The snow is back, and so is Shows This Week! That’s coincidence and not causality, please don’t @ us about the weather (unless you’ve got great pics of something cool).

Montreal’s never let a little weather get in the way of our perpetual festival season, and this week’s no different!

We’ve got a film fest, an international conference (with concerts!) a skatepark party, and a Saturday night punk show.

image+nation35 Starts Tonight

Dedicated to diverse lived experiences with perspectives that respond and contribute to wider conversations around cultural, sexual, and gender identit(ies), image+nation Canada’s first LGBT2SQ+ film festival and pioneering platform of queer stories is marking an impressive milestone, celebrating its 35th anniversary edition this month.

November 17 through 27, image+nation35 will be showcasing both in-cinema (Cinéma Impérial, Cinéma Moderne, De Sève Cinema, PHI Centre) and virtual screenings, bringing audiences the best in contemporary queer cinema. This year’s festival offers over 40 narrative and documentary features, 13 short film programs from 28 countries, and two sections highlighting LGBT2SQ+ cinema specifically from Ukraine and Iran.

The festival is also proud to bring Voix autochtones / Indigiqueer to the people, and perennials including Queerment Québec, and Made au Canada.

The Canada Media Fund returns as Festival Presenting Partner, and will act as presenting collaborator of the inaugural I+N@PHI x FMC/CMF SERIES.

image+nation35 runs November 17-27. Tickets and full schedule available through

M for Montreal’s M Pour Marathon

This is the 17th edition of M For Montreal, and unless you’re an indie artist or industry type, you’ve probably never heard of it. It’s a showcase and international conference that puts musicians and proverbial suits from both the local and international scene in the same place at the same time. It’s a big deal, and it’s sweet to imagine how stoked the performers are for this opportunity.  

While networking and showcases are still reserved for music industry pros, conferences will be open to the public, as well as the new concert component, M Pour Marathon

You can buy tickets per concert, but if you’re looking to do it up, get yourself a “Mélomane” pass for $100 which gets you into all the M Pour Marathon concerts, the conferences, workshops, and showcases (according to availability; priority will be given to Pro Pass holders).

Part of M Pour Marathon (but with a different vibe) is the Show Frette. Billed as the last outdoor party of the year, it’s totally free!

With support from the borough of Plateau-Mont-Royal, the party has a pretty cool location: the Van Horne Skatepark, under Viaduc Van Horne (5855 St. Laurent, to be technical).

Here’s who’s bringing what to the party:

Quebecois artist Virginie B is bringing a funky danceable beat paired with her dreamy, sultry voice.

From Little Saskatchewan First Nation, located in the heart of the Interlake of Manitoba, Leonard Sumner is bringing his unique mix of country, folk and hip hop.

Montrealer Lydia Képinski released her sophomore album Depuis this year, and was longlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. She’s bringing pop goodness that’ll get stuck in your head.

Jesse Mac Cormack also put out his second album this year, and while there are a few songs you can dance to, the lyrics are filled with longing and hindsight. He’s bringing those open heart vibes, and you might wanna kiss someone.

Barry Paquin Roberge is a band, not a dude, and they’re bringing disco back. You’ll be jelly of the flashy outfits, and your toes will be tapping. For all intents and purposes, they’re bringing the party game you rolled your eyes at and then loved.

Kiwi Jr. have a wonderful Spotify write-up, including the line: “Turning nocturnal with necks mock turtle, Kiwi Jr. takes neon flight off the digital cliff — like the Monkees starring in Blade Runner”, which is exactly what I was going to say, but they got there first. 

Of course Montrealers don’t party without a nosh (and a drink), so there will be food, booze, and a warming tent.

Fugazzi Pizza, ramen from Tsukuyomi, AliceÔChoux for your sweet tooth, Quebec spirits from Fou Gin, beer from Shawinigan’s Trou du Diable and a variety of ready-to-drink products from Oshlag.

The 17th edition of M for Montreal runs November 17-19, tickets and info available through

Old School Punk @ MTELUS

Presented by ’77 & 123 PUNK, Anti-Flag‘s punking up the place along with Canadian punkers and Granby natives Vulgaires Machins. Combined, the bands have over 50 years on the scene, so you’ll know the sound even if you can’t quite name a song. If you need a place to mosh, lace ’em up and get your tickets

Anti-Flag & Vulgaires Machines play MTELUS, 59 Ste-Catherine Est, Saturday, November 19, 7pm. Tickets available through MTELUS

Featured Image from Amazones d’Hier, Lesbiennes d’Aujourd’hui. 40 ans plus tard (2022) by Dominique Bourque, Julie Vaillancourt, Johanne Coulombe, courtesy of image+nation

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact or

No promises but we’ll do our best

Our 16th podcast is our holiday/2015 Year-in-Review Special. Regualr panelists Jerry Gabriel and Josh Davidson discuss some of the top events and stories of 2015 including the Canadian Election and the rise of Justin Trudeau, Just for Laughs, the Quebec anti-austerity movement and police repression, Bernie, Hillary and Trump, the Montreal music scene and more! Plus the Community Calendar, Sergakis Report and Predictions for 2016!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau


Jerry Gabriel: FTB contributor

Josh DavidsonFTB food columnist

FTB Podcast also available on iTunes

FTB Podcast: 2015 Year-In-Review Special by Forget The Box on Mixcloud

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

By the time I got off the 80 Parc bus, it was well after midnight. Small crowds of concert-goers were huddled around in clusters, smoking and chatting just outside of the doors of the Rialto Theatre where M for Montreal was kicking off. I shuffled around, anxiously waiting for a friend to arrive before heading in to check out the first of many acts that would follow over several nights of music that could most aptly be defined as insightful.

The scene’s epicenter, the ground zero of the Mile End if you will, is arguably the corner of Parc and Bernard– the location of the Rialto, and the precise place at which I began my four-day musical odyssey through Montreal’s indie network.

Almost right off the bat, I began to notice subtle, cultural markers embedded within Montreal’s diverse performance spaces. I found it interesting that the indie, or underground, acts that I was about to go see were quite literally performing underground.

The artists performing at the Rialto that evening weren’t playing on the main stage, but instead, at the Piccolo Rialto, a much tinier (let’s say intimate) stage one and a half stories below the street. I guess the implication was that these acts weren’t quite ready for the “big leagues” just yet.

As I sipped on a couple of tepid beers, listening to the likes of Calvin Love, She-Devils and Doldrums well into the early-morning hours. I found myself more people-watching than anything else. I was captivated by the amount of people drawn into this small, dark space, late at night, to listen to relatively-unknown bands.

Sure, the music was pretty good, but the word that kept cropping up over and over in my mind was communion. No, not the Sunday School kind of communion, but instead, the almost-transcendental bond that exists between spectator and performer at a small, indie show in Montreal.

The obvious question of why (why these spaces? why these artists? why these audiences?) was addressed when, by chance, I noticed indie-rocker and Montreal resident Alex Calder huddled at a corner table talking to a couple of friends. Calder, who once played with Mac Demarco in the lo-fi rock group Makeout Videotape, is now well established as a solo artist and recently released the well-received indie LP Mold Boy.

As a pretty big fan, I sort of nervously approached his table, feeling like the world’s biggest hack. Pretty quickly, I realized that not only was Calder a really nice dude, but he might help me unpack the seeming mysteries of the Montreal indie scene.

Quite casually, he mentioned that he lived “just down the street” from the theatre. What seemed at first like a self-evident, mundane piece of information actually turned into something of a “Eureka!” moment as I mulled over my night on the busride home, chowing down on a St. Viateur bagel.

Calder’s close proximity to the Rialto, and many other culturally-relevant performance spaces like it, wasn’t just coincidence. And it’s not completely convenience, either. Rather, it’s a cultural trace of an intimate, artistic community at work. The indication of a close connection between performer and performance space in Montreal.

A picture, although still fuzzy, began to form in my mind. Perhaps what draws aspiring artists to Montreal is not just the “cheap rent” (as one music executive mentioned to me in passing), but the intimate connection organically established between artist and audience.

And I don’t mean to say that it’s all sunshine and rainbows, either. In fact, the vibe at the Rialto that night was strangely disengaged, distant. But I began to get the sense that the performer and the spectator relied on each other in an incommunicable way; these indie artists needs the consistent support of a local fan base, and in turn, the fan base relies upon a network of artists to have a musical scene with which they can affiliate.

Poets would call this relationship communion, biologists would call this relationship symbiotic. Personally, I would just call it necessary in the formation of good art.

Jazz Cartier

The next few days passed in rapid succession. Thursday morning, I waltzed into Hotel 10 under the pretense of free coffee and continental breakfast for members of the press. In addition to the free joe, what I also inadvertently infiltrated was an industry meet-and-greet, a kind of speed networking for festival pass holders who wanted to learn more about the ins and outs of the music business.

That morning served as an interesting foil for the rest of my weekend. It was as if I caught a fleeting glimpse at the cogs and gears that make Montreal Montreal’s music scene, for lack of a more artful term, “work.”

That night, I watched up-and-coming Toronto-based hip hop artist Jazz Cartier take the stage at Cafe Cleopatra in front of a small, but very hyped-up, audience. And on Friday, I headed up to Little Italy to check out the Blue Skies Turn Black showcase of Nancy Pants and Look Vibrant! before bombing back downtown to see Busty and the Bass perform (for the first time) at an absolutely packed Club Soda. If there’s one word to describe my own personal M for Montreal adventure, it would most certainly be hectic.

And let’s make one thing clear: M for Montreal is not Osheaga, nor is it trying to be. It is a festival packed to the brim with talented indie artists that are trying to make a long term career out of their music.

But it is also much, much more than that. It’s a celebration of a scene at work. But not just any scene. Montreal’s music scene has historically held, and continues to hold, worldwide status as a juggernaut.

The first, massive name that comes to mind is probably Arcade Fire, a band that has roots in the Plateau, and whose members continue to live and record in Montreal. Think for a second longer, though, and many more contemporary names will emerge: Patrick Watson, Mac DeMarco and Grimes.

Grimes plays M for Montreal (photo Bruno Destombes)
Grimes plays M for Montreal (photo Bruno Destombes)

Claire Boucher, better known onstage as Grimes, got her start in the small performance spaces and venues scattered around the Plateau and the Mile End. In fact, in her early days, when she was better known as Claire rather than Grimes, Boucher would hang out at the now-defunct Lab Synthese in the Mile End, a DIY-style, art-collective space that eventually spawned major Montreal-based indie label Arbutus Records. It is fitting, then, that Grimes would serve as the headliner for a festival that represents the scene that she used to call home.

And indeed, Grimes’ sold-out Saturday performance at Metropolis felt like a homecoming game of sorts. The floor was packed, the fans were boisterous and rowdy, the energy was off the charts.

Boucher was her typical sweet and eccentric self, taking just enough time in between some of her massive hits such as Oblivion, Genesis and REALiTi to pause to thank the audience and specifically the Montreal community that effectively catapulted her to critical and commercial success. The expectations for the show were undoubtedly high, but Grimes delivered in a fashion that not only felt like artistic triumph, but also a kind of emotional catharsis.

Indeed, the return of Grimes to Montreal validated the existence of the Montreal indie scene. In her early days, Grimes, like so many artists featured in M for Montreal, embraced Montreal’s intimate indie circuit as a place of artistic incubation. On Saturday night, her performance served as vital evidence of a scene that is not only alive, but thriving.

Here’s to many more years at M for Montreal and many more years celebrating the musical talent that this city has to offer.

* Featured image of Grimes playing M for Montreal by Bruno Destombes

Montreal is internationally known as a cultural mosaic; the city’s diverse forms of artistic expression draw from Quebec’s Francophone roots, urban centres such as Toronto, as well as various locations both in the United States and Europe. So it really isn’t a shocker that Montreal’s musical scene is brimming with talent­­ you may recall that Montreal has a legacy of producing some of Canada’s most popular and critically acclaimed music acts (from Leonard Cohen to Arcade Fire).

Why, then, when the words “Montreal” and “music festival” are linked in the same sentence, must we automatically assume Osheaga? Though the summer festival attracts a ton of top talent, it doesn’t really reflect the deep pool of gifted musicians that call the 514 home.

From November 18th to the 21st, M for Montreal will be showcasing some of Canada’s best musical talent (with a few notable contributors from both the US and Europe). Headlining the festival will be Grimes (formerly a student at McGill) as well as Newfoundland’s Hey Rosetta! and their special guests, Yukon Blonde.

Though these headlining acts will draw in many fans, M for Montreal’s primary purpose is to serve as a “platform for showcasing local musicians and helping them expand their international networks.” Quite literally dozens of incredible acts on the brink of international success will be gracing various Montreal venues over the festival’s four­day duration.

There’s something for everyone, too. If you like hip­hop and soul, Montreal’s­ own Busty and the Bass will be performing November 20th at Club Soda. Is indie or low-­fi rock more your thing? Filling that void will be the likes of Fuzz, Alex Calder, Moon King and Look Vibrant. For electronic fans, there’s 80s-ins­inspired, BC­based act Miami Nights 1984 and DANGER.

Without a doubt, M for Montreal will be an incredible sonic experience that celebrates the unparalleled depth and diversity of Canadian music, and will serve as yet another example of Montreal’s status as an international artistic hub.

For the schedule:

* Featured image of Grimes, courtesy M for Montreal

When I think about what I want in a show, the first thing that comes to mind is stage presence. The performers have to want to be there (or at least act like it), otherwise I won’t either. If they’re not having fun, I’m not having fun. That being said, I had so much fun at M for Montreal.

Photo: Ellie Pritts | M Pour MontrealThe first band I saw was Midland, Ontario’s Born Ruffians. The set was short, but it was full of energy. To be honest, I’m getting bored of the whole “perfectly polished, four-piece indie rock band” thing, but Born Ruffians is a breath of fresh air.  Luke LaLonde’s unique vocals are what attracted me to the band in the first place, and seeing him onstage belting them out was so satisfying. The band looks like they’re there because they love playing music, and that’s it. Its fun and refreshing, and they play in Montreal often, so go see them!

macdemarco_0My M for Montreal journey also brought me to Club Soda on Saturday for Mac DeMarco. As I expected, it was absolutely insane (in the best way possible, of course). From stage dives to making out with half-naked boys onstage, Mac DeMarco came ready to have a good time. The whole thing felt like a house party, which is hard to achieve in a sold-out venue as spacious as Club Soda. The best thing about the show was the fact that his antics, as well as those of his band, never seemed staged. Just like Born Ruffians, they were up there for the sake of having fun, they just have a more extreme way of doing it.

macdemarco3_0I guess the moral of the story is be cool and I’ll think you’re cool. Or, to put it more eloquently, have fun, whatever you do. It makes all the difference.

Photos by Ellie Pritts and Maximillian G. San Juan for M for Montreal

M for Montreal starts this Wednesday and with four days worth of concerts, panel discussions and workshops, it’s the usual overload of stuff to see and do. Here’s our list of top musical acts to see at this year’s festival.


Yamantaka // Sonic Titan @ La Sala Rossa

When: 9 p.m.

Where: 4848 Saint-Laurent

How much: $18


Born Ruffians + Odonis Odonis @ La Sala Rossa

When: 9:30 p.m.

Where: 4848 Saint-Laurent

How much: $18

A Tribe Called Red + Tommy Kruise @ S.A.T.

When: 10 p.m.

Where: 1201 Saint-Laurent

How much: $18


Apigeon + How Sad + Boats + Seb Black @ TRH Bar

When: 8:30 p.m.

Where: 3699 Saint-Laurent

How much: $10

Grand Analog + Cadence Weapon (DJ set) @ Divan Orange

When: Midnight

Where: 4234 Saint-Laurent

How much: $12

Duchess Says + We Are Wolves + Solids @ Cabaret Underworld

When: 10 p.m.

Where: 1403 Sainte-Elizabeth

How much: $15

Kandle + Pawa Up First @ Nomad

When: 10 p.m.

Where: 129 Van Horne

How much: $15


Franco M: Ponctuation + Dead Obies @ Café Campus

When: 2:15 p.m.

Where: 57 Prince-Arthur

How much: $14

Young Galaxy + Miracle Fortress + Valleys & Purity Ring (DJ set) @ S.A.T.

When: 9 p.m.

Where: 1201 Saint-Laurent

How much: $15 (includes entry to afterparty w/ Purity Ring)

Further information can be found on the M for Montreal website. You can also download their app for iOS or Android.

Photo by Alex Bédard for M for Montreal. 

Odonis Odonis @ M for Montreal Boat Cruise
Adonis Adonis on NXNE M for Montreal boat cruiseBoys who look like they need a babysitter should not be playing music this good. Seriously. Odonis Odonis played in the early afternoon on the M for Montreal boat cruise during NXNE. (Which, by the way, has been one of their best boat cruises yet; the people on it were awesome this year.) If you closed your eyes during the Odonis Odonis set you’d think they had been playing for over ten years in dark venues in the underground bars of Williamsburg. But they haven’t. Who knows if they’ve even ever been there. Again, this is all said with love.

Anyway, let’s jump back to the part when your eyes are closed. When you open your eyes, your mouth drops. These Montreal boys are so young (I am saying this with love boys, I think you’re great) with such good vibes…you can’t stop but stare. I was in awe of their sound. And my gut says their sound is part of a scene that’s currently missing and evolving. It’s not moustache indie dance, it’s not sit-down-at-your-table folk, it’s not bleed down your face hardcore punk. It’s a dark, sweeping, surf rock. And the turnout, plus mosh pit, for their set on the boat cruise filled the room with a sober energy (not saying we were sober) that echoed off the walls and spilled down your bones.random art project thanks

Check out these kids next time they hit up your town and try the eye trick. I promise it won’t disappoint.

P.S. I made this while trying to write this review while listening to Odonis Odonis. They are the inspiration.


Joey Bada$$ @ Wrongbar

First thing’s first, let’s clear the air here: I am not a huge fan of hip hop. I never really have been, and I wasn’t thinking I’d change my mind anytime soon. Then I saw Joey Bada$$ at Wrongbar on Saturday night. You know one of those nights when everything has just gone to shit, and you just need to get to a good place…yeah, Joey Bada$$ and the crowd did that for me.

NXNE 13-512We walked into a packed-to-the-walls Wrongbar to this crew on stage. I had no idea what I was walking into. (Side note: these are the times when you truly love NXNE or other festivals – the surprises). Being the little chipmunk I am, I make my way to the top left side where you could see everything. This guy was nuts. The crowd was losing it. At some point I looked around and everyone had their hands in the air. It was so hot and sweaty you finished the show 10 pounds lighter. His beats made your skin melt.

During his final set, when he was saying his goodbyes, the crowd started heading outside for air…when all of a sudden someone screamed, “Joey Bada$$!!” and everyone swarmed like a bunch of drunk bees around him. You got lost. I got trampled. We made it out alive.

Not sure what his touring deal is, but baby, you’ve got to feel the way that felt.

Cool, well, that’s all I got this year. Big thanks to NXNE and all the bands. You always rock my world.

Follow me on Twitter or Instagram (doublecass) for new/old/lovable music and stuff.

Top photo courtesy M for Montreal. 

This year we fell backstage with Bran Van 3000 at the M for Montreal Festival. Yeah, well I’m not normally “cool enough” to hang out with a band backstage – but I accidentally got pushed back there, so I listened to the band talk, and enjoyed a few beers!

Bran Van 3000 are great group who are legendary in the Montreal music scene. Ever since making it big with their hit Drinking in LA, which, by the way was originally entitled Drinking in Longeuil, they’ve been touring and bringing their eclectic sound to adoring fans everywhere. (I don’t know how much fun drinking in a metro or on the South Shore would be?)

Bran Van doesn’t release albums very often, in fact they’ve only released 4 albums since 1994. Which makes a Bran Van album release kinda like getting laid in the back of a Chevy, it doesn’t happen that often, but when it does – You’re really lucky!

M for Montreal brings together musicians, industry folk, photographers and music journalists and a bunch of them were chatting it up backstage after the show. James Di Salvio was there talking to the media about their tour and first new album out in years entitled The Garden (2010).

In a recent interview with Jamie O’Meara of the Montreal Gazette James Di Salvio, the founder of the group, describes the album as music for a theatrical performance involving a pre-historic shark, known as a Megalodon with the heart of a whale. If you can tell me what that means, I’d really like to know?   It’s probably something experimental. Yeah, experimental indeed.

Bran Van to me has always been a sort of experimentation in Soul, a style that I haven’t listened to much except for a few of the old 60s classics, and funk-laced 70s tunes; a kind of music that eluded me until I found Bran Van in the early 90s. They found a way to engage a myself and a generation in Soul and R&B, (I did had some reservations and serious nightmares caused by memories of the late-eighties/early-nineties boy bands) they projected originality, and regenerating a dusty genre. I really liked what they did. They took soul and somehow changed it .

Over the past 18 years Bran Van has found a way to always attract attention and still be relevant for so many fans in Montreal. That evening they put on a powerful, yet short performance. But it was a great way to end a busy evening of Montreal shows at the M For Montreal festival.This years M for Montreal had a pretty amazing line-up including some really impressive local talent: Uncle bad Touch, The Barr Brothers, Adam and the Amethysts, Anoraak, and Doldrums just to name a few.

They make music for people who want to make love to other people… and for sharks with whale hearts, what’s wrong with that?

Photos by Chris Zacchia
Check out the whole album from the show on ForgetTheBox’s FB page

Photo by Chris Zacchia

On Friday, November 18th, M for Montreal showcased Random Recipe and SUUNS at Cabaret Juste Pour rire.  I remember being enthralled to see Random Recipe perform. I remember someone whispering in my ear during their performance, “They just got booked for shows in Japan.” I remember leaving thinking and saying all night long, “Random Recipe is gonna blow everyone’s mind.” I also remember being completely and randomly taken back by SUUNS. So, let’s get to the goods…

Random Recipe will blow your mind. The Montreal based hip-hop/folk group truly have an interesting, fresh and dynamic live sound (it’s also consistent with their album Hold it! Mold it!) that left the crowd begging for more (plus I’m a sucker for female hip-hop artists). Their bouncy performance made the crowd look like they all had go-go-gadget shoes on, as they sprang up and down, while the band spit every lyric back in their faces. Not only were the fans hypnotized by their performance, it was obvious that the delegates and media wanted a little of the action for themselves barely anyone was standing around like the picket-fence of people that sometimes lines the back of venues.

In that same night (it became a bit blurry) SUUNS graced the stage to teach our ears just what has been preaching all along SUUNS take you to another planet and should definitely be included in your iTunes library. While gazing down at SUUNS, the type of music you don’t bounce around too, I noticed everyone was glued to the stage in a mesmerized state. All the crowd could do was nod their heads back and forth as if they were in a dream.

Photo by Chris Zacchia

SUUNS electric-indie sound is becoming a familiar echo in the minds of many music lovers. Their presence on the indie music scene will for sure shift the music paradigm from one that has become prominently filled with folk and pop, to one where the various separate layers in songs can be bluntly heard. How you say? Folk and pop music, though you can hear the instrumental contributions floating behind the songs, the layers together produce what I think is a cake-like sound (a pretty, yummy product you consume with a smile). SUUNS produces a painting.   Listen to their songs and try to imagine a painter in front of a blank canvass, getting ready to let his imagination run wild – the stare, the build up and the action (listen to Area). SUUNS achieves this by making songs that are constructed with a variety of instrumental and electronic sounds, and pasting Ben Shemie’s simple vocals over everything – it’s brilliant.

Other artists that performed that night included: Molly Rankin, The Barr Brothers, Metz and VALLEYS (pics from the show). Check their MySpaces or SoundClouds to see if they suit your ear drums.

Alright, cool beans. Be sure to remember things when you go to shows…

Random Recipe and SUUNS performed during M for Montreal on November 19, 2010 @ Cabaret Juste pour rire. There was gin and juice. There was beer and we all “got down.”

To see pics of the show visit Random Recipe and Suuns on our Flickr page


Last week M for Montreal celebrated its fifth edition of being a pioneer showcase of innovative and unique local, national and international artists. I’ve finally had some sleep since the four day boozing, schmoozing and artist-driven scheduling of watching shows and being, um, coherent (?). So, here’s my extremely coherent overview.

What‘s the deal with M for Montreal you ask? Well, another wise music writer I know let me in on a little secret about this event. He slyly told me, “It’s for the delegates, not for the fans.” And, because that wise writer is usually right (except for the fact he dislikes OK GO), he was once again, telling me the truth which I will get into later.

M for Montreal is an invitation for delegates and panelists from Canada, and all around the world to fly to Montreal and see what we’ve got. Their lineup of artists ranged from veteran (We Are Wolves) to fresh sounding and crowd pleasing ear pieces (Random Recipe, who I was told got booked in Japan during the event). This year, it was also used as a launching pad for Gene Simmons’ record label, Simmons Records. Gene also signed Montreal band The Envy…as well as impressed (…um, impressed, yes) many of the staff, delegates, panelists and show-goers (wait, there are fans at the shows?).

Well, it wasn’t POP Montreal, where every venue was packed with band fans, holding their mouths up in order to keep the drool from dripping onto the floor, in anticipation of their favourite artist about to perform. M for Montreal‘s focus is directed towards delegates and press (as the wise music writer pointed out). At first, I was upset about this concept because to me, music is supposed to be geared towards the show-goers, listeners and whomever else is willing to pay to help support an artist.

The more I thought about it, the more I understood and realized that the basis for M for Montreal is important . It’s an important gateway to helping expose artists to industry professionals, that otherwise may not have gone the distance in the first place.

Now, let’s connect the dots.

These industry professionals are the ones who give artists their paycheque, and as a result allow them to further their music career and produce more original tunes for the band fans. It all just makes sense (duh…wow, I’m a little slow today).

Here are my goods and the-could-be-goods for M for Montreal.

My final opinion of M for Montreal is: it’s worth going to. It’s worth going to just for the fact that it’s well organized and the concept behind it should be supported we want these artists to keep making music. Without an event like this, some artists may never receive the financial and deal-breaking opportunities, such as The Envy, Braids and numerous others they do. We all need a little help from our friends sometimes and M for Montreal should be your friend.

Cool beans. Stay in-tune for more local Montreal and Brooklyn coverage.

M for Montreal claimed this city from November 17 -20, 2010. It wasn’t a clusterfuck, it was a planned out race. There wasn’t that much dancing, but there was a lot of drinking. It looked like everyone was having a good time and some bands got signed.

The goods:

  • I like museums and cafes. M for Montreal’s venue selection gets a virtual HIGH FIVE.   In the coming months, Cabaret Juste pour rire (CJR) and Muse Juste pour rire   (MJR) will be closing (that’s another story altogether, let’s keep our focus here kids). So, it only, truly seemed appropriate that they chose that venue as one of the main stops for their showcase. The sound in CJR and MJR is always ear pleasing. The stages are a decent size for small, medium and large artists and the top balconies that look onto the crowd are the best hiding spots (as well as band watching and boy scoping spots) in town. Café Campus, petit and grand, was also well equipped for the amount of people that went for the first night. The Petit Campus’s stage is almost at ground level, making you feel like the band is in your living room and the sound bounces off the walls like you’re playing an awesome ping-pong game that your eyes can barely focus on (it’s so smooth). Grand Campus’s stage is a little higher, yet allows the audience to see the entire musical talents of the artist(s) performing from a variety of places via chairs or standing (choice makes everyone a little happier).
  • iTunes playlist worthy bands. At first I was a little weary about the artist selection and then I went to the shows. M for Montreal’s mixture of artists was sure to please an assortment of people. They ranged from the much talked about (and much worth it) PS I Love You to the we-wont-let-you-stop-dancing Retro Stefson to noise makers AIDS Wolf and then to French adored Pascale Picard Band. In between the small mentions above, M for Montreal brought in some of the city’s old favourites (Black Feelings and The Dears), while giving stage time to some of the new favourites (Braids and Random Recipe). What I’ve written above is only a small portion of the bands that played, for the complete line-up, click here.

The could-be-goods:

  • Band fans, where art thou? I told you I would address this later, well later is now. Like said, I noticed a sea of black M for Montreal badges swimming around the venues. Amongst this sea, I rarely saw plain t-shirted and sneakerified show-goers. Here’s the logical as to why I think next year M for Montreal should recruit more fans for the bands. Artists make music for their potential fans. Fans bring a level of excitement to a show that media can’t – no one may be able to report like a journalist, but no one can get down and truly, openly show their enthusiasm and love for a band like a fan. Sure, having reassurance from the media that your band is great is good, but (let’s think about this), the media (the majority of the time) provides this confidence boost by observing and hearing about the large volume of people who attend, buy and talk about a certain bands music. So, wouldn’t it just make sense to have more fans at the performances to show the delegates and etc how popular certain bands are, and wouldn’t this increase their chances of being booked, signed and exposed? I’ll let you decide that answer.

*side note: okay, I might be being dramatic, the first night at Café Campus there were tonssssssssssss of fans, from there on out, I really only saw badges and lifeless people standing around (minus those two whacked out guys at the AIDS Wolf show, who I use to see at Sliverdoor all the time shaken’ it down).

  • I love our Country and the world, but wasn’t this for Montreal? I did praise their selection of artists and how that selection appealed to a large body of people; I feel that it may have been cooler if they introduced more new and up-and-coming Montreal bands. Old Montreal favourites are great, but searching out bands that are about to break through and are from Montreal may have opened the delegates and co’s eyes wider, to prove we really are the arts and culture hub of Canada. We have a lot of amazing music in this city, why not expose it.

Photo by Chris ZacchiaThe REAL day one of M for Montreal included Elephant Stone, Marco Calliari and Jason Bajada, PS I Love You, Black Feelings and AIDS Wolf. I’m starting to notice there is a lack of real show goers at M for Montreal. A wise music writer told me that M for Montreal is actually for panelists and delegates. Something should be done about this. In the meantime, here are the goods on PS I Love You and AIDS Wolf…

PS I Love You are extremely likeable in the real world and the virtual world (go Like them on Facebook). has been pushing this band for a couple of months. Until last night, I never plugged them into my ears or really took them into account as an iPod playlist option. This was a mistake and I’m making up for it by encouraging you (and me) to make that long overdue PS I Love You playlist. Doooo ittttttt.

The PS I Love you duo, Paul Saulnier (vocals/guitar) and Benjamin Nelson (drums/guitar), have produced unique indie-pop songs that hang from the edge of rock and dance with an electric sound. Take this idea and combine it with Paul’s heart-achingly warm vocals and Benjamin Nelson’s stellar guitar playing and you’ve got yourself something worth exposing all your friends to.

Their performance last night was anything but shy, rather more stimulating and awakening (it woke me up from my lazy zone). Watching Paul use his guitar pedal to swing his tunes from simple to complex and odd rhythms gave that extra push you wish more bands would shove in your face. The majority of their songs match the YouTube attention span we have all developed. This is great, because you don’t get bored and wonder to yourself, “is this song really still going on? WTF?” (I’m a big fan of short and sweet, unless it’s Broken Social Scene).

PS I Love You performed at Cabaret Juste pour Rire last night, November 18, 2010. If you missed PS I Love You’s performance last night go check out their soundcloud or MySpace while you’re getting ready to pursue your Friday night adventures. It’s good pumping up music (or so I think…but I’m an strange cat).

I stuck around for some of AIDS Wolf. I’m not one to listen to the noise genre often, but exposure is always a good thing. The lead vocalist has a stage presence (and ground presence as she jumped into the crowd) that will keep your eyes in gridlock the entire time. She is stretching and sweeping across the stage. Though their genre is not my favourite style, they are worth seeing and being talked about. If you like noise music and entertaining performances, check them out. If you don’t like either of those things, check them out anyway (get outside your comfort zone!).

(Photographer’s note: I really liked the attitude on these guys! All three of them brought that ‘balls to the walls’ stage presence you would expect from a noise band. Chloe, the singer, had make-up smeared on her face and deep throat-ed the microphone with the skill of a pro. (which I’m sure caught the attention of more then a few male audience members) What was really impressive however was the range of bizarre and rhythmic sounds produced by this petite rockstar! I also really need to bring attention to the moustache sported by the drummer… Some serious fu manchu!)

Cool beans. Here’s tonight and tomorrow’s lineup. Check ya out later.

PS I Love You and AIDS Wolf played November 18, 2010 @ Cabaret Juste pour rire. We heard and loved PS I Love you. We were shocked by AIDS Wolf and it was worth taking pictures to share with you.

Photos by Chris Zacchia

Five is my favourite number. My reasoning is that you have five fingers, five toes and five senses. It’s a pretty damn stable and practical number. So, I automatically like this year’s M for Montreal festival (can you connect the dots? If not read here). Yesterday was the launch of the Festival and this is what my hears heard, eyes saw and body did.

Last night, November 17th, 2010 @ Café Campus the first round of artists for M for Montreal premiered. Interestingly enough the lineup jumped from Iceland to Montreal to Iceland and back to Montreal (Icelandair must be lovin’ us these days). Here’s last night’s list of bands you may have missed (and in performing order ‘cause I’m a nerd like that): Retro Stefson, Braids, Lay Low and We Are Wolves. Not too bad of a list, but I’m gonna focus on catching my flight to Iceland. So, how was the flight you ask? Well, here are the under the radar goods…

Have you ever seen the movie Saturday Night Fever? Of course you have. Not only have you seen it, you most likely practiced all the best moves for some Halloween costume you had (don’t lie; I’ve seen you do it on YouTube). Well, it’s a good thing I also practiced because last night when Retro Stefson was performing, they encouraged us to pull out our best disco moves and we did.

Retro Stefson got us dancing, yet we were all one step behind, of course that was until they instructed us. That’s right – we got dance lessons from Retro Stefson, not just any kind of dance lessons, disco dance lessons. Good thing we’ve both practiced in our spare time. Retro Stefson’s indie-disco sound make your shoulders shimmy with your feet, all while making Richard Simmons jealous as fuck. I almost feel like Chromeo should be Facebook friends with these kids. The young Icelandic band turned the entire crowd into a scene from Saturday Night Fever, minus that sick light-up floor (Café Campus should really do something about that).   If you don’t believe me, get out the long, stand-up mirror you own and listen to their soundcloud. Don’t forget to put on that costume and I promise not to tell anyone you’re secretly doing disco moves by yourself in front of a mirror…hehe.

When Retro Stefson was finished we were ordered to climb the stairs of Café Campus to watch Braids perform in the room with a bigger stage. At that point I went out for a walk. No worries, I made it back for Lay Low.

Lay Low is another very young Icelandic band whose folkish, daisy picking in the fields sound will help you cool down the sweat that was dripping from your dance session, and put you into a light, day dreamy state. I’m not sure if you listen to Loretta Lynn or Patsy Cline, but it’s that same kind of 50’s country jingle, with a new age feel. You know the kind were you sway back-and-forth and feel like you’re at your grandparents (or great-grandparents or just parents age dependent) high school dance. The one where the punch gets spiked and you meet the love of your life. That’s pretty much what we did, admired Lay Low like we were eye-gazing into the love of our teenage life.

Once again, when Lay Low was done performing we were soberly(?) asked to crawl back up the stairwell that lead to
the larger stage in the upper level of Café Campus to observe We Are Wolves.

(WARNING! Honesty below)

……………..Okay. We Are Wolves. Yes.
Well, they do wear fur hats that could be made from dead wolves.

I am not a fan of We Are Wolves live. Their sound is too big for any venue other than a stadium. I know you’re probably about to curse me out via your screen (haha sucker, you’re only cursing at the screen…ha). But, let me explain, then go ahead and do what you gotta do.

We Are Wolves are veteran Montreal rockers, who are local-famous and every time I hear them live all I can think is, “does everyone enjoy having their ear drums blown into tiny bits while the rest of their head explodes and their body shakes like it’s that fucking hip-shaker machine made in the 60’s to help you lose weight.” I just can’t get my head around it. Every time I’ve seen them I leave before the show is even at the halfway point. But, whatever, that’s just my opinion and I am still not a fan.

Anyway, if you missed Retro Stefson and Lay Low go check out their MySpaces or search them on and If you really like them, download their albums (Retro Stefson: Kimbabwe & Lay Low: Farewell Good Night’s Sleep) and help them pay their rent.

Cool beans. Here’s tonight and tomorrow’s M for Montreal showcase. See you there.

Retro Stefson and Lay Low played @ Café Campus on November 17th, 2010. We got dance lessons. We dreamed in the venue and got to see what’s up with Iceland Airwaves. All while being under the radar.’re going Loco. I’m already pretty loco, but, that’s not the point. We Heart Music is going local and under the radar. Starting November 17th, 2010 and ending December 17th, 2010 (my birthday!), we’re going to be doing a special month-long edition dedicated to local and under the radar artists in Montreal and Brooklyn. Let’s get Loco!

Let’s get Loco! is about focusing our eyes to see what’s right in front us (3D picture included) innovative and unique local music. We want to give those deserving, hardworking Montreal and Brooklyn based artists the exposure and press they need. We’re going to be giving you the down-low about what’s going on in your backyard bars, the neighbourhoods you should be visiting for great music, and bands you may have overlooked due to the influx of big names and big game.

I bet you have a lot of questions. Well, this isn’t just about vegetables and farmers (I hope you’re a little wiser than that assumption about “local”). First question: why am I doing this and why should you care? Because… copious amounts of bands pass through our cities every week and this can be overwhelming, leaving you playing a guessing game of eanie-meanie-minie-moe (what a time killer). Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great method for picking a show, but we’re here to help. Plus, pointing isn’t very polite.

Second question: why Brooklyn? Well, other than being a super fucking cool place and centre of hip, up-and-coming bands,
we had a new writer join our We Heart Music team. Steve Ferrara, a Brooklyn based musician, offered to give his time and ears
to our section to help promote his neighbourhood scene. We also want you to know what’s up down below (…wait, that sounds bad).

So, let’s get to the goods…

To get you, I and our Facebook friends excited, we’re going to kick-off this special month-long edition with M for Montreal. M for Montreal is celebrating its fifth birthday as the foundation of the alternative music movement in Montreal and beyond. This festival has caught the attention of various critics all over the world. Artists such as Patrick Watson, Malajube and CÅ“ur de Pirate, have all benefited from M for Montreal. It’s always been a known fact that Montreal is the culture and arts hub of Canada (and Brooklyn is our brother who always had the best table manners). So, it was just a matter of time that a festival, such as M for Montreal, came along. And it was also just a matter of time a great Brooklyn writer joined our team to give you the dish on their scene.

Because I like to make things easy for you, here’s the complete M for Montreal line-up.

If you hard-pressed to figure out which bands you really want to see because of lack of funds or time, here’s what I would suggest: Valleys, Random Recipe and Pascale Picard. Awhhh shit, I’m trying to expand our minds. I hope you’re willing to leave your snowsuit behind and jump outside your comfort zone (exposure is one of the best forms of self-education darling…).

On the other side of the table (or across the border) here’s some of the bands you‘ll be getting to know:

…and that’s just what we’ve got in pen.

In the coming days you can expect: artist profiles, M for Montreal   and Brooklyn show reviews, and listings of artists, venues and places to get cheap drinks. We want you to have the social life you deserve (all while warming your heart with music). Oh yes, and it’ll help you be the hot child in the city (hot child in the city/ hot child in the city/ runnin’ wild and lookin’ pretty).

Oh…it doesn’t end there dear readers. What if you’re an artist and you need some sweet, interesting and fun coverage? Well my friend, open your email, put Steve or my email address in (location dependent) and get at us via this crazy thing called the in-ter-net….

Get @ me:
Get @ Steve:

We want your help, because the only way this will benefit our local artists (and your rent) is if you play true-telephone and pass the word along to your friends or bands you know. SPREAD THE WORD and let’s all get loco!

Cool beans. Stay in-tune and see you soon.

Valleys are a trip. The sweet female vocals mixed with a background of hypnotizing guitar rifts and intense drumming, let your imagination wander around like that kid from Where The Wild Things Are. Their interesting sound is innovative and feels like a dip those crazy fools take at the beginning of every New Year in the freezing cold ocean. It’s strange, beautiful and enchanting. Their new EP Stoner was release November 9, 2010 and can be downloaded via iTunes.

Go into the wild VALLEY this Friday, November 19, 2010 @ 9pm @ Cabaret Juste pour rie via M for Montreal.

Random Recipe
I have a soft spot for female hip-hop artists. I enjoy lady’s who can rhyme, and that’s just what Random Recipe is about fucking awesome beats, mixed with killer-strong lady vocals, lyrics in different languages and a bit of jazz influenced thumping. The Montreal based folk/hip-hop group are that extra spice you include in your best potluck dish, and the spice that everyone wants to know about. Not only does this group get into your bones because they’re music is so damn cool, they also appeal to a large group of people. Their first full length album, Fold it! Mold it! was release on September 23, 2010 and you can download it via their MySpace.

Random Recipe will get your bones jumping on Friday, November 19, 2010 @ 8:30pm @ Cabaret Juste pour rire via M for Montreal.

Pascale Picard Band
Alright, I’m in love with this band. The lead singer reminds me a bit of Ani Difranco (listen to their song Annoying) mixed with Jenn Grant odd combination, I know. Pascale Picard Band plays simple, catchy tunes that sink into your soul (or mine anyway). Based out of Quebec City, these artists combine folksy guitar strums, undercover bass playing and quaint drumming to push the poetry of their music into your ears and heart. Their album, Me, Myself & Us was release in 2007 and has been wowing music lovers ever since. Fall in love with their melodies via their MySpace.

Put your heart back in check on Saturday, November 20 @ 8:30pm when Pascale Picard will take the stage @ Metropolis via M for Montreal.