Festival’s 10th Anniversary Brings Music Lovers Together
by Rachelle Eldar
There’s something about Montreal in the summer. A different sort of energy fills the air as we crawl our way out of a long winter, knowing we only have a few months of good weather to let the good times roll.
For the tenth summer in a row, thousands of music lovers shared an incredible weekend at Montreal’s most successful festival, Osheaga.
The festival takes place every year at Parc Jean Drapeau during the last weekend of July or first weekend of August. It draws people in from all over the world to watch performances by some of today’s biggest music icons, and plenty of newly discovered bands that have been given an opportunity to showcase their music.
Parc Jean Drapeau is beautiful and absolutely massive, filled to capacity for Osheaga with 40, 000 people roaming around. There’s a definite giddiness in the air walking inside for the first time, a sense of awe. Everywhere you look there are girls in flower crowns and flowing dresses. It felt a bit surreal, like we’d all taken a time machine back to Woodstock.
Throughout the weekend, crowds enjoyed laying in the grass tanning, amusement park-style rides and food trucks. But nothing came close to the real reason everyone was there: the music.
The key to what makes Osheaga or any other music festival a huge success is music’s power to bring people together. For a few wonderful hours, everyone forgot about their jobs, their heartaches and insecurities, the daily stresses of their lives. As a band would finish their set with that one song everyone knows the words to, the audience sang together and the differences between you and the people next to you don’t matter, in that moment music is a common ground, a unifier.
The festival provided so many magical moments. Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine in particular left everyone in a stunned daze; her concert felt like a spiritual experience. She owned the stage, and her raw, magnetic energy had the audience in the palm of her hand from the second she appeared until the very end. Towards the end of her show, she told everyone to embrace the person standing beside him or her, creating a giant love-fest.
This theme popped up again and again throughout the weekend. There was a similarly beautiful moment while Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros performed. A paralyzed man in a wheelchair was crowd-surfed to the front and brought onstage with his friends, who shared his story. Everyone got a bit teary eyed and held their loved ones a little closer. Moments like these are precious, and sometimes come along at just the right time, when you’re starting to lose faith in humanity a little bit.
After a weekend of great shows and discovering new music, The Black Keys closed the festival with a final, mind-blowing performance. Their talent and intensity made everything worth it, and we all forgot how much our feet hurt, that we’d been baking in the sun for hours on end, or that we were about to feel like cattle being herded out of the park and onto the metro. It’s still worth it at work the next day, when you’re heavy-lidded from lack of sleep but wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
These are the moments that stay with us for years to come. They become the photographs we show our friends, the stories we tell our children, the memories of how we felt truly alive. In the end, it doesn’t matter how far you travelled to get to Osheaga, or whether friends or strangers surround you. When you’re singing along with your favourite band, dancing in the summer heat without a care in the world…you are home.