First Impressions of Osheaga's Initial Lineup

This afternoon, Osheaga revealed the lineup for its 11th edition. After a fake lineup circulated on the web earlier this month, the festival wanted to clear the air and treat their fans to an advance look at what they had in store for 2016.


Many (including Amesia Rockfest founder Alex Martel) stated that the tumble in value of the Canadian dollar would have an affect on the acts festivals would be able to secure for this year. Even with these restrictions, Osheaga managed to pulled through with yet another promising lineup! Let us explore it more in depth:

The Good

First and foremost, Evenko did a phenominal job with this year's headliners. With Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Rey and Radiohead (!!!) this is easily the best trifecta the festival has ever had. Year after year, fans of Osheaga have begged and pleaded for all three of these acts to play, so it is nice to see them finally come through with names that may have only once seemed possible for the festival in a fantasy world. Extra cudos to Evenko for not going with the more typical headliners that are being seen on festival lineups this year (LCD Soundsystem, The Killers, Calvin Harris)

This year's lineup sees a significant increase in quality on the Electronic side of the spectrum. Ever since 2014, this genre has taken a hit at the festival, when promoters Evenko decided to launch a new EDM festival, IleSoniq, taking place only a couple of weeks after Osheaga. However, with this year's inclusion of acts like Disclosure, Flume, Boys Noize, Snakehips and Hi-Lo (Oliver Heldens' side project), it is safe to say that the festival has gotten its groove back in this field, no pun intended! But perhaps the Electronic act to most look forward to this year is hometown hero Kaytranada, who has been putting Montreal's scene on the map with his unique and colourful sound.

The Bad

Aside from the lineup itself, let's start off with Evenko's marketing strategy. While they seemed quite adamant about releasing the lineup earlier than usual, there was no clever way of introducing it, as done in previous years (2014 had a portrait of hints, while 2015 went as far as having a mobile game developed). For a festival that strives off of showcasing some of the best creative minds in both music and art, it seemed a bit lazy of them to not find a more exciting method of revealing this year's lineup.

A festival lineup is kind of like a hamburger. If the headliners are the beef, then the mid-sized names must be the buns, with the lesser-known acts serving as the toppings. This leaves us asking one question: Where are the buns?!? Don't get us wrong; Haim, M83, Grimes and Future are all delights, but none of those names could possibly match up to those of last year (Weezer, Alt-J, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Nas) or the year before (Lorde, Skrillex, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, J. Cole).

Buns are essential to both structure and flavour of any good burger. With such strong headlining names, it feels like a bit of a jump to artists with far less onstage dominance going down from the first to second row on the lineup, but perhaps it is simply because these headliners are too wonderful to follow up.

In particular, the Hip-Hop section of this year's lineup also seems somewhat underwhelming. Don't get us wrong; we love Future and Post Malone just as much as the next guy. But these aren't artists who deliver passionate onstage performances and instead allude to "karaoke rapping" over a backing track with vocals (see our review of Post Malone at last June's Fool's Gold Homecoming for reference).

Even with an old school gems/Osheaga alumni like Cypress Hill, the trios air of nostalgia is no match for that of OutKast, Nas or Snoop Dogg, rappers who have played other recent editions. While there aren't nesesarily any terrible Hip-Hop performers, there isn't enough to match the caliber of past Osheaga editions. Saving graces include Mac Miller, Vince Staples, Goldlink and Toronto's Jazz Cartier.

The Surprises

One consistent strong-suit in Osheaga's lineups has been the festival's ability to throw curveballs with certain musical additions, artists who do not appear at any other festivals. While the headliners get off to a solid start at doing so, other unsuspected highlights include Disclosure, Grimes, Beirut, Passenger, Bloc Party and Boys Noize, just to name a few.

Even with the names making their rounds on the festival scene this year, it is still pleasant to see fan favourites from past Osheaga editions return with their side projects like The Last Shadow Puppets (Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner, played Osheaga 3 times, including a headlining set in 2014), The Arcs (The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, played Osheaga 4 times, including headlining sets in 2012 and 2015) and Hi-Lo (Oliver Heldens, played Osheaga last year).

Of course, not all surprises were pleasant. Every year, there are always some highly speculated artists that end up being pure fiction. This year's list of disappointment saw everyone from Big Grams, Andra Day, The Strokes, Kanye West and others.


Perhaps we're acting a little bratty. After all, beggars can't be choosers. At the end of the day, this edition of Osheaga features its best threesome of headliners (collectively), dazzling Indie and Electronic names, and more than a few handful of impressive unexpected treats.

In all fairness, the lineup does in fact state that this is in fact only the first phase, and that there are more acts to be announced in the coming months. Furthermore, Evenko still managed to create a great festival lineup despite obvious budget restrictions given the plummeting Canadian dollar. Osheaga is arguably the most fun weekend in Montreal, and we can't wait to live it up once more!