There comes a time each year when it seems as though every other day sees another festival lineup released. As we crawl towards the end of winter, dreaming about weekends in the summer filled with music makes the final stretch a little more bearable. The headliners of these festivals don’t vary all that much. Outkast have gotten back together and are hitting virtually every festival there is. Skrillex, Lorde, Foster the People, and Chance the Rapper are just a few of the names that also seem to appear on every poster—including Osheaga’s—for 2014. What will change far more are the names you see in small print. Here is a look at some of the lesser-known acts taking the stage at Osheaga this summer.
Around this time last year a friend of mine sent me a video with a couple thousand views for a song called “Paper Girl” by July Talk. Skip to the present and that same video now has a couple hundred thousand views. What a difference a year can make. They’re nominated for a 2014 Juno and their two shows at Lee’s Palace in Toronto this coming May sold out almost immediately. Lead vocalists Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay are an unusual combination in terms of tone, but they complement each other perfectly.
This Brooklyn group is fresh off of releasing their second full-length album, Trouble. The indie-pop trio’s sophomore release is more complex than their first effort, but it doesn’t feel strained at all. They’ve been compared regularly to indie-pop heavyweights like Belle & Sebastian and Vampire Weekend, but manage to put forth a style that is very much their own. Vocalist/guitarist Amber Papini writes charming, clever lyrics that are smart without trying too hard to be.
If you feel like supporting a local group then Le Trouble would be a pretty good pick. The five-piece outfit formed in 2013 and have quickly built up a small following around Montreal. Their first EP, Reality Strikes came out in early December and is filled with catchy hooks. “Mission Bell,” the opening track, sounds like a power-pop version of a Strokes song and should have you dancing along before long.
Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight started recording together as Odesza after graduating from Western Washington University in 2012. Since then, the Seattle-based producers have made quite a name for themselves in the underground electronic community. In 2013 they released the My Friends Never Die EP, which you can download for free online. Their brand of dreamy, hip-hop infused music is a perfect fit for a sunny day.
Bas is one of the few smaller rap acts that will take the stage at Osheaga. His latest mixtape, Quarter Water Raised Me Vol. II (QWRMV2), features collaborations with big names such as J. Cole—who is also playing Osheaga—and Calvin Harris. The production on the album is top notch and pulls from a variety of styles, while still flowing smoothly all the way through. The bearded rapper was born in Paris to Sudanese parents and had a bit of a worldly upbringing, so it’s no surprise that QWRMV2 encompasses a wide range of sounds.
It likely won’t be very long before Jack Antonoff’s side project, Bleachers, becomes a big name in pop music. Antonoff is the guitarist for the band Fun, and co-wrote the band’s two biggest hits. A full-length album is due out this spring and it’s already garnering a fair bit of buzz. “I Wanna Get Better,” the album’s first single, doesn’t stray far from the formula that made Fun so big. The band impressed with its set at South by Southwest (SXSW), so catch them on the small stage this summer while you still can.
These are just a few of the great names that will be taking the stage in the afternoon in Parc Jean-Drapeau when the August long-weekend rolls around. Though it’s tempting to skip out on some of these smaller acts, I’d advise against it. You’ll be missing out on some of the very best music Osheaga has to offer.