It has been four days since Osheaga ended, one of the many music and arts festivals held annually in Montreal. This was the fourth year in a row I’ve attended but the first year I volunteered with them, and I’ve not fully recovered from it as I’m still tired. My whippersnapper days are long gone though, so…yeah. It was simple enough: out of the 39 hours of the festival, volunteers were required to work three shifts (13.5 hours) and in return had free entrance to the 3-day festival (plus access to private washrooms and the back roads, a major bonus imo). The only other requirement being a $100 deposit that was refunded once the shifts were completed. The entry wrist band could be cancelled at any time if one missed a shift. Or in my case, if one of the other volunteers decided that, even though the team lead read off the 12 names on the list and thus all 12 people were accounted for and 12 people departed for the shift (and my name and signature were on both the sign-up sheet and the waiver form and checked off on the sign-in sheet), I am somehow AWOL and thus has my wrist band cancelled whilst I am out on shift…

En tout cas, on Day 1, before news of the wrist band nixing, about seven minutes into this first shift, the sky opened up and poured sheets of water on our totally unprepared ragtag group of four as we crossed the one area of the grounds that held the six stages where there was zero shelter… The remaining four hours were marred by thunder and lightning storms, delayed starts and a cancelled act. Unfortunately for me, it was one of the three acts that I had come to Osheaga to experience: De la Soul. *sigh* I did however get to see Sampha, Rag’n’Bone Man, plus some of BadBadNotGood and MGMT, all of whom put on amazing shows. At the end of that first day as I made my way home though, tired, wet and cold, with feet like prunes in squishy destroyed kicks, I wondered if it was worth it…

Day 2 started with the inconvenience of having to obtain a new wrist band. Luckily there was no line-up. Then luckily-er, the weather gave us a break, with only a few light showers sprinkled throughout the day. But… then came word that another act had been cancelled, unfortunately for me again as it was yet another of the three acts that I had wanted to see: Lil Uzi Vert… I may only know a couple of songs by him, like the one with the Migos and… … OK, so maybe I only ‘know’ that one song but I have heard others, and in any case, it was enough to pique my interest and push him into my top 3 as I thought he had a lot of potential and wanted to see what he could do live. *sigh* I did, however, catch Jillionaire’s set and saw Major Lazer. The other act I enjoyed was Gordi, who was the first act of the day and was purdy good despite that they had stepped off the plane from Australia only an hour or two earlier. As I made my way home that night, I wasn’t cold or wet and my feet were happy and I was feeling hopeful about the next and final day.

Day 3 was the day I had been waiting for since hearing of the line-up. Die Antwoord was scheduled to play and was the third act I had come to Osheaga to see. The weather was perfect. The people were awesome, especially the security guards and other people working at the festival. I caught some of Bishop Briggs, Denzel Curry, Flatbush Zombies, Tegan and Sara and Run The Jewels. Then… thank goodness… Die Antwoord showed up… and it was good… and immediately after their show as I made my way along the back road to avoid the crowd, DJ God, Yolandi Visser and Ninja went by me in a golf cart. They were literally 3 feet from me. I heard myself say “great show”, immediately did a mental face palm for not coming up with anything more ‘interesting’ to say, aaaaand then I was done. Exhausted, I slowly made my way out of the grounds with a happy and content half-grin – only cuz I was too tired to get the other side of my mouth up.

I’ll be crazy honest though; my ultimate goal had been to meet Die Antwoord. I had this fantasy that we would get to shootin’ the breeze and they would ask me who I thought the best local group was and then somehow they would end up collaborating with the Dead Obies and Kalmunity Vibe Collective, along with Young Paris or Future… and this was somehow going to save the world from WWIII… … … Yes, I have a VERY wild imagination, and No, Die Antwoord doesn’t collaborate. But they say ya gotta dream big, so I figured why not let my imagination go crazy. Besides, the worst that happened was that all I could think of to say to them was ‘great show’…

Anyhow, here are a few of my “best” and “worst” of Osheaga 2017:

Best Shirt: The Smiths… with an unassuming photo of Will Smith and fam in place of Morrissey and Co… it was the punniest one I saw…

Worst shirt: My Indian Name is Runs With Beers… when the guy passed by wearing it, I couldn’t leave my post to talk with him about how offensive it was, especially as Osheaga takes place on unceded Mohawk territory. Unfortunately I didn’t see him again…

Best Quote from an artist: El-P from Run The Jewels – If you see a girl you want to meet and you think it’d be a good idea to grope her or push up on her, DON’T! cause that ain’t right (my paraphrasing)… he then called on everyone to look out for each other. It warmed the cockles of my heart…

Worst Quote from an artist: at Flatbush Zombies: “If you don’t know the words, keep showing them ti*ties and be quiet”… I dunno who on stage said it, but it prompted my swift exit, stage right…

Best Show: Die Antwoord was great with only one minor mic issue. Major Lazer put on an amazing show too, with Diplo getting into one of those big see-through plastic balls and rolling across the crowd. Rag’n’Bone Man was prolly the biggest surprise for me though, as I had never heard of him and his performance kinda blew my mind…

Worst show: … all the artists I saw put on great shows, even though there were quite a few who frequently used the word bi*ch… with one repeatedly singing “Texico bi*ch” and another talking about how he was gunna make lots of money and then “gunna fu*k your bi*ch”… due to my dislike for the word because of how it feels like a physical slap to me, excessive use would bring on my departure from that scene…

Overall, it was a great musical weekend. Despite the temporary location, the weather and the cancellations, it looked and felt like everyone had a great time. The only ‘not-so-good’ thing I saw happen – aside from a few people keeling over from alcohol consumption – was a guy being chased by security as he ran onto the floating dance floor area, which had a capacity limit for safety reasons. He wasn’t kicked out of the festival though. After he tripped and did a face plant, security grabbed him, removed him from the dance floor and simply let him go. I dunno if any reports of sexual assault or harassment have been made at this point. Last year there was, which is probably why this year Evenko hired the Hirondelles, a trained safety team on the lookout to make sure women and vulnerable people were safe. Overall, my only real ‘complaint’ is that there was a lack of vegetarian/vegan options like veggie burgers/dogs.

Word is that music fests are struggling to bring in patrons around the world, but I was told that Montreal is different. So different in fact, that Evenko has been busy overhauling their original festival site to accommodate 20K more people in 2019. That’s gunna be crazy. As for me… It’s too early to say if I’ll attend next year. It’ll depend on the bill. At this point, I feel like, if De La Soul is on it again… or Nicki Minaj… or Future… or Young Paris… I might just hafta be there…