While most University festival-goers opted for the much-loved Lollapalooza in Chicago this past weekend, I headed east to francophone-filled Montreal for Osheaga. The three-day festival, held on St. Helen’s Island at the verdant Parc Jean-Drapeau, was definitely the underdog in its rivalry with Lolla. The two festivals had a remarkable degree of lineup crossover, though the Chicagoan veteran had a wider, or at least more popular, variety of artists.

But Osheaga posed some stiff competition. Parc Jean-Drapeau was truly an idyllic place to hold a festival. The crowd was immaculately-dressed and, more importantly, polite. And poutine — Canada’s gravy-drenched, cheese curd-sprinkled transformation of French fries — was deliciously abundant. As Florence + the Machine’s Florence Welch summed it up, “We fucking love Canada.”

I spoke to Pat Sayers, the drummer of the Montreal pop rock band Les Breastfeeders’, about the music scene out east. He seemed to embody the unassuming attitude of Osheaga.

“Montreal’s a pretty small city with a small music scene,” Sayers said. “I guess when you are in it and you live in it, you don’t notice it that much … I’ve been playing music a long time and I don’t feel like there’s more of a scene now. I think people are just noticing it more.”

Osheaga, with its share of local bands mixed in with the international lineup, certainly helps to catch the attention of those less familiar with the Montreal music scene.

“I’m sure right now there are a bunch of cool music scenes happening in a bunch of cities,” Sayers said. “It’s just, people don’t know about them.”

Entering the festival, I was greeted with the well-established Walkmen, who were opening with “We Can’t Be Beat” — appropriate given their remarkable popularity at festivals. The song was a wonderful introduction, and the group seemed to build in energy throughout the set. Singer Hamilton Leithauser was particularly emotive, appearing as a soliloquizing actor performing a show with presence and poise despite the fact that his button-down was tie-dyed with sweat stains. The men included a few favorites from their new album Heaven like “Heartbreaker” and “Song for Leigh,” but mixed in some older material — easy given their impressive selection of albums to choose from. The result was a well-done, album-quality performance.

Following the Walkmen came a massive shrieking from the neighbor stage — oh God, it’s fun. I headed into the woods to the Scène des Arbres for Atlas Sound, the solo project of Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox. He opened with a calm message of gratitude to Delta Airlines for losing all of his equipment, and an un-sarcastic thanks to the band Wintersleep for letting him borrow their guitar.

“I have no idea what I’m gonna do right now,” he added, then requested a drummer from the audience. A good-humored man jumped on stage, and Bradford proceeded to come up with a few impromptu tunes, with lyrics pertaining to “flying in an aeroplane” and being at a festival.

He played a few solo, extremely stripped-down Parallax favorites like “Mona Lisa” and “Terra Incognita,” along with a cover of Roscoe Holcomb’s “Moonshiner.” People were filtering out of the already small crowd throughout the show, unimpressed given the music’s lack of a loop pedal and therefore lack of complexity. But the set offered a rare glimpse at the skeletons of Atlas Sound’s highly-layered songs, and Bradford displayed how impressively easy-going he can be, even when a very necessary aspect of his performance is taken away. After 45 minutes, Bradford thanked us for our patience, offering a sappy, “We’re all in this together. I love you very much.”

Heading back to the main stages, I caught bits of The Weeknd screaming at audience members to “make some fucking noise” and to “fuck this shit up,” but the crowd didn’t seem particularly compliant. After The Weeknd was Florence + the Machine, whose singer also shouted some instructions at audience members while leaping around the stage like a gleeful warlock. “If you’re with someone you like,” she said, “or love, or just met or gave birth to, I want you to raise them up.” Then she played, of course, “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up),” after which she requested that we hug each other.

Florence played the Ceremonials hit “Shake It Out,” which morphed into a clubby remix version, followed by her original attention-grabber, “Dog Days Are Over”. For this song, she desired that everyone jump on “three” — a stunt she tends to pull at festivals. But it was clear that the audience, after four years and a new album, still adored “Dog Days,” and soon Osheaga was filled with leaping lip-synchers.

The night ended with the French electronic duo Justice, composed of Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé, at Scène de Riviere. They opened with the booming “Genesis,” and proceeded to play a fusion of favorites mashed with Audio, Video, Disco tracks, particularly “Civilization.” Not long into the show, I was swiftly picked up and hurled into a shaky floor of hands after having a conversation that went something like, “Hey, wanna crowd surf?” “No, thanks.” “Okay!” But despite the concert’s fair share of rule-breaking crowd-surfers like myself, I was actually surprised at the level of audience tameness given that it’s Justice.

At one point in the show, the music completely stopped and Xavier climbed down from his DJ throne, standing on stage frozen, cigarette in mouth, the only evidence of life being his blinking eyes. After a strange, silent pause, “We Are Your Friends” commenced and the crowd seemed reenergized after the momentary suspense. The show ended with the stomp-stomp-clap stadium song “Parade” while Xavier and Gaspard descended, giving a triumphant bow and leaving the stage.

The next day had a slower start given its less impressive lineup, and the park seemed noticeably less crawling-with-humans. I caught the second half of Black Lips’ “y’all”-filled set at 4:00, which was filled with awkwardly sober young adults minus a small carefree patch in the front. The boys ended with, of course, “Bad Kids,” when finally the crowd seemed to act a little more youthful. The Black Lips bid us adieu with, “Y’all are our French Canadian brethren” and urged us to try the peanuts.

Later I caught the DJ Aaron Jerome known as SBTRKT, who improved his live set dramatically since Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF). For this show — his first in Montreal — he brought along the singer Sampha to accompany him while he played on drums — maskless! (Maybe Delta lost that too?) Jerome opened with his relatively new track “Surely,” then moved onto material from his self-titled album like “Never Never” and “Something Goes Right.”

During SBTRKT’s Drake remix of “Wildfire,” I headed to Scène Verte where Brooklyn-based Yeasayer was busy with an older track, “2080.” They played a balanced set of familiar favorites and songs from their soon to be released album Fragrant World. The band was pretty friendly with its audience, declaring us to be the happiest crowd and also good-looking, but the energy seemed a little off at times. It’s difficult to “ooh” on cue to songs from an album that hasn’t been released yet.

Older songs like “Ambling Alp” were clearly more readily-received, particularly by one man who was perched atop another man’s shoulders. Security guards sternly motioned for him to get down throughout the song, but the man shook his head in defiance as Chris Keating sang, “Stick up for yourself son, never mind what anybody else done.”

The next day I returned to see Passion Pit perform underneath a much gloomier sky compared to the cloudless Friday and Saturday shows. The crowd’s quick and keen compliance to Michael Angelakos’ instruction to put our hands in the air made it evident just how much fans had missed him since Manners.

The show kicked off with the first track on the band’s new album, “Take a Walk,” and Angelakos spent much of the song furiously air drumming with his microphone and straining to sing louder than the shrieking cheers throughout the show. At the beginning of Gossamer’s “I’ll Be Alright,” the sun broke through a begrudging wall of clouds, resulting in crowd cheer as lively as the song.

Later I caught the characteristically chill Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala opening with an extended version of “Solitude is Bliss.” While the guys stuck mostly to old material, they pulled out two pre-released songs, “Apocalypse Dreams” and “Elephant.” The former was an appropriately dreamy, elongated version that seemed to slow time as it reached its conclusion, drawing out every fuzzy note. Even the band members’ long locks seemed suspended mid-flow as they head-bobbed in synchrony.

“Elephant” was a louder track with a lot more bite — a song truly meant to be performed to a crowd of thousands. Before the song, singer Kevin Parker paused to cryptically declare Osheaga the official “Jurassic Park festival” (“because of the dinosaurs,” bassist Nick Allbrook added). Parker later commented on the lovely people in the crowd, adding “this is truly a beautiful festival.”

At night I headed to the opposite side of the park for M83, who appropriately opened with the intro from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. The song features Lola Jesus on the album, but the goth pop singer was unfortunately absent from the stage despite her performance at Osheaga earlier that day. M83 was packed, but the crowd seemed wary to have too much fun until the group played its widely adored track, “Midnight City.”

It was around then that I headed to the more soulful Black Keys, whose singer Dan Auerbach was busy pleading, “I need your touch.” “Little Black Submarines” was another particularly emotional performance; Auerbach’s veins were practically three-dimensional on the big screen as they protruded through a layer of forehead skin and sweat.

The highlight of the show, though, was a softer version of “Everlasting Light,” during which a people-filled crane nonchalantly hovered above the audience, dropping little flashing lights over a lucky section of the crowd. People waved around the mysterious luminosities for the remainder of the song, after which I left to beat the metro stampede. There was a slightly bummed aura in the underground, but I think everyone could agree that it was a very bonne nuit in Montreal.

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