Fans disappointed as Colombian singer J Balvin misses gig at Osheaga 2019

Osheaga has drawn thousands of people to Montreal for the past decade. Susan Moss/Osheaga

Friday’s highly anticipated act, Colombian singer J Balvin, was set to perform on Osheaga‘s main stage but was unable to get on his flight from New York to Montreal.

The festival announced the news on large LED screens. “Due to unforeseen TRF restrictions on airspace in the New York area, it is impossible for J Balvin to make his allocated set time.”

J Balvin fan Tamara Montenegro said she bought her Osheaga ticket just for the Latino singer’s performance.

The news devastated her.

“There were crowds of proud Latino-Canadians wearing their flags, impatiently waiting for him and cheering his name,” Montenegro said. “We first found out that he wouldn’t be coming because of his Instagram stories. Everyone was booing and furiously looking for more information online.”

READ MORE: Osheaga 2019: The Lumineers, The Chemical Brothers, Childish Gambino to headline

Montenegro was among many who paid $125 just to watch him perform.

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“At first the organizers insisted we got what we paid for when we didn’t,” Montenegro said. “After a while, people were refusing to leave and we finally were given compensation for the show we didn’t get.”


Instead, Canadian electronic music duo MSTRKRFT from Toronto took over the reggeaton artists’ slot time.

READ MORE: Cannabis only allowed at Osheaga if in unopened container from government source

This is not the first time Osheaga attendees were disappointed by the short-notice absence or tardiness of a headliner’s show.

Last year, hip hop star Travis Scott made Montrealers wait hours for his set only to perform for 40 minutes, which led one fan to seek a class-action suit over his lateness caused by a hold-up at the Canadian-U.S. border.

Canadian singer Jessie Reyez and Californian artist Roy Blair’s performances were also cancelled with few hours notice.

WATCH: (July 30, 2019) Osheaga is back with a new site, new artists and new green initiatives

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Osheaga is back with a new site, new artists and new green initiatives – Jul 30, 2019

This year’s festival kicked off Friday with veterans like The Lumineers, indie-rock band Interpol, and Australian DJ Flume.

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The 13th edition of the festival will also feature food trucks, activities, live performances, games, freebies and more.

Last week, the event’s organizers warned festival-goers that cannabis would be permitted on site but only in sealed containers from a government source.

A tweet published last Saturday on the festival’s Twitter page indicated, “All cannabis products brought onto the festival site must be in sealed SQDC packaging or from any other official government sources and must have been purchased legally. Any cannabis products that do not conform to the law will not be accepted or allowed on site. An individual may have up to a maximum of 30 grams in their possession, the maximum quantity allowed for by law.”

Back in May, the Quebec government announced the amendment of its cannabis law, known as Bill 2, allowing for the consumption of cannabis in certain public parks and spaces, but insisted the consumption of cannabis at festivals would be prohibited.

Since cannabis was legalized in Canada last October, Osheaga organizers say they are adhering to Quebec’s cannabis laws.

“The law currently permits to consume in parks,” said Philip Vanden Brande of Evenko, the Montreal-based promoter that hosts Osheaga. “We want to make sure that it is legal marijuana and not from the black market.”

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READ MORE: Osheaga attendee wants class action suit over headliner’s lateness

More big names such as Hozier, Childish Gambino, Logic, Janelle Monae and Canadian producer Kaytranada are set to take the stage in front of thousands of Montrealers from Aug. 3 to 4.

The three-day festival wraps up on Sunday.

— With files from Global’s Shakti Langlois-Ortega and Sidhartha Banerjee from the Canadian Press

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