With Osheaga firmly entrenched near the top of the list of Montreal’s summer highlights, it’s hard to believe that the festival has only been around for a decade. To commemorate the occasion, the Tribune decided to break down the 2015 lineup and highlight five prominent returning acts that blew up after their first appearance and five acts making their first stop at Osheaga that look to be headed for a similar trajectory.
Acts to remember
Half Moon Run
Montreal-based band Half Moon Run has quickly become a fan favourite, having performed at Osheaga twice in the past three years. They debuted as a low-level act in 2012 shortly after the release of their first album Dark Eyes. They’ve since been dubbed one of the most notable emerging indie bands with atmospherics comparable to those of Radiohead. That explains why they returned as a headlining act in 2014, earning themselves a spot on the poster next to Childish Gambino.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
The psychedelic folk band with a revolving lineup of 10-12 members first came to Osheaga in 2010 at the top of the up-and-coming acts, following the success of their 2009 single “Home.” The band has since gone on tour with Mumford and Sons, released two more successful albums, and earned themselves the privilege of headlining major festivals. This year, they return to Osheaga for the third time in a well-deserved position of prominence.
The Black Keys
The Black Keys are hailed as one of Osheaga’s most consistent acts, but they had to climb their way up to the top. They made their first appearance in 2008 following the release of their fifth full-length album, Attack and Release, which received relative critical acclaim. Shortly thereafter, 2010’s Brothers catapulted the rock duo to commercial success. This year marks their fourth Osheaga appearance and their second time as a headliner.
This eccentric gypsy punk band, known for the song “Start Wearing Purple” and their chaotic stage theatrics, first came to Osheaga in 2008 as a well-respected band with little commercial success. Keen to continue bombarding the English-speaking world with Eastern European music, the band has become even more well known on the festival circuit in the past few years and returned to Osheaga last year having climbed the billing ranks.
Gary Clark Jr.
Blues legend and Austin, Texas native, Gary Clark Jr. has been on the radar since winning a Grammy in 2013 for Best Traditional R&B Performance and Rolling Stone magazine hailing him as the musician that made Eric Clapton want to play again. Prior to all of this, Clark made his Osheaga debut in 2012 as a lesser-known artist. This year, he returns to Osheaga with greater prominence and a much larger fan base.
Acts to watch for
The War on Drugs
This Philadelphia group has achieved a completely unique sound in recent years. Their music has a distinct, laid-back vibe and is a great soundtrack for driving through a desert highway at sundown. Vocally, frontman Adam Granduciel sounds like a low-key Bob Dylan without the tonal harshness. The War on Drugs’ music sounds like it was made for those magic nights at a summer festival when the rest of the world seems to fade away.
With the recent switch in style by Mumford and Sons, it could seem like the trend of foot-stomping Americana is going away, but that can’t be said about Shakey Graves. Inspired by vintage folk and country music, there’s no denying this Austin, Texas musician’s talent. Detailed guitar and soulful folk vocals carry his music. On his most popular track, “Dearly Departed,” he’s accompanied by the powerful voice of Esmee Paterson.
Marina and the Diamonds
With her passionate pop ballads and impressive vocal range, Marina Diamandis is sure to wow at Osheaga. She released her latest album, FROOT, in March through slightly unconventional means, releasing one single a month. She manages to captivate in both soulful ballads, and sexy pop jams like “Froot.” Both her voice and her music are distinct and her lyrics have real depth, probably because she writes all of her own music.
George Ezra has blown up recently with his hit “Budapest.” His deep bluesy vocals and a range of guitar styles, from country-western to reggae make his music perfect for summer anthems. Not to mention the fact that his feel-good lyrics make Ezra’s music the perfect soundtrack for flower crowned and crop top clad festival goers to drunkenly sing along to.
After winning a grammy for Best Alternative Album and releasing her fourth album, it’s no surprise that electronic alt-rocker St. Vincent will be a coveted act this year. St. Vincent excels at provocative lyrics, talented guitar playing, and catchy rhythms. She makes the kind of addicting rock that everyone will want to jam to at a festival.