[Updated, July 27] As 10-year-olds go, Montréal’s Osheaga Music and Arts Festival has again proven itself to be one of the most precocious kids on the block with a 2015 line-up – including the likes of Florence and the Machine, Kendrick Lamar, Weezer, Ben Harper and many, many more – that’s all smarts and smiles.
From very modest if ambitious beginnings 10 years ago in 2006, the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival has grown from a two-day festival pulling in some 25, 000 folks totally to a three-day monster of music awesomeness that now sells out 45, 000 tickets per day as a matter of routine. This is in large part due to superlative artist programming since the outset, and the promise of a festival experience – at the treed and pathway-lined Parc Jean-Drapeau on Montréal’s scenic Île Sainte-Hélène – that is second to none. This year’s 10th anniversary of Osheaga, from July 31 to August 2, keeps that promise.
Over 100 bands and performers will grace the festival’s six stages, among them several key Osheaga alumni. Exciting for many of us who were at that very first, baby-stepping edition of Osheaga in 2006 is the return of then-headliners Ben Harper, who has reunited with backing band The Innocent Criminals for their first tour in seven years. Also Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, touring his fourth solo album (The Best Day) and first solo relationship status following his divorce from Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon and the subsequent dissolution of Sonic Youth (probably not the best days). And on a local note, much-loved avant-pop piano man Patrick Watson – who played in both 2006 and 2007 – will debut songs from his upcoming fifth full-length album, Love Songs for Robots, set for release on May 12. Hit play above to listen to his new release.
Also returning is California hip-hop phenomenon Kendrick Lamar, who will doubtless be a huge draw, as will old-school rap counterpart Nas, who has sold an incredible 25, 000, 000-plus albums in the last two decades. Venerable indie rockers Weezer will be among those with the toughest job in front of them, trying to outdo a 2010 Osheaga performance that will go down in the festival’s annals as one of its most memorable best. Other much-anticipated returnees include The Black Keys (who’ve played Osheaga so many times it should be considered more of a residency) and Florence and the Machine, who will release their new record How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful on June 2.