Montreal’s Biggest Summer Attraction
By Andrew Grant (Contributor)
For those of us who live in Montreal, the amount of tourism can seem like a bit of a mystery. We don’t have warm, shiny beaches. We don’t have great prices or shopping opportunities. There’s no food here that’s any less authentic anywhere else. The weather is nothing special, and the people aren’t particularly nice. So why, in spite of all this, is Montreal a major tourist spot for summer trips? The answer usually given is that it’s a good place to see culture. Here, you can find samples of music, film, or artwork that range from mainstream, generally pleasing works to bizarre, intriguing experiences. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival.
The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is a gathering of general culture and art at Parc Jean-Drapeau, in the city of Montreal, during the first weekend of August every year. There, all in attendance can witness interesting works of art on display, booths and activities from any companies who wish to attend, and perhaps most famously, concerts by several bands that are local or foreign, new or old, and underground or popular. What everything has in common is that it all manages to please the crowds of thousands upon thousands in attendance at the festival.
To attend, one can purchase a ticket either for one day or for all three days. The festival also has a VIP ticket for sale that includes use of a relaxing, comfortable lounge with shorter lines for food and washrooms, and a large balcony overlooking the two major of the five music stages. On each of the three days, festival-goers can roam freely among music shows at each stage from 1 to 11 PM, all along the way observing all the artwork and game installations, and choosing what to eat from all the different food trucks all over the area. Schedules of band shows are released beforehand, so that people can choose which day or days to see whichever bands they would like to see. The days are usually grouped by genre.
For example, during the 2014 festival, the Friday hosted modern pop and dance music, such as Childish Gambino, Skrillex, and the headlining performance, Outkast. Saturday, on the other hand, held the performances with a much older style, which prominently featured Modest Mouse, Volcano Choir, and many acts of the same vein, all leading up to Jack White as the finale. Sunday, finally, played the most powerful modern rock and alternative artists, such as CHVRCHES and Lorde, and saving their most powerful act for last with Arctic Monkeys, which had seemed like everybody in attendance at the festival crowding the area and making it impossible to move, all singing along in a powerful chorus to the band’s tunes.
Limitations in accordance do do bands you know or what genre you like are no reason not to go all three days, though. It’s the best way to discover new bands that you may have never heard of before, because of all the underground acts that appear and become popular later. The Black Keys were at Osheaga only four years ago and featured as headliners barely two years later. Even on the days when one genre is prevalent over others, Osheaga always has a different act tossed in every few hours on the main stages, and on the minor stages, one can find a very different experience, such as the mosh pits to be experienced at the Green Stage, or the endless techno dance party in the Picnik Electronik stage. Even artists you don’t like will inevitabley create a crowd-pleasing atmosphere for their time at Osheaga. You’ll walk in with a festering dislike of that new Lorde song, and walk out with money in your hand to buy her album.
The Osheaga festival brings in droves of tourists to Montreal from all over Canada and the United States, and will probably begin to draw in people from all over the world in a few years with its rising popularity. Certainly worth buying a ticket for yourself and checking it out next summer.