OSHEAGA 2012 {the Beautiful, the Bad, and the Ugly}

This is going to be a mega-post.  I considered breaking this post into a few smaller posts, however, as the weekend was a never-ending death ride, I thought it was appropriate to recreate that insanity in blog-land.  Our adventure started on Wednesday August 1st, and came to an exhausting end on Monday August 6th.  Also, although I have watermarked these images as my own, there is an equal chance that some of them were taken by my partner Hrafn.  We are still working on our joint watermark, and so for now this will have to do.

Wednesday August 1st

This day we had to get to Toronto, we left at 11am.  Since we were relying on a ride, it is hard to gauge exactly how long it took to get to Toronto.  We made a brief stop at the Pacific Mall and browsed among all the cute stuff before heading downtown.  There, we had drinks with a friend, before going to the bus station to wait for our midnight bus out of Toronto (oh and after drinks we trekked with all of our bags to the Eaton Centre to spend a gift certificate we had for a store there, why to we do this to ourselves?).

Thursday August 2nd

This is more like a continuation of Wednesday… this day started with us waiting to board our bus at the Toronto station.  We waited outside for a while, to make sure that we were at the front, this was an overnight trip so it was important to get seats together.  The first bus that pulled up looked awesome.  It had outlets, WiFi, and huge seats.  But, when it came to board, they asked whether we were only going to Ottawa or if we were connecting to Montreal.  Since we were connecting to Montreal, we were shuffled onto the standard, dirty old Greyhound buses, with no outlets.. no WiFi.. le sigh.  We finally left Toronto at 1am.  We made one stop at around 3am, which was fun and ending in the two of us singing SprawlII while looking at the stars from the edge of a super parking lot.  We arrived in Ottawa at 5:30am and then left for Montreal again at 6am.  The ride to Montreal was stunning.  It was incredibly foggy and the moon huge and full.  We got to Montreal at 8:30am, exhausted (we didn’t really sleep on the buses).  First we went to our rented room (be booked through Roomarama, which is a great site for cheap places to stay)(we got a room for only $40 a night!).  Once we dropped all of our stuff off, we explored the area of Montreal we were in.  We found a cool old cinema, a super highway cutting through the city, a Dora the Explorer graffiti piece, and more.  It was insanely hot this day, plus we were tired, so we bought some snacks and food and headed back to the room for an early night.

Friday August 3rd

First day of OSHEAGA!  We made a brief stop downtown though, where we ate at the fanciest Harvey’s ever (a huge wall of beautiful, real plants and one-of-a-kind art pieces).  We didn’t really have plans for the first part of Osheaga, so we just sort of explored some of the art, the general grounds, and the techno music (because it’s fun).   We did this weird video thing, that allowed us to go up into a VIP area during Radio Radio (where we got free Red Bulls and chips, win).  After we decided to try a pizza cone (I wouldn’t recommend them) and sit on the hill during Franz Ferdinand’s performance.  It was starting to get close to Sigur Rós, so we filled up our water bottles, threw on some make up, and tried to get as close to the stage as possible.  We got surprisingly close, and we got to enjoy Florence and the Machine’s set with a nice view of a screen.  Sigur Rós was *amazing*.  It was everything that I was hoping, it had beautiful videos to accompany their haunting and melodic music.  The elements were even in their favour: as night fell, insects flew sporadically in the beams of their lights and a huge, wide sky of stars opened up.  It was magical, and a night I will never forget.  But as soon as the transcendental performance of Sigur Rós was done, we had to (literally) run across the festival to see the last four songs of MGMT (including a new song called Alien Conquest!).  But, the festival still wasn’t over, we ran back to the main stages to dance for a solid 20 minutes to Justice.  It was exhausting and exciting to see three of our favourite bands, back to back.  But now, we had a problem: 25 thousand people wanting to get off of this island.  OSHEAGA was obviously not prepared for this, as people flooded the metro and spilled into the rest of the park.  The only signage we could see was a nice reminder that, if you needed to buy metro tickets, you would need exact change.  There was no other information about how to get off the island, or anything to suggest that walking off the island was a terrible terrible idea (I admit we should have investigated this beforehand).  But, with the prospect of waiting hours in a crowd of people, just to cram into a hot, smelly subway, we decided to take our chances and walk off of the island.  We were still walking as midnight came and left, and so, the rest of this day adventure begins on Saturday.

During Franz Ferdinand.

Sigur Rós.

Sigur Rós.

Sigur Rós.

MGMT with fireworks on just the other side of the trees, and ending the night with Justice!

Saturday August 4th

We finally reached the main island of Montreal at around 12:20am (so around 1.5 hours of walking, which included crossing three bridges, and asking two city workers to fill our water bottle up with a hose they had).  We actually found our location on a map, and the closest metro station, but for some reason we decided to take a cab from that location.  Only problem?  The cab driver decided to go onto a closed highway to get to our room, resulting in us bailing on the middle of a huge highway, climbing down a torn apart exit ramp, getting a free ride from another very nice cab driver to the metro, finding out the last metro of the night had already went by, realizing we were still multiple kilometres away from our room, and finally taking a third cab which actually got us back.  I think we finally got into our room around 2am.  Nightmare.  We hated Montreal.

So, we started Saturday off with a bang, that resulted in us having a rather slow start to our only free day in Montreal.  But we mapped out where we were going, and had a few simple goals in mind: record stores, thrift stores, and somewhere good to eat for cheap.  We found two cool record stores, found a single of Shout by Tears For Fears.  We ate a great little place that sold mostly pastries and sandwiches, we ordered grilled cheese and they were delicious.  The only letdown was no real thrift stores, they had a tonne of vintage stores, but the types that sell that at outrageous prices.  Unfortunately our spending money was tight so we went into those stores to look more than to shop.  We also got to see a lot of beautiful street art.  Despite how frustrating Montreal is, there is no arguing that they love both plants and art, and that is fine by me.  Saturday night we had to prepare for leaving Sunday, but we still had fun exploring the house we were staying in.

Our delicious grilled cheese.. look at the amount of cheese! And the bread was thick and fresh. So good. From a little sandwich place called Stella’s.

Sunday August 5th

The final day of OSHEAGA!  Before going in, we decided to take a look at the Montreal Biosphere, which also had a bunch of cool, large-scale macro photography outside.  But, Sunday was all about one thing: Zola Jesus.  When we got into the festival, we immediately went to her stage, even though the performer that went on before still had not been on stage.  It was fine, we were willing to wait in order to be front and centre for Nika’s beautiful voice.  It was raining this day, but it was not keeping our spirits down.  Finally, Zola Jesus started, and so did the rain.  We were soaked.  After two songs, the stage manager came out and told her that the set was cancelled.  She begged to do one more song, but they didn’t let her.  As this was happening, it stopped raining (and it didn’t rain for another hour).  We were incredibly disappointed that she was not able to continue.  But, she did come out and talk to a group of fans, we were able to get a photo with her and talk to her briefly.  I tried not to be too upset, I know that I will see her perform again, and it was still worth it to go just to hear two songs.  But I still blame OSHEAGA for not having the stage set up properly to allow for rain, they are an established festival, they should have been able to handle the amount of rain that we had.  But we trekked on.  We got stopped by two large security guards who asked to check our bag, we asked why and they said “because I want to”.  Since we had nothing to hide we let them go through our bag (they even made me open up every part of my wallet).  Fun!  So we went and danced at the electronic stage for a bit.  Then we headed over to see Santigold, which was intense to say the least.  We won a free computer mouse from the Microsoft booth (as well as free sunglasses), and we got a free photo printed.  The mouse is actually kind of cool looking, we just received it in the mail yesterday.  We found some friends in the afternoon, and enjoyed a few more bands while we were blasted with winds and walls of rain (such as City and Colour, the Shins and Bloc Party).  We had poutine and pizza during a lull.  We were soaking.  But we didn’t care once Metric came on, and then we ran to hear a bit of M83.  The last band we watched was the Asexuals, a Montreal punk band.  We left OSHEAGA later than we originally planned, and we paid for it by being stuck in the subway (that goes under the river) for about 15min, oh and they turned the lights off, had no air conditioning or air flow, and then only spoke to us (elbow to elbow) over the PA in French.  Did I mention how much I love Montreal?  I not going to lie, I was a little terrified.  But we survived, and we ran like hell when we got off that subway.  We were the first ones in line at the bus station, which is where we ended Sunday.

Zola Jesus, so lovely.

Zola Jesus.

Metric was surprisingly nice live.

A bit of M83’s crazy universe light show, and we ended our Osheaga experience with the Asexuals.

Monday August 6th

Normally, the 12:30 bus out of Montreal is dead.  The bus driver told us that he frequently only has 2-5 people.  But not this night.  There is a line-up that is looped all over the place (and that is why we insist on being early).  It is clear that everyone will not fit onto the bus.  Then, we find out that our bus is a lot more complicated than we thought: We have to wait in Ottawa from 3am-7am (when our connecting bus to Toronto leaves).  This sucks.  We know that a lot of other people will be doing this.  Sleep looked dismal. When we arrived in Ottawa around 2:30, we were pretty grumpy.  But, luck was on our side and Greyhound decided they couldn’t let 30 people sleep in Ottawa’s bus terminal over night (including a foreign family with three very young children), and so we got on a bus to Toronto around 3am.  We got to Toronto around 8am, and we were expecting our ride around 11:30am.  When we finally stepped back into our home it was 3pm.  It was a pretty crazy ride.  But I got to read a lot of great pulp Sci-fi stories.

the Beautiful

The entire performance of Sigur Rós.  We took the most photos of them, and we will be uploading a set to a new project we are starting on the Behance Network.  I am still just working out the logistics of the site, but check back for a link soon! Edit: We have the set up now!  Click here to see.

Montreal loves plants!  Everywhere you looked, huge plants were growing, in pots, in the ground, in houses.. on roofs… you get the idea.  We especially enjoyed these huge sunflowers we found on a side road!

Sunflowers that are at least 9 feet tall (some more than 10feet!)

Street Art! Every side alley was filled with murals and creatures and messages.  This is going to be another Behance project, and this post will be updated with a link when it is ready!

The Bad

The schedule on Friday night, why did you have to overlap Sigur Rós, MGMT and Justice so much Osheaga?  Why??

The prices and variety of merchandise available (plus how it was all set up).  They had vinyls hanging on a wall hardly visible from the buying table, not that they had any decent vinyls any ways.  All the shirts were expensive, and even Osheaga items were kind of outrageous (who pays $15 for a lanyard?  Seriously?).

Zola Jesus’ set being cut extremely short.  I would have put this into the Ugly, but it balances out a bit because we got to actually meet her and talk to her, which would not have happened (I expect) had the set went normally.

The Ugly

Getting lost in Montreal on Friday night, I’m almost happy that we don’t have any photos during it, we only have these two lovely photos from the beginning of that mess.

Getting trapped on the subway on Sunday.  I don’t normally mind subways, it’s the being trapped thing that bothers me.  Plus the only French messages didn’t really help.

A photo of us together on Sunday, we had already enduring thunderstorms through out the day.. but there was still more to come. We didn’t let it ruin our moods though!

As always, thank you for reading!  This post took me almost an entire week to make.  Osheaga was an adventure, we’re not sure yet if we enjoyed ourselves enough to go back or not.. I think we will probably attend some different festivals in the area before we go back (unless they have an amazing line-up next year that somehow tops this years).  But ultimately, we had a good time, and at the end of the night, no matter what happened (or didn’t happen) we were still together and that is what was most important.

Too cute!

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