Panelists Cat McCarthy and Der Kosmonaut discuss political art following the Trump victory and the legacy of the late, great Leonard Cohen with host Jason C. McLean.

News Roundup Topics: Pence at Hamilton, Montreal Police spying on journalists, historic building burned, Sarkozy losing power and the International Infringement Conference.


Cat McCarthy: Burlesque performer, artist and FTB contributor

Der Kosmonaut: Spoken word artist, author and blogger

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Reports by Hannah Besseau

Recorded Sunday, November 20, 2016 in Montreal



Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

I know that (US) Thanksgiving is based on the colonization and degradation of indigenous people and the murder of innocent turkeys. Nothing has changed, in fact it has only gotten more blatant.

Currently Native American protesters are being drenched with water cannons in sub zero temperatures, detained in dog cages, and other inhumane atrocities in North Dakota defending their water, defending their people from the tyrannical American government. I see Barack Obama putting a medal of freedom over Ellen Degeneras’ neck and cry at the nice words he says about diversity and being free and LGBT in our country but still in the back of my mind wonder why he hasn’t tried harder to end the disaster in Standing Rock?

In Buffalo NY there are proposals involving a ban on conversion therapy.

I love the movie But, I’m a Cheerleader because it was a satire, it showed the absurdity of changing a person back to a “normal” sexuality. People are born gay, straight, transgender, and so many in betweens and there is nothing you can do to change their beautiful diversity. It is disgusting torture.

Mike Pence is pure evil, as are all of the white supremacist butt nuggets that Trump is putting into power. I heard today that he appointed several women, these chicks must really be groovy to align with the pussy grabbing cheeto hate monger.

What is happening in this world? The rise in rape and hate crimes will be monumental.

It is hard to give thanks when it seems the apocalypse is now. It is hard to just suck it up and celebrate, like nothing is wrong.

I have family members that proudly voted for Trump and I have to invite them into my home and share a meal with them. By voting for him you made life more dangerous, you voted for racism, sexism, and bigotry. You are taking away civil liberties and building a wall of ignorance and greed around yourselves. I am embarrassed to sit here and watch you choke on your white privilege.

Regardless, my dinner table is still going to remain all inclusive. Everyone is invited. It is a safe place for all people. Only love reigns in my home. I will fight your ignorance by educating and loving you.

I am thankful that (for the time being, who knows what dark fate is in store for us) I have freedom of speech, my art remains bold and uncensored.

I am thankful for my blood and extended family of activists and fellow free spirits.

I am thankful for my health, for my ability to change the world with my words, art, and voice.

I am thankful for my cats, their cuddles cure anything.

I am thankful for music, for riot grrl rants, for poetry, for the expulsion of rage into art and positivity.

I am thankful for other people’s thoughts, for the ability to learn from my mistakes, to live with kindness and resolution.

I am thankful for our right to protest. No matter how bad it gets we need to stand tall and take back our world, letting them know that evil will not win.

I am thankful for this blog, Forgetthebox has allowed me to express myself freely for the world to read, I have gotten other opportunities and have made so many smart friends 🙂

photo by Velma Candyass from the World Infringement Conference

Montreal- city of strange adventures. Random stories of our adventures included but are not limited to: A man wearing a full vinyl gimp suit with addidas sneakers. Then there was the masseuse wearing a leather jock strap and the best part is that he only spoke in puns, a dom who speaks in puns, he is now dubbed The Punisher.

My favorite moment was fat fuck poutine squirrel. I looked over to see just the ass and tail of a giant chubby squirrel sticking out of a garbage bag, he then pulled out a styrofoam container, hulked it open, and demolished the rest of a poutine, I could hear him eating, it was the cutest thing I had ever seen! The Leonard Cohen Memorial, all of the incredible street art, and a two story vintage shop with a vegetarian cafe were the other cherries on this cupcake of a vacation.

The Montreal Infringement Festival was incredible as always. I had a show everyday I was there. The Rusty Shuttle was an amazing new venue, I love the underground loft DIY artspaces of the world. Barfly was punk rock brilliance, I thoroughly enjoyed being sandwiched between two Folk Punk bands. Everyone in this city is so sexy! I couldn’t even handle it.

World Infringement Conference photo by Donovan King
World Infringement Conference photo by Donovan King

I was honored to be part of the World Infringement Conference, my presentation was spur of the moment. We had planned on showing our art work, but unfortunately hanging did not happen, so I decided to turn my presentation time into a guerrilla art gallery. We donned our Pussy Riot masks and I talked about the beauty and necessity of free and accessible art.

The Buffalo Infringement Festival is an artistic Utiopia, a perfect climate for social change and exploration. We have no idea what Fringe is here.

I recalled a performance during last year’s fest where a fire dancer named Clinton said to the crowd, “How many of you had your first show ever during infringement?” So many people raised their hands and clapped. I cried.

There are a zillion moments that justify why I volunteer my time with this festival, that was the one that will make me only work harder. To know that I am helping people express themselves for the first time, creating life long artists, adding to the collective culture of humanity.

Find things to be thankful for in spite of adversity! Be inspired by the wrong, make it right with your art and actions, protect the person next to you, make change in your community and globally, connect with others and join the revolution. This is how great punk music is born. Be the change and hold your head up high. Happy Thanksgiving!

infringement besties

* Featured image by Agraive

I will be attending the Montreal Infringement Festival this year and simultaneously protesting the World Fringe Conference. Everyone who tried to attend the conference from both the Montreal and Buffalo Infringement Festivals have been denied without reason.

Why do we scare you so much? If you want to have a well run festival you must know the counterculture you have excluded. Fringe artists are supposed to be cutting edge and on the fringe of new and exciting artistic expression. They must pay money to be part of the festival. Politically motivated acts are not welcome due to the chance of pissing off sponsors. Censorship and corporate sponsorship are evil.

The Montreal Infringement Festival was created by Donovan King in 2004 after the St. Ambroise (a beer company) Fringe censored the artist in 2001. The sponsor Can-West Global, a media company that owns the Montreal Gazette was to blame.

The theatre critic from the Gazette wanted a free ticket to Car Stories (experimental politically charged interactive street theatre where the audience moves and becomes the show) and after being told “no” caused a stink and decided not to cover the festival until the artists were ejected. The festival not only kicked the artists out but also refused to pay them their ticket sales after a sold out week or reimburse the registration fee associated with the Fringe trademark.

The following year Infringement spread to Buffalo. Infringement is a non-profit, non-hierarchal, grassroots art festival. It is a revolution that brings together independent, free spirited, and often controversial and experimental expression.

Donovan and I Montreal Infringement 2014

Donovan King attended the World Fringe Congresses in Edinburgh in 2012 and 2014 . He was invited as a representative of the infringement festivals. This year he the conference is in his hometown and he was denied access.

This is a blatant disrespectful slap in the face. Donovan was excited at the prospect of attending the 2016 Congress to continue the conversation in his home city and to try and finally resolve issues.

He has written and performed pieces that criticize the Fringe Festival and its ethics. Other artists have combined efforts to artistically challenge their exclusion from the St. Ambroise Fringe through culture jamming. The festival has responded with the complete exclusion of activist artists.

The police are called whenever there is a protest, even though the right to protest in Canada is protected by their constitution. Instead of communicating we are shunned, this cultural battle that has gone on for well over a decade and it must end now!

This year for the 3rd World Fringe Congress Donovan proposed a workshop on strategies to help ensure safer artistic festivals after unfortunate instances of sexual assault and discrimination against disabled people at recent Fringe Festivals. We need to create policies to ensure safety and inclusion of all people in our festivals.

He wrote a letter to the new Fringe CEO, Ms. Shona McCarthy, in response to the rejection of Infringement representatives:

“I find it really unfortunate that my colleagues in Buffalo are being rejected simply for being associated with me. It is important to remember that these artists simply wanted to do Fringe theatre until they were threatened by the Fringe in NYC, who claimed to control a Fringe trademark. Instead, they started an infringement festival, just like we did because of the Canadian trademark that prevented us from doing a populist form of arts we have been doing since we helped found the Fringe in Montreal. We are about as Fringe as it gets – if people won’t let us play in their ‘official’ festival, we are going to do it ourselves, just like the artists who invented the 1947 Fringe Festival in the first place.”

Infringement Festivals accept and celebrate all artists

The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) also threatens unfounded legal action against any independent artists who try to use the word Fringe without their permission. This is the antithesis of creative expression. There is an exclusion of artists actually on the fringe of societal norms.

The Infringement Festivals do not fit corporate agendas and are not allowed to voice creative solutions to critical questions. In order to spark our own counter conversation there will be a World Infringement Congress on Saturday November 19th in Montreal.

Infringement is about community, inclusion for all, challenging unjust politics, celebrating diversity, and changing the world through artistic expression. Buffalo comrades should make the trip.

My last performance with Candy Ass was incredible
My last performance with Candy Ass Cabaret

I will be exposed and covered in corporate logos for the world to see and performing with The Candyass Caberet at the historic Cafe Cleopatra. I have been one of the visual arts organizers, a participating artist, and performer in the Buffalo festival for years and am also proud to say that I won the 2017 poster contest.

I am dedicated to the conservation of artistic integrity worldwide. My paintings have been ripped off walls and people have walked out of my performances. If people are offended then you are doing it right.

Buffalo stands with Montreal to protect Infringement

I was surprised when I saw a giant ad and schedule for the Rochester Fringe Festival in a local Buffalo art publication. This is Infringement territory! We celebrate diversity and the pure unedited brilliance of local artists.

Try to tell me that what we are doing is wrong, that bringing the community together and celebrating the beauty of unity, artists of all walks of life and experience standing side by side making the world stronger, exposing children to art, collaborating with our neighbors and connecting to out of town artists who will soon become family.

Authentic and exhilarating politically charged art, discrediting idea of art as a commodity and fighting for the rights of all humans, and challenging mainstream ideas. No budget, totally volunteer run, guerrilla music, burlesque, dance, theatre, visual arts, poetry, comedy, and under the radar art that defies all categorization.

It is my everything, a citywide sprawling sweet escape from reality. I will fight for the integrity of this festival and others like it to the end.

Cat Sinclair wears many hats: burlesque performer, Buffalo Infringement Festival organizer and visual artist who makes collages that juxtapose hardcore pornography with images of adorable cats to name a few. She recently brought her performance and visual art to Montreal with multiple shows as part of the 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival

I caught up with her after her final performance at Le Petit Cabaret in Old Montreal, just a few steps away from City Hall where we did this interview:

I caught up with three of the four members of Montreal heavy psychedelic rock band Realms of Bliss after playing the Barfly as part of the 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival. This was a jam-packed night that went from the experimentally loud, to folk to punk in the form of the extact, Richard Lahmy and Crazy Knows Crazy.

Here’s what they had to say:

The 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival continues today and wraps up tonight, please visit for more

Instead of written reports, I’ve decided to post a video interview or something else caught on my phone’s camera for each day of the 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival. Last night I went out to Le Bull Pub with every intention of doing just that.

Instead, though, I ended up performing a few tunes with This is not [sic], a band that will have its full Infringement set this coming Sunday at 10:30pm at Le Petit Cabaret. So the interviewer became the interviewee, thanks to fellow performer, Infringement organizer and the night’s co-host (and regular weekly co-host of Mic Check, Le Bull’s open mic night) Jay Manafest:

* Photo by Laurence Tenenbaum

* The 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival runs until Sunday, please check for showtimes and details

Following the Recital Fractal, the francophone music and spoken word event that kicked off the 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival, I caught up with Louis Royer and Jessica Charland of Cortezia the musical duo who performed at and put together the event which featured over 20 artists. Rapper and Infringement organizer Jay Manafest who had played a set as part of the night’s show was nearby postering for the fest and joined in the conversation.

They talked about the festival, working as artists and collaboration between French and English acts in Montreal now and in the past.

Here it is:

* The 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival runs until Sunday, please visit for schedule and info

Since its inaugural edition in 2004, the Infringement Festival has offered Montreal audiences something unique. In a sea of big-name and medium to large budget events distinguished primarily by the art form they present, the Infringement has always opted for a different model.

With little to no budget and a team of strictly volunteer organizers (full disclosure: this year I’m one of those organizers as well as a performing artist and co-founder of the event), the Infringement presents acts from a variety of genres. There’s music, all types of music, theatre, visual arts, spoken word, video, guerrilla street performance, comedy, art in alleyways and much more.

The common thread? This is boundary-pushing, frequently activist and political art that challenges the concept of art as a commodity. Instead, it’s a labour of love.

The Infringement is not a stepping stone to the mainstream, rather a challenge to it (though, to be honest, some former infringers have gone on to mainstream success). Whether it’s a play in a bathroom challenging transphobia or a band who just wants to play a show and not have to go through red tape, there’s always a message.

This year is no different. The overall theme is Make Some Noise, a challenge to recent noise fines in the Plateau.

What is different this year is the length. The Infringement is focusing all the activity over five days and nights, call it an intensive dose of authentic culture.

Opening Night

The fest kicks off tonight (Wednesday) with the second-annual Recital Fractal hosted by Louis Royer at Labo de la Taverne Jarry on Jarry East. Expect an evening of French spoken-word and music. I attended the first one at last year’s Infringement and was impressed by the multiple talented artists crammed into just a few hours.

dumpster dive art drive
The Dumpster Dive Art Drive vernissage in 2012, this event is back again this year!

Thursday: The metro, dumpsters, dinner and open mic

There’s more music Thursday afternoon in George Vanier Metro. Yes, the Infringement is doing a show in the metro, busker-style. The event features Rebecca Anne Banks, Mr Saad and Richard Lahmy.

Thursday night the Infringement is in two parts of town, first in the Plateau for the Dumpster Dive Art Drive, always one of my favourite Infringement events. With art made from found objects and a vernissage with wine in a brown paper bag, how can you go wrong. If there ever was a challenge to the commodified model of art, this is it.

Next is the Infringement Feast. It’s a dinner celebrating both Infringement conceptualizer Donovan King’s birthday and ten years of the festival at first-time Infringement venue Caverne Grecque on Prince Arthur.

After dinner, the fest heads downtown, western downtown to be precise. Le Bull Pub near Atwater is the home of Jay Manafest and Eric Chevrier’s weekly open mic show Mic Check. This week, the mic is open to all Infringers.

Friday: Rock & Candyass

On Friday, the Infringement returns to familiar surroundings with a rockin’ night at the Barfly and the monthly Candyass Beach Party Cabaret at Cafe Cleopatre. Cleo is the venerable burlesque, drag and fetish performance venue with a strip club on the first floor that fought the city’s gentrification efforts and won. Candyass Cabaret is a sexy burlesque show that challenges stereotypes. A perfect Infringement match if you ask me .

The lineup at Barfly, in true Infringement fashion, is a medley of musical styles. There’s the sweet meaningful folk of Richard Lahmy and the wild, melodic punk of Crazy Knows Crazy, both Infringement veterans. We also get the trippy rock of Realms of Bliss and the experimentation of the extract, both Infringement newcomers.

Crazy Knows Crazy performing at the 2013 Infringement, they’re back this year (photo: Hannah Hampton)

Saturday and Sunday: Infringement intensive in Old Montreal

In another first this year, the Infringement is going to Old Montreal. Le P’tit Cabaret on St-Paul is a multi-purpose performance space with a mission: to bring locals back to the tourist-dominated cobblestone streets of the old city. The Infringement is happy to oblige with shows on Saturday and Sunday.

Quite a few shows, that is. While there are two events on the weekend that take place elsewhere: the Candyass and King Red Light Walking Tour that starts in front of the now closed (sigh) Bar Midway on Sunday and the art exhibit at Usine 106U on Roy Street East which is running for the duration of the fest, the rest of the Infringement action is at Le P’tit Cabaret.

Melissa Campbell and Cat McCarthy of the Buffalo Infringement Festival (the largest fest in the Infringement circuit) will be performing The Painted Dress, an  interactive live painting, all day both Saturday and Sunday on the stage of the P’tit Cabaret’s first room. This is also where McCarthy’s Kitty Porn will be displayed. Yes, it’s an art exhibit featuring collages of hardcore pornography mixed with cute kittens.

McCarthy will also perform as part of the Buffalo Burlesque Collective on the main stage of Le P’tit Cabaret both nights (and will also be part of Friday’s Candyass Cabaret). This stage will also showcase performances as diverse as King’s Critical Report from the World Fringe Congress, Seven No-Name Comedians Doing Comedy, Infringement film screenings, a public reading of John Faithful Hamer’s Blue Notes and the Infringement Spoken Word Show hosted by Laurence Tenenbaum.

Le P’tit Cabaret will also be home to quite a bit of Infringement music including the second edition of the Infringement Hip Hop Show, this time featuring socially conscious rappers Jay Manafest, Nikolai Kush and Drop D and the always intensely entertaining PsynLangWage.

There will also be funk, jazz, rock, a bit of country and more in the form of Look, a fang!, Mona Lissa & The Brink, The Voodoo Shango ExperienceThis is not [sic] (full disclosure, I’m in this band, also, we rock!), Von Dalia, Richard Lahmy (his third show in the fest), Busker & Josephine and Jazzotopes.

You may want to note that I mentioned the acts at P’tit Cabaret in no particular order. That’s because the best way to experience the Infringement as a journey of discovery, an artistic scavenger hunt, if you will. Just know that there will be something to enjoy on Saturday and Sunday from three in the afternoon until the wee hours of the next morning and head out.

Of course, you could just consult the schedule at, but that’s kinda cheating, don’t you think?

The 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival runs June 18-22

Many things happened in the Montreal arts scene in 2013 and Forget The Box was there! Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:


Early February, Cabaret 87 at Sala Rossa celebrated the 25th anniversary of AIDS Community Care Montreal. It was a very successful evening hosted by Antonio Bavaro and Ryan Ghinds with performances by artist Danny Gaudreault and friends.

edgy lucha 2
Edgy Lucha (photo Chris Zacchia)

March brought us the 20th edition of the Edgy Women Festival, a celebration of feminist art. This year featured events at a gym, on an ice rink and finished up with Edgy Lucha, a sexy boxing evening covered by Keltie.

Summer came around and so did full coverage of the 10th edition of the Montreal Infringement Festival featuring a multitude of awesome events including a haunted mountain walking tour that Bianca reported on and plenty of music goodness and stage performances which Jason (also a performer this year) covered.

It also brought the Fringe Festival. Jerry, Chris and Stephanie checked out quite a few events this year including the Hopegrown Productions debut at the festival, Jon Bennett’s Fire in the Meth Lab was also a must and Jerry checked out Peter ‘n Chris exploring their bodies in an improv comedy which almost gave him a spleen injury due to so much laughter. Also Forget The Box teamed up with Yelp for their annual party Yelp Helps during the fest.

aint misbehavin
Aint Misbehavin’

Then it was time for Zoofest! Jason and Chris went down to Café Cléopâtre to check out an unforgettable Burlesque show with the Bad Ladies and Detective while Jon Bennett’s show Pretending things are a Cock  gave Bianca a new understanding of dick jokes.

The summer also gave us Fantasia and Just For Laughs and many more music-specific events that Bianca will cover in our Year-In-Review music.

In early fall, Stephanie reported on Ain’t Misbehavin’, a great production at the Sadie. Later, in November, Jordan checked out Pure, an incredible dance performance by Charles Koroneho from New Zealand at MAI.

Meanwhile, Halloween was definitely sexy this year thanks to Tales from the Crotch, a burlesque play produced in 24 hours, another awesome project by Glam Cam production with the participation of our awesome Jessica!

Visual Arts

A different type of event happened at Café Zosha early this year. Music for 12 Domestic Lamps was an interesting installation and performance using lamps and sounds reviewed by the lovely Naakita! She also went to discover the new exhibit at the DHC Art Foundation where artist Thomas Demand filled up the gallery with an installation of animations and photographs.

nuit blanche outside

Taymaz shared his thoughts with us on photography as well as the art of love for Valentine’s day. He also reviewed The See by Jessica McCormack, a beautiful book with great artwork and covered Chinese art and it’s importance in today’s art world.

March brought us Nuit Blanche which is always packed with interesting things to do. Naakita took a look at what was happening in the streets while Stephanie reported on her night at the museums.

The 13th edition of the Art Matters Festival also happened in March. The Human Error paintings at the VAV Gallery really impressed Taymaz and Naakita checked out the MAC for their exhibition on abstraction.

Summer came around and brought us a new festival, Mural, a celebration of street art. Local and foreign artists covered a few walls along the Main and its neighboring streets during the St-Laurent Street Festival.

Under Pressure (photo Iana Kazakova)
Under Pressure (photo Iana Kazakova)

Meanwhile, the original graffiti festival Under Pressure had it’s 18th edition in August. This self-funded event run by an amazing team of volunteers is still going strong. The Fresh Paint Gallery, run by the same team, moved to its new location and still showcases great work by many different artists.

More Festivals

A new festival started this year, the Pitch Fest, a celebration of the soccer culture, it happeneed just a few weeks ago. Luminotherapy, the light festival is on until next year so make sure to check out the awesome installations all over the Quartier des Spectacle area.

Looking forward to what 2014 has to bring us, be ready for some more awesome coverage of everything that matters on Forget The Box.

When the 2013 Montreal Infringement Festival closing weekend arrived, I was ready. This was, after all, the 10th edition and I had been to all the previous incarnations, but I soon remembered that when it comes to the Infringement, it’s best to expect the unexpected.


Thursday night, the Montreal Infringement was supposed to be a night of theatre featuring Buffalo’s 420 The Musical. Unfortunately, the show wasn’t able to make it (insert whatever stoner joke you want here).

That didn’t stop some of the members of the troupe behind it from coming down and Infringing anyways. We were treated to musical sets from Lola and the Creen Machine and Dozo My Lady, who both brought the house down.

The house, of course, had changed to Cafe Sierra. I’m glad I had the chance to check this venue out, it’s a cool new artistic cafe on Prince Arthur and it’s worth a visit.

Lola and the creen machine
Lola and the Creen Machine

I’m also glad I got to see a set by Atlantic City native Lucas Simmons. This mentalist had been in town since the beginning of the fest, drawing portraits of whoever wanted one at various Infringement events and now the stage was all his.

I have to say his performance was both entertaining and impressive. It felt like someone you’re having a beer with all of a sudden starts doing magic tricks, except these tricks are damn good.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how he did most of them, including when I was pulled up from the audience, not once but twice. I thought I had figured out one trick, but then was reminded of one crucial detail which I could not explain. Mind…blown.

Thursday was also the night the fest went into overtime, unofficially that is. I got to hang out with the performers and out of town guests like Hannah and George Hampton who came all the way from Buffalo just to check out the fest. True Infringement spirit if I’ve ever seen it, and believe me, I have.


crazy knows crazy
Crazy Knows Crazy

We partied into the wee hours, so making it down to the fest on Friday was a bit of a challenge and one I’m glad I met.  I’m also glad that Bianca David was covering Sunshine (check out her review and interview), but I will mention that Montreal band Crazy Knows Crazy’s first show was, um, loud to say the least and heavy, very heavy.

I couldn’t make out all of the lyrics, but I think that was the point. It didn’t stop the tunes from being really catchy.


I headed out to Smoke n’ Mirrors on Saturday not expecting to perform, but alas, in the Infringement, it’s a good idea to expect the unexpected. There were a couple of last-minute cancellations and Infringement music coordinator Nikolai Kush and I filled the gaps.

Nikolai impressed not only me but the whole audience with his beat boxing, vocal and harmonica skills. I love the one man band aesthetic and Nikolai pulled it off.

I did a bit as a politician who chose to celebrate Montreal’s corruption. It was fun and got a rise out of the crowd, which I was happy with considering I followed the very definition of a tough act to follow.

What started as a spoken set by Math Boylan (who runs the — gallery where the show was taking place) quickly turned into a burlesque performance when Sandrine Charbonneau walked out topless. She danced as Boylan spoke and painted her body. Again, in the Infringement, you have to expect the unexpected.

nikolai kush
Nikolai Kush

Jay Manafest, who normally hosts this now unhosted show, performed a few of his socially conscious hip hop tracks throughout the evening. This time, though, he gave some back-story, which made his catchy tunes more relevant.

That was the planned part of the evening. After the break, though, it turned into a jam session.

We all took part in this jam. I performed a few songs and even took part in a positive rap battle (a great idea: compliment each other instead of dissing).

For me, this was the end of my infringing in Montreal for the year. The next day, there were two events: Infringement Therapy and everyone hanging out on the mountain.

That’s right, no show, no plans, just infringers enjoying each other’s company and planning for the future. While I missed the closing, I plan to be a part of that future.

You see, next year is the 10th anniversary of the Montreal Infringement Festival. But wait, you might be thinking, wasn’t this year ten? Well, it was the 10th edition, but the anniversary is next year.

A trick? Nope, just some fun with numbers and yet another reminder that in the Infringement, you’ve got to expect the unexpected.

Can’t wait till next year for more infringing? The Buffalo Infringement Festival runs July 25 to August 4. Check for details.

* Photos by Hannah Hampton. For more of her photos, please visit Top image of Lucas Simmons (2nd from left) and audience volunteers.

After an exhilarating and tiring weekend, I was ready to return to the Montreal Infringement Festival. Usually the early week is reserved for more sober activities like poetry, theatre and film screenings. But this time around, we were going to start things off by rocking out at Barfly.


For me, Tuesday began with drinks at Bifteck with Brooklyn infringers Sunshine (Bianca David will tell you all about it). Then, we walked up St-Laurent and in on Chorale du Peuple leading the whole bar in song, protest song, that is. There were lyric sheets on every table with the words to songs like “Old Monsanto had a Farm (GM, GM, O).”

As their set was concluding, we started hearing sporadic drum and bass accompaniment. Turns out this was coming from the next act, Mr Parker Quebec, and the flow was seamless.

Dan Parker, a prominent member of the Chorale, sang while drumming in this rocking two-piece. This prompted one of the members of Sunshine, also an organizer of Brooklyn Infringement, to mention that he’d love it if Parker played the Brooklyn fest (Dan, if you’re reading this and are interested, get in touch:

chorale du peuple
Chorale du Peuple rehearsing outside of Barfly (photo Donovan King)

Next up was Niagara Falls, New York punk band Jump The Blinds.They were tight and loud. Montreal’s NooM closed things out, giving a nice trippy rock vibe to the end of the evening.


I went to the festival Wednesday wearing two hats: reviewer and performer. I was scheduled for a brief set in the Infringement spoken word show at the Concordia Co-Op Bookstore.

I won’t tell you how my performance was from an audience perspective, but going through acoustic versions of a few tunes from my normally very loud band [sic] with Jerry Gabriel on guitar was fun as hell. While it was my only scheduled performance in this year’s fest, in true Infringement fashion, it wasn’t my last time on stage.

Our little musical interlude wasn’t the only music I would hear that evening. Sunshine treated the crowd at the bookstore to a very lyrical acoustic set in anticipation of their plugged, full band performance Friday.

Music aside, this was a spoken word show and there was plenty of interesting poetry, courtesy of very clever Siberian native Maria Bronnikova and Montrealers Steven P. Frasier, Rebecca Anne Banks and emcee Laurence Tenenbaum, who delivered his works throughout the night. We even got some hilarious real world conversations from British native Robert Wringham.

The night also had a special audience member: Buffalo’s Josh Smith, a spoken word performer and comedian in his own right. This was a surprise visit and he brought his car, too, which worked out great for me because he was able to offer a lift halfway across town to Labo where the night’s other evening of poetry was happening.

Louis Royer’s Grand Récital Fractal was in full swing when we arrived. It was a mostly francophone evening of words and song.

I say mostly because there was an English performance from rapper and Infringer Jay Manafest. There was also a bilingual French-Spanish poerty duo KoraZón NordSud.

I was also pleasantly surprised when Pasqui Paz, whom I hadn’t seen since the 2005 Infringement, took the stage mixing beats. The in-character performance by L’Abbé Tizumen caught my attention too (if you don’t speak French, the joke in his name would take too long to explain).

For me, the highlight of this part of the evening was Vitamine Bleue. This guitar and vocal duo, all decked in blue striped outfits with blue hair and performing in front of a blue curtain were clever, cute and entertaining.

Their personalities really came through in their performance. And personality in performance is one of the main things the Infringement is all about.

* Top photo of Vitamine Bleue by Yvon Jean.

When most Montrealers think of Mount Royal, images of warm days spent lying in the sun immediately come to mind. The mountain is the heart of the city and plays host to a variety of activities, no matter the season. As the days get warmer, more people are even choosing to spend their nights out getting trashed in the woods rather than at one of the city’s fine drinking establishments.

Most Montrealers have never thought of the mountain as creepy, spooky or haunted. But some pretty gruesome things have happened on one of our most well-known and beloved landmarks.

Karen Spilak and Donovan King are the authorities when it comes to horrifying happenings in the city’s history. As part of this year’s Infringement Festival, the pair gave a Haunted Mountain tour of Mount Royal.

The tour began just before sunset at Barfly, a landmark with its own spooky history. We then made our way up Duluth, across Parc, and onto the mountain proper, taking the stone path to the left of that decrepit old gazebo.

Spilak and King would stop every so often to offer up a historically accurate account of something weird, creepy, or gross that happened near the spot we happened to be. The pair’s storytelling is impeccable; they never broke character, not even to answer questions from the participants between stories.

The tour itself was also well designed. As daylight faded, we wound our way up deeper into the woods. At the start of the tour, the stories were mildly disturbing but became more and more horrifying as we went on.

Like the vast majority of Montrealers in my age bracket [18-35], I’ve spent many a day and night rambling over all sides of the mountain. I am pretty confident in saying that the woods on Mount Royal are very familiar to me.

haunted mountain 3Nonetheless, Spilak and King pointed out a number of features that my peers and I previously overlooked or hadn’t ever recognized for what they were. For example, the children’s cemetery that lies next to the parking lot of the McGill University Health Centre.

Apparently, in the 60s and 70s, McGill doctors were performing extreme psychological tests involving sensory deprivation, the administration of drugs and other controversial practices. These tests were done on a number of children and the ones that died during the experiments were unceremoniously buried in a small plot of land at the base of the mountain.

Other highlights of the tour included a stop at Simon McTavish’s grave. There, King told the story of the circumstances surrounding the death of the influential fur trader and member of Montreal’s elite. I will mention that King’s graphic description of McTavish’s dead body almost made me puke. Impressive.

Spilak and King are truly masters of their craft. They effectively blend thorough research with entertaining delivery to offer a very worthy storytelling experience.

* Photos by Iana Kazakova

For me, the 2013 Montreal Infringement Festival’s opening weekend offered the familiar and fun, unexpected awe, a sense of longing for the show I missed and rainy artistic socializing.

grr en famille barfly infringement


The fest kicked off with an air of familiarity. To clarify, when it comes to the Montreal Infringement, familiarity means good rockin’ tunes with a socially conscious vibe emanating from everyone’s favourite dive bar on St-Laurent: Barfly.

After Martin G played a solo set of acoustic tunes where he reflected on what makes his art critical or activist (one of the questions on the Infringement application form), Grr en Famille took the stage. This six piece band (complete with accordion and violin) rocked out with bilingual tunes that everyone could dance to.

That night in Barfly, many did, just as they had done at the Infringement preview show a few weeks ago at Le Bull. A great way to kick off the fest.

psynlangwage infringement


If Thursday was familiar, Friday night was anything but. First off, I’m not that familiar with hip hop and not at all familiar with skate culture (I had a board when I was a kid, but that really doesn’t count).

I may not be the ideal person to review the Infringement Hip Hop Show that took place at TRH Bar, a new venue on the Main with a skate ramp right in the middle of it. I can, though, look at it from a theatrical perspective.

The staging was a perfect infringement on the concept of separation between audience and performer. There was none and it was beautiful.

The rappers performed right next to the ramp as skaters did their tricks. In the case of Psynlangwage, they also mingled with the crowd around the pit and even on the terrasse.

Between that bustling terrasse and the skate ramp stage area sat Atlantic City native Lucas Simmons, who’s performing theatre this Thursday but is also in town for the entire festival. This night in particular, he was drawing portraits of anyone who wanted for free.

I didn’t expect this kind of evening, but it makes perfect sense. The Infringement is all about breaking boundaries and the show was called Smashing Through Walls and these performers did just that, both lyrically and conceptually.

Have a look at a bit of the scene and listen to some of the socially conscious lyrics of Jay Manafest:


Sadly, I was all partied out and didn’t make it to the fest Saturday night. I heard from one of the organizers that Super Greek League (who had played NXNE in Toronto the night before) really tore down the house at Le Bull Pub and thought, well, that’s probably true but I can’t be sure ’cause I wasn’t there.

Turns out he was 100% correct, and here’s the video proof and incentive for me to not miss any more infringing this year:


I headed back to the fest as therapeutic rain fell on the city and washed Infringement Therapy, an outdoor interactive theatre performance which was supposed to happen at 7pm, to next Sunday at 1pm. Mother Nature didn’t dampen the spirits of those attending the Dumpster Dive Art Drive, the vernissage for art made from stuff found in the trash went ahead as planned in the alleyway behind Bifteck.

There’s no better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than standing in an alleyway underneath a fire escape that protects you from the rain, sipping on wine, eating brie, looking at art made on the spot from what’s available and chatting with like-minded artists. The Infringement is almost as much social as it is performance-based and the DDAD is the perfect example of this dynamic.

This was my weekend at the Infringement, but I didn’t even mention all the fest offered these past few days. As the Infringement continues, so will our coverage.

The Montreal Infringement Festival runs until June 23rd. For the schedule, please visit

* Barfly photo by Iana Kazakova, TRH Bar & Le Bull photos by Alaya Martin

Now a sentence you may have never thought you would read: tonight the Montreal Infringement Festival begins its tenth annual edition. Just as some thought the world wouldn’t continue past 2012, others believed the Infringement was just a drunken bar joke that would maybe make it to a second year only if organizers were really lucky. And like those Mayan-inspired doomsday prognosticators, the people subscribing to the common logic of how festivals run these days were wrong, too.

Turns out you don’t need huge budgets, major corporate sponsorship, a trademark, political apathy or hefty registration fees to survive, thrive and expand as a festival. Over the past decade, the Infringement, which follows an incorruptible anti-oppressive and anti-arts commodification mandate has not only continued in Montreal but spawned lasting offshoots in Buffalo, Brooklyn and Hamilton (and a handful of onetime events in places as far away as Bordeaux, France).

dumpster dive art drive
Dumpster Dive Art Drive

I’m happy it has, not only because (full disclosure) I’m a co-founder and participant this year, but because it really is a fun and unique event. You never truly know what to expect at the Infringement.

This year’s event in Montreal runs eleven days and takes place in both new and more established venues as well as the streets, alleys and parks of Montreal, mostly focused in the Plateau and Mile End neighbourhoods. Since the weather is nice, let’s start outdoors.

One of my favourite Infringement events, the Dumpster Dive Art Drive, is back. We’re talking about art made from materials found in the trash and displayed, at a vernissage no less, in an alleyway. Get there early or you may miss out on the wine and cheese.


This year, there are not one but three walking tours: of the historic red light district, of the most haunted spots on the mountain and one that takes you through the history of the Infringement itself. Add to that the interactive show Infringement Therapy, countless guerilla theatre culture jams and maybe even a picnic and you have a wide scope of outdoor activities to choose from.

The options don’t end when you head inside, either. Still operating in venues like Barfly, the Infringement has added a slew of new spots this year, places like Cafe Sierra, Dragonfly Studios and TRH-Bar (formerly Saphire).

Music has been a prominent part of the Infringement in recent years and this year is no exception. As usual, there will be plenty of local and out of town acts playing rock, punk , pop, folk, electronic, political and funny choir singing from Chorale du Peuple and even a bit of the blues in the form of returning Brooklyn band Sunshine (playing with Trevor Davies and Crazy Knows Crazy).

haunted mountain
Haunted Mountain

The Montreal Infringement has featured hip hop before, but this year, for the first time, there is a political hip hop evening called Smashing Through Walls. It features Jay Manafest , Lucky Lex, Nikolai KUSH and Infringement veterans PSYNLANGWAGE.

The fest, which began as a theatre event, is offering plenty of stage performances this year. There are plays like 420: The Musical (the name pretty much says it all), coming all the way from Buffalo, plays in French by La section québecoise des Esprits solubles, burlesque in the form of the Candyass Cabaret, a spoken-word show (I’m performing in this one) and the return of the multimedia show Smoke n’ Mirrors.

The fest kicks off tonight at Barfly with Grr en famille and runs, well, hopefully another ten years…stranger things have happened. That’s still no reason not to catch as much of the fest as you can over the next eleven days.

* The 10th edition of the Montreal Infringement Festival runs June 13 -23, for schedule and artist bios, please visit


After nine days of solid, fun and tiring infringing, the final night of performances in the 2012 Montreal Infringement Festival was ahead of me. So far, my first time experiencing the festival I helped found and organize for several years as (almost) strictly an audience member and performer had been going quite well.

After two solid nights of musical performance, I was ready for more, but first, I decided to check out some Infringement theatre. Street theatre to be precise.

I went to the alley behind Bifteck to catch Frog Loves Christy, a play by Julie Barbeau and Luiza Cocora. I had found the location of the day’s shows through Barbeau’s Twitter, a unique and interesting way to announce a venue, if you ask me.

What Twitter didn’t tell me was that this particular showing was also being filmed by Onemind Productions. That meant that we had to watch the performance from one of the fire escapes that populated the east side of the alley.

Our unique vantage point added a nice bit of realism to the scene. It felt like we were eavesdropping on a private conversation taking place in public. The fact that the script was sharp and the acting solid really helped in this.

A nice bit of afternoon infringing, but now it was time, once again, to rock out. That night’s shows at Barfly got an unexpected though appropriate kickoff.

The nightly student protest/casseroles march made it’s way up St-Laurent, passing in front of the venue. The assembled crowd went outside to cheer them on and once the march had passed, it was time for the music to start.

Pamela Swarts

I’ve seen Pamela Swarts perform before. This Buffalo-based artist played the Montreal Infringement the past couple of years as part of Anal Pudding and drove most of the band to town in her lightning-painted car.

This time around, she wasn’t the clarinet section of a raunchy Zappa-esque ensemble. She was front and centre, rocking out solo with her electric guitar and board of sound effects.

Swarts owned the Barfly stage just as she has been owning stages in Buffalo and other parts of the world (even some off this continent) for a number of years. She also rocked out on the streets of Montreal in front of and on top of her aforementioned car following the show.

Next up was Montreal’s down and dirty rock three-piece Wolfcastle, comprised of Will Davidson on bass and vocals, Joel Goguen on guitar and vocals and the winner of the unofficial Montreal Iffy Award (see my last post) for most random appearances by festival organizer in festival shows (see my previous two posts) Joe McLean (full disclosure again, also my brother) on drums. They rocked the house down, which was made all the more impressive by the fact that Davidson had only gotten out of the hospital the day before.

Following Wolfcastle, the Barfly stage was returned to the music of western New York as Rochester band Autoverse played some hard-hitting indie rock tunes for the crowd. There were even a few covers. I’ll quote the tweet they asked the audience to send out for them (as roaming charges aren’t cheap) that FTB obliged: “When Nelly Furtado meets punk rock, everybody’s mind gets fucked.”

Heroine Hayride

Then Montreal rockabilly band Heroine Hayride took the stage and, well, it took a while for them to get started, but when they did…did they ever. The whole front of Barfly was turned into a dance floor as the assembled infringers were full of late night energy. It was a great way to finish off performances for the fest.

The 2012 Montreal Infringement concluded on Sunday with a picnic on the mountain that moved to Barfly after rain. While there has been talk of concluding the fest next year, the tenth anniversary, in a much more grandiose way, this year ended in true Montreal Infringement tradition…with artists, organizers and audience members just chilling out and talking with each other, making their plans for the Buffalo fest later this summer, discussing next year’s Infringement and collaborations during the year.

That, after all, is what the Infringement is about: collaboration. This year I saw artists performing, then meeting other artists afterwards and showing up for those other artists’ shows the next night. It’s a community that keeps growing and this year I was fortunate to experience that community in a different way.

* Photos by Chris Zacchia, for more, please visit our Facebook page

RWR plays Barfly @ the 2012 Montreal Infringement Festival photo by Chris Zacchia

For the first time since the Montreal Infringement festival started in 2004, I got the chance to experience the event without that many behind-the-scenes duties. After having a great time the first weekend as a spectator and performer, I was ready for more.

I participated in a spoken-word show Tuesday night at the Co-Op Concordia bookstore and enjoyed the performances and the space when the Infringement played the Fresh Paint Gallery Wednesday.

Thursday I headed back to Barfly. After checking out some inspired art in a very inspired location (my colleague Taymaz Valley will have more on this next week), the bands started rolling in.

Last weekend, most infringing at Barfly was of the louder variety. Never a festival to be pigeonholed into one style, this weekend’s Infringement music kicked off with Cortezia, an acoustic duo featuring veteran Montreal chansonnier Louis Royer and the angelic-voiced Jessica Charland. Folk singer and Infringement veteran Richard Lahmy followed, really bringing out the politically charged roots of the genre.

Ari Swan plays Barfly @ the 2012 Montreal Infringement Festival photo by Chris Zacchia

The stage was set for Ari Swan. Now according to the Infringement website, this was violinist Swan’s first show vocally fronting a band, though you couldn’t tell it by watching and listening to her. She owned the stage and sang with all the confidence you’d expect from a stage veteran.

Swan’s powerful voice and energetic accompanying musicians and singers revved up the room. That revving would continue with the next act.

Now what, may I ask, is the best way to top off an evening of acoustic music? Why, punk rock. And that’s just what RWR brought.

Usually I’m a fan of originals and this band had some good ones, but it was their cover of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that really stood out for me…both times they played it. I also liked how they continued playing even after their friends reminded them, onstage, that they had to work the next day…very punk and very Infringement.

Friday, I unfortunately missed the Candyass Cabaret, but a number of infringers and our photographer Chris Zacchia who did make it out had very good things to say. You can experience the event, the last one for the summer, through photos (once they’re uploaded to our Facebook page). I also missed Buffalo performer Jacob Verghese who kicked off the night at Barfly.

Twisted Willow plays Barfly @ the 2012 Montreal Infringement Festival photo by Phyllis Papoulias

I arrived just in time to catch Twisted Willow. This multiple-member acoustic act had already played the Infringement pre-festival kickoff a couple of weeks ago, but they change things up quite a bit so you never know just what to expect or who to expect on stage.

Tonight it was mainstay brothers John and Dave Handleman (their mom was in attendance) with Sophie Doyle on vocals for most songs along with Sunshine fill-in, [sic] member and Infringement music coordinator (full disclosure again, my brother) Joe McLean on percussion. They played their mix of originals and covers getting their excited crowd involved with each song.

Next up was E. Lloyd Mac Hardy. This Nova Scotia native was playing the Montreal Infringement for the first time but was already a Buffalo Infringement veteran.

E Lloyd Mac Hardy plays Barfly @ the 2012 Montreal Infringement Festival, photo by Phyllis Papoulias

A few years ago, I won an Iffy Award in Buffalo. These makeshift trophies written on paper plates were given out in categories dreamed up on the spot. Mine was for Most Hardcore Infringer, an honour I shared with late night park drinking buddy Amanda Giczkowski. If Montreal had the same awards, I would surely nominate Mac Hardy with the same award I had received.

At 76 years young, the man drove all the way from Nova Scotia and then played a show, captivating the crowd with his accoustic guitar, storytelling lyrics (about Dr. Phil, Viagra and other topics of interest) and wooden doll likeness. Then he continued the celebration with some off us until 6 am, a full 24 hours after he left home. If that wasn’t enough, he gave an impromptu backyard concert the next night before driving back home.

Elgin Skye plays Barfly @ the 2012 Montreal Infringement Festival photo by Phyllis Papoulias

Back in Barfly, Elgin Skye was about to take the stage. Throughout the festival I heard people asking when Elgin was playing. She had already backed up Ari Swan the night before and now she was performing solo.

The healthy crowd knew most of her songs and called out requests. I wasn’t that familiar with her repertoire like they were but I soon was (and realized I had heard some of them through FTB’s creative director and photographer Chris Zacchia’s car stereo throughout the year). Her song about loving zombies because they only want women for their brains really caught my attention, despite Elgin’s (tongue-in-cheek) fears that recent news stories indicating an actual zombie apocalypse may take some of the fun out of it.

No fun was missing from the song or from anywhere in her set. She rocked out like there was no tomorrow with her accoustic guitar and really interesting sound effects and a great voice. The crowd and this audience member rocked with her.

There was going to be a tomorrow, though. After the evening’s closer and (as Elgin put it) very handsome man Trevor Davies played a solid set, I knew it was time to prepare for another night of Infringing followed by a closing day. I’ll bring you the rest of the fest soon.

For now, though, I’d like to note that the shows on Thursday and Friday all rocked out and (with one exception) they did so without heavy amplification and distortion like the musical infringers of the fest’s first weekend had used. The punk ethos remained as did the passion. This was just a different kind of rockin’.

* For more photos, please check out our Facebook page