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Can Osheaga challenge the likes of Coachella and Lollapalooza and come out on top? We certainly think so.

Say what you will, Montreal is a music hotspot. We always knew it – and were damn proud of it too – and judging by the record-breaking turnout at this year’s Osheaga festival, the rest of the world is finally starting to catch on.

Now in its seventh year, Osheaga drew 120,000 music lovers to Parc Jean-Drapeau from August 3-5 to watch 105 acts perform their asses off in everything from scorching killer heat to monsoon-worthy storms. For the first time ever, all three days were sold out, making history and proving that we have a pretty good idea about what it takes to offer local and international music-loving fans a good time.

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Features

The music, the sweat, the rain, all documented in RRR’s Osheaga photo essay!

If there is anything to say for Montreal’s summer weather, it is certainly unpredictable. Not necessarily what you want when heading into a music-filled festival weekend, but hey, what can you do? Bracing the elements, from scorching heat on Friday and Saturday to torrential downpour on Sunday, yours truly and photographer Andrej Ivanov set out to take in all Osheaga had to offer. A full review will be coming later this week, but to satisfy your curiosity in the mean time, here is Mr. Ivanov’s photo essay, encapsulating the good, better and greatest of the weekend.

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Features

Heat, sweat and dirt: yes, it’s Vans Warped Tour time

Unbelievably hot. Ridiculously sweaty. Indescribably dirty. Yup, Vans Warped Tour was back on the road once again this year, kicking off this summer’s festival season in true VWT form.

Setting up shop in Montreal halfway through the tour, the live music extravaganza could have opted for a better location than the awkwardly laid out portion of Parc Jean-Drapeau no one ever really uses (it escapes me why VWT wouldn’t want to make use of the same space other major festivals like Osheaga do, as it is on the same island, after all, but more conveniant and strategically organized), but once you got used to the running around from stage to stage, it wasn’t really all that bad. And, I suppose, if the stages were any closer together, no one would have the full benefit of any band as they would just overlap into a giant musical mess.

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Features

Osheaga 2011 in review: When does a lot become too much?

It seems the current trend with music festivals is to focus on cramming as many acts as possible onto as many stages as possible, in as few days as possible, pushing the ideas of comfort, enjoyment and feasibility much, much lower down the priorities list.

Montreal’s annual Osheaga festival is known for bringing audiences a wide array of performances, from different genres and regions of the world, but this year’s installment seemed to fall victim to the aforementioned trend. Now, before you decide whether you agree with my review or not, please allow me to plead my case.

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Rock News

The (international) music festivals are coming! First up: France’s Hellfest

Don’t you just love summer? Bars open up their patios, the weather is wonderful and, perhaps most excitingly, music festivals are in full force. We’ll of course be covering everything from NXNE to Vans Warped Tour, Osheaga and Heavy MTL, but I thought we’d kick off this pre-season with a spotlight on an international festival – HELLFEST.

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Artists and Bands

Compared to everything from cereal to Pink Floyd, Final Flash prove why they are nothing but Final Flash

“Hey man the wild is calling / Together my friend out there for more.” Joey Chaperon Cyr, lead singer of Montreal-based rock quintet Final Flash, could not have illustrated the band’s music better. A mystifying mix of classic and psychedelic rock, their debut album, Homeless, immediately transports you from your living room couch to the middle of an enchanted redwood forest. Joey’s voice and lyrics call out to something beyond humanity, and the hypnotic sounds emanating from Andre Bendahan (bass), Alexandre Girard (guitar), Mathieu Bourret (keys), and Maxime Hébert (drums), take the listener there. Songs like, “When the Day Turns Black,” “The Black Flame in me is a Red Flame in You,” “Welcome to the House on Fire” and, my favourite, “We Leave the Forest,” leave you wanting more. I caught up with the band just before they opened for Juliette Lewis at Montreal’s Cabaret du Mile End.

Q: I’ve been following you guys for the past year and from the first time I saw you until now, the band has really come together. What is it that has allowed you to gel so quickly?

Andre: A lot of shows, more synergy being created between us. [As a new band] everyone was focused more on their own instruments and I think now everyone is able to hear what everyone else is doing … getting into that vibe where we are all uniform. We are able to push the songs more. We are getting better and better, but there is still a lot of room to grow.

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Artists and Bands

Gaslight Anthem guitarist Alex Rosamilia offers a glimpse into the explosive band and explains why “The Gaslight Anthem is – it just is”

Sure, it’s only August, and 2010 still has four whole months to deliver musically, but The Gaslight Anthem’s latest release, American Slang, is already looking, or I suppose sounding, like the best album of the year. The New Jersey natives’ third album, which was released this past June, is easily the best punk/rock offering to have come my way in a very, very long time. The sense of truth which the record emanates is hauntingly beautiful, and there’s no arguing with the band’s musical abilities either. And turns out the guys put on a wicked live show as well, so what more can one really ask for?

Following the band’s set at Montreal’s Osheaga Music Festival – where Brian Fallon (vocals/guitar), Alex Rosamilia (guitar), Alex Levine (bass), and Ben Horowitz (drums) played to a crowd filled with devoted fans and entranced, soon to become devoted fans – Rosamilia took time to offer The Rock and Roll Report a glimpse into the explosive band, define his odd man out status, and even explain floccinaucinihilipilification. Yes, that’s a real word. And it all began with a bench by the water, a sigh of relief, and the declaration that, “It’s hard to have that much energy at like, three in the afternoon!”

Q: That’s what I was just going to ask – when you’re stuck with an early set time like today’s 3 p.m., is it hard to get on stage and be full force?

A: It is if you, you know, sometimes I’ve woken up and we’re on in like twenty minutes, but because of the border cross I got up pretty early today … But before we go on I listen to the same five/eight songs every day to try to get myself in the same mindset no matter where I am, or what time it is.

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Features

Reliving some of Osheaga 2010’s greatest musical moments, from The National to Arcade Fire

Where else in the world would you rather have been on Saturday, July 31 than in Montreal, where the annual Osheaga Music and Arts Festival went down? Over twenty bands shared this eminent day, as music junkies gathered from across the country for this unforgettable experience of talent debauchery.

My heart was pulsating and I could feel the adrenaline creeping as I arrived at the gates of Osheaga 2010, all the bands running through my mind – Jimmy Cliff,  Stars, The National, K’NAAN, Arcade Fire – what an amazing day it was going to be! The weather was flawless: sunny, slight breeze, and immaculately warm. I entered, much to my surprise, without any wait, digging out my map to see where I was bound and the first show to see. Beautiful people littered the grounds, everyone eyeing one another up and down – I give kudos to those who braved the show with kids in tow.

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Features

The good, the bad, and the unfortunate: A look at Osheaga 2010

July 31 and August 1 saw the fifth annual Osheaga music festival in Montreal. Usually a pretty modest affair, most of what Osheaga does, it does right. Beer, for instance. Osheaga does beer really well: the lines are short and the price isn’t too steep. And they’ve done away with beer tents, allowing Canadians the freedom to roam with their brew – just as God intended. There isn’t an overwhelming sense of corporate sponsorship, and the free metro ride home is very much appreciated. Oh, and the music is pretty good too.

In past years, Osheaga hadn’t attracted as many big performers as Coachella, Lollapalooza, or Bonnaroo, but this year it joined the ranks of the heavy hitters. Weezer and Snoop Dogg were some of the high profile names, but the band that made Osheaga truly transcendent was Montreal’s own Arcade Fire.

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The City Streets “The Jazz Age”

When I texted a friend of mine to ask  if she had ever heard of The City Streets she replied, “Haha, I listened to them once by accident while searching for The Streets.”  I love being exposed to new acts that come all the way from the Prairies and sing about the tragedies that befall individuals in modern urban spaces, but let’s face it: we have all heard songs about drinking away your sorrows, driving around, and complaining about bourgeois tragedies. Dingy “punk rock bars” are not about “teenage war.” Read the Manifesto. Punk is supposed to be political. See the Dead Kennedys.

When F. Scott Fitzgerald coined the phrase “The Jazz Age” in the roaring twenties, he wasn’t referring to what these guys have in mind. The City Streets are a young band that vacillate freely between the genres of post-punk revival, indie, and emo without an established aesthetic. Their sound is more Vans Warped Tour than Osheaga.