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Music

Going gonzo at Osheaga: a recap

Posted by Mike G. / August 6, 2013

a_Hunter S Thompson.JPGIt's Tuesday afternoon and my tattered Eccos are still caked in the mud they collected at the Piknik Elektronic rave tent during Gramatik's set on Sunday. That was my personal highlight of Osheaga. The rest was a blur of rushing between stages, seeking out colourful characters, and charting the lesser-used footpaths through the woods that skirted the lake and avoided the congested bridge to the big stages.

I got to sample a little of everything in the process: from that shared buzz of energy that grows out of the close crush of bodies crowding for the main acts, to the summer of love vibe of the aptly-named Trees Stage, to the relentless fist-pumping of the electronic dance music crowd. All this while working within certain constraints.

No access to the pit where the "real" photographers shoot from? No problem. I'll hustle twice as hard and try to eat the (paid) journalists' lunch — sometimes even literally. Three acts we wanted photographed playing concurrent sets? No problem. I'll just walk faster, ditch my backpack to squeeze seamlessly through the crowd. It should only take five or six minutes to get from one end of the festival grounds to the other, or back to the media tent, the only place you could get reliable data.

Which brings me to my pet peeve of the festival. What was up with the spotty cellular coverage? It made it impossible to coordinate and meet up with anyone. We'd agree on a meeting time and place in advance, then someone would get held up, but none of our texts would go through. Then, like London buses, six would arrive at once. Really, Rogers? You couldn't plan ahead and plug in some additional routers and then loudly proclaim how you won't miss any of your friends' Tweets and texts and Instagrams? It's not like you didn't know when and where an additional 42,500 people would be months in advance.

On to things I actually liked: the festival's accessibility by bike. I'd lock up my bike at one of the ample bike racks and the festival gates would be a two-minute stroll away. Rolling at full speed down the narrow iron-grated tunnel that is the Jacques-Cartier bridge bike path, clearing bikes headed the opposite way with mere inches to spare, was an indescribable rush. While crowds struggled to squeeze into Jean-Drapeau metro every night after the show, I would ride off into the night.

And the half-dozen Hunter S. Thompson cosplayers. They had armed themselves to the teeth and their flyswatter was a nice touch, but it would have helped if they could have quoted from their bro bible. (When I claimed to be Lacerda, their photographer, they didn't know to demand total coverage or to tell me that I was fired and an "awful jackass"). The gonzos were a fun bunch to experience Mumford & Sons, as they high-fived, man-hugged each other, and belted along with the tunes.

a_Hunter S Thompsons.JPGStoned, ripped, twisted. Good people

Earlier, two of their crew had passed me as I slogged my way through the impenetrable crowd. They were heading to join up with the rest of the bunch. I latched firmly on to their coattails, and never let go. At one point some ladybro tried to block my advance. "You're not going through, sorry," she said. "They need total coverage!" I snapped back as I side-stepped her massive backpack and rejoined the group.

As the Mumford & Sons finale dissipated into an impenetrable fog of confetti, I looked down for an instant to refresh my Twitter, which had suddenly sprung back to life. When I looked up, Dr. Gonzos were long gone and I realized I'd ridden this strange torpedo all the way out to the end.

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Photography by Stacy Lee / "Hunter S. Thompsons" photographs by Mike Ghenu

Discussion

13 Comments

cleeti / August 8, 2013 at 08:58 am
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Awesome outfit - I too had my Gonzo outfit going on Sunday but I didn't see anyone else who did.
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