MONTREAL — It seems that every year, Osheaga, Montreal’s premier summer indie music fest, just keeps getting bigger — and better.
Celebrating its seventh edition Aug. 3 through 5, the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival, which is held on Parc Jean Drapeau, boasts more than 90 bands on five stages with perhaps its best lineup yet.
Scheduled to appear are some of the world’s most acclaimed musical acts, including The Black Keys, The Shins, Florence and The Machine, M83, Snoop Dogg, Justice, Feist, Metric, Sigur Ros, City and Colour, MGMT, Garbage, Santigold, Franz Ferdinand, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Fun, Of Monsters and Men, Young the Giant, and The Airborne Toxic Event.
“We try to outdo ourselves every year,” said Osheaga artistic director Nick Farkas.
While Osheaga is now well-established as a main Montreal summer draw, Farkas said it’s not always an easy task assembling such a stellar program.
“Every year is different,” he said. “I think the hardest part is getting headliners. There are only so many headliner-level acts available to close — especially three nights in a row.”
The music starts at 1 p.m. and continues till about 11 p.m. for each of the three days. Set slots are scheduled anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, with the bigger name draws getting the coveted evening slots. While the big names usually do come through, Farkas said the supporting cast of bands is equally as important.
“We really do try to focus on the whole package of 100 artists,” Farkas said.
That said, one person’s headliner act is another music fan’s afternoon gig.
“Black Keys and Snoop Dogg are big names, but so are Feist, Metric, Sigur Ros, MGMT and Garbage, who can all easily sell out big venues on their own. And while Justice may not be a headliner, for some people, they are,” Farkas said.
He is hoping for a group effort.
“Put them all together, and what you hope for is critical mass with enough artist groundswell to sell tickets.”
This year, Farkas predicts Osheaga will be sold out — to the tune of about 40,000 tickets.
“After seven years, we’ve really tried to dial into our programming to make it eclectic and interesting with enough different genres to create that critical mass,” he said. “We try to go all over the map and just do our best to make everybody happy.”
With a mix of alternative rock, indie stylings, hip-hop, electronica and DJ sounds, Osheaga pretty much succeeds.
“And we really sweated the up-and-coming undercard this year,” Farkas said.
And while he enjoys listening to big-name acts as much as any Osheaga festival-goer, on Farkas’s Osheaga wish list this year: Colexico, Brand New, The Death Set, Portugal The Man, and James Vincent McMorrow.
“I know I’ll be busy for three days, but I hope I get to see them all,” he said.
To accommodate those growing musical masses, Osheaga is also rearranging the outdoor Parc Jean Drapeau concert site. This year marks the second time Osheaga has expanded to three days, and there are now five stages in all, with a new park layout for the smaller three stages.
“The site is a lot bigger this year,” Farkas said. “We kind of outgrew the smaller stage sites, so we’ve shifted their locations to accommodate more people and make the flow of traffic from stage to stage easier.”
For another new aspect of the fest, there’s good news and bad news. This year is the debut of the Osheaga Hotel.
The good news: the fest organizers teamed up with McGill University to offer low-cost residence multiple-occupancy rooms for out-of-town visitors. The bad news: it’s already sold out, which is a good sign.
“That was so successful, we’ll probably expand on it next year,” Farkas said.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Osheaga Music and Arts Festival.
WHEN: Aug. 3 through 5.
WHERE: Parc Jean Drapeau, Montreal. The easiest way to get to Osheaga is by public transportation; Metro station Jean Drapeau leaves attendees in the thick of things.
ADMISSION: The three-day general admission pass costs $217.50 (Canadian dollars). The two-day weekend pass costs $155. Single-day admission for any of the three days costs $85.
CONTACT: Order tickets through www.evenko.ca. For more information, visit www.osheaga.com.