Jason C. McLean speaks with veteran comedian and Just for Laughs mainstay Andy Kindler about hosting this year’s JFL Alternative Show from L.A., the state of comedy, his affection for Montreal and more.

Follow Andy Kindler on Twitter @AndyKindler and his podcast @thought_spiral

For the complete Just for Laughs schedule: HaHaHa.com

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean

Summer is heating up both literally and figuratively in Montreal and we’ve got some outdoors and in-person events this week. Let’s get started:

ShazamFest is Back This Weekend

ShazamFest is truly one of Quebec’s most unique festivals. It’s eco-friendly, happens in the Easten Townships and offers a mix of music, circus, burlesque, dance, wrestling and more.

Last year’s event was also unique in that it was scaled back (as were so many of our cultural events). This year, they’re offering a “nearly-normal, safe-but-just-as-quirky 15.5th edition” done in collaboration with the Estrie Public Health Department.

The talent roster is full of acts from across Quebec.

Politically-charged rap artist Sarahmée, Montreal’s neo-disco glam squad Barry Paquin Roberg and pioneering rocker Frank Custeau all headline, DJ Tony Montreal (accompanied by the legendary Alain Vinet of Cirque du Soleil fame) joins the lineup for the first time this year and the Canadian Redneck Beard, Moustache & Mullet Contest and Clowns Without Borders are back by popular demand.

ShazamFest XV.V runs July 9–11 at 2722 Way’s Mills, Barnston West, QC J0B 1C0. Tickets, info and full lineup at ShazamFest.com

Piknic Électronik is Back at Parc Jean-Drapeau

While large events like Osheaga won’t return this year, Parc Jean-Drapeau will see quite a bit of music and dancing this summer. Piknic Électronik returned last Saturday and will run on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer.

Last year, the event was only online and called Piknic at Home, this year’s event is in-person, though will follow Public Health guidelines, meaning audiences are limited and see performances on multiple stages. Each day, they will also be admitted in two groups: one can enjoy shows in the afternoon sun from noon-5pm and the other can Piknic in the evening from 6-10pm.

Tickets are sold in pairs, with each given a designated spot. Masks are required elsewhere on the site.

It’s also chock-full of local, Canadian and Quebec talent. This weekend features Paolo Rocco, Syla, Laced and more.

For tickets and the (still developing) Piknic Électronik schedule, please visit PikNicElectronik.com

The Liquor Store Play Cabaret Lion D’Or…For Real This Time

It was only a few months ago that Montreal-based seven-piece The Liquor Store were playing a virtual show at Cabaret Lion d’Or (virtual for the audience, that is, the band was actually there). Now, with Quebec Public Health restrictions loosened, they will be playing the venue again, this time with an in-person audience.

The band also recently released a music video for the song MOPHO, the first single from their upcoming second album Colossus. Give it a look and listen below before catching this band live:

Indie Montréal presents The Liquor Store @ Cabaret Lion d’Or, 1676 rue Ontario Est, Saturday, July 10, 8-10pm (doors 7:30pm). Tickets available through ThePointOfSale.com

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

After offering a scaled back all-online version in 2020, Just for Laughs is back in person this summer…with a twist. What is arguably the world’s biggest comedy festival and one of the major tentpoles of the Montreal festival season will run in 2021 from July 26-31 and offer in-person standup shows in Montreal, New York and Los Angeles.

This difference is undoubtedly due to JFL’s hefty international comedic talent component mixed with the uncertainty surrounding international travel restrictions. There isn’t presently a border exemption for comedians, no matter how funny they are.

Montrealers who want to watch the out-of-town shows can do so online. They can also enjoy all the local shows that way, too.

All in-person standup shows will be available online for free. This includes the Just for Laughs Awards Show, which will feature recipients Dave Chappelle (Comedy Person of the Year), Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo (Comedy Writers of the Year), Jason Sudeikis and Bill Lawrence (Comedy Series of the Year for Ted Lasso) and SNL’s Bowen Yang (Breakout Comedy Star of the Year) with more to be announced.

Other big names and returning favourites this year include Kevin Hart, Patton Oswalt, Gina Yashere, Andy Kindler, Dave Merheje and The Daily Show‘s Dulcé Sloan. The Nasty Show and the newly re-branded The Alternative Show are back and so are more recent creations New Faces and Comedy Night in Canada.

Just For Laughs 2021 runs July 26-31. For ticket info and to watch shows online: hahaha.com

June is traditionally the beginning of Festival Season here in Montreal. Of course, with things not back to normal yet, it looks like this June will be…the beginning of Festival Season here in Montreal. Wait, what? Yes, there will be festivals this year. Maybe not exactly like before, but in person. This week it’s the Fringe, plus we’ve got a new single and music video from local band Titelaine and POP Montreal is doing a rooftop concert.

Let’s get started:

Montreal Fringe Returns with a Scaled Back In-Person Roster of Shows

The Montreal Fringe was one of the first festivals that had to shut its doors to in-person performance in 2020, so many were hoping it would be one of the first festivals back this year, and it is! 2021 will be the festival’s 30th Anniversary and a hybrid version of the event running the whole month of June, with in-person performances running from June 10-20.

This real-world component will feature 154 performances by 30 companies spread out over five venues. Yes, that is not the usual amount of shows Fringe-goers may be accustomed to, but it is bolstered by a large online component.

It’s also predominantly local. With the border to the south still closed and inter-provincial travel limited, there is a required but also welcome focus on local talent this year.

While there won’t be a FringePark (aka the Beer Tent) this year, the festival will be offering guided outdoor experiences including an hour-long tour of the night sky in Jeanne-Mance Park hosted by Trevor from Plateau Astro. 10 patrons max.

And while we usually take press releases that say things like “Tickets are going fast!” with a grain of salt, in this case, we believe it. This is a popular event with limited capacity and people are just itching to do something outside. Some shows have already sold out, so you’d wise to act quickly.

The 2021 Montreal Fringe Festival runs June 1-30, with in-person shows running from June 10-20. Tickets and schedule available at MontrealFringe.ca

Montreal’s Titelaine Release Photo souvenir Single and Video

We last saw Titelaine when they were performing at Le Ministère as part of Indie Montreal’s Sunday virtual concert series Les dimanches couvre-fun. Tomorrow, the Montreal-based electro-pop duo will release their latest single and video for the song Photo souvenir.

The song “deals with the tug of war between enjoying the present moment and nostalgia for past ones”. The video was filmed on the shores of Rivière des Prairies by Anne-Sophie Coiteux and intercut with footage from the duo’s cellphones.

We’ll update this post tomorrow (Friday) with the video, but, for now, enjoy another one of their tunes:

Photo souvenir will be released on Titelaine’s YouTube and SoundCloud on Friday, June 11

POP Montreal’s SOLD OUT Rooftop Concert with TIKA and Hanorah

So, just why are we plugging a show that has already sold out? Because only the in-person version has a full house, or rather full rooftop, the rooftop of the Rialto to be specific.

That’s where TIKA and Hanorah will perform this Saturday evening as part of the Kinaxis InConcert Series. There will be social distancing protocols in effect at this event, but since all the in-person tickets have been sold, it would be kinda pointless to go through them here.

Instead, anyone who didn’t already buy tickets can experience the show virtually (maybe even on your own rooftop if the WIFI is good enough and you have a rooftop you can go to). It will be streamed live on Facebook.

POP Montreal presents TIKA and Hanorah live in concert Saturday, June 12, at 7:30pm on Facebook Live. Visit the FB Event Page for details

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Samantha Gold discuss some of the top news stories of the day (local, national and international):

Quebec’s curfew lifting, Marjorie Taylor Greene stalking AOC, hidden systemic racism in the Federal Government, the Montreal Municipal Election & this summer’s hybrid festivals.

Follow Samantha Gold Artist on Facebook @samiamart and Instagram @samiamartistmtl

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean

Wretch is a work of art. The show is the brainchild of The Malicious Basement’s artistic director Alexander Barth and director Marissa Blair after numerous discussions between them about theatre and philosophy.

“I thought he was working on a ‘Goldilocks-type’ story, and then he came back with Wretch,” Blair says in an email.

Wretch debuted at Festival de la Bête Noire’s virtual theatre festival in February 2021, and will be part of Montreal Fringe 2021. The theatre community has faced particular challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most have opted to go virtual or spend the time working on projects they’ve been neglecting. This created particular challenges with Wretch, with actors having to wear masks the whole time, and Blair and cast developing a culture and characters that fit CNESST safety guidelines and their personal comfort zones.

Festival de la Bête Noire had production rules that restricted any post production or cutting. In order to work around this, Blair created a fourth character, the Voyeur, who would act as the audience’s eyes, “able to roam around the stage space (in the round) deciding what was important to see – to work as an invisible entity, or a ghost-like figure walking amongst the other characters.”

Other challenges came with Quebec’s (soon to be lifted) curfew, as it created additional limitations regarding rehearsal times. As to what it was like filming a play as opposed to preparing something for the live stage, Blair says it’s completely different, “like asking a baseball player to join a cricket match. Not everyone can do it, or should do it.”

If you’re looking for a play that follows a straightforward format with an introduction, denouement, and conclusion this is not the show for you. If you are uncomfortable witnessing physical and emotional abuse, this is definitely not the show for you. An abuse survivor myself, the show made me squirm in a lot of ways and I was grateful that a friend agreed to watch it with me – socially distanced and masked.

The best way to describe Wretch is as a study, an insight into the kinds of abuse that typically happens behind closed doors. There is blood, one of Marissa Blair’s signatures, and there is some other liquid my friend and I thought was either bile or feces, all fake, of course.

There is also emotional abuse, bondage, pain and mutilation. What makes this piece a standout is how accurately it portrays how an abuser can go from mundane affection to brutal physical and emotional abuse. More importantly, the gender dynamic is flipped, with Lila Bata-Walsh as the abuser and Jordan Prentice the abusee.

The tale of a woman being abused is a tale we’re all familiar with, but situations where a man is abused by a woman are still taboo. Wretch forces this dynamic out into the open, with Jordan Prentice’s riveting portrayal of a man trying to navigate his partner’s abusive, violent mood swings and actions, and yet so accustomed to both that he cannot bring himself to leave despite being given every opportunity.

Playing off of him, Lila Bata-Walsh is scary, portraying the shifts between childlike anger and romantic yet maternal love, perfectly playing the violent aggression and mood swings that so many abuse survivors are all-too familiar with. The third player in Wretch is the one whom I sadly had the greatest issues with. Jacqueline Van De Geer plays Mother Bliss, a dominatrix “topping” both Bata-Walsh and Prentice, and while she did hit all the marks one would expect of a domme, her movements and delivery were too stylized, rendering them insincere.

Van De Geer’s Mother Bliss doesn’t seem like an actual dominatrix at work, but rather an actor playing a dominatrix at work. I would have liked to see a Mother Moon that was more relaxed, with a quieter kind of intensity than what I saw in Wretch.

If you want a true insight into domestic abuse, with a little BDSM thrown in, you need to see Wretch. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s also captivating.

Wretch is playing online June 1st to 20th as part of the hybrid 2021 Montreal Fringe Festival. Tickets available through MontrealFringe.ca (currently only the 20th is displayed)

Osheaga and Île Soniq, two huge music festivals run by Evenko that have become summer staples, won’t happen in 2021 as planned. Instead, the 15th anniversary of Osheaga will take place July 29th-31st, 2022 and Île Soniq will happen August 5th and 6th, both at Parc Jean-Drapeau.

This is “due to an ever-evolving COVID-19 situation and our commitment to the safety and health of festival attendees,” according to organizers in social media posts announcing the postponement.

With hopes that the COVID-19 situation would improve and everything would be back to normal or at least semi-normal by late July, Evenko scheduled these events and even announced the Osheaga headliners late last year. Unfortunately, there is still much uncertainty over where we will be pandemic-wise by then, and festivals like this can’t be planned on short notice.

Osheaga founder and Evenko Senior Vice-President Nick Farkas explained in the same Facebook and Instagram posts sent out this morning:

“We’ve been working since last summer to try to deliver the full festival experience to fans. We are keenly aware of how important live music is to our fans and our city, and how much everyone misses it. We want to be back there in the midst of it too, but the truth is it takes several months to line up the various elements to create a festival, and with the current uncertainty, we don’t have that luxury. We remain hopeful that the situation will improve enough.”

– Nick Farkas

Evenko’s other summer events, such as Heavy Montreal, hadn’t already been scheduled for 2021. Those who purchased tickets for the 2020 or 2021 events can have those tickets honoured at the 2022 events or get a full refund.

Featured image from Osheaga 2018 by Joe McLean

The weather outside is spring-like, but we’re still under a curfew. Fret not as there is plenty of great arts and music to enjoy from home.

This week, it’s all music, though one entry is a film. Let’s get started:

Eve Egoyan in Duet for Solo Piano

When you see the name Egoyan and the word film appear in the same sentence (as they did in this post’s title), it’s only logical to assume that celebrated stage and screen director Atom Egoyan has a new flick. In this case, though, you’d be wrong, we’re talking about his sister Eve.

Eve Egoyan isn’t a filmmaker, rather she is recognized as one of the 25 greatest Canadian classical pianists of all time. And she is the subject of the documentary Duet for Solo Piano directed by Su Rynard currently playing (online, of course) as part of the 39th edition of the International Festival of Films on Art.

The film delves into the events that have shaped Eve and left a mark on who she is today. It sets out to offer “rare insight into the creative process and the complexity of developing new work that pushes the boundaries of art, instrument and self.”

Here is the trailer:

Duet for Solo Piano is available across Canada for online viewing until Sunday, March 28 as part of the 39th Edition of the International Festival of Films on Art. Get your tickets through LeFIFA.com

Titelaine Perform at Le Ministère Virtually

Indie Montreal’s Sunday virtual concert series from real venues, Les dimanches couvre-fun, continues. So far the likes of Elephant Stone, Millimetrik and The Liquor Store have performed at different venues around town and now, this week, Titelaine will perform at Le Ministère.

This Montreal duo offers nostalgic downtempo songs that you can dance to. Their scenography was specifically designed for this show and this venue.

While you wait, here is some of their music:

Titelaine perform at Le Ministère as part of Les dimanches couvre-fun, Sunday, March 28th, 8pm. Tickets available through LePointDeVente.com

Gayance Launches Fruta Gogoia

Montreal/Hatian DJ Gayance has spent the past few years opening for acts like Princess Nokia and Kaytranada, playing events such as POP Montreal and Osheaga and directing documentaries on the Piu Piu movement and the Montreal beat scene. She also had a winter arts residency in Salvador, Bahia (Brazil) for the past seven years.

She will be releasing her first EP Not Toning Down For Sh*T in the fall and the first track is a Bahia folk song called Fruta Gogoia. For Gayance, “it’s a mantra that calls women, especially Black women & queers, to take all the space they need to take without compromise.”

Fruta Gogoia will be available March 26th. You can pre-save or pre-add the track or check back tomorrow when we’ll update this post with it. In the meantime, enjoy some of Gayance’s DJ work:

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

We seem to be getting more live art and music (virtually, of course) as the weeks go by and the weather gets nicer. This week we’ve got a couple of live events and a band formed during the pandemic’s first single release.

Let’s get started:

BIG BANG & The Aussenwelt Collective Stream Virtual Nuit Blanche Performances as Part of Art Souterrain

This Saturday night is Nuit Blanche, the showcase event of the annual Montréal en lumière Festival. Unlike every other year, though, the Metro won’t be open all night, museums and galleries won’t be receiving throngs of people in the wee hours of the morning and crowds of people won’t be packing the Quartier des Spectacles to enjoy tir sur glace or a ride on the winter Ferris wheel…because of, well, the cufrew.

Nuit Blanche will still be happening virtually and one of its most popular attractions is back: Art Souterrain. The installation part, featuring art in Montreal’s underground city, will still be happening as of April 10th, but tomorrow night, they will be streaming performances from the Aussenwelt Collective and Stéphanie Décourteille’s BIG BANG dance formation live.

Violet Hébert and Joseph Blais will provide the musical accompanyment for these three performances. Here’s a promo video to give you an idea of what it might look like:

Art Souterrain, the Aussenwelt Collective and BIG BANG will stream an evening of multidisciplinary performances Saturday, March 13, beginning at 8pm, on the Art Souterrain YouTube Channel

The Liquor Store Play Cabaret Lion d’Or Virtually

If you thought to yourself “Wouldn’t it be nice to catch a Big Band playing Cabaret Lion d’Or again?” well, this Sunday you can, virtually, of course.

The Big Band in question is The Liquor Store and they will be performing at the aforementioned very stylish venue on Ontario East as part of Indie Montreal’s Les dimanches couvre-fun series. It’s a chance to catch not only the music part of going to a show, but the venue part as well, without leaving home or watching an old video.

Speaking of an old video, for now, here is the same band playing in a different venue before all the lockdowns:

Indie Montreal presents The Liquor Store Live from Cabaret Lion d’Or as part of Les dimanches couvre-fun, Sunday, March 14th at 8pm. Tickets available through ThePointOfSale.com

Scarlet Wives Debut Single Dream Funeral

When two musicians have their tour plans scrapped due to a pandemic and then have their rhythm guitarist and drummer drop out, they could just sit at home and wait or form a new band with a new drummer and write and record music. Alice (vocals, guitar) and Mike (bass) chose the latter when they formed Scarlet Wives with Zenab (drums).

They also joined up with three other musicians and sound engineers to form Lack Haüs records. Scarlet Wives’ first single is also the label’s first. Called Dream Funeral, it was released March 5th and the next one is due out in April.

They describe the song as “a heavy-hitting dose of fairy grunge” but you really should just give it a listen at one of the links below or check out this teaser video (*** WARNING: Video may trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy):

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Scarlet Wives (@scarletwives)

Scarlet Wives’ first track Dream Funeral is available on (and subsequent tracks will be available on) Amazon Music, Bandcamp and most major platforms

Featured Image: Scarlet Wives

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

February is almost over, nicer spring-like temperature is around the corner and a vaccine is on its way, and with it, the possibility we all may be able to be out past 8pm once again. For now, though, there is plenty of Montreal arts and music we can enjoy online.

Let’s get started:

Black History Month Wraps Up

February is also Black History Month and in Montreal that always means plenty of music, film and other artistic performances as well as conferences and panel discussions. The 30th official edition hasn’t let the pandemic slow it down by going virtual and surely won’t be slowing down in its closing weekend.

There is a Nuits d’Afrique concert tonight, there’s a Black Utopia panel discussion tomorrow courtesy of the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival and much more.

For details and schedule, please visit MoisHistoireDesNoirs.com

Wake Island Release Nouvelle Vague

Wake Island, the duo composed of producers Philippe Manasseh and Nadim Maghzal, are no strangers to Montreal music fans, ditto for those in New York and Beirut. They offer an “80/90’s electronic esthetic with melodies drawing from their Middle Eastern roots.”

With Nouvelle Vague, the latest single from their album Born to Leave, they are doing something so very Montreal. They are releasing the French version today and plan to release an English version in exactly one month, March 26th.

Here is the tune in French:

Firas Nassiri Releases Music Video for Taksim Featuring Christina Enigma

Montreal electro music fans may know Firas Nassri from the the 2020 GAMIQ ectro EP of the Year winners Beige-à-Coeur. Last January, he released his first solo album La Levantine.

With it, he hopes to “explore the bridges between electronic music and his oriental influences” in a style heavily influenced by his Syrian origins.

Nassiri’s latest single, released today along with a music video, is called Taksim. The lyrics are taken directly from the poem On Death by Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran and recited by Canadian vocalist Christina Enigma.

Here is the video:

Featured Image of Firas Nassiri and Christina Enigma courtesy of Indie Montreal

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Dawn McSweeney go through the week’s big news stories:

Quebec Premier François Legault injects himself into the campus “free speech” debate and considers restricting English school enrollment.

What Montreal events and festivals will go online in 2021 and which will happen in person?

Ted Cruz leaves Texas freezing.

Justin Trudeau’s new gun control measures.

Dawn Mc Sweeney is an author and FTB contributor, follow her on Twitter @mcmoxy

Jason C. McLean is the Editor-in-Chief of ForgetTheBox.net, follow him on Twitter @jasoncmclean

Since both of this week’s entries relate, either directly or indirectly, to Nuit Blanche, it’s probably a good idea to start by briefly explaining what Nuit Blance is, for those who don’t know.

In a nutshell, one night a year, most museums and galleries, some other businesses and the Montreal Metro stay open all night. There are parties, events in Quartier des Spectacles and the Old Port and even the Biodome gets involved.

This year, it’s not possible for most people to be out of their homes after 8pm due to the curfew, let alone on the metro at 3am, but some of the key Nuit Blanche events have found their way online.

Let’s get started:

Art Souterrain Festival is Back Online and in Physical Space

Every year, the Art Souterrain Festival is the highlight of many Montrealers’ Nuit Blanche. This event normally sees several artists fill Montreal’s Underground City with installations and perform live art shows.

This year, of course, will be different. Roughly 30 artists will take part in the festival’s two parts:

From tomorrow (Friday) until April 30th, you can take in free online activities such as recordings of performances, podcasts, round table discussions and artist portraits (with quite a few of them happening next Saturday, aka Nuit Blanche 2021). Then, from April 10th to 30th, the regular public installation part of the festival will take over the Underground City.

The 13th Edition of Art Souterrain begins online Friday, February 19th on the Art Souterrain website

Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything from the MAC is Now Online

Speaking of Nuit Blanche, Back in 2017, that’s when we covered (and very much enjoyed) the Leonard Cohen exhibit A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC). It was an immersive and impressive multimedia experience and a fitting local tribute to our legend who had passed away the year before.

Now, while the MAC is open once again to the general public for in-person visits, they have decided to bring back the Cohen exhibit for anyone (in Canada, that is) at any time with a free virtual version of it. It obviously won’t be the same as exploring the exhibit in person, but given the amount of recorded video and audio content in it, it should transition well to this format.

Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything Virtual Exhibit is available online for free until February 22, 2024. You can explore it on the MAC website

This week we’ve got a film and arts festival dedicated to LGBTQ+ works that highlight members of Black communities, a music video premier from a local alternative folk rock group and a Valentine’s market from the people behind POP Montreal.

Let’s get started:

The Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival

We’re in the middle of Black History Month and the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival is set to return for its 13th edition. This year, the theme is, appropriately, Resistance.

With all that is going on south of the border and around the world, resisting is key. The festival also plans to resist any negative effects COVID might have on their ability to reach audiences by making the entire event free and online.

With seven feature films 23 short films and representation from nine countries, the conversation is sure to continue. There will also be found tables, a comedy show and even speed dating.

The 13th Edition of the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival runs February 12 – March 12. For the complete schedule and more info, please visit massimadi.ca

Aquarius Dreams Release Music Video for Flora’s Earthtones

Montreal-based alternative folk rock group Aquarius Dreams released their lastest EP Flora’s Earthtones way back in pre-COVID 2019. While they are planning to go on a “reformative hiatus” and then re-emerge when the pandemic is done, they are first releasing a video for the EP’s titular track this weekend.

Directed by Callum Sheedy, the video “alludes to the degradation of the relationship between humanity and nature, the dance between moral volition and action.” Part of it is also clearly shot on Mount Royal, which always leads to some spectacular visuals.

Puces POP is Back Online for Valentine’s Day

The annual POP Montreal music festival is all set for an in-person edition this fall, but while the curfew and other COVID restrictions are still in effect, their popular Puces POP market has reinvented itself, just in time for Valentine’s Day. They have an online catalogue available until March 1st.

You can buy products from over 70 local artisans. We’re talking body products, clothing, jewelry and much more.

You can find it all at PucesPop.com

Featured Image: Screenshot from Flora’s Earthtones by Aquarius Dreams

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Mylène Chicoine is no stranger to horror. She founded Festival de la Bête Noire as a way to share what helps her to de-stress.

While some turn to comedy and laughter, for Chicoine and those like her, it’s horror and horror-themed art that allow them a form of catharsis, freeing themselves from their demons by confronting them head on.

Festival de la Bête Noire is a horror theatre festival that normally has hosted shows that audiences take in on site and in-person since 2018. But the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a great toll on the arts.

Theaters are closed, and gatherings that would allow for live shows are banned for now. For those needing to keep art and culture alive, the pandemic and the ensuing public health measures have presented a lot of challenges and the name of the game has been adapt or die.

Festival de la Bête Noire has decided to go online this year and I spoke with Mylène Chicoine about what that means.

“We’re not doing in it an actual physical space,” she said. “It’s a multimedia online event from people’s living rooms. We’ve removed the physical aspect completely.”

In order to keep the authenticity of live theater consistent with the spirit of past festivals, Chicoine and her team decided to have as little postproduction as possible, meaning that recorded shows should try to minimize editing and video effects after recording.

“We are NOT a movie festival, we are a THEATRE festival. We still want to see theatre, and performance, and live art even though it’s technically not live.”

When asked about the response to the change in format this year, she said most of the responses have been extremely positive, admitting that Bête Noire almost didn’t happen this year due to the pandemic. The festival happened because of the outpouring of support from the theatre community and its fans.

“We had a lot of demand from the community: Are we doing it this year? Are we doing it? Is it going to happen? We need it. The biggest motivation for the team was the community wants it so we’re going to give it to them.”

Festival de la Bête Noire has 16 shows this year. Two of the shows are mixed shows featuring separate performances within a single show.

The virtual festival has a few alumni, including the The Malicious Basement, Quagmire Productions, and Marissa Blair. In the name of transparency, I myself am acting and handling design for Quagmire’s Poe in the Snow.

Chicoine says that festival alumni were given an extra week to apply knowing that they are faithful participants who have provided good content in the past.

“We like to have repeat performers because it gives them a name and a platform that they need.”

The virtual format has not been without its challenges. Many artists expressed concerns about the ban on post-production, claiming that the festival was trying to restrict their art.

“We don’t want to restrict their art, we want to restrict their technology, that’s the big difference. If you’re in a venue, you’re not using a green screen, you wouldn’t use one in your living room either. We don’t want to make it look like a movie, but of course we’ve had to be a bit more flexible, especially with the new lockdown.”

Chicoine says the festival’s limits on technology this year were among some of the biggest challenges for performers. It forced performers to stretch their creative muscles and think outside the box.

Other challenges for the Festival de la Bête Noire were unfortunate realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. People involved with the companies and performers or their loved ones were exposed to the virus and either got sick and/or were forced to self-isolate. The pandemic itself resulted in some theatre companies dropping out of the festival entirely.

“We understand completely that these things are going to happen and we have had production meetings with every company that has required one to formulate a different kind of plan, whether it’s an extension, being more flexible on technology, but unfortunately we did lose a couple of companies to COVID.”

Most of the companies that dropped out were outside of Montreal and could not participate due to the pandemic, while some participants even got sick and died. It has been really upsetting for everyone involved with Bête Noire, but Chicoine and her team anticipated this happening.

Festival de la Bête Noire 2021 is fulfilling its mandate by giving artists and performers a platform to explore the horror genre by performing, creating and watching, and being a part of something, bringing people together in a socially distant way.

When I asked Chicoine if there were any advantages to going virtual, she pointed to fact that it allowed for more international entries, speaking of participating companies in the US and as far away as Japan. Chicoine mentioned The Peony Lantern by The Yokohama Group, a multimedia performance that takes place in the World Peace Theatre in Kawasaki, Japan.

Given the unpredictability of the pandemic, Mylène Chicoine is preparing for disaster, but it has not dampened her excitement for the shows on offer this year. When asked if there were any shows she was particularly excited about, she mentioned Pento by Mad Paradox, a show about mental health issues.

As for the technicalities regarding the accessing the shows, Chicoine and her team demurred from using sites like YouTube and TikTok because they’re too restrictive. In order to avoid the censorship that comes with those sites, all ticket holders will be sent a Google Drive link to their show which gives them one week to watch it at their convenience. Viewers don’t need a Gmail account to access the link.

Festival de la Bête Noire is running virtually from February 17, 2021 to March 15, 2021. For more info check out LaBeteNoirFest.com

Igloofest, literally Montreal’s coolest festival (temperature-wise) is back this winter, running every Saturday from February 13th to March 13th. They just announced a partial lineup, and it promises to still be a huge dance party.

Of course, Montreal is still very much in the COVID Red Zone and there’s a very real chance Quebec’s 8pm to 5am curfew will be extended beyond February 10th. So this year, the festival will be streaming on Facebook, Twitch and YouTube, meaning the party will be at home for festivalgoers.

The performers, though, will be all across the city, at iconic spots that we will hopefully all be able to visit again in person soon. So far:

  • CRi, Jesse Mac Cormack and Sophia Bel will kick things off February 13th at La Ronde
  • Jacques Greene will be in the Old Port February 20th
  • Young rapper Lou Phelps will be part of a lineup at the Stewart Museum on February 27th
  • March 6th will see Mistress Barbara on the roof of Videotron headquarters
  • On March 13th, the S.A.T. will host a noon to midnight marathon with various artists

The rest of these lineups will, of course, be announced soon. The 15th anniversary of the fest, though, has been pushed to 2022, when we can all, once again, party together in person.

As for keeping it cool, or cold, well, organizers do suggest your backyard or balcony. If you don’t have one of those, though, you could always open a window, but you might want to check with your roommates first.

Featured image from Igloofest 2012 by Chris Zacchia

Igloofest 2021 runs February 13 – March 13. For details and the full lineup (when it is available), check out igloofest.ca

While our Shows This Week column, both for music and arts, is clearly on hiatus until we can, you know, go to shows again, we thought we’d highlight some of the Montreal and Montreal-friendly music, art, theatre, comedy, film etc. that you can partake in.

Let’s get started…

The image + nation Launches Canada’s First-Ever Queer Short Film Festival

image + nation, Canada’s first LGBTQ+ film festival just concluded its 33rd edition, albeit in a totally online form. While you can still see the films that won awards at the festival until December 12th, image+nation has something else to offer.

From December 9th until the 31st they are running the first-ever pan-Canadian Queer Short Film Festival. This new event is focusing on a few key areas including growing up and growing older as an LGBTQ person, films from countries and perspectives that see little representation in the queer cinema canon and outreach to Francophone communities outside of Quebec.

I+N Courts Queer Short Film Fest runs December 9-31. The full program is available in an online catalogue and you can watch the short films until the end of 2020

Wooden Drone’s Never Ending Loops

Montrealer Emmanuel Lauzon, aka electronic music producer Wooden Drone released his debut album this past November 14th. Titled Never Ending Loops, it is a 14-tracks of electronic ambient music meticulously produced over a decade.

That’s right, this is the product of ten years’ worth of work. During that time, Lauzon was also developing the video game We Happy Few as a senior 3D artist. Both projects were released simultaneously.

Wooden Drone will be releasing a single in the new year, but for now (in addition to the full album) we have this teaser video:

Never Ending Loops by Wooden Drone is available for download on Bandcamp

Igloofest Will Return and Has An Online Shop for a Good Cause

Igloofest, the annual outdoor-in-winter music fest has the distinction of being literally the coolest festival in Montreal, but also, due to its timing, one of the few big annual events that actually got to hold an in-person 2020 edition.

This year, with a COVID vaccine’s potential widespread distribution still months away, there won’t be an in-person Igloofest this winter. Organizers are working on a digital version in its place and promise surprises and video capsules starting in January and leading up to the 15th edition scheduled for 2022.

Right now, though, you can buy festival merch. Their online shop, the Iglooboutique, launched this past Thursday, offers items like the classic toque sold at the event each year, hockey jerseys and socks.

If you buy a pair of socks, another pair will be donated to people suffering from homelessness. This is due to Igloofest‘s partnership with Montreal-based Robin des Bas.

You can find updates on the online festival at igloofest.ca and shop at boutique.igloofest.ca

Featured Image from Mother Bunker (2020) playing at the I+N Queer Short Film Festival

If you’re involved in a project or know of one that you think should get coverage here, please let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net We’ll do our best, but no promises