Five Toronto acts to catch at Osheaga
By Anna Silman
Toronto's Metric is just one of our city's homegrown acts performing at Osheaga (Image: Justin Broadbent)
While Toronto has its fair share of nearby summer music festivals on offer — running the full gamut from last weekend’s folksy one to the upcoming face-melting one — none quite compare with Montreal’s Osheaga Music and Arts Festival. The largest festival of its kind in Canada, this year’s event features over 100 acts, with Snoop Dogg (or is that Snoop Lion?), Justice and The Black Keys as headliners.
But despite the large international presence, Torontonians heading east for the festivities will still be able to retain a shred or two of hometown pride. Along with other big Canadian names like Nova Scotia’s Feist and Wintersleep, a handful of Toronto artists will be holding down the fort — and solidifying our place on Canada’s musical map. Here are five Hogtown acts to keep an eye out for.
Down With Webster
Down With Webster is a true homegrown phenomenon. Originally formed at a middle school talent show, these six boys from the Beach catapulted to success in 2009 with “Rich Girl$,” and have been chart-topping ever since, with radio-friendly hits like “Your Man” and “Whoa is Me” gaining them a steady following at home and abroad. Their peppy, rap-rock stylings have led them to three platinum singles as well as a slew of award nominations. Catch them rocking out Friday at 3:30 p.m. on the Budweiser stage.
R&B artist Abel Tesfaye (aka. The Weeknd) has become something of a sensation since the release of his debut album, House of Balloons, which was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. His emotive, crooning hip-hop has earned him high praise — John Norris of MTV dubbed him the best musical talent since MJ. You may have heard his breakout single, “High for This,” in the (decidedly lackluster) Entourage season eight promos last year. Listen for the sound of hearts melting on Friday at 6:40 p.m., also at the Budweiser stage.
Zeds Dead are another hometown group that have taken their respective genre by storm over the past couple of years. They first teamed up in 2004 to found Bassmentality (along with The Killabits), the notorious weekly party that would eventually play host to massive DJs like Skrillex, Nero and more. From their first live set ever at former Queen West party hotspot The Social in summer 2009, Zeds Dead have quickly become a name to know in the electro scene, with their grimy, bass-thumping dubstep redefining the genre as they continue to pump out original tracks as well as frenetic, high-energy remixes of everyone from Sublime to Radiohead. Look out for crowds sweating and gyrating at the electro-centric Bud Light stage, Friday at 7:45 p.m.
After serving as the backing band for Broken Social Scene’s Jason Collett, Zeus — composed of Rob Drake, Carlin Nicholson, Mike O’Brien and Neil Quinn — stepped out on their own with their debut EP, Sounds Like Zeus, in 2009, released by Toronto indie label Arts & Crafts. Following up with their debut album Say Us in 2010, and last year’s Busting Visions, Zeus has been compared to The Beatles for their upbeat, retro-pop sound. Find them Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Virgin Mobile stage.
Possibly the biggest Toronto name on offer, the angsty indie-rock group that performed at Osheaga in 2006, 2008 and 2010 is back for round four. The group, headlined by New Dehli-born, Peterborough-bred crooner Emily Haines, has seen success after success since its inception in 1998, and their fourth album, Fantasies, garnered the prize for alternative album of the year at the 2010 Junos (they were awarded Group of the Year to boot). With five albums to their name, including this year’s Synthetica, expect a rich set complete with hits from throughout their discography. As one of the last acts of the festival, you can catch them on Sunday at 8:15 at the Budweiser stage.
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival, August 3 - 5.