Blood, Sweat And Tears: An In-Depth Experience At Osheaga 2016
I don't think I am human anymore. I had little to no sleep during 4 days straight ingesting nothing but granola bars mixed with beers and a shiload of drugs to keep me going. I had a meltdown on the last day of Osheaga and started balled my eyes out twice, once during Charlotte Cardin and once during Radiohead. It was one hell of a weekend.
Unlike other journalists, I like to experience festivals hands-on. I was able to catch over 34 acts throughout the weekend, which is probably physically impossible to do for any media outlet, but I managed to make it happen on my own. This review not for the faint-of-heart, so please read at your own discretion.
Some of the acts I was able to catch include: Dragonette, Classix, Cypress Hill, Wolf Parade, Sophie, Kaleo, Years & Years, The Underachievers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flume, Charlotte Cardin, Fakear, Post Malone, Mura Mursa, Coeur De Pirate, Busty & The Bass, Daughter, Barr Brothers, Kaytranada, Aurora, Jazz Cartier, Noe, Coleman Hell, Future, Rufus Du Sol, Leon Bridges, Grimes, Skepta, Baauer, Radiohead, Mac Miller, Dead Obies.
The first day of Osheaga came much sooner than I anticipated. Don't get me wrong, I look forward to this hell-of-a-weekend all year long, and realizing that I haven't missed one Osheaga for 11 years straight, you would think that I'd be more than ready for what's to come...
I made the huge mistake of going out the night before, getting wasted off my ass for an Osheaga pre-party at Newspeak on Thursday. Definitely regretted doing that when I found myself dizzy-as-hell the morning of the first day of the festival (what was I thinking??) - I had to do it: I stuck a finger down my throat and let go of all of what was the double big mac I ate at 4am after coming home from the club.
I packed and re-packed my backpack 3 times on an empty stomach, bought a bunch of protein/granola bars, a huge bottle of water, two packs of smokes, my paraphenilia, rash cream, a towel, and a battery pack for my phone.
Photo by Pat Beaudry
I got to the site around 1:30pm and made my way to skip the line on the side to get in as fast as I could. First stop: the VIP area. Unlike the mass-population, medias and industry people get access to a secluded area that offers nice couches, big screens and cheap booze + food to indulge in. Oh, and an air-conditioned bathroom too. I was pretty excited to get my day going so I bought two beers and only realized after my first sip that I would have a hard time ingesting it as I suddenly got flashbacks and hot sweats from the night before. Whatever, it's Osheaga, suck it up Nick.
Dragonette was playing on the main stage, and I was going through my schedule for the day to fix myself up before I got too fucked up to comprehend anything. First beer was done, it was time to hit up the Piknic Electronik stage to catch Classixx so I could get into the groove of things.
The sun was scorching, it was 9000 degrees outside and the vibes were starting to kick in.
After a few shuffles and an attempt of a moonwalk, I decided to head on over the mains stage to catch Kaleo, who I heard was really good... and he was. His outstanding voice layered on top of the smooth southern-style soul made me want to drink my beer even faster as I started to get tipsy on this empty stomach of mine.
Photo by Pat Beaudry
The site was already packed with people. If you weren't already with your squad, you'd have a hard time meeting up with anyone. Hell, posting a snap on my story was a hard task of its own. I had to rush back to the Media tent to catch a shoutout from Dragonette which I had scheduled a few days ago. I got to the tent and waited for the dude from 92.5 the beat to finish before I could score my 9 seconds with them. I shuffled through my bag and ate one of my granola bars, hoping I wouldn't faint before it was my time.
As soon as I got my shoutout on snapchat, I decided to cancel the rest of my shoutouts for the day because there was no way I would be running back and forth to this tent after my 3rd beer. As I realize that I missed Snakehips, I still made it to Piknic to catch Sophie's set, which was a replica of the night before at Newspeak (I got horrible flashbacks) -
My friend kept on asking me if it was MIA on stage as I was dancing my non-existing calories away and slipping a quarter of a molly into my own drink (I needed this by now).
All hot and bothered, it was time to cross to the other side of the planet to get to the Scene Verte for Wolf Parade. As I got to the site (going up and down those horrible stairs) I realized that they had switched things up a bit, moving the stage farther to the right. There was absolutely nowhere to remain under the shade, so I kept on fanning myself with my own hand as I watched the lead singer of Wolf Parade sweating his ass off on stage while giving a heartfelt performance of his old and new songs. He was sweating so much, that his blue shirt was literrally black by the end of the set.
Photo by Tim Snow
I gave in to the devil and bought myself two more regular-priced beers and headed back to the main stage to get some good spots for Cypress Hill. As we got to the site, Beirut was finishing up their set offering a majestic orchestral performance that I enjoyed quite thoroughly, or maybe it was the quarter of the molly accentuating it all for me.
Cypress Hill came on with a bang, joints and all, as I belted out words to their famous tracks alongside many other fans surrounding me. As soon as samples of "Hand On The Pump" came on, I decided to parachute the rest of my molly and roll a jig to help it settle in. Mind you, I forgot that I had only eaten a granola bar the whole entire day, so it kicked in fast.
It was 6:55pm and my molly started taking over my whole entire body as I started to get short of breath and tingles down my spine. Overtaken by my emotions, I realized that I had to trekk all the way to the other side again to catch Years and Years, which I waited 2 years for...
I started walking super fast, focused on one goal and one goal only: to get to the Scene de La Vallee in one piece. My mind was racing, my jaw started to get tense, I did not want to pass out and wake up the next day in some bush having missed the rest of the day. I have no clue how I looked like, or even how I got the other stage in one piece. It felt like I hovered there and I gave myself a pat on the back when I realized they were still not on yet.
I made my way to the front and told the security to scan my pass so I can be front-of-gate to "capture photos" (lmfao) - My bracelet got a red x twice, but they still let me in (?) so I waited there impatiently trying not to look too conspicuous standing next to some photographers with expensive lenses. I was really fucking high by now. I took a sip of water, looked around thinking: ' who am I and what the fuck am I doing here?' haha.
Photo by Tim Snow
Ollie got on stage and mentioned that the synth-player was sick and couldn't make it so they would improvise a shorter set instead. I was looking forward to this the most that I was even ready to hop on stage to pretend to play the synth just so they could perform some of their hits off their debut album. I stepped back to get a big-picture view of the stage. I stood there lip-syncing the words to every song trying to not to scream them out and look like a lunatic because I was so into it. While I had my sweaty palms in the air praising the lord above me, I got tapped on the shoulder by some New Jersey tourists who asked me where they could score some weed. Annoyed that I had to pause my excitement, I just opened my baggie and gave them a piece with two rolling papers and told them to enjoy and leave me the fuck alone. They asked me for my lighter and I said "keep it for now and give it to me when you're done" - Not having realized I did that, I left super fast after Years & Years were done and didn't even get my lighter back (karma I guess) -
I took a small break and sat down on the grass hill next to the stage with some friends who managed to sneak in some pure vodka in water bottles, doing shots trying not to vomit after each sip of what was warm vodka at this point of the day.
The Underachievers were on the other stage so we just sat there and enjoyed it waiting for Flume to come on afterwards. As the sun set, I decided to get in the middle of the crowd front-right for Flume (which I've seen many times before) and realized how much of a fucking mistake that was. As soon as he came on, with an impressive mise-en-scene and all, I couldn't even lift my arms up as I was squished like a sardine in a can feeling I am being gropped by everyone surrounding me. At this point, I had no choice but to go with the flow, we're at a festival for fuck's sake Nick, get it together and stop complaining to yourself.
I already started feeling the come-down, so I decided to leave early to catch the subway before it got ram-packed and passed by Red Hot Chili Peppers as they were singing Californication.
Day 1 was over and I couldn't wait to get home and get some food in my system.
Photo by Tim Snow
Had to wake up pretty early the next day to catch the Industry brunch at the VIP area at noon. I bought $10 shades at Ardene in the Berri-Uqam metro station because I had lost mine the day before during Flume, and couldn't bare to have anyone look at me in the eyes and see how much of a piece of shit I felt like from little to no sleep.
I made it to the VIP area and filled my plate up with cheese, crackers, salami, fruits and cake. It was probably the first time I ate real food in 2 days. The bottomless mimosa section was very exciting so I decided to chug two of them in a row, and man, was that a mistake. The heartburn was real.
No TUMS in sight, I decided to head on to the bathroom as I started to feel another burn in between my thighs from excessive chaffing. Thank god I found the remedy for this and splattered a bunch of cream in between my thighs so I could prevent it from getting worse and appeasing this pain in which all can relate to.
I made my way to the other side of the site to catch Charlotte Cardin playing. The sun was out, there was absolutely place to hide from it so I decided to stand there and suck it all up like a champ. She offered a beautifully charming performance, speaking in french to the crowd in between songs and even inviting Husser on stage for a surprise performance of "Like It Doesn't Hurt" - I don't know what was wrong with me, because as soon as she started performing her french song "Faufile" I got overtaken by my own emotions and started tearing as my lips quivered at the same time. Not sure if it's because I was getting heatstroke or because I was emotional from low serotonin levels in my brain so I quickly pretended to flick sand off my eyelids before anyone caught me in this mess. I believe that I was standing right next to Charlotte's parents in the crowd and did not want anyone to see me catching feelings like this. Damn Nick, don't embarrass yourself like that.
Photo by Pierre Bourgault
As soon as she was done, I had to catch some shade, so I sat on the grass hill next to Scene de La Vallee to watch a bit of The Damn Truth. It was such an energetic performance, but a bit too loud and aggressive for my state of mind so I moved all the way to Scene Des Arbres to catch a bit of Noé, which I hadn't heard of before. JAHKOY had cancelled his set due to flight issues so I decided to stick to this side of the site for the time being. After Noé's set, it was time for some Coleman Hell. He came on stage sporting very flashy clothes and offered a sick and exciting performance which was perfectly put together for a festival. People were dancing and I started to feel a bit more human by now.
I decided to head on back to the Media tent to get some rest and rejuvenate myself a bit. Small talk here and there, I decided to pop open two beers for myself after eating a granola bar. I watched Daughter and then Barr Brothers on the big screens as I sipped on beers and smoked some cigarettes. The good stuff was on its way and I had to be ready for it. Two beers down, I got two more and headed to the Piknic Electronik stage to catch Fakear. Great house music, the right stuff to put me in the mood.
Halfway through, I had to start making moves to the other side (again) to catch a bit of Logic and Post Malone. The section got so much more packed than it was earlier and everyone was into it. I needed to break my seal so badly, but couldn't fathom the fact that I had to wait in a long line up for the porta-potty. No bush in sight, I decided to suck it up and catch Post Malone's set, which was a bit of a disappointment to say the least.
Photo by Pat Beaudry
Okay, I had seen Post Malone before, and I know he doesn't have a huge roster of songs, but for the amount of people that were there, his DJ played more popular tracks than Post Malone performed himself. I mean, I called it before he went on: he performed "White Iverson" twice.
I made my way back to catch Mura Mursa at Piknic Electronik stage and decided to pop a molly under the tree on the right side of the stage. "Under the tree" is a thing now. It's the spot where all the Montreal scenesters meet up at the Piknic stage so everyone who knew anyone was there. I could only catch a bit of the set before I had to run back to the other side of the site (for the 3rd time today) to catch more acts. Busty and the Bass were playing at Scene des Arbres while Coeur de Pirate was on Scene de la Vallee. I actually caught both performances and felt super proud of myself for keeping it together up until now.
I was in the middle of the crowd for Coeur de Pirate. She performed back-to-back french and english songs, and one of her more bumpy tracks triggered me hard. The molly started kicking in and all I could think about was that I had to make it across the stair-bridge for Kaytranada. I kept asking myself how the hell I was going to make it in one piece.
DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO GO UP AND DOWN THOSE DAMNED STAIRS???
I made it though. Before I knew it I was "under the tree" flying high as a kite dancing in a sea of bitties wearing bright purple Kylie lip-kits. Halfway through I realized that I was chewing on a piece of apple someone made me bite into and looked around to realize everyone around me were eating apples. WHERE DID THESE APPLES COME FROM????
I was extremely high at this point, sweating bullets, everything felt super slow-motion and people were talking in my ear but all I could hear was "blablablablabla" and I kept nodding pretending I was listening to what they had to say. I'm sure I am not the only one who gets annoyed at people who talk in your ear DURING A SHOW? All I wanted was these people to get the fuck off me.
Photo by Tim Snow
At some point, I had to get my shit together to cross that damn bridge once again so I could catch Aurora, Jazz Cartier and then Future. All day long people kept on asking the most important question: "Lana or Future?" - I'm not gonna lie, it was not easy to decide. I kind of wanted to see Lana Del Rey perform, but everyone I was with wanted to see Future (which I had seen twice before already) - Fuck it, I couldn't even comprehend who I was at this point so I just went with the flow.
I caught a glimpse of Aurora on the Scene des Arbres and then headed back down to see Jazz Cartier for a few more minutes. I needed to sit down and take a minute to myself so we made our way to the side of the Scene Verte stage to sit on the stairs made out of rocks. Perfect view, a lot of room to breathe, and a few more beers to chug down. Before we knew it, the place got packed with a sea of endless humans. You couldn't see the beginning or the end of the mass crowd that were there for Future, it was astonishing to watch. To no surprise, he came on late, letting the DJ hype up the crowd as fireworks from La Ronde started popping off.
I made the biggest mistake of my life of staying till the very end of his set because I was now stuck walking back with every single person that attended Osheaga who were all also dying to go home. Skipping the metro was the worst possible decision I made in my life as I got stuck walking back on THE WRONG BRIDGE!!! An hour later I realized that I took the longest possible route to get to Montreal. I was coming down hard, I couldn't feel my feet and was convinced they were bleeding at some point. I had to escape my own body throughout the trip back or else I would've possibly jumped off the bridge from exhaustion.
Photo by Pat Beaudry
Day 3 was a bit of a struggle to get started. I took some time to get my life back together and decided to skip a few of the early acts and got to the site at around 3pm. I was hoping that no one would notice that I was wearing the same outfit as the first day of Osheaga. I ate my first real meal: a subway sandwich. I forgot how good food tasted like until I took the first bite of that sandwich.
It was the last day, and I was ready to go. I made my way to the VIP area and ordered 6 beers right away. I caught a bit of Lane8 on the big screens as I sipped on this Coors Light getting mentally prepared for the rest of the day which had the most back-to-back shows in the shortest amount of time. I made my way to the Piknic stage waiting for RUFUS DU SOL to come on, chugged two beers and pumped myself up to catch Leon Bridges, Skepta, Grimes and Keys & Krates. It was not easy, but I made that shit happen.
I HAD NO TIME TO FUCK AROUND RIGHT NOW.
As soon as RUFUS DU SOL were 20 minutes into their set, I decided to head on down to the main stage to catch some Leon Bridges with a friend who was already too wasted. As we walked down the main path, he was jumping around and missed a step so he ended up surfboarting the floor and got a huge gash on his right shoulder. People surrounded him to ask if he was okay and all of a sudden he gets up and super-sayian pushes a random dude who flew 10 meters away and to the ground. I was in shock for a second. I couldn't hold back from laughing all while trying to stop this unnecessary fight from going down, because, well, WHAT THE FUCK? My friend thought the guy was looking to cause trouble, but he was just there trying to help my friend up from the ground. I had to prevent anything else from going down so I decided to apologize and pull my buddy with his collar towards the mains stage.
Photo by Eva Blue
Leon Bridges was seamlessly energetic, the crowd was swaying, and I was extremely into it at this point. 20 minutes in I had to run back all the way to the other side to catch Skepta. All of a sudden I realized that my drunk buddy was long gone, nowhere to be found. He ran away from me and I had no way to contact him to figure out if he was okay. I made my way down to Scene Verte and a lot of the Montreal scenesters were there to SHUT DOWN.
It was scorching hot, I was sweating bullets and had a few more beers to get into my system before the rest of the shows.
Skepta put me in a good mood, and as drunk as I was, I had to make a move to head back to catch Grimes on the main stage. She was sick with the flu and apparently both her ankles were weak so she kept on apologizing for not being as energetic as she usually is. All that being said, she clearly gave everything she got because it was one hell of a performance and everyone around me were enjoying it thoroughly, inluding myself. I was jumping around and couldn't stop grooving. As soon as she cut her set short, people migrated to the other main stage to catch M83 come on, while I had to head back to Piknic to watch Baauer.
I got "under the tree" and decided it was time to pop a molly. I gave a quarter to my friend and popped the rest one shot as I was chugging another beer. For some reason this one tasted so good so fresh and I was super pumped to get high for his set. We were once again surrounded by the Kylie lip-kit bitties, and although Baauer's set is mainly dubstep-oriented, I was thoroughly enjoying my time until one of his popular tracks triggered my molly and I started peaking hard. I kept on looking at my watch to make sure I wouldn't miss out on Disclosure's set until I realized that they had cancelled their performance at Osheaga due to flight issues. I'm not sure if this was a blessing or not, all I knew was that I was care-free for at least an hour and could just enjoy being high as a kite.
Photo by Tim Snow
I stayed all the way till the end of his set and then made my way back to the main stage as Grammatik were playing earlier than scheduled. I was fucked beyond recognition and got lucky enough to meet up with my crew and get some spots right before Radiohead came on. I had never really listened to Radiohead, and I had never seen them live before so this was a bit of a first for me. As soon as they came on, you could feel the entire crowd's energy and excitement for the 2-hour set they were about to put on. As soon as they came on with a magnificent intro, I found myself crying like a baby. I think it was from the intensity of the moment and the extreme exhaustion of the entire weekend coming out to the surface. I was so embarrassed and kept on low-key wiping away tears flowing down my cheeks.
All of a sudden, I feel the crowd move and create a huge gap on my left. I look over and there is a guy who passed out on the ground. My first instinct was to pull out my bottle of water and offer it to him. We found out he popped some mushrooms and got heat exhaustion or something. His friends got him back up, poured some water on his head and made him chug a bit more of it. My friend approached to console him by patting his back a bit and suddenly he projectile VOMITS all over everyone who were in front of him.
My tears turned into uncontrollable laughter as a huge amount of people decided to bounce from the area lmfao. It was definitely a sight to see.
It was getting a bit too emotionally draining so we decided to migrate all the way to the Scene Verte to catch Mac Miller who was going to close the night on that side of the site. As we arrived to the area, Dead Obies were performing their hit single "Where They At?" and I was belting out the wrong words to the song as we made our way to the same spot we were for Future's set, on the rock stairs. Mac Miller came on, we had more beers to chug down and popped one more molly to end off the night with a bang.
Photo by Tim Snow
We stayed way past the end of his set just chilling around waiting for the endless amount of people to leave, made a friend who either works for the government, or was way too fucked beyond recognition, laughed my ass off as we walked back to hitch a ride back home. It was the end of a fun-filled mess of a weekend. I was satisfied with the amount of shows I was able to catch. I was exhausted, hungry, horny, and definitely ready to take a year-long break before the next edition of Osheaga.
Until next year.
Follow Nick on Twitter + Snapchat: @nickbrutusgrass for more shenanigans.
All photos courtesy of Evenko. Main photo by Tim Snow