Jumping for joy at Osheaga

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The three days of madness that marked Montreal’s Osheaga Music and Arts Festival didn’t disappoint the estimated 135,000 people who flocked to Parc Jean-Drapeau July 29 to August 1 to catch live performances from top musicians across all genres of music.

While some keyboard warriors and festival critics are quick to voice their complaints about the line-up and schedule conflicts that force fans to choose between popular acts, organizers Evenko always manage to cater to a wide range of styles and musical tastes. This year’s fest featured everything from driving indie-rock to hard-hitting hip-hop and pounding EDM (electronic dance music), even soulful blues and soothing pop melodies.

Among the big names this year were rap group Cypress Hill, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, pop star Lana Del Rey, Texas blues rocker Leon Bridges and the revered Radiohead touring their new hit album A Moon Shaped Pool.

Some 90+ other lesser-known but equally entertaining artists filled out the schedule, offering a wide array of new musical discoveries and benefitting from three days of sunny weather. The Nation’s Joshua Grant and Matthew Dessner were all on hand to share the collective festival experience.


Half Moon Run performing on the main stage – photo by Pat Beaudry

Cathartic release

Osheaga – it’s the only weekend of the year I feel like I’m on vacation in my own hometown. The festival is an emotional rollercoaster. Gone are the worries of daily life – as are everyone’s inhibitions. We all become best friends, lovers and dancers. What a beautiful mess. 

I’ve been to the festival seven times now, but this year’s edition had a little something special to it. Maybe it was Radiohead bringing 45,000 people into a collective trance or perhaps it was the overwhelming display of pure energy by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Killer performances from lesser-known acts such as July Talk, Wolf Parade, Kaytranada and Aurora helped round out my Osheaga experience.

But what really made the experience so special?

During a summer when Pokémon Go is perhaps my generation’s only relief from the overwhelming political nonsense, fear mongering and hate dominating the screens of our devices, Osheaga was a welcome, cathartic release. 

In the words of Chili Peppers bassist Flea: “Peace, love, always.”

-Matt Dessner, Nation Designer

Osheaga - Mercedes and Cody Petawabano




“We’re just here to see Future, man.”

-Cody Petawabano from Mistissini, attending with his sister Mercedes.






Photo by Pierre Bourgault

Frantic, euphoric

If there’s one thing I love about music festivals, it’s the letting go of pent-up emotions and stress, to be replaced by a euphoric, almost inexplicable joy as you embrace the moments of each concert.

Running from stage to stage, trying to keep up with friends both new and old, is as exciting as it is frantic. There’s something to be said for the high energy level of artists who perform outdoors for tens of thousands of people.

This year’s highlights for me: dancing and singing along with my girlfriend to the cinematic folk rock of the Lumineers; jumping into a mosh pit while my friend Kenny played frenzied guitar with his punk rock band White Lung; and swaying, crying, jumping and screaming as Thom Yorke and Radiohead brought me to high school and back with a powerful, spellbinding rock and roll performance.

-Joshua Grant, Social Media & Production coordinator

Anthony Kiedis of the Chili Peppers - photo by Pat Beaudry

Anthony Kiedis of the Chili Peppers – photo by Pat Beaudry


“I was floored by Anthony Kiedis dancing like a thunderbird, he reminded me of an uninhibited child. Listening to them play really brought me back.”

Dan Isaac reflecting on the Red Hot Chili Peppers Saturday night performance







photo by Pierre Bourgault


Leah Fay of July Talk – photo by Pat Beaudry


photo by Tim Snow








Cypress Hill by Pat Beaudry

B Real of Cypress Hill – photo by Pat Beaudry

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