It’s been a year, y’all. We shook off the collective nightmare of lockdown, put on our dancing shoes, and partied. Bars, theatre, concerts, comedy, art, all the stuff that keeps the lights on in our city and our souls returned from the forced hiatus.

It didn’t take long for us to get used to it, and every now and again I stop myself while doing some mundane thing like walking through the Eaton Centre and remember how much I craved the basics.

As some of you may know, I have a lot of well thought out complaints about the ways of the world (catch me on FTB Weekends with Jason C. McLean), but provincial elections and healthcare crisis aside, the gratitude was especially delicious this 2022.

January

It’s a mind bender to recall that we came into 2022 under curfew, and in lockdown, but at the time it was hard to think of much else. Instead of show announcements, we kept our ears to the ground for cancellations, wondering how far ahead they were planning.

It was miserable. Igloofest was canceled. Online shows offered some reprieve, but meh. If we were in a tumbleweed climate, they would be rolling through this month.

The whole thing was gloomy.

February

February is often called the most depressing month, and in the COVID time it was at least doubly so. We were still under partial lockdown, but hope was on the horizon!

Nuit Blanche was finally coming back and Osheaga announced its lineup, signaling that normalcy was within reach. Some performers would change before the show, but all we heard is that there would be shows.

In fact, some local shows started to pop up and bars were scheduled to reopen February 28. Is dancing allowed? Is singing allowed? No one’s sure, but we’re stoked to get out there and find out.

March

The show is finally going on, which is really saying something considering the curtain on CATS was originally supposed to go up in March of 2020.. Just For Laughs announced its lineup and things to look forward to were starting to pop up everywhere.

This is when Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was doing what it could with limited capacity: starting at the end of February, you could get in if you booked your time slot (in 15 minute increments) online, masking and distancing are mandatory, giving the security staff the new task of keeping people from moving through the rooms too quickly or getting too close to one another. Only the major exhibit was open, and I learned that I don’t like Riopelle, but being back feels momentous.

Concerts have begun, but safety measures are in place there too, making the whole thing seem weird. My bf goes to see Sepultura at a fully masked metal show, and it sounds dystopian to me.

April

The MMFA is actually factually all the way open, though you still need to book a time slot. I beeline for The Decorative Arts & Design Pavilion, which is open for the first time in ages, having been “closed due to reorganization” or some such even before the pandy. I am in my happy place.

The MMFA’s Decorative Arts and Design Pavilion (photo by Dawn McSweeney)

As part of an experiment on our party rules, the SAT serves up drinks and tunes for 24 hours straight which gives me some hope that maybe the “new normal” will allow for some reconfiguration of things we’ve taken for granted as status quo for too long (writing this at the end of December, that hope has long since crashed and burned, but it was lovely while it lasted).

I’m comforted knowing that while everything feels like it’s on the brink, Montrealers can unite against some showy corporate silliness as we all discuss the city’s new giant ring.

May

Spring is springing, and the good times are indeed rolling. I finally get out to my first post-COVID show. I’ve seen Symphony X before, and they put on a good show despite not being on my regular rotation. This is about getting out, and bring with people and not wearing a mask in a crowd.

We meet up with friends for drinks and food. No vax passes. No masks. We come and go from the show so much, it’s about the band the same way high school dances are about dancing. I’m jazzed.

I also leave town for the first time in years, and head to Halifax for the first time ever. We hit some familiar territory, and hug people we’ve missed.

Back in Montreal, masks were still in place at Mainline Theater where performers wore them throughout Carrie: The Musical rehearsals. As someone who’s still masked at work, let me say that phone calls are hard enough, kudos for pulling off a musical.

There were no masks on stage for Contact Theatre’s Next to Normal at Monument Nationale and Cirque du Soleil came back strong with Kooza.

June

At this point our regularly scheduled Montreal programming seems to be rolling right along, and Fringe is next! James Gartler checks out Tango to the Pointe along with Al Lafrance’s Is This Yours? and Josephine, a burlesque cabaret dream play, saying of Josephine that “it stands easily as one of the best shows to ever play at the Montreal Fringe Festival”.

I peep What About Albert? and enjoy the heck out of it.

Photo by Joseph Ste-Marie, courtesy of The Malicious Basement Theatre Company

July

I smiled through this whole month. There are events at every turn, and Montreal summer is thriving. At the beginning of the month, our Editor Extraordinaire says to me “hey, someone approached us with a creative thing that made me think of you”, which is how I met my creative soulmate, and that will come up later.

ComicCon is back, and the fits are fierce. Flipping through the cosplay pics, I get a little sentimental thinking about how long it’s been since we’ve all been able to let our freak flags fly in all their carefully crafted glory. Man, we’re beautiful.

James Gartler went to Malcolm McDowell’s talk and he learned that the only time in his 60 year career he was ever stiffed on gig was by a producer in Montreal, so we have that dubious distinction.

JFL is back for its 40th edition, and I’m desperate to laugh with strangers. From late July into early August, all my friends have to listen to me fangirling about who I’m interviewing. I loudly tell everyone I know that I can’t make their things ‘cuz I have media passes to comedy shows, and article deadlines. Everyone calmly assures me that I wasn’t invited to their things, and pats me on my head for being so cute and excitable.

Seriously though, when you look at it all in one place our FTB Team had JFL on lock. Samantha Gold spoke to Canadian comedy royalty Rick Mercer, comic, Hollywood and Bollywood actor Vir Das and even Randy Feltface, an actual puppet. Jason C. McLean spoke with Letterkenny star Mark Forward and caught Irish comic Tommy Tiernan’s new show. James Gartler took in Trixie Mattel’s free outdoor drag show and SNL and stand-up star John Mulaney’s latest one-man show.

I spoke to a bunch of folks I never thought I would such as Alonzo Bodden and Pete Holmes. Despite Big Jay Oakerson closing out our phone interview by saying I should come up and say hi at the show, I freeze and never say hi. I see him outside with Brendan Sagalow on another day, after a different show, and I stare like a weirdo, but keep my distance.

July/August

As Montrealers we’re confident in our summers, but painfully aware of their fleeting nature. By the end of July squeezing in all the summer activities becomes a full time job, and this year it’s coming to a head as Osheaga & JFL share a weekend.

Osheaga 2022 photo by Chris Zacchia

As one FTB team was all over JFL, another team covers Osheaga with Joe McLean and Jerry Gabriel‘s previews and coverage from Jerry Gabriel of the rock-oriented Day One and the mix of everything Days Two and Three, plus Chris Zacchia’s festival photos.

Meanwhile, my Maritimers BIL & SIL come to town for their first Osheaga, and they haven’t been here in years. We live it up, and I fall in love with MTL yet again as I experience it through tourist eyes. They had a blast at the show.

August

Oh, I remember August because before we’d even sent the Scotians home, my bf tested positive for COVID. Damn it. We lock ourselves in, and I catch it in short order.

Considering I’ve been working at an office this whole time and taking public transit throughout, it seems fair. We both feel like bags of poop, but we’re super glad it wasn’t worse.

Meanwhile, Samantha Gold was checking out Repercussion Theatre’s All Shall Be Well and the POP Montreal lineup is released giving us more to look forward to.

September

In September I interviewed a fictional character when I sat down with Andrew Jamieson as Conor Blaine, (the aforementioned creative thing and the aforementioned creative soulmate). It was like playing with someone else’s imaginary friend, and it tickled me.

Drinks with fictional character Conor Blaine (photo by Dawn McSweeney)

Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival returns for it’s 14th edition, and I didn’t know this existed until it was over, so as I write this I’m marking my calendar for next year.

At MMFA, Nicolas Party’s pastels surprised me as the colours spilled off the pages and onto the walls. The Decorative Arts & Design Pavilion is closed again as pieces from there are used as part of another exhibit.

POP Montreal started at the very end of the month which takes up right into…

October

POP Montreal taught me a lot about how to better cover a multimedia, multi location arts festival. There was so much to do and see, but for me the highlight was catching Sophia Bel, who I’d never heard of, and now I tell other people about.

Samantha Gold interviewed Rocky Horror Show director Amy Blackmore and the time warp was live for the first time in years. Me First & The Gimmie Gimmies come to town, and it’s a fun time.

November

In art news, MMFA puts on a fantastic Jean Michel Basquiat exhibit called Seeing Loud: Basquiat & Music. It features works by the artist, but is specifically designed to showcase the importance of music in both his career and life. The music plays throughout.

Big famous pieces aside, there are framed journal pages, concert posters, and a super cool map where you can track his path via concerts in NYC. This bad boy runs through February 19, 2023.

In other museum news, the Decorative Arts & Design Pavilion is back to being closed for reorganization or whatever. I sigh dramatically.

Anti-Flag brought old school punk to town, and image+nation celebrates 35 years.

December

The beginning of December already feels like a year ago. The Candyass Cabaret brought sexy back, the Stygian Caravan brought creatives together, and speaking of together, Glass Tiger still is.

Andrew Jamieson’s Sleazy Christmas introduced me to comedian Morgan O’Shea who I thought was just some friend of a friend, and next thing you know, he’s going up on stage, and I’m laughing till it hurts. Turns out he’s profesh. I’ll be intentionally seeking out his comedy in the future.

As is always the case, this year isn’t over yet, and we’re already looking to the next.

Osheaga 2023 headliners have been announced, and I already have Lizzo tickets for May.

Entertainment this week? Personally? So much chilling.

All the best to you, yours, and the dreams you’re chasing. Blessed be & haribol.

Featured Image of Sophia Bel @ POP Montreal by Dawn McSweeney

Anyone else doing their Christmas shopping like one for them, two for me? It makes it much more fun.

Clears throat, shuffles papers this week: mingle with artists, dance all night,catch some tunes, and if you’re gonna shop, shop local.

Dance, Plants and Real-Time Collaboration @ MAI

MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) is presenting two pieces by artist Sasha Kleinplatz.

We Move Together or Not at All has “five soloists each perform an improvised solo dedicated to the plants in a greenhouse”. It’s dance, installation, and performance art in one.

Miracle’ing/Close to Me/Close to You is an improvised performance piece with twelve artists from across Canada collaborating in real time. While this is dance, it’s also far more than that: the performers will also have control over the music, sounds, lights and projector.

We Move Together or Not at All & Miracle’ing/Close to Me/Close to You by Sasha Kleinplatz both run at the MAI, 3680 Jeanne Mance, each with multiple showtimes until December 11. For showtimes, info and tickets, please visit the MAI website

Pass me my poodle skirt!

This Friday Westie Swing is hosting a West Coast Swing class and social. Bring a partner, find a partner, learn a thing. The tunes are catchy, and the moves are slick. First timers welcome, so don’t be shy!

Westie Swing Night hosted by Westie Montreal @ Studio Tango Montreal, 7755 boul St. Laurent, #200-A&B on Friday, December 9 from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tickets available through WestieMontreal.com

I play favorites

Oki, so I caught Sophia Bel by fluke at POP Montreal this year, and she was my favorite act. Sure she’s got a great voice, but she also knows how to command a stage, and punk up Neil Young songs, I bet this show’ll be good too (prob has some Christmas in it..?).

Sophia Bel as Part of Christmas in the Park at Parc Emilie-Gamelin, 1500 Rue Berri, Montréal, Friday, December 9, 8pm. Details through QuartierDesSpectacles.com

“Philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks…”

The Stygian Caravan is offering up an author-led creative exploration with “Writing! Art! Music! Philosophical discussion!” Creative chat, and connect with creative humans. It’s a two parter, so jump in on one or both (it moves…’cuz caravan)

The Stygian Caravan starts at Encore Books, 5670 Sherbrooke Street West, Sunday, December 11 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., moving to Notre Boeuf de Grace, 5732 Sherbrooke Street West. Info on Stygian and the Facebook Event Page

Gifts for you! And I suppose other people too…

For this winter edition of Puces POP, it’s 2 times the weekends and double the artisans! The goodies are local, handmade, and wide ranging. While you’re checking gifts off the list don’t forget to spoil yourself too, Boo.

The Holiday Puces POP at Église Saint Denis, 5075 rue Rivard (in front of Laurier Metro) December 9 through 11 and December 16 through 18. Info on the Facebook Event Page

Featured Image of Sophia Bel performing at POP Montreal 2022 by Dawn McSweeney

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

Multidisciplinary is the word of the week. From a music focused museum show to a concert in the dark, Montreal is offering up some layered treats (which conveniently matches my outfit).

Basquiat’s Back with Music

Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music is a multidisciplinary exhibition focused on the role music played in the life and work of Jean Michel Basquiat. Organized in collaboration with the Musée de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris, when they call it large scale, they mean it: there are rooms of Basquiats, from concert posters and meticulously written journal pages, to giant paintings and pieces of tagged walls brought inside.

You’ll want to see it again before you’re even done. Bonus: the people watching is particularly good, and if you want an excuse to wear your fiercest fit, this is it.

The playlist is on Spotify, so get into the mood:

Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music runs at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1380 Sherbrooke Ouest, until February 19, 2023. Info and tickets on the MMFA website

Ben Caplan & Terra Spencer’s New Collab for Old News

Award winning talents Ben Caplan and Terra Spencer have teamed up for the first time creating the album Old News (released last month).

Terra’s a storytelling songwriter, and while Ben is known for his folk music roots, this marks his first foray into music production. Tha album has duets and solo performances, and I bet the show will too.

Here’s a sample:

Ben Caplan & Terra Spencer perform at Ursa, 5589 Ave du Parc, Saturday, November 26, 8pm (doors 6pm). Tickets available through ThePointOfSale.com

Concerts in the Dark: Because When Did You Last Really Pay Attention?

No screens or distractions, and with “an immersive listening device”, Les Yeux Fermer: Concerts Dans le Noir / Eyes Closed: Concerts in the Dark is creating a sensory experience for the distracted age.

Musical pieces have been created with “spatialized sound”, and the architecture of the SAT in mind. I imagine it’ll be super trippy.

On the lineup: Nova Materia, Lyonnaise Flore and Nantes-based Simo Cell, boss of the TEMƎT Music label.

Before you go, here’s Nova Materia – with the lights on:

Les Yeux Fermés runs November 25th and 26th at 8pm at S.A.T., 1201 Boul. Saint-Laurent. Tickets available through my.weezevent.com

Featured Image from Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music by Dawn McSweeney @mcmoxy on Twitter

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

Dust off your best cosplay and bust out that autograph album because the Montreal Comic Con is back. This Friday through Sunday, the Palais de Congrès will play host to artists, actors and fandoms of all varieties in a celebration of all things geeky and game-related.

To help you figure out what to prioritize, Forget The Box has combed through the Guest List so you can make the most of your weekend. No thanks necessary. It’s just what we do.

The original Borg Queen herself, Alice Krige, will be headlining the convention – if not descending from the ceiling as a head – to reminisce about her various appearances in Star Trek, as well as her work in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World and 1992’s Stephen King classic Sleepwalkers.

Her costar in the upcoming indie film She Will, none other than Malcolm McDowell, will also be attending to reflect on his Trek experience – aka killing Captain Kirk in Generations – as well as his voice work on Superman: The Animated Series and, inevitably, 1971’s A Clockwork Orange. Look for his panel on Friday and Krige’s on Sunday.

Arrow and Teen Wolf star Colton Haynes will take the stage on Saturday to field questions about his time working on both larger-than-life shows, with X-Files and Terminator 2 star Robert Patrick speaking to the crowds on Sunday, possibly about his uncanny ability to terrify us without so much as uttering a single word.

Of course, one of the biggest thrills of any comic convention is seeing all our local talent gathered in one place. In that respect, this year’s show will not disappoint. A-List artist Yanick Paquette – of DC’s Wonder Woman and Swamp Thing comics – will be in attendance, probably with plenty of gorgeous art in tow. Comic artist-turned publisher Andy Belanger will also be present, hopefully demonstrating some of the sick moves that have helped make him a regular in the wrestling scene.

Concordia animation graduate and cartoonist extraordinaire, BOOM, will return with her autobiographical Boomeries graphic novels in tow and maybe even a tease of her upcoming book, La méduse, due out this fall. And Montreal institution Terry Mosher, aka AISLIN, will also be present to speak on his decades of political cartooning for The Montreal Gazette. Who better to provide a lighthearted perspective in these dark political times?

Add a host of vendors selling all the merch you could possibly want to add to your secret display case – don’t pretend you don’t have one! – and a Masquerade Ball where fans with sewing skills get to strut their stuff, and a good time is pretty much guaranteed. Plus, unlike the Jazz Fest, it can’t get rained out, which is definitely a perk.

Tickets to the convention are still available over at the show’s official website , where additional updates will be provided in the days ahead.

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

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

Yes, there are some new restrictions coming in Quebec, but they come into effect on Monday, so you can still partake in the two in-person events listed here (and, of course, the one that’s online as well). Plus they would be within the rules after the new measures come into effect.

It’s the holiday season, but there are still plenty of local arts events happening. Let’s get started:

Elizabeth Anne Malatestinic’s The Monarch at L’Annexe Dépanneur Café

Elizabeth Anne Malatestinic was always drawn to art pieces that made her want to reach out and run her fingers across the canvas. With her new exhibit The Monarch, the Hampton, New Brunswick native currently based in Montreal hopes to offer just that experience.

“If that means that the paint and colour changes over time, all the better,” she says, “I want my paintings to develop and age as all living things do.”

Seven of her works will be displayed at L’Annexe Dépanneur Café in Mile-End for a month. It will include The March of the Monarch, a 47×31 mixed media piece comprising of 205 hand painted butterflies arranged on a canvas creating a commentary on climate change, and its detrimental impacts on women, girls, and monarch butterflies.

The Monarch by Elizabeth Anne Malatestinic – Vernissage featuring live music by Ocean Charter of Values on Friday, December 17, 6-9pm. Exhibit up until mid-January 2022 @ L’Annexe Dépanneur Café, 200 Rue Bernard Ouest. More info on the Facebook Event Page

Run Nawrocki Run! Escape from Banff Prison

In his latest play, available on YouTube until tomorrow evening, acclaimed Montreal playwright, actor and musician Norman Nawrocki tells the little-known story of the six year imprisonment of 8579 Ukranian-Canadians during World War 1.

“Nawrocki blends Canadian history, emigration, racism, war hysteria, Ukrainian folkloric medicinal rituals & legend with family memory in the 40-minute long production.”

Run Nawrocki Run! Escape from Banff Prison is available to watch until December 17th at 9pm Eastern on Norman Nawrocki’s YouTube Channel

Happy Holidaze Cabaret

The Candyass Cabaret is back, as it is the third Friday of every month. This time around, the mood will be festive and the theme is the holidays (or Holidaze).

MCs are Damiana Dolce and Monica Hamburg, the audience is encouraged to wear ugly x-mas sweaters and “win mediocre prizes in our contest.”

Candyass Cabaret presents Happy Holidaze, Friday, December 17, 9pm (Doors 8:30pm) @ Cafe Cleopatre, 1230 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, 2nd Floor. More info on the Facebook Event PageFeatured Image: The March of the Monarch by Elizabeth Anne Malatestiric

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

Sand sculptor Jonathan Bouchard aka Jobi is trying to make the best of pandemic life. With CBC’s reality competition show Race Against the Tide having wrapped last summer and many travel restrictions still in effect, the Saint Calixte QC native is trying to branch out into other artistic mediums.

I had a chance to sit down with Jobi about his experiences on the show. Being a visual artist, myself, I had so many questions about sand sculpting and what it’s like to be on TV.

One thing I was dying to know was how he got into sand sculpting because after all, Quebec isn’t known for its beaches. Jobi explained that he was originally doing snow carving but got into sand sculpture because it generally allows him to work in nicer weather with fewer tools.

“Carving sand is really delicate. You have to really be smooth and I like these feeling of scratching the surface and making details. To me it’s like meditation.”

Jobi’s has been on the Sand Sculpting circuit for fifteen years, and while he mostly enjoys it, the travel restrictions have made him consider other, more permanent mediums. He told me that he recently completed an outdoor concrete sculpture in a neighboring town. He is trying to do less and less sand sculpture now but would still like to do a couple of competitions every year.

All artists have a preferred subject they enjoy featuring in their work, such as trees, portraits, and so on. Jobi especially enjoys sculpting animals with robotic elements.

“I like bio mechanic stuff… I like to do a lot of small details.”

As a fellow Quebecois, I felt obligated to ask him about whether he experienced any difficulties with language and culture while working on the show in the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. His fellow sculptor, New Jersey native Dan Belcher, seemed like an unlikely partner for the young Quebecois.

“I get more and more comfortable with English, but especially at the beginning when I started to travel to do sand carving, it was a big challenge. I’m a different person in English than I am in French, I’m less natural, so for me it’s a little bit difficult.”

With regards to Dan Belcher, Jobi sheepishly admits he initially tried to get a fellow Quebecois sand sculptor to be his partner in the competition, but when that didn’t work out he reached out to Belcher, whom he knows from the sand carving competition circuit.

“I know he knows what he’s doing. I can trust him as a good sand carver. He’s a nice guy and a nice carver. For me that was enough to make him a good partner. Of course the language made it difficult for me to have discussions all the time. My English is ok but still it was difficult.”

This was not the first time Bouchard has been on TV, having done some small interviews and children’s shows in the past. This was, however, the biggest show he’s ever done.

“It was really intense. The concept was already something really intense to manage the tide and all the production (crew) always on our back always asking, doing some little interview, especially with the timing. But still it was a very interesting experience,”

As to whether the pandemic affected the production of the show, Jobi said there wasn’t much. They were required to quarantine at first, and take their temperature every morning, but that’s about it. Now that the show has wrapped, he’s trying to make the best of things.

Race Against the Tide premiers Thursday, September 9 at 9pm Eastern on CBC

You can see more of Jobi’s work on his Facebook page

Featured Image of host Shaun Majumder looking at Jobi work via CBC

Now that the hybrid Just for Laughs is over, festival season continues. This week, we’ve got two Montreal summer mainstays back in different forms and a Rouyn-Noranda-based festival running a mini-fest in our city for the first time.

Let’s get started:

Osheaga Through the Ages

While it’s sadly true that Osheaga won’t be returning to Parc Jean-Drapeau with its 15th full event until summer 2022, the people behind one of Canada’s most popular music festivals have found a way nonetheless to be a part of Montreal’s 2021 festival season. Three ways, that is.

Osheaga Through the Ages will run in the Quartier des Spectacles during the month of August. The first part of this, Music on Paper, starts this Friday at l’Astral and runs until August 21st.

It’s an art and photo exhibit featuring the “most jawdropping and eye-popping photos from years past featuring images courtesy of acclaimed photographers like Susan Moss, Patrick Beaudry, Tim Snow, and others.” The exhibit will also showcase silkscreen posters created for the festival over its previous 14 incarnations.

The second part is a series of concerts at MTELUS and l’Astral featuring local acts that have performed at Osheaga in the past. The third part is a fashion show in collaboration with the Fashion and Design Festival on August 21st featuring over 50 artists, dancers, musicians and models

Music on Paper runs August 6-21 at l’Astral, 305 Ste-Catherine Ouest. For details on this event and the emerging schedules of the other Osheaga Through the Ages events, please visit Osheaga.com

FME de l’Avent Mini-Fest on the Banks of the Lachine Canal

The FME Festival (or the Festival de Musique Émergente en Abitibi-Témiscamingue) has been welcoming up-and-coming and top-name Canadian talent as well as audiences to its idyllic Rouyn-Noranda setting for close to two decades. This year, for its 19th Edition (September 2-5), capacity at the site will be limited and some might forego the nine hour drive from Montreal to avoid travelling far when the pandemic situation isn’t completely resolved.

With that in mind, organizers are bringing a mini-version of the fest to Montreal this weekend. Called FME de l’Avent, it runs this Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the banks of the Lachine Canal (Parc Riverain de Lachine, specifically) and features local talent performing in the genres of folk, rock, hip hop, funk and electro. Featured performers include Gab Paquet, Paul Jacobs, Mort Rose and more.

FME de l’Avent runs August 6, 7 and 8 at Parc Riverain de Lachine. Admission is FREE but limited to 500 people. For the complete lineup and tickets, please visit fmeat.org

Under Pressure is Back Online

The Under Pressure International Graffiti Festival is back for its 26th Edition. Last week, it held a street exhibit and dance party, but the official battles and DJ sets are this Saturday and Sunday. The big difference this year of course being that they will be streamed online.

The DJ lineup for Saturday from noon to 8pm is Killa Jewel, Manzo, Noyl, Eazy El Dee, Overflow and Ashl$n. There will also be an after-party from 8 to late, guided walks of the site and more DJs and MCs added for both days.

Under Pressure 26 runs on Twitch August 7 and 8. For schedule updates please visit their Facebook page

Featured Image: Beach House performing at Osheaga by Pierre Bourgault from the Music on Paper exhibit

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

It’s starting to really feel like summer, as it usually does in the mid to late spring, so people will be going out more in the days and evenings and, due to the continuing curfew, staying home at night. With that in mind, we’ve got an in-person artistic residency, a new album and stuff from local artists you can order online.

Let’s get started:

PC the Infamous Releases the Visionary Wonderland Album

Montreal-based rapper, producer, singer, songwriter (and also actor) PC the Infamous has done quite a bit since hitting the local music scene seven years ago. He has produced and performed eight albums and now his ninth, Visionary Wonderland, was just released, following two singles and two music videos.

PC the Infamous performs in both English and French and his style incorporates everything from classic rap to trap to indie rock, techno pop, synth wave and emo rap. Here is the latest video that premiered along with the release of the album:

Visionary Wonderland by PC the Infamous is available on multiple platforms

The MAI’s Et si on réimaginait le monde II Continues

The MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) has always had a strong commitment to sharing and facilitating access to its resources and it’s in the middle of doing just that. Et si on réimaginait le monde II is a paid residency series focused on artists with visible or invisible disabilities, deaf, hard of hearing, neurodiverse, living with a mental illness, or with different abilities or physiques which began April 26 and runs until June 4.

Two of the four shows, Le magasin ferme and Fragments have already concluded, but you can still catch Troubleshoot by Mathieu and Simon Renaud and then Cartographie : Les eaux intimes, a dance show guided by Georges-Nicolas Tremblay with Marie-Hélène Bellavance, Ariane Boulet, Anthony Dolbec, Simon Renaud and Alexandra Templier from Corpuscule Danse.

Troubleshoot runs May 17-21. Cartographie : Les eaux intimes runs May 24-28 and May 31 – June 4 at MAI, 3680 rue Jeanne-Mance. Info available on the MAI website

Puces POP is Back Online for Spring

While things are still looking up for a full-on (or as full-on as possible) in-person POP Montreal this September, Puces POP, the quarterly local market, will once again be an online affair this spring. The changing rules on venue capacity made an in-person market difficult, so they decided to try and repeat the success they had in the winter with a virtual version.

The catalogue launched today. It features arts and prints, clothing, jewelry, treats and more, all from local artists and companies, just like the regular Puces POP.

The Puces POP Spring 2021 Catalogue is now available at PucesPOP.com

Featured Image from Le magasin ferme, courtesy of MAI

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

Montreal museums are finally opened, though at limited capacity, and who’s to say for how long. Still, I’m glad to be back at the MBAM, watching the sunlight filter in, gazing at Leo’s mural, hand over his heart, warm smile in his eyes as he stares back. Not all the pavillions are open, and I’m not a Riopelle fan, but I’m here to see everything I can.

The pandemic has provided laser focus of what’s important to me via the things I missed, as well as the creature comforts I found a way maintain (the espresso machine was a great choice, and if you need to know where to buy incense when you can barely buy basics, I know that too). Museums are one of my happy places, and while I took a pop art MOOC, and AR’d countless artworks into my living room (thanks, Google Arts & Culture), none of it was the same as being there.

Based on the response to this round of reopenings, I wasn’t the only one who missed in person visits. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has been selling out weekends since reopening (albeit at 25% capacity), and they’ve even added extra weekday hours. The Musée d’Art Contemporare has sold over 500 memberships since restrictions eased, but it isn’t likely to be enough in the grand scheme.

A May 2020 survey by the International Council of Museums found 13% of global museums, including 10% of North American museums, were forecasted to close.

“Museums are in crisis, and that was before the pandemic. There were issues at some of these major museums with the heads of various organizations […] for various reasons, being unceremoniously let go, and so there’s something systemic there. And in my mind, and I as an individual, I’m always looking for change. If it’s not broke, break it, and maybe put it back together the way it was, but you should always be looking at, is there a better way of doing things.”

I’m on the phone with David Marskell, and as CEO of Kitchener’s THEMUSEUM, he has some experience with reimagining and reinventing. The space itself has gone through its own transformations to become what it is today. Originally a department store, it became the Waterloo Regional Children’s Museum in 2003, which didn’t meet expectations. David was brought in to fix what was broken, and instead built a new vision, opening THEMUSEUM in 2010.

” We had the opportunity to be whatever we wanted to be, but we didn’t have a collection. So we realized […] we didn’t want to be pigeonholed, and we could be very quick to move to something that was topical of the day and so on. So, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, we called ourselves THEMUSEUM. One word uppercase without even the collection.”

With interactive art, an all ages MakerSpace, and audio experiences, THEMUSEUM isn’t interested in whispering corridors or pretension, but rather the hands on immersive experience of Arts. David tells me that there’s nothing comparable in North America right now, and I’m jealous, because I want one in Montreal.

Much like THEMUSEUM itself, The MakerSpace is a dynamic and organic creation; an idea and space that grew to fill the needs of the community, proving that despite the distractions of the digital age, necessity remains the mother of invention.

“We began creating it with younger people in mind, but very quickly, seniors came and said ‘hey, I want to know about 3D printing, […] and by the way, I can be a mentor and help volunteers show other people how to solder, or use the sewing machine’. And then we’d get the millennials who would show up with their doorknob, trying to put it together and they don’t know how to use a screwdriver, simple little things like that.”

The MakerSpace even hosts a beer night, an inadvertent reminder that intergenerational skill sharing is also a social interaction we’ve been neglecting for too long. You can learn an awful lot over a beer with the right company.

The future is in progress, and art — both how we do it, and view it — is evolving. All this makes it the perfect time for the inaugural Museums/Musées Canada Conference, and THEMUSEUM the perfect collaborator.

In the context of the conference, the umbrella term “museum” is a broad one, and rightly so. The conference will include leaders and workers from galleries, science and technology centers, aquariums, zoos, and traditional museums from across Canada. With an eye toward networking, honest dialogue, and learning from one another, the conference aims to reimagine the concept of such gatherings before they even discover what they can envision as a group.

This year’s AltCon, the Alternative Conference for Emerging Professionals, will be a part of the 2022 Museums/Musées Canada Conference. AltCon started four years ago as a way to bring together up-and-coming industry professionals who are all too often shut out of prohibitively expensive and intentionally exclusive conferences.

Part of The Rolling Stones UNZIPPED

THEMUSEUM is also hosting the only Canadian date for The Rolling Stones UNZIPPED, the first international exhibition by and about the band and their nearly six decades of rockin’n’rollin.

The timing provides an opportunity for the exhibit itself to become part of the conference, an ideal learning tool to explore how it was curated, and the intricacies that go into hosting a travelling, multi-media exhibition.

What happens after the conference, and what will it mean for the future of the industry? David wisely, and humbly doesn’t know.

“I’m trying to stop everybody else telling me the outcome. I don’t know it, and nobody should know it. […] As a white male of a certain age, I don’t want to be the head of whatever ends up if something more formal comes of this. I shouldn’t be the head of this, somebody else should be the head of this. I’m happy to be the catalyst, and use the Rolling Stones exhibition and AltCon to host this national dialogue, but if there is a board, if there is a new entity, it needs to reflect Canada and it shouldn’t be people that look like me.”

Expanding on that point, he says:

“If you put 10 people under 35 (and I’m just picking that number) to come up with programs for diversity, equity and inclusion, the output would be much different than if you put 10 people that look like me in a room and came up with that.”

Speculating on the future of art itself might be easier. When pandemic restrictions forced every industry and individual to reimagine how they do the things they once took for granted, and while the process has been disorienting, there are bright spots where the results have proven innovative.

(When asked about the MAC’s virtual Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything exhibit, David said he thought they did a marvelous job with terrific execution, and I felt unduly proud as a Montrealer who had nothing to do with it.)

THEMUSEUM also tried some new tricks, and maybe even surprised itself.

“We did drive thrus with dinosaurs, robotic dinosaurs back around Thanksgiving for three weeks, And we attracted, you know, pandemic stressed families in the safety of their cars, and we drove half of our annual attendance in three weeks. Why didn’t, we think of that? Why did we have to wait for pandemic to think of that?”

While he doesn’t want to lead whatever comes next, David does have some predictions: the future of art will be immersive, interactive, and yes, like it or not, Instagrammable.

“I think that with all respect to, you know, art that hangs on a wall and you know the traditional types of things that you would see in a museum and symphony and things like that. I think young people are gravitating and showing that you have to be emotional, you have to be Instagrammable.”

Whatever it becomes, I can’t wait to see it.

Featured Image: The Markerspace (part of THEMUSEUM)

Museums/Musées Canada Leadership Conference is January 16 & 17, 2022

AltCon is January 16 – 18, 2022

Travelling Exhibition Summit January 17 – 19, 2022

Rolling Stones Unzipped arrives at THEMUSEUM on November 30, tickets on sale now

This week, we may not have the nice temperatures we enjoyed last weekend, but we do have a virtual transdisciplinary exhibition, a live virtual concert and a movie about the making of the 2009 POP Montreal music festival.

Let’s get started:

Van Grimde Corps Secrets’ Virtual Exhibition Embodiment 2

Dance company Van Grimde Corps Secrets has been all about collaborating with other artists from different milieus since the early 2000s. Their latest project, a virtual exhibition called Embodiment 2, is no different.

In 2015, the group founded by Isabelle Van Grimde began sharing its research into the EVE 2050 triptych with other artists to foster collaboration and discussion. The result was the EVE 2050 web series.

Now, they have combined that series with Brad Necyk and Gary James Joynes’ film The Birth of the World to create this virtual exhibition.

Embodiment 2 is available as a virtual exhibition from April 8-May 8 on the Van Grimde Corps Secrets website

Sean Kosa Plays Ctrllab’s Esc Series

Ctrllab is an art gallery and performance space, though during the pandemic, the venue on St-Laurent has been functioning mainly as a media production company. This Saturday, they welcome back one of their favourite in-person guests for a virtual performance.

Electro Minimal Tech artist Sean Kosa has been part of the music scene since he was 14 in Toronto. Over the years, he moved to Montreal, then to Asia and now back home to our city where he has performed in various venues all across town.

Here’s some of Kosa’s music:

Ctrllab Esc Series 008 with Sean Kosa streams Saturday, April 17 at 7pm on Twitch, Facebook Live (on the Ctrllab page), Mixcloud and YouTube 360. This is a FREE performance

The POP Movie Now Streaming

In 2009, Andi Slate had just completed a feature film and decided to go back to basics. The filmmaker shot over 55 hours worth of footage of her POP Montreal colleagues putting on the festival as well as shows during said fest.

11 years and at least two projects later, Slate returned to that footage and put together The POP Movie, which first screened at the 2020 Edition of POP Montreal. Now, it’s available for all to stream!

The POP Movie by Andi State is now streaming for FREE on YouTube

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

Jason C. McLean speaks with comedian Preach, the host of this year’s Gala Dynastie, a celebration of Black excellence from across Quebec. They talk about comedy during COVID, this Saturday’s online edition and this year’s theme: The Rise of the Engaged.

The 5th Edition of Gala Dynastie streams live this Satruday, March 6th, at 6pm. For tickets and for more info: GalaDynastie.com

Follow Aba & Preach on YouTube and Facebook

Follow Jason C. McLean 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