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article imageOp-Ed: Osheaga 2013 exceeds expectations Special

By Bryen Dunn     Aug 8, 2013 in Entertainment
Montreal - Since 2006, the OSHEAGA Music and Arts Festival has established itself as the largest festival of its kind in Canada. This year was no exception, with 135,000 fans descending upon Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal from August 2 to 4.
As mentioned in my preview for this year, that adds up to a large sum of money not only generated for the festival, but for the city of Montreal itself. Estimates put this amount around $50 million in benefits for Quebec and Montréal, further positioning the city as a world-class cultural destination.
Among the weekend’s many highlights, Mumford & Sons’ unforgettable performance in front of the largest crowd of the weekend deserves special mention, as does the virtuosity and charisma of Beck, who OSHEAGA finally succeeded in bringing to Montreal after seven years of trying. Since many of today’s successful bands were inspired by The Cure and New Order, it was only natural to give them a stage at OSHEAGA! Young festival goers were able to discover these innovators as they also thrilled their original fans of the 80s and 90s. There were many other surprises, each waiting to be discovered by the throngs of curious wanderers.
My personal highlights all happened on the Saturday, just roaming around soaking up the atmosphere. At times it felt like a today version of Woodstock. I wandered around aimlessly getting a feel for the new lay of the land this year, as it seems to change somewhat slightly each year, before beginning my day with Tricky. Surprised to be able to get pretty much right up front at the stage left, I was even more surprised when security opened a gate to let a throng of fans into the back stage area. I took the opportunity to follow along and as I entered the gate behind me closed. All those inside were then escorted up and onto the stage and became part of Tricky's ensemble for a rousing 15 minute rock and roll version of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades". To say the least, it was surreal. Definitely comparable, yet a bit more formalized, to 2008 when I had to climb over security to get up on stage with Iggy Pop when I heard him beckon to the crowd to get up on stage with him.
After that, I knew it would be hard to compare that experience to anything else that followed. I did stick around the Green and Tree stages for the next couple of acts, The Breeders, Bob Mould, and We Are Wolves. It was great hearing Kim Deal acknowledge the parapluies when raindrops began to fall, and Bob Mould thanking everyone for coming to see him at the small stage. The theatrics of hometown electroids We Are Wolves was most entertaining. Finally I was off to see Beck close out the night, a man I caught at the cavernous Rivoli Nightclub with about a hundred other people back in 1993 just weeks before "Loser" took over the airwaves. It seemed this magical maestro was having the time of his life up on stage, and his cover of "I Feel Love" will stay with me for years to come!
Many enhancements were made this year to offer fans the best experience possible throughout the whole weekend, the most important being:
•RFID technologies were introduced to avoid the production of fake bracelets and to make it easier to get around the site, which proved effective since there seemed to be less crowding and a more streamlined movement of the crowd during the Festival.
• The Igloo Dôme 360 was used to present multimedia exhibits.
• The new SAM750 stage, the world’s biggest mobile stage from Stage Line, was introduced.
• There were also many improvements to the site itself such as pushing back the stages to leave more space for fans, which was especially noticeable at the Green and Tree stages.
• New ways of getting around were implemented, including a new bridge was built adjacent to the original, meaning the flow of traffic was one direction only on each stage, which greatly improved access times to the various stages.
• It was also much easier to walk around the outside circumference of the enclosed event area, again making for speedier trips between stages.
• There seemed to be way more sponsored chill-out areas, many offering free wifi connections. This also seemed to work as I didn't experience any shutdown or slowdown of the internet or texting this year.
• Food also seemed improved, much more than your usual festival food - such as the pizza cones!
• Free flowing water seemed abundant, and although there were line-ups for some washrooms, others had no line up at all.
• The variety and availability of alcoholic drinks seemed to have diversified, and props to those who walk among the throngs hawking them so we don't have to wait in line.
• I got a chance to check out the VIP area and would highly recommend it to anyone willing to pay a bit more to get it. A great place to chill, however the backstage lounge location doesn't give you a view of any stage. Big screen monitor projects the two main stages though, and you do have access to the elevated seating on each side of the main stages.
• Kudos to all the support staff who make this event run effortlessly. The lack of overburdening security and police presence is definitely a plus as well.
OSHEAGA in numbers:
• 4,500 employees on site
• 30 hours of music
• 109 groups
• a site of more than 2.5 million square feet
• In 2013, 65% of attendees were from outside of Quebec
•In 2012, attendees slept an average of 4.7 nights in Montréal, generating a total of almost 150,000 person-nights in the area!
•The 18-35 year old group make up 88% of OSHEAGA’s clientele, with two thirds of them attending or have attended university.
Once again, a flawless and wonderful experience, as witnessed by 135,000 happy attendees.
Merci beaucoup Montreal and OSHEAGA!
2014 Dates have already been announced. Keep up to date on the official website, Facebook, and Twitter.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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