Some Thoughts on Osheaga’s 2018 Lineup

Initial thoughts on the Osheaga 2018 lineup? Hip hop, lots and lots of hip hop. I’ve always asked for more rap and this year I’m finally getting it. And then some.

If Osheaga and festivals like it are a reflection of what’s cool and what sells nowadays, then the change from 2017 to today goes to show just how streaming is starting to dictate what people want to see live. Post Malone and Dua Lipa might end up being the biggest acts that weekend.

Meanwhile, rock continues to cede stage space to rap and pop. Of course, if you want to live in a 1990s MusiquePlus bubble, Rockfest in Montebello is likely more your speed.

Crazy to think there isn’t a 90s band coming. Heck, Blondie is the lone 70s/80s representative. Osheaga 2018 is truly for the kids (and to a lesser extent 00’s holdouts), and I think indicative of how successful Evenko’s electronic and rap fest, IleSoniq, has been the last few years. Some kids who got into IleSoniq’s lower price point might be tempted to upgrade this year.

Montreal’s old heads are likely confused about human meme generator Travis Scott in the top spot, or are perhaps ignoring his presence altogether, but if you look at his Spotify and YouTube numbers, the guy has more 2018 name-brand recognition than Arctic Monkeys or Florence and the Machine. He doesn’t have the generational gap bridging qualities of other summer touring rap stars Kendrick, Eminem and Chance the Rapper — all of whom I’m guessing Osheaga looked at — so expect Friday’s audience to skew young.

Because of Scott’s lack of track record as a headline performer, it’s as big a risk as the normally risk-averse fest has ever taken, but based on live footage, it looks like he knows how to whip a crowd up, even if it’s more enthusiasm than chops. Then again, he’s also gone too far in the past and has a weird history in Montreal too.

I’ve covered every Osheaga besides the first one in 2006, and eventually I won’t bother going anymore. This year, I’d say Friday is the only day that really intrigues me, but that could change as new singles and albums from these artists roll out. Some names that initially caught my eye:

Travis Scott: The three headliners last year (Weeknd, Lorde, Muse) were guaranteed crowd pleasers. Scott has the hits and upside to put on a star-calibre set, but it’s new territory for a fest that likes to recycle fan favourites.

Chronixx: “I Can” was one of my favourite songs from 2017. Missed his Olympia set.

James Blake: Longtime fan. Have yet to miss a Montreal appearance, unless he came during his DJ days (Soda and two Metropolis’). New music sounds back-to-basics after the solid but quite overlong The Colour in Anything.

Toro Y Moi + Nosaj Thing: Two of my favourite live acts coming together. Toro at Sala a few years back was one of the funkiest shows I’ve ever been to and Nosaj played a really solid NYE party at Darling Foundry a while back.

Blood Orange: Didn’t play Montreal on the Cupid Deluxe or Freetown Sound tours, so even though I’ve been listening to his music for a long time (I even reviewed his Lightspeed Champion stuff for the Mirror) I’ve never seen him live.

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