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'A music festival first': Childish Gambino to headline last day of Osheaga

Donald Glover, who goes by the stage name Childish Gambino, will headline the Osheaga music festival, Aug. 2-4.
Donald Glover, who goes by the stage name Childish Gambino, will headline the Osheaga music festival, Aug. 2-4. - Wikimedia Commons

Osheaga founder Nick Farkas says the lineup for the 2019 edition is all about staying true to your roots. That means going for big-ticket headliners The Lumineers, The Chemical Brothers and Childish Gambino but also making sure that the names in smaller print on the official poster are just as exciting. And they are.

So Canada’s leading music festival will also be shining the spotlight this summer on Janelle Monae, Tame Impala, Dean Lewis, Jessie Reyez, Sharon Van Etten, Gucci Mane, Mitski, Interpol, Kurt Vile, City and Colour, Kaytranada, Beach House, Hozier, Metric, and Marc DeMarco, among many others.

“For us we’ve always tried to be true to what we want to be, which is a music festival first,” said Farkas, vice-president of concerts at Evenko, in a phone interview Tuesday morning. “We’ve wanted to appeal to as many different people as possible and never really get pigeon-holed in one direction or another. You look at what’s been coming out this year … Ariane Grande at Coachella and Lollapalooza. There’s more of a pop sensibility to what a lot of the (festivals) are doing. We try to play to what we think our core audience is going to be. When you start with Ben Harper and Sonic Youth as your two extremes in your very first year, we continually want to play (with the idea) that anything is possible. Like adding a J Balvin this year. Latin music is a huge thing so we want to try that. See how it flies with our audience. From the start, we’ve never wanted to only be about headliners. We wanted to be about the strength of the lineup from top to bottom and look at what artists are out there that we’re getting excited by, not just necessarily the most popular artists in the market at that time.”

The 14th annual Osheaga festival runs Aug. 2-4 at Parc Jean Drapeau and it is returning to its original site on Île-Ste-Hélène after two summers on Île-Notre-Dame while the other site was undergoing massive renovations. The biggest change to the original site is that the main field in front of the two main stages — the River and Mountain stages — can hold 65,000 people, up from a capacity of 45,000. Farkas said they don’t plan to go to capacity the first year in the newly renovated site.

The Lumineers will headline Friday, Aug. 2, The Chemical Brothers take the honours Saturday, Aug. 3, and the fest winds down with Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) Sunday, Aug. 4. Both The Lumineers and Childish Gambino have previously played the festival in non-headline slots while The Chemical Brothers have never performed at Osheaga. It is The Chemical Brothers’ first performance in Montreal in 17 years. It is a diverse group of headliners, ranging from the folk-based pop of The Lumineers to the psychedelic visuals and electronic dance sounds of The Chemical Brothers to the chart-topping hip-hop/R’n’B of Childish Gambino.

Others acts include Rosalía, Flume, Koffee, Bob Moses, Logic, Young the Giant, Braids, The Franklin Electric, and Sam Fender.

The para-municipal organization that oversees Jean-Drapeau Park is in the midst of a year-long consultation process designed to come up with a plan to decide what to do with the two islands and last fall a senior city bureaucrat told The Gazette they wanted to give the islands back to the citizens rather than have them dominated by big events like Osheaga and the Grand Prix.

The organization is considering scaling back the site size of Osheaga, allowing it to only operate in the space around the two main stages. That would eliminate secondary stages like the Tree, Green and Valley stages. Evenko has a five-year deal with Jean-Drapeau Park that runs till 2020, so it is guaranteed to be able to use all the space at least until then.

“Where Green, Valley, Tree are, all of that stuff is the same,” said Farkas. “Everything outside the main field is the same. A lot of what people love — going to the different zones — that’s going to be similar. The new site is bigger, more spacious. You’re not standing on gravelly rocks any more. There’s a softer surface. They’ve done a lot of smart things technologically. Also the hill is different, it’s not as steep a slope so it’s more comfortable to sit on. I don’t think we’d go to 65,000 (people) the first year because we need to make sure the experience is good. We want to be careful and that it works. I think we’d definitely try, if we sell the tickets, to go to 50,000. The key is this: that people can still move around comfortably. The beauty of the new site is there’s more space. Things won’t be as crowded.”

Three-day festival passes for Osheaga are on sale now and cost $325, including taxes and service fees. They are available at osheaga.com. Single-day passes will go on sale at a later date.

By Brendan Kelly

bkelly@postmedia.com
twitter.com/brendanshowbiz

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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