Osheaga and Montebello Rockfest - Wavvy's 2 Cents
This week, Quebec concert fans ate well, after being treated to not one, but two massive lineups from a couple of the province's biggest music festivals. It all began Tuesday, when Osheaga revealed the colourful poster for their 2018 edition:
Although sporting a fresh new main sponsor, -- Media monopoly Bell replacing the longtime Virgin Mobile -- Osheaga does not miss a beat when it comes to keeping their values intact. As always, the festival continues to serve up a healthy mix up local legends (Chromeo, A-Trak), Hip-Hop heavyweights (Travis Scott, Post Malone, Tyler. the Creator), emerging Indie (Rex Orange County, Alan Rayman), and wildcards (Blondie (!!!), Rapsody's first Montreal appearance, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), among other key identifying elements.
Osheaga is generally pretty good at pushing against the grain. Especially with headliners, they always manage to acquire a performer who isn't touring the festival scene. While returning headliners Arctic Monkeys and Florence + The Machine can be seen as "safe", it is nice to see Osheaga able to adapt with the times by having a performer like Travis Scott. Generally speaking, the festival has not hosted all that many "mumble rappers", instead opting for more traditional choices like Eminem or Kendrick Lamar. The choice of Scott, who engages a particularly young audience more than any past rap headliner, shows that the festival continues to keep their ears open to suggestions and wish-lists.
Undoubtedly, however, the best tradition kept intact is Osheaga's continued inclusion of strong female performers. In 2015 AUX published an article showing what Canadian festival posters would look like with only female acts included, with Osheaga in the lead by a landslide. Although we still have a long road ahead towards better inclusion, it's commendable to see the festival continue to make strides towards equality, all in the name of good music.
Speaking of empowering women, Montebello Rockfest is a festival so male-dominated, they might as well change their name to "SausageFest." The heavy metal mecca rolled out their 2018 performers this past Wednesday at Les Foufounes Électriques. Unlike Osheaga, who are far less nostalgia-based this year than ever, this 3-day celebration is a 90s extravaganza:
After going all out last year (particularly with headliners Rammstien and Queens of the Stone Age), Rockfest 2018 is considerably scaled-back. Founder Alex Martel, who organised Rockfest's first edition at age 17 in 2005, detailed this decision in a Facebook post earlier this month:
"In 2017, Rammstein costed a mega-fortune, and several festival-goers blamed the fact that we put the budget on a big name.", he explained. " It also gave us a big financial slap. To follow festival goers' advice and also to ensure the long-term survival of Rockfest, I decided to spread the budget over all the programming rather than bet on a big name. The amount of bands is also greatly reduced to allow each band to play longer."
This doesn't mean there still isn't plenty to look forward to, though. This edition features the only Canadian tour date of the newly-reunited Stone Temple Pilots, who now feature the vocal talents of former X-Factor contestant Jeff Gutt. While the festival has never had any luck booking Slipknot, this year has an ultra-rare solo performance by member Clown.
This year finds the festival indulging in considerably more Hip-Hop than other editions. Rockfest 2018 is the first time that a rap-infused act headline, with B-Real, Chuck D, and Rage Against the Machine supergroup, Prophets of Rage fulfilling a highly-requested fan request.