This year, Montreal further solidified its reputation as one of the most important music cities in the world. Our position as one of the great music capitals has never been in dispute, but we were missing something that other cities with major music scenes had: a psychedelic music festival.
Montreal Psych Fest founders John W. Stuart and David Lines were thinking along these lines when they decided to put together a festival that celebrates psychedelic music in all its forms. However, it seems somebody else had beat them to it.
“I got an email from Tasha Class, who had put on a festival last year, and was like ‘Hey, what are you doing? I thought I was doing Psych Fest?’ So we all teamed up and moved forward with it,” said Stuart.
This year’s festival was built upon Class’ one-night event last year and has grown to include over 20 local acts over a span of four days. The team already has plans to expand for next year’s edition by organizing psych-themed events throughout the year. Like Psych & Draw, an event that encourages participants to trip out their sketchbooks while listening to a selection of psychedelic music.
With the current resurgence of psychedelic music, the festival can only get bigger.
“[Psychedelic music] has always been present in the scene here but it sort of morphed and changed over the years,” Stuart said. “There is a really big resurgence with all the bands playing the festival, but also on a higher level with bands like The Besnard Lakes, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan and Elephant Stone. All these bands are doing quite well and they all have an element of psychedelia in their music.”
The key word here is element. In accordance with the traditionally open nature of the psychedelic movement, Stuart says that you don’t have to sound like The 13th Floor Elevators to be included in Montreal Psych Fest. This is clear when you look at this year’s lineup, which includes bands that incorporate an array of genres, sounds and instruments in their music.
One thing you can expect from every band is a far-out sensory experience. The best way to approach this is to give your mind up to the music and enjoy the trip. In the immortal words of Timothy Leary: Turn on, tune in and drop out.
Here’s a small selection of bands playing the Montreal Psych Fest:
Melted Faces – The Dhalias + Melted Faces + El Napoleon + Femme Accident
October 11, 3:15 a.m. @ TBA
This band is what happens when you blend traditional, 60s-influenced psychedelic rock with garage and punk. The result is delightfully dissonant and decidedly danceable.
October 11, 3:45 a.m. @ TBA
One-man solo project El Napoleon also has a heavy emphasis on garage-y, punk sounds. There are some unconventional surprises here as well, like the inclusion of a sitar.
Atsuko Chiba – The Hazelles + UUBBUURRUU + Atsuko Chiba + Psyche Tongues
October 12, midnight @ L’Escogriffe (7275 Sherbrooke e.)
This experimental 5-piece instrumental band blends elements of psychedelic, post-rock, metal and post-punk to create an otherworldly sound reminiscent of bands like Russian Circles, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion (watch this space for an upcoming interview with the band!).
Syngja – Will Eizlini + Hellenica + Syngja
October 13, 9 p.m. @ Le Cagibi (5490 boul. Saint-Laurent)
Inspired by Icelandic folk music, Syngja weaves electronic and analog elements into their dreamy psychedelic pop to really make you feel like you’re in an enchanted forest somewhere far away.
Montreal Psych Fest runs from October 10-13. For more info on the lineup, see their MontrealPsychFest.com