Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss Premier Legault shooting down a $10 Billion climate fund hours before Montreal is hit with a major downpour, the Quebec Election Debate, QS Rail and Bus proposal and concerts this weekend.

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

This week, we’re chock full of festivals, three of them running simultaneously and one of them running two shows at the same time in different locations. This is going to be a busy weekend, so let’s get started:

MEG is Back at Parc Jean Drapeau & the SAT

MEG Montréal is celebrating its 23rd edition with two four-day parties in two locations: the Piknic Électronik site at Parc Jean Drapeau and the Société des arts technologiques (SAT) on the lower Main. They’re bringing in legends like Fatboy Slim, Hugo TSR, Misstress Barbara and Dillon Francis and also have a panel to discussn “Hip-hop culture in all its states, between France and Quebec.”

MEG’s plan has always been to set “the stage for up-and-coming electro hip-hop artists, with a mission of bringing curious, open-minded night owls together for an unforgettable experience.” This year’s “back to school” edition promises to be no different.

Have a look at a video of MEG 2019:

MEG Festival runs September 2-5 with shows running simultaneously at Parc Jean Drapeau (Piknic Électronik site) and at SAT (Société des arts technologiques), 1201 Boul. Saint-Laurent. For tickets and schedule, please visit MEGMontreal.com

Estival du nouveau cinéma Gets the Ball Rolling

Nope, that’s not a typo and nope, we’re not early. 51st Festival du nouveau cinéma still takes place from October 5 to 16, however this weekend, for the second time, they’re getting the ball rolling early with Estival du nouveau cinéma, a mini-fest made up of four nights of screenings at the Esplanade Tranquille in Quartier des spectacles.

It kicks off tonight with L’Infonie Inachevée, the landmark 1973 Quebec documentary by Roger Frappier, then tomorrow Oscar-winning director and screenwriter Paolo Sorrentino revisits his youth in late 80s Naples in The Hand of God. On Saturday, Montreal and global icon Leonard Cohen is front and centre in the new documentary Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song. The mini-fest concludes Sunday with a presentation of Dune (the recent Denis Villeneuve version, not the David Lynch one from decades ago).

Estival du nouveau cinéma runs September 1-4 with 8pm showtimes at the Esplanade Tranquille in Quartier des spectacles. FREE. Info at NouveauCinema.ca

FME in Abitibi

Okay, admittedly, this one isn’t exactly a Montreal show this week, or even a Montreal region show this week, but it is in Quebec, Rouyn-Noranda in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region specifically. And it is quite the show.

Festival de Musique Émergente en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (FME) features over 90 acts from all genres on nine stages over four days. Hubert Lenoir, Animal Collective, Lisa Leblanc, Rich Aucoin and many many more performers will be there.

FME’s 20th Anniversary runs September 1-4. For the lineup and more info, please visit fmeat.org

Featured Image from The Hand of God, courtesy of Festival du nouveau cinéma

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

As we approach the end of summer and beginning of fall, we’re heading into the part of year where regular shows start mixing with the remaining events of Montreal’s festival season. Since this year, so far, regular shows seem to be returning in full force, we’re bringing back Shows This Week (as opposed to Montreal Arts & Music This Week, which includes releases not tied to an event).

So without any more hesitation, let’s get started:

Andrew Searles’ LA Chocolat! @ Café Cléopatra

Andrew Searles has been a comedian for 20 years (professionally, that is) and a Montrealer for longer. For the past six years, though, his base of operations has been sunny LA.

He still returns to his hometown, though it’s usually part of a tour, and his shows here generally sell out. His latest show LA Chocolat! seems to be following that trend, with the 8pm Friday night show at Café Cléopatra already full.

There are still three shows (as of publishing time) that you can buy tickets for and Searles will also be recording an album on the Saturday shows. Here’s some standup from before Searles left for LA:

LA Chocolat! by Andrew Searles runs August 26th and 27th, 8pm and 10:30pm, at Café Cléopatra, 1230 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, 2nd Floor. Tickets available through Eventbrite

Festival FAR in Montreal’s Alleyways

Festival FAR, which beings its sixth edition this Monday, is a multidisciplinary arts festival that takes place exclusively in alleyways. This means mostly smaller, intimate shows, but also a few events with stages in larger alleys.

This year’s event begins in Parc-Ex and culminates in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie with stops in Ahuntsic, Côte-des-Neiges, Downtown (the Ville-Marie Borough), the Sud-Ouest (Pointe-Saint-Charles specifically) and Ville St-Laurent.

Festival FAR 2022 runs August 29 – September 11 in various Montreal neighbourhoods. For schedule and info, please visit festivalfar.com

Marché des Possibles Every Weekend Until September 25th

Last week we announced that POP Montreal is returning with a full lineup. Today, we’d like to announce that the POP and Plateau Mont-Royal Borough co-production Marché des Possibles is also back, well, back again this weekend.

The weekend event has been running since May, featuring a variety of local performers playing L’Entrepôt 77, a makeshift outdoor performance space in the park under the overpass at the very top edge of Mile-End.

This weekend’s lineup features Thanya Iyer launching the Rest EP with Cedric Noel and Ambroise, Ukulélé Club de Montréal, Blood and Dust, amarior, Girl Circles and Lyndsie Alguire.

Marché des Possibles runs at L’Entrepôt 77, 77 Bernard Est, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until September 25. Lineups available through their Facebook page


Featured Image from last weekend’s Marché des Possibles via MDP on Facebook

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

POP Montreal is back!

Well, come to think of it, they were already back in 2020 with a virtual version and last year with a smaller socially-distanced version, but this fall, they’re offering over 200 concerts in close to 20 venues in the Plateau and Mile-End. You could say that they’re back to full-force, but don’t say they’re back to normal.

According to festival Creative Director Daniel Seligman in a press release:

“The notion of ‘going back to normal’ isn’t really POP Montreal’s jam. We will forever be moving forward, doing our best to care of our community and create spaces that allow for all kinds of voices to come together. One of the lessons we’ve learned over the ‘panini’ is that being in relation with each other is the essential ingredient of culture. So let’s come together and experience the most delicious musical sandwich the city can offer.”

This year’s sandwich, or lineup, includes headliners like Allison Russell, Tortoise, The Linda Lindas and POP veteran Martha Wainwright as well as way more than two handfuls of up-and-coming and already established acts representing a variety of musical genres. from the eclectic punk pop of Sophia Bel to Indigenous futurists Ombiigizi, to maverick Toronto rapper Witch Prophet, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy checking out.

POP Montreal runs from September 28-October 2, 2022. For the complete schedule and tickets, please visit POPMontreal.com

The lineup is listed in the poster below:

Osheaga returned to full-force last weekend and FTB was there. Here is a gallery of photos from all three days by Chris Zacchia:

The final two days of Osheaga seemed promising. The lIne-up looked intriguing but would the performances be any good?

We started out day two still getting over last night’s epic Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arcade Fire closing performances wondering if it could be topped. To answer that question: yes, yes it can be!

Mitski

I started off checking out Mitski who is known for her gyrating performances with a full 80s synth pop sound. I saw her at the smaller stage a few years ago and she was very impressive.

Now at the main stage, I realized I enjoyed her performance better last time. Maybe it was her being on the main stage that threw me off, or maybe it was the fact that I was surrounded by so many people who seem utterly distracted or detached from her music.

I wish more people at the main stages were more interested in seeing Mitski, but I guess they must have been waiting for some other performer. 

Photo by Chris Zacchia

Polo and Pan

How weird can French disco/techno can get? Well, if you let Polo and Pan show you the way, you’ll understand how much. I know the weird DJ man wearing a house coat showed me. It was a surprising to the end of the performance. Definitely something you should check out.

Photo by Chris Zacchia

Caribou

What can you say except Caribou may have stole the show at this years Osheaga, especially Saturday. They were one of my top highlights,

Caribou was everything I hoped they would be. I was looking forward to them playing Odessa but then I remembered how many other songs I loved and wanted to hear them play. I danced late into the evening with thousands of other people dancing around me. It was pretty crazy,

Khruangbin

Khruangbin were one of those surprising bands that sounded better than even their recordings. With elements of seventies funk, blue grass and country, Khruangbin is one eclectic romp through American music.

Blood Royal

How much noise could two people make. Well Royal Blood proved that two grown men could make a pretty impressive racket.

Great songs, powerful bass and the crowd went pretty crazy. This included an impressive mosh pit swarm, which I haven’t seen at Osheaga in quite a while.

Wet Leg

The highlight of my festival was seeing Wet Leg. They just plain rock. I had so much fun jibing to this 5-piece that still played to perfection with only four.

Cheers to the ladies that rock this good, great riffs and catchy tunes. They definitely put a smile on my face.

Idles

While most normal people were ending the night at Dua Lipa, people who like hearing British people swear were busy at the Idles show.

And boy did that man ever curse! But they put on one hell of a show.

Photo by Chris Zacchia

Dua Lipa

I don’t know much about Dua Lipa except that she is extremely popular, her stage was dangerously packed and, well, she ended the festival. It was most definitely one night to remember. 

Photo by Chris Zacchia

The first day of Osheaga was a positively radiant day of sun, suds and tons of great acts culminating with an Arcade Fire rain dance that ended the evening. The short burst of rain left the crowd slightly soaked but very satisfied with Osehega’s return to full capacity after a brief halt due to the pandemic.

With a few surprises and a solid lineup Friday I think everyone was a little excited to start their weekend of music .

To start out my day I checked out the Local Naives at the valley stage. Their atmospheric rock sound was a good way to slowly get into the Vibe of the scene. And after a few beers and a few songs, I was totally into the festival experience.

It seemed like this year’s Osheaga, after a two years hiatus, felt very full.

The surprise treat of the evening was a very good performance by Arcade Fire. I didn’t think their last few shows were as energetic as I remembered them being in the past, but what they did right Friday night was know how to play for a local crowd.

They had a perfect group of songs, from Funeral and The Suburbs to Wake Up and Sprawl II. It felt like Montreal’s band was back, even after these last two dreadful albums. 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

What can you say about the always intriguing performance of YYYs? They brought the crowd back to aggressive pop rock. The crowd loved Heads Will Roll and Maps

Video courtesy of Kyle Cadogan

Definitely recommend checking them out next time they are in town.

Honorable Mentions:

Charlie XCX: Her catchy pop 90s song I Don’t Care was a wild romp and the crowd went pretty crazy,

Johnathan Summit’s DJ set at the Island stage was excellent the beats got me transcendental.

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney welcome Special Guest Jerry Gabriel to talk about the full-force return of Osheaga and the final weekend of the full-force return of Just for Laughs – both this weekend!

For live Osheaga coverage, follow @forgetthebox on Twitter and Instagram

Follow @jerrygabrielrocks on Instagram

Follow Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Jason C. McLean @jasoncmclean on Twitter and Instagram

Well, after a year-long hiatus, and last year’s semi-return, Osheaga has finally returned to full capacity with some pretty interesting acts, both local and from far away. Montreal band Arcade Fire will headline the opening night, filling in for Foo Fighters who had to cancel due to the unfortunate death of their drummer Taylor Hawkins.

To say that there has been a lot of drama in everyone’s life over the last two years would be an understatement! Here’s hoping that we can get back to doing what we love best in Montreal: listening to live outdoor music carefree. Hopefully Osheaga signals that return to normalcy.

To get you through the return of live outdoor music, here are some of the bands I recommend you check out:

Gus Dapperton

If you like the lo-fi sound of Mac Demarco then you will definitely like the tasty twisted direction that Gus Dapperton has taken it. A very interesting take and I would say worthy of seeing on the main stage.

Friday, 2:40pm, Mountain Stage

Arkells

I have a soft spot for bands from Hamilton and that most definitely includes Arkells. After watching them do an impressive Grey Cup half-time show in their hometown, I enthusiastically welcome the high energy rock of this band. And since this is Saturday and it’s slim pickings when it comes to rock, I am especially excited to see their performance.

Saturday, 5:45pm, River Stage

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Maps is one of my all time favourite songs and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will always have that big aggressive pop sound that I enjoy. They are one of my headliner band picks because never disappoint in their live shows.

Friday, 7:45pm, Mountain Stage

Mitski

I saw Mitski for the first time a few years ago at Osheaga. I was captured by her reinvented renditioning of 80s pop sound and was enchanted to listen to more. Definitely will be a highlight performance for the Saturday crowd.

Saturday, 6:45pm, Mountain Stage

King Hannah

The best way to describe King Hannah is that they have hints of Americana and early 2000s minimalist-pop and some interesting drum arrangements that make for unique escapist songwriting. Big Big Baby is a great song where the vocals remind me of Neko Case, but are still unique. Enjoyable if you’re into slow tempo.

Friday July 29th, 4:40pm, Tree Stage

Caribou

For over 15 years Caribou has evolved form a minimalist low-fi electro acoustic set to where he is now. And no one would fault him for evolving, because I’ve enjoyed every step of the way. Andorra and Swim are two of my favourite albums. If you ‘re going to go out dancing on Saturday, then Caribou is the act to see!

Saturday, 9:45pm, Island Stage

IDLES

What are IDLES but a really good take on post punk and old punk but with a harsh talking method of yelling out street spittle. Very aggressive and very effective at giving off some really harrowing performances, definitely worth seeing what happens!

Sunday, 9:20pm, Green Stage

Featured Image from Osheaga 2019 by lamyazpixels

Osheaga 2022 runs July 29, 30 and 31. Tickets and info at osheaga.com

So after a two year hiatus the full version of Osheaga is finally back! Yes there was a smaller version last fall and yes concerts have been back for a while, but this is still a big deal for Montreal music fans.

As usual we at FTB aren’t going to preview the Dua Lipas or Arcade Fires of the world since you know who they are already. Here is some lesser known talent to put on your radar if you’re planning to attend any or all of the three days of fun in the sun this weekend.

This comes with the standard disclaimer: This list is completely biased, unsystematically researched and only meant to inspire you to do your own digging about who’s playing.

Boy Golden

The show I’m the most curious about is Canadian alt rock/country singer, spiritual advisor and mullet enthusiast Boy Golden. His online promotion flirts with the line between cult leader and musician in a very tongue in cheek way and his songs are perfect to listen to on a warm summer day.

His latest album The Church of Better Daze seems to be attracting many converts to his ministry and on Sunday at 2 pm on the Mountain Stage you can check it out for yourself.

Les Louanges

The last time the Fest was in full swing I randomly stumbled into a set by an artist I’d never heard before and was immediately hooked on the warm fuzzy sounds coming from the stage . A short check of the program later, I figured out it was Quebec native Les Louanges.

He’s back again this year on the Tree Stage, Friday night at 7:45 pm. I’ll be checking out his set again, but this time not by chance.

Mitski

Speaking of Osheaga veterans, Mitski is also performing in back-to-back (with a covid hiatus) years. Last time I was super impressed by her energy and stage presence.

Back in February she released her latest album Laurel Hell and I’m excited to hear the new tracks live. She’ll be on the Mountain Stage, Saturday at 6:35 pm.

Idles

My “I don’t really know them but let’s give it a shot” pick this year is British rock band Idles. When I’m trying to decide who to check out for a festival I usually steer towards live performances as the best method of assessment.

I happened to land on the one below and was completely blown away. The energy from this band is just amazing and they didn’t even have a crowd to feed off of for this performance. They’ll be playing the Green Stage, Sunday at 9:20pm.

Les Street Monkeys

The latest Indie sensation is a Cambodian fusion band out of Montreal with tunes that have been inspired by… nah I can’t keep this up. Les Street Monkeys is a restaurant in Verdun and they’re the food truck I’m most excited to try now that Grumman ’78 is no more.

The part about being Cambodian was true and their menu looks pretty awesome. They’ll be playing the food truck area all weekend long.

Osheaga 2022 runs July 29, 30 and 31. Tickets and info at osheaga.com

More previews tomorrow and full coverage this weekend on FTB

With things in Montreal headed back to almost normal, we’re almost ready to re-brand this column Shows This Week. Not yet, but soon. This week, though, it is chock full of shows.

Let’s get started:

Nuit Blanche Returns

Nuit Blanche is an event we have covered extensively in previous years, but this year, the closing night of Montréal en lumière kinda crept up on us. With the uncertainty of restrictions being lifted, we weren’t sure if was going to happen and at what level.

While some of it will be virtual and some experiences will close around midnight or 1am, it will feature music, visual arts, games, multidisciplinary events and more all across the city and will go all night (though no indication the metro will remain open all night as in previous years.

Highlights include Mouvement at Ausgang Plaza, Nuit Blanche at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 24 Hours of Vinyl and regular events like the outdoor activities in the Quartier de Spectacles and open galleries in the Belgo Building.

Nuit Blanche, part of Montréal en lumière, is Saturday, February 26. Full schuedule and map available at NuitBlancheMtl.com

Insolitudes 2 Concert Series: Three Themes, Three Shows, Three Universes

This week, Indie Montreal is reviving its Insolitudes concert series. The concept is simple: three nights (March, 1st, 2nd and 3rd), three themes (jazz, pop and electro) and three universes.

This event will feature The Liquor Store, Titelaine, Millimetrik and many other local acts.

Insolitudes 2 runs March 1, 2 and 3 , 8pm at Le Balcon, 463 Saint-Catherine Ouest. Tickets for all shows available through ThePointOfSale.com

The Massimadi Festival Continues as Black History Month Concludes

With Black History Month concluding for the year, it’s important to note that one of its key events, the Massimadi Film and Arts Festival, is still running until March 11th. Canada’s only Afroqueer film and arts festival is in its 14th edition and is available for free all across the country (online, that is).

Here’s a trailer for just one of the films that are part of this year’s official selection:

Massimadi Film and Arts Festival continues until March 11. This year’s selection is available at massimadi.ca

Ol’ Savannah + Lucy Lambert’s Violet Drift @ Quai des Brumes

This one’s not part of a festival, or a series, or a hybrid event, it’s just a couple of bands playing a showbar on St-Denis on a weeknight. And that, in and of itself, is a really good thing to be able to say once again.

Yes, it is literally the first night such an event is once again possible, and yes, it is limited capacity (55 people), but it’s also Ol’Savannah and Lucy Lambert’s Violet Drift, two local acts playing a local show in a local bar. Check out the video below to get an idea of one of the acts and then head out on Monday to the Plateau:

Ol’ Savannah + Lucy Lambert’s Violet Drift perform at Quai des Brumes, 4481 St-Denis, Monday, February 28, 9pm. 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

Osheaga is back! After being forced to cancel in 2020 and offering a stripped-down all-Canadian October edition last year, the summer’s biggest music fest is back in full force in 2022.

They just announced this year’s lineup and it’s as big as ever.

Foo Fighters, who were supposed to play both in 2020 and 2021, will finally make it across the border and headline Friday night. They will be joined earlier in the day by indie rockers the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, British singer/songwriter Charli XCX, American rapper Big Sean and more.

New York-based rapper and producer A$AP Rocky is the big name closing off Saturday. French DJ Sébastien Léger, Hamilton rockers Arkells and New Jersey indie pop act Bleachers are among those also performing on the middle day.

Sunday night, English singer-songwriter Dua Lipa closes out the night and the festival for the year. She follows rapper and Pete Davidson buddy Machine Gun Kelly, Quebec City singer songwriter Safia Nolin, British indie rockers Glass Animals and many more local, Canadian and international acts.

This is the kind of mix Osheaga is famous for and once will be again.

Osheaga 2022 runs July 29 – 31, for the complete schedule and tickets (single day tickets on sale this Friday) please visit osheaga.com

Jason C. McLean and Special Guests Dawn McSweeney and Jerry Gabriel start with Quebec’s second curfew which begins on New Year’s Eve and then talk about some of the top news stories of 2021.

Follow Dawn McSweeney on Twitter and Instagram @mcmoxy

Follow Jerry Gabriel on Twitter (@depressingbear) and Instagram (@jerrygabrielrocks)

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter and Instagram @jasoncmclean

It’s the winter, a time when indoor shows have traditionally been a refuge from Montreal winter. Unfortunately last year that wasn’t the case, for obvious reasons, but this year, we’re heading back to semi-normal. With that in mind, let’s get started:

Three More Weeks of #LECYPHER Thursdays

After five sellout shows, Urban Science are closing off 2021 with three more #LECYPHER Thursdays hip hop shows at Le Petit Campus. The concept is simple: Urban Science and their invited guests for the evening (local bands and DJs) perform and then it turns into a jam.

Tonight’s show features the Lotus Collective followed by Sonido Pesao on the 9th and Hawa B on the 16th.

#LECYPHER Thursdays run until December 16 (December 2 w/Lotus Collective) at 8pm at Le Petit Campus, 57 Rue Prince Arthur Ouest. Tickets available through LePointDeVente.com

Heather Mah’s Debut Solo Show Pomegranate Running at the MAI

Heather Mah has decades of experience in the dance world, but her first major solo show, Pomegranate, premiers this week at the MAI. The show pulls from Mah’s own family history and “draws a fragmented portrait of migration”.

The opening has already started at press time, but it runs three more times tomorrow and Saturday and the Saturday matinee is offered in audio description for the visually impaired audience, a first for a Montreal dance show and only the second time it is being offered in Canada.

Heather Mah – Pomegranate from Montréal, arts interculturels on Vimeo.

Pomegranate runs December 3 and 4 at 7:30pm (with a matinee on December 4 at 2pm) at MAI, 3680 rue Jeanne-Mance. Tickets available through the MAI Box Office

The Quintet L’Abîme Launch Their Debut Album with a Mini-Tour

L’Abîme is a relatively new Montreal-based quintet launching their eponymously-titled debut album on April 23rd. Before that, though, they will go on a three-stop tour of Quebec, starting next Tuesday, December 7th, in Montreal at L’Esco.

Their influences range from jazz to progressive rock to contemporary classical music. You can hear a sample below:

L’Abîme start their tour Tuesday, December 7 at L’Esco, 4461 rue St-Denis, info on the Facebook event page

Featured Image of Quintet L’Abîme by Ethel Laurendeau 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

This week, we have a couple of groups that we have previously covered for their virtual performances that have switched back to in-person. Let’s get started:

Titelaine Launch On veut vivre notre vie en vacances

What a better time than fall to think about summer vacation, or vacations in general. That’s probably what Montreal duo Titelaine have in mind with the October release of their album On veut vivre notre vie en vacances, which they’re launching in-person tonight.

We’ve already covered this band playing a virtual show, back when in-person shows weren’t possible, but now that they are, they are. They have already released the single Paranoïa ahead of the launch. Give it a listen:

Titelaine launch On veut vivre notre vie en vacances at Ausgang Plaza, 6524 rue St-Hubert, Thursday, October 7 from 8-11pm. Tickets available through LePointDeVente.com

Ghost Stories in the Flesh Courtesy of Haunted Montreal

Around this time last year, Haunted Montreal was forced to cancel its in-person ghost walks due to everything being locked down just before the Halloween season. They scrambled and came up with a virtual alternative which we reviewed and later a Victorian-themed holiday virtual tour which we also reviewed.

Since restrictions eased earlier this year, they have been back doing what they do best, in person haunted experiences. For the Halloween Season, they are offering three ghost walks: Haunted Downtown, Haunted Mountain and Haunted Griffintown, as well as a paranormal investigation. Yes, you have to get to all those neighbourhoods, but that’s part of the fun,

Haunted Montreal’s experiences are offered in both English and French on various dates and times until early November, please visit HauntedMontreal.com for the schedule and tickets

Featured Image courtesy of Haunted 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

This year’s POP Montreal (the 20th edition) was an entertaining distraction that was most definitely needed coming on the heels of a heavy lockdown in Montreal. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I for one was extremely happy to see live music flourish in Montreal and boy did POP not disappoint for the 20th time. 

As much as we would like to forget about what was still happening outside, the dancing masked people in the indoor events, the vaccine passport checks at the door and the liquid sanitizer reminded us all that this pandemic is not over yet. but POP did a great job making everyone feel safe and secure.

Onto the music!

While there were a great many artists playing, two shows in particular really stood out for me.

One was an afternoon show that displayed the raw strength and ability of Gus Englehorn songs to stay in my head and  play over and over again long after his show. 

His performance was probably under the the worse conditions: an afternoon show on the Friday. Still, he managed to get a packed house and he still brought it!

His songs are so catchy. I just wanted to bounce around, but of course i was stuck in a seat a couple of feet away from someone else. It was a great set with his drummer Estée Preda playing as hard as Gus, creating a lot positive vibes for me  and really setting the tone for Friday at POP this year.

It definitely got me out of my COVID rut. I really appreciated the fact that they were able to put on such a great show under these conditions.

Next up, was a much bigger show by far: Suuns at Rialto. 

I guess my expectations were way to high for the show, Suuns being one of my favorite bands to come out of the local music scene, and while the show was pretty entertaining, it didn’t feel like this was their best performance. It was still highly enjoyable and really reached it’s peak towards the end. The background visuals also really enhanced the experience.

The best part of the show was definitely leading up to and the encore. In particular, it was when they played fan favorite Arena.

The audience was definitely enjoying it, dancing towards the end, especially around the final encore. It almost felt like the good old days, well if it wasn’t for the masks.

Although it wasn’t completely back to normal at this year’s POP, it was definitely great to see people listening to live music together again.

As we begin this journey back to normalcy. POP Montreal definitely helped us along the way. Thanks again for 20 years of music!

All photos courtesy of Phil Shearing