The past year has been great for Montreal’s music scene, and by ‘great’ I mean absolute fucking insanity. It’s well-known that this city has a booming music scene but it’s astonishing how tough it can be to keep on top of it all. We tried to have as many of our dirty fingers in as many pies as possible to bring you everything the city has to offer.
Montreal is truly the city of festivals and no one stops going out just because the temperature drops. Igloofest weekends in January were some of the coldest of the year, but that didn’t stop our contributors Heidy Pinet and Naakita Feldman-Kiss from being there and having a good time.
The outdoor fun doesn’t stop there: the end of February brought us another successful edition of Montréal En Lumière, culminating as always with Nuit Blanche, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.
In March, Forget The Box was at Canadian Music Week, which takes place in Toronto. Heidy Pinet caught the M for Montreal showcase, representing some of the best in French-language artists from our own backyard: Misteur Valaire and Ponctuation. Stephanie Laughlin caught both sets by Ben Caplan and Stephanie Beatson had a chat with Mo Kenney.
As winter gave way to spring, festival season was really upon us. The Montreal Hip Hop Festival celebrated its second edition this year and truly established itself as a permanent fixture of the festival circuit.
Heidy Pinet is the authority at FTB when it comes to electronic music and she created a playlist as a preview to Mutek, which took place at the end of May.
June brought us the Montreal Folk Fest, held outside along the Lachine Canal and the stinking piss-fest that took over the small town of Montebello, also known as Rockfest.
At the end of June, some of us got to go away to Toronto to experience the mind-boggling craziness that is NXNE. We saw Quiet Company, D I A N A, Dan Deacon, Imaginary Cities, Smif-n-Wessun, The Julian Taylor Band, Coeur de Pirate, Moon King, Foxtrott, Whiskey Epiphany, Odonis Odonis, Joey Bada$$, Crhymes, Star & Micey, Frank Ryan, Willie Stratton & The Boarding Party, and Santiago X The Natural.
Those of us stuck in Montreal had plenty to do with the 10th anniversary of the Montreal Infringement Festival taking place. We interviewed Brooklyn natives Sunshine, who played a raucous set at Barfly; caught the Infringement Hip Hop Show, where our own Jay Manafest had some words to the wise; and braved the rain for the Dumpster Dive Art Drive.
Continuing our festival coverage, we saw the Stooges Brass Band at Festival International Nuits D’Afrique.
The beginning of August brought us the 15th anniversary of MEG, Montreal’s oldest electronic music festival. Festival founder Mustapha Terki spoke to us about the changing face of electronic music and the future of the festival.
Meanwhile, our Toronto contributor Stephanie Beatson found herself at the last ever edition of TO’s ALL CAPS! Island Festival, which featured performances by Hooded Fang and Shotgun Jimmie.
Here in Montreal, Heavy MTL offered two days of metal madness. The 5th edition of the festival offered new features like their live pro-wrestling event. They even managed to convert a self-proclaimed festival hater.
Taking place the same weekend as Heavy MTL was the second annual Passovah Summer Music Festival. The team over at Passovah are some of the hardest-working promoters of the local scene in the city and this year, they saw their festival double in size from last year’s. We spoke with Passovah founder Noah Bick about it.
The POP Montreal team put on another stellar festival at the end of September. We got the chance to see many of our top picks this year including Portugal. The Man, Bearmace, Crabe, and METZ.
New to the festival family, Psych Fest took place in October. Festival co-founder John W. Stuart told us how the festival came about.
Closing off festival season was M for Montreal in November with sets by Seoul, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Murray Lightburn, Born Ruffians and Mac DeMarco.
Although festivals took up our attention all year round, they were by no means the only things we covered in 2013. We also had the chance to interview some solid noisemakers. Many were part of the local scene including Melted Faces, Atsuko Chiba, How Sad, Braids, Canailles, Two-Year Carnival, the Emery Street Records crew, and the ladies of Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal. We also spoke to some notable out-of-towners including Indian Handcrafts, Crhymes, and Grammy-winning artist Carl Craig.
Rather than partaking in the slimiest of lazy journalistic traditions – the Best Albums of the Year list – I will point out that some fantastic releases have come out of the indie scene in Montreal and surrounding areas. In no particular order, here are some of the releases that have caught our attention this year:
Atsuko Chiba – Jinn
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – UZU
Seb Black – On Emery Street
Land of Kush – The Big Mango
Crabe – Mort de fraîche date
Saltland – I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us
Sunshine – Down & Up Blues
Groenland – The Chase
Ponctuation – 27 Club
No Bones – Belongings
Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark
Well that wraps up the 2013 year in review for music here at Forget The Box. We’ll start it all over again in January.