Osheaga 2015: 5 essential Montreal performers to watch

Osheaga is making a big effort to push Montreal musical acts to the forefront at this year's edition of the festival, happening this weekend at Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Patrick Watson, Stars, John Jacob Magistery, Pierre Kwenders and The Franklin Electric to play Osheaga

Patrick Watson and his band will take the stage at Osheaga on Saturday. (Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Osheaga is making a big effort to push Montreal musical acts to the forefront at this year's edition of the festival, which runs from Friday, July 31, until Sunday, Aug. 2.

Here is our list of five must-see Montreal performers.

Patrick Watson

Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015

7:20 p.m.–8:20 p.m.

Scène de la Rivière Virgin Mobile

​Patrick Watson remembers performing at the very first Osheaga Festival in 2006 for next to no money and as a virtual unknown. Fast forward to 2015, and the Polaris Prize winner returns to Osheaga as one of the indie world's most sought-after acts. Genre-bending music, beautifully layered harmonies and mesmerizing staging are Watson's trademarks. His 2015 record Love Songs for Robots seems to be a collection of sci-fi-inspired soundscapes lovingly directed at the human heart.

John Jacob Magistery

Friday, July 31, 2015

1 p.m.–1:35 p.m.

Scène Verte

​Montreal group John Jacob Magistery is having a very good year.

After releasing a surprisingly strong EP called Narcissism Unto Loneliness, the band unexpectedly won an online contest and then used the resulting loot to record their first full-length record in Ireland.

Former Franklin Electric guitarist and singer Johnny Griffin uses his soulful tenor to unleash honest and revealing lyrics while his band plays like they are on a mission.

Pierre Kwenders


Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015

4:10 p.m.–4:50 p.m.

Scène de la Vallée

​Born in the Congolese capital of Kinshasha and now residing in Montreal, José Louis Modabi aka Pierre Kwenders makes a kind of World Music 2.0.

His most recent album, the Polaris Prize-nominated Le Dernier Emperor Bantu, is now bringing him international recognition.

Congolese dance influences like Soukous and Congolese Rhumba are sweetened with electronic African pop and hip hop. His collaboration with Radio Radio's Jacobus resulted in the track "Mardi Gras," one of this year's catchiest songs.

The Franklin Electric

Friday, July 31, 2015

2:05 p.m.–2:45 p.m.

Scène Verte

There is something very zen-like about The Franklin Electric.

Themes abound in their songs about the importance about being present, to let go of fear and to keep calm under stress. 

"A song is like a friend or a lover. The more you listen to it, the more you get an understanding of their complexity and it sometimes create this magical feeling that surges without us expecting it," says Franklin Electric's charismatic lead singer-songwriter and trumpet player Jon Matte.

After winning a Nashville song writing contest in 2012 with the beautiful "Old Piano," the band released "This is How I Let You Down" in 2014 and haven't looked back.


Friday, July 31, 2015

6:25 p.m.–7:25 p.m.

Scène de la Montagne Molson Canadian

​After seven albums into a career, Stars have seen and done it all, and yet their sound is still fresh and innovative.

Their 2014 release No one is Lost was recorded in Montreal's Mile End above the now-defunct Royal Phoenix where the constant thumping of the bass seems to have infiltrated into their music.

"I think we're very, very conscious of the fact now that if it's un-fun for a period of 10 minutes at any given time, we really start to ask ourselves, 'What the hell are we doing?'" says singer and co-songwriter Torquil Campbell.

Their Osheaga show is a 10-year celebration of their groundbreaking album Set Yourself on Fire and will include Patrick Watson, The Barr Brothers and others, and I'm guessing it'll get a lot of hands waving.


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