If I've learned anything from pop music in the past year, it's that all of us mid-20-somethings are turning down for what? Absolutely nothing. Equipped with this wise doctrine, I made my way up last weekend to the great northern lands of Canada, for Montreal's biggest and best musical event of the year: Osheaga. The 8 year old indie music festival has rapidly established itself as Canada's best event of its kind and a hub for premier art and music. Upon our arrival at the border it was very clear we were not the only Americans journeying north for the party. From flower-covered hippie vans to tribal scarred metal heads, it looked like a massive emigration of New England's quirkiest characters.
Naturally, I came to the assumption that I would likely be the least eccentrically dressed. French Canadians plus giant music festival plus high supplies of good quality illicit substances (courtesy of Hell's Angels) — that should naturally equal hundreds of kids dressed up in neon bathing suit get-ups and weird animal suits. The result came out to a disappointing maybe 20% of the crowd. Not to say there wasn't a fair share of weirdos, it was just that for once I was one of them. My trip across the border had transformed me from just another chick at a festival to that "too turnt", "settle down", "how many drugs are you on?" girl. What began as a 5 year old's dream outfit — no pants, a giant furry spirit hood, and a Kiki's Delivery Service cat backpack — was somehow corrupted by a chance encounter with bright blue colored contacts in a metro convenience store. Strolling into the festival, it became clear that we were some overdressed American kids in a sea of uber classy Europeans. Guys and gals had all taken up flower power fashion. Every other person had some sort of sunflower or daisy on them. Hard core Montreal bros were no exception; in jerseys and sport shorts they casually rocked daisy headbands like it was Woodstock 1969.
After the first few hours of dealing with the consequences of my wardrobe choices, I had managed to inform a good percentage of the festival that "no, I'm sorry, I actually don't know where Molly and all of her friends are." The normally frosty north was a sauna at a steady 78 to 81 degrees the whole weekend, making my decision to wear next to nothing fairly rewarding. For those more conservatively covered up, Osheaga refused to let their choice of all black long sleeves in the summer land them in a stretcher passed out from heat exhaustion. American festivals see that sort of thing often — people being lifted out of the crowd delirious from the heat, too drunk, concussed or otherwise mauled by the masses — but my whole weekend at Osheaga, I didn't see a single stretcher, puking girl, or passed out partier. I discovered why when, packed into the front of the crowd trying to sneak some good pictures in, I felt a torrent of water, followed by cheers everywhere. I looked, to find that it wasn't a bird or rain — it was a security guard with a giant hose. Although at first I thought the surprise showers to be sort of rude considering everyone carries their electronics on them, I realized it was likely the only thing preventing some of these people from toppling over in the heat. With water refill stations, bathrooms aplenty, phone recharge stations, a wifi lounge, and specified meeting points, I was impressed that Osheaga had managed to turn Jean Drapeau Island into a festival oasis.
With 6 different stages filled with the latest and the greatest, the festival was a massive musical playground. If you weren't at a stage there were food trucks, couches, bars, lounges, and collaborative art projects to check out. Five pivotal highlights of my weekend:
Nick Cave silencing an entire crowd with awkward propositions to a woman that she kindly "suck [his] dick."
Phantogram. 'Nuff said.
Being asked "IS THAT YOUR REAL EYE COLOR?" and responding "IS THAT HOW MANY DRUGS YOU'RE ON?"
Mac DeMarco in his element, playing in his native land.
Being asked whether I was "into that furry shit."
Till next year Osheaga. I'll try to turn down with the animal-themed wear. Though I did find some animal suits...