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    Osheaga preview: Coldplay return to festival scene in Montreal

    festival.jpgIt was supposed to be the year of the one-two punch. And it still may be. But Osheaga Music and Arts Festival director Nick Farkas was thrown for a loop last week when he got word that one of two high-profile headliners for the fest’s fourth edition (Saturday and Sunday at Jean Drapeau Park) was pulling out, writes The Gazette (Montreal).


    Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in his salivary gland, leading the band to cancel all upcoming tour dates, including Sunday’s highly anticipated fest-ending set.


    Osheaga promoter Gillett Entertainment Group had bet the bank on this year’s headliners – Coldplay and Beastie Boys. Their names were featured on posters, TV and radio ads all over town, often with no mention of the rest of the lineup. It was an all-in gamble that backfired. But the real-life reason behind the situation was too sobering for anything but sympathy.

    “I got the call Monday morning from their agent-manager,” Farkas said. “It was 10 o’clock our time, 7 a.m. in L.A., so I knew it couldn’t be good. My first reaction was I was shocked that he was sick. It’s such a terrible thing. Then there was a realization that we would have to fill the slot. But more than that, it was just – those guys are my age. I was concerned (about whether) he was going to be all right. Compared to that, figuring out what to do was nothing.”


    He got on the horn, calling the heads of other big fests – Lollapalooza in Chicago, All Points West in New Jersey – where Beastie Boys had been scheduled to perform, to see what they were doing. Time was of the essence. “With not even two weeks before the festival, the most important thing was that we figure something out quickly.”


    In the end, the answer was staring him in the face. Brooklyn rock act Yeah Yeah Yeahs were already on the bill for Osheaga, Sunday afternoon – a not-so-prominent time for one of the best live bands out there. “We booked them late,” Farkas explained. “All the slots were locked in, with just a month left – (their original time slot of) 4:45 wasn’t ideal. I would have rather put them in a later slot.”


    Yeah Yeah Yeahs were nothing short of astounding when they performed at Metropolis in April 2006. Singer Karen O is a firebrand, a shockingly charismatic performer with irrepressible energy. That the group has a hot new album out, It’s Blitz!, added to the cachet. Farkas’s phone research sealed the deal. Lollapalooza had also moved Yeah Yeah Yeahs into a headlining spot. He had his solution. “Obviously, people wanted to see Beastie Boys,” he said. “But you can’t replace Beastie Boys. ... All things considered, we turned it around quickly, which is what we wanted. We got a great band (headlining), and made the best of a bad situation.”


    Reaction has been positive so far, he noted, adding that Osheaga has given out just 450 refunds for Sunday. “To me, that indicates that people are coming for the festival, and that the lineup is strong enough to keep people holding on to their tickets.”


    Of course, it’s much more than a two-band event. Nearly 50 acts will perform on four stages over the weekend. Saturday’s roster includes mashup maverick Girl Talk, Swedish electro-pop starlet Lykke Li, live hip-hop heavyweights the Roots, pop singer-songwriter Jason Mraz, Montreal rockers the Stills, hard-rock band Eagles of Death Metal, Toronto rapper K’Naan and British electro buzz act La Roux.


    Sunday features dramatic Oregon rock band the Decemberists, British post-punk faves Arctic Monkeys, New York indie-pop act Vampire Weekend (taking Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ original afternoon slot), Montreal techno DJ Tiga, alt-pop auteur Rufus Wainwright in a solo set, London dance-punk duo the Ting Tings, funky hometown trip-hop unit Beast, European electronica group Miike Snow and rap veterans the Beatnuts, among others. Osheaga’s heavy roster of local talent also includes indie acts Hollerado, Parlovr, Ladies of the Canyon, Li’l Andy, Lanan and Caracol. In addition, Osheaga teams up with outdoor dance party Piknic Electronik, happening both days with DJs Ghislain Poirier, Mateo Murphy, Toronto duo Bonjay and more. It takes place just off the site; an Osheaga ticket gets you in.


    In other news, the Osheaga arts tent is no more. Instead, art installations will be strewn throughout the site, making for a more interactive environment. “It’s going to be a giant outdoor art exhibit,” Farkas said. There are also a handful of Osheaga in the City concerts this week at venues around town. Local heavy metal band Priestess played Foufounes Électriques last night. Montreal franco-rap act Omnikrom and electro dance band Misteur Valaire take over the Olympia tonight, and awesome dance-pop three-piece Think About Life plays Le National tomorrow.


    Osheaga Music and Arts Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday at Jean Drapeau Park on Île Ste. Hélène. Bands start at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $75 for Saturday, $65 for Sunday or $125 for the weekend. VIP weekend passes cost $295. Call 514-790-2525 or visit www.osheaga.com. Details on Osheaga in the City concerts are available on the festival’s website.


    Source: The Gazette (Montreal)


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