Strike a pose?
And still the steam continues to rise off the stage.
On the adjacent stage, Florence and the Machine convince the crowd to have one giant group hug with each other, but not where I was standing because we were waiting for…
… Sigur Rós!
This infamous Icelandic band blew the crowd away. The guy in front of me was so affected by their music, he was crying his way through the show. Words won’t describe how sonic and majestic their performance was, so I won’t even try.
The band return to the stage after performing, complete with a baby.
At the end of the day I was left sunburnt and exhausted, and in admiration of the people who can manage the full three days of the festival. Maybe next year if I’m still in Montreal I’ll go for the whole thing, but then I said that last year!
(Photos were taken with a Nokia C9, and edited later on a Mac with Aperture and Snapseed)