First Impressions of Osheaga 2017 Lineup


Capping of the "Month of Love" with something sweet for their fans, Osheaga have finally revealed their 2017 lineup. Osheaga first teased some names last Thursday, when the festival launched a memory game with clues about 50+ acts set to play.

Since we recieved so much love towards last year's analysis, let's once again explore Osheaga's lavish lineup in-depth:

The Good

It was nice to see Osheaga revert to its ways of strategic marketing in announcing the festival's lineup. 2016 saw a no gimmicks delivery, while the 2 years prior involved fun guessing games. This year's photo memory game was a testament to the continuing cleverness and creativity of the festival.

Osheaga is an apologetically Montreal festival. Given this, it is nice to see Osheaga once again shine a spotlight on some of the city's most promising talents. From DJs such as Snails and CRi, to Indie prospects Heat and Heartstreets, Osheaga has done a terrific job a picking hometown acts with both strong local followings, and the potential to shine for any out of town attendees.

After missing the mark for the most part in 2016, this year sees the return of Hip-Hop back in full form at the festival. There are a healthy amount of performers of the genre both big and small, old and new. It is also worth noting that only 2 of the 12 hip-hop acts playing this year are returning names, making room for many festival first-timers, a good portion of whom are also making their way to Montreal for the first time. Highlights include Danny Brown, Run the Jewels, De La Soul, and Swet Shop Boys, a rap supergroup featuring Heems of Das Racist, and actor Riz Ahmed of Star Wars: Rouge One (yes, you read that correctly).

The Bad

This year's headliners are leaving me (and seemingly many others) with mixed feelings. On one hand, all three acts, The Weeknd, Muse, and Lorde, are known for their phenomenal live shows. I can personally confirm this for all but Muse, whom I have heard nothing but great things when it comes to their concerts. Osheaga continues their tradition of going against the grain with their headliners in comparison to other North American festivals of its size/structure.

On the other, The Weeknd and Muse are frequently touring arenas. Both sell out Montreal's Bell Centre whenever they come to our city. Prior to Osheaga, The Weeknd will play a sold-out show at the arena in May. Part of the appeal of a festival like Osheaga is to hopefully catching some big names that you would only be able to see at the festival (ie: Eminem, Elvis Costello, and The Flaming Lips in 2011, OutKast, Jack White, and Arctic Monkeys in 2014). It makes things less exciting when you know this won't be your only chance to catch these acts live within the next couple of years.

In the case of Lorde, is she truly even headline-worthy at this stage in her career? Since her last appearance at Osheaga in 2014 (which in all fairness, was quite mesmerizing), the 20-year-old New Zealand native has released all but a handful of new songs. While her upcoming second studio album may augment her headlining credibility, it also has the potential to make her fade into the forgotten. However, with a strong marketing team and even stronger fan base behind her, we doubt this will be the case.

The Surprises

Osheaga never comes without a few wild-cards on its bill. In recent years, the festival has become increasingly complimented for bringing artists not touring on the festival circuit. Given this, The headliners come as surprises in some senses, maybe just not the type Evenko was aiming for! 

These three are all acts heavily requested whenever Osheaga creates polls regarding their lineup. Yet perhaps names like A Tribe Called Quest, Frank Ocean, or LCD Soundsystem would have been more inciting. Having said that, Osheaga will undoubtedly sell tickets faster with the headliners they chose.

In terms of pleasant surprises, most people probably weren't expecting legends like Liam Gallagher or De La Soul to appear, marking their first Canadian appearances in years. While De La dropped one of our favourite albums of last year, Gallagher may make his solo debut on record in March.

The festival has also navigated back towards more mainstream electronic music this year. Acts such as Zeds Dead, and Matoma are sure to provide a vibe that had been missing from Osheaga as of recent editions. It will be interesting to see how this shift will affect its EDM sister festival IleSoniq.


Looks like a slight change in location won't stop Osheaga from being the great festival it has grown to be. Aside from its hit-or-miss headliners, this is one solid lineup. Although we are slightly floored to be missing on on Frank Ocean's return, or A Tribe Called Quest's reunion, there is still lots to look forward to in this year's edition of the festival.

Osheaga takes place at Parc Jean-Drapeau from August 4th-6th. Tickets are available here.