I’m sick of hearing artists whine about festival fees. I’m sick of having festivals charge bands fees. I’m sick of how the entire process of sharing music, art and culture has melted down to how well Alberta’s oil fields are doing, and whether Hydro Quebec is still secretly ordering hookers with their “corporate” money. Luckily, I’m not actually physically sick, and thankfully there’s one festival who can pride themselves on being one of the only (other than UnPOP) that supports local artists, and all their endeavours, without treating them like the ADD kid in the learning centre who was pumped full of drugs, and turned into a zombie (and I think you and I both know he never actually had ADD, he was just easier to manage if he was head-dead).

So, instead of being head-dead, come out this Saturday and join us at 9pm at Bull Pub to help the Montreal Infringement Festival kick off their 8th year in operation. The Montreal Infringement Festival is a local arts and culture interdisciplinary festival open to all Montreal artists. If you like witty, smart-ass and intelligent people who get their fuel off the truths the world hides from you, whether it be politics, branding, media outlets or mediums, then you’ll feel right at home. And this home comes with bands, beer and the unveiling of their 2011 poster design contest winner.

What? You’re still not sure what the deal is with this? Well, here’s a deeper look:

“The Infringement welcomes a variety of performances and cultural resistance: theatre groups, performers, street activism, political theatre, musicians, radical performance, visual artists, films, marginalized arts, spoken-word, puppet shows, disadvantaged groups, and anyone wishing to artistically infringe on the monoculture that creeps into every corner of our lives. The festival aims to emphasize both critical practice in the arts, and artistic practice in activism. It also aims to provide a positive environment that encourages and nurtures critical art.”

Wow…now you’re excited, right? Wonderful!

So, instead of being the wrongly sedated kid in the learning centre, come out to support the great Montreal initiative of reclaiming your culture.

See you there Mr. Non-square.

The launch party runs from 9pm to 3am at the Bull Pub on 2170 St-Catherine West. The D-Tales, KWES, and The Jeffries, along with Talk/Sing Skeleton will be performing (and possibly a fourth surprise band!). All proceeds go towards the expression of freedom, culture and art.

*Please note, sorry if you were that kid. They tried to drug me up too, but my mother refused. No jokes.

“An intoxicating performance which explores through readings the fictional portrayals of the city of Montreal by some of our most well-known and provocative writers.” – bluemetropolis.org

The Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival is in full swing until Sunday May 1.  With an incredible amount of events featuring world-renowned and locally-grown authors, it’s an overwhelming task trying to plan your weekend’s schedule. A sure way to hear an assortment of excerpts from a variety of Montreal writers all at once in a single location, is to attend Imagine Montreal this Friday, April 29 at the Holiday Inn Centreville.

Put on by Rover Arts and the English Language Arts Network, Imagine Montreal incorporates ten Montreal actors and the band Sweet Mother Logic, as they present dramatic readings of passages from novels and stories by 24 Montreal writers who are part of this year’s Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival. Created and directed by Rover Arts publisher Montrealer Marianne Ackerman, these staged readings intertwine with each other to create a fictional narrative of Montreal as a city reborn. The official press release states, “Taking off from the Referendum of 1995, Imagine Montreal follows the evolution of Montreal from a downtrodden, conflict-weary city to a lively meeting place of cultures, ages, attitudes.”

What to expect from Imagine Montreal? Just to give you a taste, it begins with passages from John Brooke’s Last Days of Montreal, presenting the city’s grim and gritty state during the aftermath of the Referendum. Passages from Claude Lalumière’s This is the Ice Age and Louis Rastelli’s A Fine Ending “capture the crazy days of our downtown apocalypse, in retrospect, a darn good party.” The narrative progresses, weaving its way through strangers’ lives and connecting them together, until “eventually the town enjoys a break-out” in David Homel’s Midway, Gail Scott’s The Obituary and founder and artistic director of the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, Linda Leith’s The Desert Lake.

The first embodiment of Imagine Montreal took place this past November at the Bain St-Michel to positive reviews. This Friday will see a different concept, a revised script and a new cast of local actors. Stick around for the after party to kick-start your literary-fuelled weekend!

Show starts at 8 pm in the Dahlia Room at Holiday Inn Centreville (Metro Place d’Armes).

For tickets call 514-790-1245 or visit bluemetropolis.org.

The Inkvasion has begun! Local Verdun graphic artist Carolyne Trudeau (aka Chainsaw Girl) is invading our urban style one drop of ink at a time, under the guise of her newly founded company Urban Inkvasion.

Using innocent T-shirts as her method of distribution of her dark and macabre, touching, blood-spattered artwork, Carolyne is spreading her pleasure of chainsaws, gas masks, tommy guns and Rorschach paintings throughout the city. Grasping our senses with definitive colour contrasts, ink splatters and blotches with intricately detailed ominous smoke trails, it grabs our attention and captivates our senses, giving these normally grim or shocking ingredients a life of their own, intent on infecting us with their darkened beauteous allure, and spreading like a virus throughout the city.

Originally from Trois Rivieres, Carolyne studied Graphic Arts at College Ahuntsic graduating in 2008. After a few years of working small contracts here and there she quickly realized she didn’t enjoy the aspect of working as a graphic artist for others; she found it difficult to associate her name and work, using others directives and guidelines. The idea of starting her own company, where she could have the freedom to use her own designs, was then formed and grew from there.

In 2010 she received her first big contract for the visuals in Patrick Senécal’s La Reine Rouge directed by Oliver Sabino. She also participated in the original teaser for La Reine Rouge as an extra dead body, taking the entire film crew in for two weeks, and even replacing the photographer for a day. La Reine Rouge holds a special place in her heart and a year later, she is still working strong on the film, continuing to give it her all.

It wasn’t until early 2011 that she started taking steps towards her goal of freedom and entrepreneurship, creating Urban Inkvasion, a t-shirt design enterprise, as a method of publicity for her artwork.

The idea for Urban Inkvasion all started on facebook, where she posted black and white pictures on her wall, which immediately garnered her a lot attention and numerous inspiring comments. Deciding to embrace this dark approach, and increase the quality of her work, she began having high quality photoshoots in her living room, where she’d incorporate her now trademark accessories, like machine guns, caution tapes, chainsaw’s, and gas masks. The photoshoots were a great success and the   accessories added to her somber concept drawing even more attention, and positive encouraging comments.

Friends and fans have generously baptized her with the nickname The Chainsaw Girl, which she has happily embraced. Carolyne continued her photoshoots, further pushing her striking concept, now adding ominous smoke trails and ink blotches to her already popular style, creating a distinctness which can only be attributed to The Chainsaw Girl. Realizing that printing her designs on a shirt would be a simple process for her and a perfect way of advertising and displaying her art, Urban Inkvasion was born, changing the way we view bloody chainsaws and the grim, and scary forever.

To be a part of the inkvasion and order a shirt to begin infecting the people around you, you can contact The Chainsaw Girl herself at urban.inkvasion [at] gmail [dot] com or on her Urban Inkvasion facebook page.

All photos courtesy of Urban Inkvasion.

So much going on, so much to do, what’s a boy to do? Well here are some suggestions.

There’s a lot going on in Montreal this evening, a lot of big things. It’s Nuit Blanche, as well as the MONTREAL EN LUMIERE festival, Smoke N’ Mirrors, The 13TH FLOOR with Daniel Bell, the WAWA show and the list goes on. Every year I try to go out and check out some of the most exciting & interesting events presented throughout the course of Nuit Blanche. I would like to share with you my philosophy in the hopes that you will have as much fun as I will tonight. I usually select a few events that I don’t want to miss and then chart out a circuit that will allow me to reasonably make it from one venue to the next. I then walk from one spot the the next catching as many interesting things in between as possible. (note: I like shiny things so my tendency to get distracted and horribly off track is quite likely)

For those of you who get easily distracted, Nuit Blanche also has an iphone app that will give you the down-low on where & when specific things will be going on. I imagine it will also be quite useful when you’re lost to find the closest warm arts shelter.   The sheer volume of great shows can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned Montreal veteran, and I’m sure I won’t be able to cover even a fraction of the events you should check out tonight but here are a few suggestions.

1. ART SOUTERRAIN is a variety of art exhibits & shows all taking place in “Montreal’s Underground City” (Which is really just a network of tunnels & Malls connecting the majority of the Downtown Core). I toss this on the list even though most of you will surely stumble into some part of this extravaganza, mainly because it’s a great way to travel from one venue to the next and catch several other shows in between. If there is only one thing you check out in the Underground city this Nuit Blanche, I would highly recommend 2fik. 2fik is a interdisciplinary artist who mixes dance, hip-hop, religion & culture in a creative & up-beat way. Check it! 6-3 am

2. Every year I hit the Belgo building, which houses 5 floors of artists. The Belgo building plays home/studio to many Montreal artists who use its lofts to create, experiment & share. Stopping at the Belgo building allows you to take in at least a dozen art spectacles in one spot. Very important if you’ll be running from one spot to the next trying to take it all in. One of the artists you should make a point of visiting is PapirMasse produced by Kirsten McCrea & JP King. They will be releasing a zine an hour for a dollar! check it out! Belgo Building: 372 Ste. Catherine Ouest, #408

3. If you make it to the old port I would definitely suggest checking out The AXA Sphere (or as I like to call it, the giant Bubble). Inside DJs and VJs await you with an out-of-this-word musical and visual experience. This evening DJ Prince Club will be spinning along with VJ Simply Complicated. 9pm to midnight at the giant bubble in the old port.

other stuff to check out:

For those of you into Ted.com or TedX events Uqam will be holding an all night Ted event too!

The Montreal Architecture Museum

The SAT (Société des arts technologiques): Touch the night at the SAT with Création Ex Nihilo and their 15th anniversary architectural mapping video projection onto the city’s walls.

The Contemporary Arts Museum

The Flexigloo at the entrance of the Mount Royal Metro station

Have fun and stay out of trouble (just kidding about the last part) 🙂

And a special thanks to my friend Tim Webber for pointing some of these events out to me!

What’s funnier than four guys racing around barefoot in life jackets? Oh wait, let me qualify—with manic energy and crazed expressions on a nearly naked stage at the Centaur Theatre in Old Port? I bore witness and can attest; the answer is nothing. On Tuesday night, Montreal’s most acclaimed improv and sketch comedy troupe, Uncalled For, opened the 14th annual Wildside Festival to a wholly receptive crowd. Well, except for that stodgy couple who left half way through. The only explanation I can reason is that everyone else’s perpetual laughter ricocheted off the walls and knocked the sense out of them. Otherwise, no one’s eyes veered away from the boisterous foursome that is Uncalled For. The perfect fusion of ADHD and scathingly intelligent wit,  Matt Goldberg, Dan Jeannotte, Anders Yates and Nicolas Wright (a returning member stepping in for Mike Hughes) performed their sketch comedy creation Hypnogogic Logic for over an hour of pure hilarity.

Like their crafty title implies, the show’s a dream world of spectacular spectacles and hallucinogenic happenings. They jump through the air, roll around the floor, sing, dance, preach the dictionary and make you wish you could hit snooze when it’s over just to see them perform for even a few more minutes. Never missing a beat, they deliver the show with great comedic timing, relentless energy and a bountiful stage presence.

But they’ve had some time to hone their skills. The group got their start back in 1999, improvising together as mere kiddies at John Abbott College. Since then, they’ve toured across Canada and the US and have written and produced several award winning sketch comedy shows. Most of the classic bands we grew up with, let alone comedy troupes, couldn’t manage to survive a decade, so this marks a remarkable feat on its own.

Since 2003, the group has presented their comedic prowess at nation-wide Fringe Festivals, performing sketch comedy shows to an array of audiences. And come June when the Fringe sets up in Montreal, you’ll find the troupe hosting The 13th Hour, the festival’s late night talk show and dance party. Along with producing the Hour, hosting it has been a reoccurring role they’ve held for the past 6 years.

But June is a long way away, and dreaming of warm weather just makes one bitter. Thankfully, the Wildside Festival was established in this bleak and barren month, created as a way of showcasing new and emerging Montreal theatre companies. With this year’s Wildside Festival continuing until January 15th, you’ll have ample opportunities to catch Uncalled For perform Hypnogogic Logic at the historic Centaur Theatre. They also present an improv show at MainLine Theatre once a month, so hell, why not make it a date? These guys are too hilarious to ignore, and once you’re sitting in the audience, there is no way you can ignore them.

Catch Uncalled For at the Wildside Festival this Saturday the 8th at 9pm, Sunday the 9th at 1 pm, Thursday the 13th at 7 pm, or Saturday the 15th at 1 pm.

For ticket information check out www.centaurtheatre.com.  To see what Uncalled For is up to next, go to www.uncalledforimprov.com.

Top Photo by: Jeremy Bobrow

Bottom Photo by: Tristan Brand

A little while ago a good friend of mine and friend of the site Casey Alexander worked with the theatre company Bread & Puppet, from Vermont, USA. They put on a grandiose operatic show at Place des Arts but I also got a chance to hang out with some of them in a tiny bar on St. Laurent, Barfly. Together we participated in the first Blood Ballet Cabaret show, and several members from the theatre troupe sung and danced between burlesque numbers. This brings me to the Cheap Art Manifesto, which was written in 1984 (ironic?) by the Bread & Puppet group, and which was first brought to my attention by my friend Casey. It goes along the lines of:

“PEOPLE have been THINKING too long that ART is a PRIVILEGE of the MUSEUMS & the RICH.

ART IS NOT BUSINESS!

It does not belong to banks & fancy investors.

ART IS FOOD.

You can’t EAT it BUT it FEEDS you.

ART has to be CHEAP & available to EVERYBODY.

It needs to be EVERYWHERE because it is the INSIDE of the WORLD.

ART SOOTHES PAIN! Art wakes up sleepers! ART FIGHTS AGAINST WAR & STUPIDITY!

ART SINGS HALLELUJA! ART IS FOR KITCHENS! ART IS LIKE GOOD BREAD! Art is like green trees! Art is like white clouds in blue sky! ART IS CHEAP!

HURRAH!”

I think the manifesto was released on a poster stating the above. I’ve put it below and fee free to show and share this idea/image with friends and family and art lovers from all walks of life!

If you never fully believed Montreal is a cultural hub for writers and artists, then let Expozine convince you! The two day zine culture exhibit can excite the kid inside you, as well as the smutty flesh seeking adult. With amazing comics from local French and English artists from all walks of life, Montreal’s various underground artists collectives, bookstores, etc were well represented at this year’s bazaar of   underground zine and arts culture. Where else could you buy a zombie apocalypse separatist comic from a crusty punk?

Montreal’s small press, comic and zine fair is also Canada’s largest zine fair! In one weekend each fall, some 15,000 visitors see 300 different vendors and creators of all kinds of printed material.

There is great representation from art galleries like Headquarters boutique and gallery to the Concordia Co-Op Bookstore. Other exhibitors included numerous other Montreal artists and collectives such as:   Drawn & Quarterly, Distroboto, Broken Pencil, Papir Masse, Chic Moustache, and numerous other big and small names.

Unfortunately, I got so carried away that by the time I got to the back of the room I completely ran out of all my money! Lucky my compatriot bought everything in sight. The one thing you witness at these conventions more than anything else is how happy artists are to sell their art at a reasonable price.

Expozine began in 2002 with the goal of helping the public find “local publications that fall outside the mainstream.” It has really taken off in the past couple years, growing year after year in the amount of vendors. I mean, if you’re into something under the radar then this is the place to go. Most of these vendors have no website and no other place to get their comics out aside from Expozine.

There are the standard tables like Lickety Split and Drawn & Quarterly, but it’s   also the little collectives and the lesser known collectives that really make Expozine shine!

Expozine was at   the St-Dominique Église Saint-Enfant Jésus or as I like to anglicize it: “baby Jesus church”. It’s a beautiful place on the outside, but inside it is pretty hot, sweaty and humid.

Is there really a problem with having too much fun? Well, sometime yes.

When   inundated with thousands of comics, magazines, t-shirts and other miscellaneous artistic items   moving the down the isle was tight. And at times felt like a sweaty high school gym changing room. As it was a small church basement.   Some of my claustrophobia set in, along with my asthma/breathing problems. Luckily I   had time to go out for a few cigarette breaks and got to look at the outside architecture of this marvelous church.

The convention center can be   a little overwhelming if not completely, downright   intimidating for people like me—artistically inept.

Still after it was all said and done, I had a fantastic time.

Top that off with a cafeteria serving beer, cold pizza and hot coffee. It turns out I am extremely addicted to reading books while holding a filter coffee. Although, trying to avoid getting brown drips on vendors books was extremely difficult; the church was packed tighter then a Billionaire sardines can!

As my Saturday winded down looking at books (heaven for nerds!),   my highlight was definitely getting   a quarterly subscription for my pay-what-you-can purchase from Paula Belina, she promised to have 4 issues delivered to my door and getting mail that is not a bill or a hateful letter from an ex-lover, seems very appealing.

And yes! I bough a zombie apocalypse separatist comic from a crusty punk who had a great selection of underground comics.

Whether or not you are an old man, a hipster or a tweed dweeb, Expozine is the place to check out. If you missed this year, no worries, it’s an annual event, so look out for it next year in November.