Sure, you’re going to Montreal’s Osheaga (August 2nd to 4th) for the main attractions — The Cure, New Order, Phoenix, Beck, Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend and Frank Ocean — but as music festivals go, it’s one of the biggest, with multiple stages boasting dozens upon dozens of artists for concertgoers to pick from — sadly often forcing you to choose one over another. To help you make up your mind about what’s best to hear this summer, we offer the following five Osheaga highlight suggestions…
For a certain subset of people — oldsters who grew up with punk and college rock in the ‘80s, slightly less oldsters who still love the alternative jams of the ‘90s — Mould is a living god. He’s made a career out of crafting beautiful and heartbreaking melodies out of harsh and angry sounds. In the ‘80s, his band Hüsker Dü expanded the harmonic capacity of punk and in doing so largely invented college rock, inspiring everyone from Nirvana to REM; in the ‘90s his band Sugar was beloved among grunge crowds. Not giving up into his fifties, Mould released his most recent record, The Silver Age, last fall; it was one of the year’s best. Don’t miss him.
Moving from the old to the young, we’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you to catch hip-hop prodigy Kendrick Lamar. Born in Compton in 1987, Lamar grew up in a world of hip-hop from his earliest years, a straight-A student both in school and in rap, and has synthesized his environment into a talent that could only come from true, pure hip-hop roots. His 2012 release good kid, m.A.A.d city was rated an instant classic, and he’s only going to get bigger and better from here. See him this summer and you’ll be able to brag about it to your kids one day.
Father John Misty
The solo project of ex-Fleet Foxes persona J. Tillman moves out of the quiet earnestness of that previous band into a more expansive, psychedelic, and occasionally almost silly array of roots rock. In his Fleet Foxes persona, Tillman seemed like a real bummer, but as Misty he’s the kind of guy you want leading the party on stage, as captain of the afternoon’s good times. Especially if you’ve swallowed some mysterious plant a stranger dared you to.
Kim Deal was always ‘80s alternative powerhouse the Pixies’ secret weapon. Live, she had a completely different energy than sardonic bandleader Black Francis (aka Frank Black): she was cheery, self-effacing, and fun, and on the rare songs she sang you could tell her musical vision diverged from his. When she joined forces with her twin sister Kelly in the ‘90s to form the Breeders, she finally got the band her personality deserved — equal parts whimsical and rocking — and you deserve to hear it live.
A Tribe Called Red
Arguably the hottest and most interesting band in Canada, A Tribe Called Red pioneers “pow-wow step”: the melding of First Nations pow-wow singing and drumming with dubstep vibes. It’s more than just a good idea in theory: these three Indigenous DJs (of different Nations) have created some of this year’s most danceable tracks with an entirely different sonic palate than what dancefloors are used to. That explains why they’re drawing enormous crowds around the world along with raves from Rolling Stone and Spin. But please, don’t be the clown who shows up to this (or any!) set wearing a fake-“Indian” costume. We’re past that, aren’t we? Because we need A Tribe Called Red to keep coming back, and they won’t if people keep insulting their heritage.