Osheaga is a festival that needs to be experienced. The crowd was enormous yet chilled out, the grounds were massive with plenty of stages to explore. Once you enter Osheaga's makeover of Parc Jean-Drapeau, you are transported to another world where you are in a state of perpetual motion because there's always something cool going on and you need to get there and experience it. The first day of Osheaga was absolutely stacked with talent as Skrillex, the WEDIDIT collective, Flume, Chase & Status, and much more were present to get the festival started on the right track.
Before getting into the music, a quick word about the venue. You really cannot underestimate how HUGE this venue really is. With 7 stages to choose from, the music was in a constant flux and to get from the main stage to the "scene verte" on the other side, it can be quite the trek. So if you make an effort to check out a wide variety of talent, you had to carefully review the schedule to make sure you got from one stage to the other in good time. That being said, Osheaga is truly designed to be a 3 day festival with plenty of interesting places to hang out and relax, great food options from a variety of food trucks (Those grilled cheese sandwiches were on point), and lots of water options and restroom areas.
Bro Safari had his Montreal debut on day 1 with a highly memorable set filled with plenty of smiles and good positive vibes from the man behind the decks. He was happy to be there and rewarded the Montreal crowd accordingly. His set was a true Bro Safari adventure mixed with originals and remixes that lit up the crowd. Tracks like the Brillz remix of "Animal", or the Gent & Jawns treatment of "Burn The Block" got great responses while "The Drop", one of Bro Safari's biggest tracks, was huge. He intended on finishing off his set with his remix (With Valentino Khan) of "YALA" by M.I.A, but seeing that he had a few more seconds left, he snuck in "Scumbag" featuring Notorious B.I.G - glorious.
Next up was Clockwork, the persona that Henry Steinway (The other persona is RL Grime) uses to promote his special concoction of big room bangers. Clockwork doesn't simply play all of the big room tracks in their original form, he takes them to the next level by creating mashups and remixes that brings new life to an otherwise overplayed festival track. Great example of this was when he mixed Major Lazer's "What Out For This (Bumaye)", a 2013 summer hit, with Calvin Harris' latest release "C.U.B.A". It's this type of creativity that is sometimes missing from major DJ acts, but one that I hope more talent emulates.
Following Clockwork on the stacked Piknic Electronik stage was the young phenom known as Flume. The word got out on this Aussie talent because the stage was absolutely rammed as fans flooded in to catch his set. Seeing Flume live is like jumping into his discography and going for a swim. He played tracks like his hit "Holdin On", his latest hit remix of Lorde "Tennis", and managed to bring a little What So Not (his collab project with Emoh Instead) with their remix of Major Lazer's "Get Free". Crowd loved him for it and can you blame them? Flume's productions are worthy of praise.
Skrillex is the only artist from the electronic dance music world that got main stage treatment this year at Osheaga, and he made the most of it by bringing his latest mothership stage to Montreal. The spaceship was bigger and more impressive than the first version, and just like its predecessor, the DJ booth elevated. From the front row to the grassy hill at the back, there wasn't a spot that you couldn't clearly see Sonny doing his thing. Armed with a brand new album, Skrillex played a mix of new stuff and old, but never once did I hear an untouched original as he preferred to keep it fresh by playing remixes of his hits. Other tracks heard included "King Of Africa", "Jaguar" by What So Not, "Vikings" by 3LAU/Botnek, and a remix of I Am Legion's "Choosing For You", possibly the Nightwatch version. The visuals and lighting were stunning as Skrillex delivered what was expected, a pounding live performance that pleased the faithful while inviting new fans into the party.
Chase & Status closed out the night, and for those that resisted the allure of Outkast, was well rewarded with the set of the night. They warmed up the crowd by mixing in well received tracks such as "Tell Me" by What So Not, "Innocence" by Nero, Skrillex remix of C&S's "International" and even RL Grime's latest release "Core". But once the first half hour passed, that's when things got interesting as this London, U.K group punished the crowd with a heart thumping session of dirty drum and bass that brought out the inner junglist. Chase & Status played recent tracks by Noisia ("Asteroids", "Stamp out"), Cyantific's "Ice Cream", "Pale Blue Dot" by The Prototypes, their innovative "Gangsta Boogie VIP", and more. They even threw in some old school like "Planet Dust" by Bad Company that fit in perfectly into the set. There was also a few trap moments as they brought out their remix of "Network", followed up by Baauer's remix of "Rollup" by Flosstradamus. Bringing their set to a close, Chase & Status thew in a curveball by playing old school Prodigy with "No Good (Start The Dance)", before eventually wrapping it up with the feel good "Alive". Mixing in the new with the old, blending genres together, and even giving us a few unexpected moments - Chase & Status delivered a set that blew out all expectations.
Montreal is a vibrant city filled with great music billings, exciting food, and culture. Osheaga put on a great show on Friday reminding everyone why this is one of the best festivals in North America.