This week, we have a couple of groups that we have previously covered for their virtual performances that have switched back to in-person. Let’s get started:

Titelaine Launch On veut vivre notre vie en vacances

What a better time than fall to think about summer vacation, or vacations in general. That’s probably what Montreal duo Titelaine have in mind with the October release of their album On veut vivre notre vie en vacances, which they’re launching in-person tonight.

We’ve already covered this band playing a virtual show, back when in-person shows weren’t possible, but now that they are, they are. They have already released the single Paranoïa ahead of the launch. Give it a listen:

Titelaine launch On veut vivre notre vie en vacances at Ausgang Plaza, 6524 rue St-Hubert, Thursday, October 7 from 8-11pm. Tickets available through LePointDeVente.com

Ghost Stories in the Flesh Courtesy of Haunted Montreal

Around this time last year, Haunted Montreal was forced to cancel its in-person ghost walks due to everything being locked down just before the Halloween season. They scrambled and came up with a virtual alternative which we reviewed and later a Victorian-themed holiday virtual tour which we also reviewed.

Since restrictions eased earlier this year, they have been back doing what they do best, in person haunted experiences. For the Halloween Season, they are offering three ghost walks: Haunted Downtown, Haunted Mountain and Haunted Griffintown, as well as a paranormal investigation. Yes, you have to get to all those neighbourhoods, but that’s part of the fun,

Haunted Montreal’s experiences are offered in both English and French on various dates and times until early November, please visit HauntedMontreal.com for the schedule and tickets

Featured Image courtesy of Haunted Montreal

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

This year’s POP Montreal (the 20th edition) was an entertaining distraction that was most definitely needed coming on the heels of a heavy lockdown in Montreal. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I for one was extremely happy to see live music flourish in Montreal and boy did POP not disappoint for the 20th time. 

As much as we would like to forget about what was still happening outside, the dancing masked people in the indoor events, the vaccine passport checks at the door and the liquid sanitizer reminded us all that this pandemic is not over yet. but POP did a great job making everyone feel safe and secure.

Onto the music!

While there were a great many artists playing, two shows in particular really stood out for me.

One was an afternoon show that displayed the raw strength and ability of Gus Englehorn songs to stay in my head and  play over and over again long after his show. 

His performance was probably under the the worse conditions: an afternoon show on the Friday. Still, he managed to get a packed house and he still brought it!

His songs are so catchy. I just wanted to bounce around, but of course i was stuck in a seat a couple of feet away from someone else. It was a great set with his drummer Estée Preda playing as hard as Gus, creating a lot positive vibes for me  and really setting the tone for Friday at POP this year.

It definitely got me out of my COVID rut. I really appreciated the fact that they were able to put on such a great show under these conditions.

Next up, was a much bigger show by far: Suuns at Rialto. 

I guess my expectations were way to high for the show, Suuns being one of my favorite bands to come out of the local music scene, and while the show was pretty entertaining, it didn’t feel like this was their best performance. It was still highly enjoyable and really reached it’s peak towards the end. The background visuals also really enhanced the experience.

The best part of the show was definitely leading up to and the encore. In particular, it was when they played fan favorite Arena.

The audience was definitely enjoying it, dancing towards the end, especially around the final encore. It almost felt like the good old days, well if it wasn’t for the masks.

Although it wasn’t completely back to normal at this year’s POP, it was definitely great to see people listening to live music together again.

As we begin this journey back to normalcy. POP Montreal definitely helped us along the way. Thanks again for 20 years of music!

All photos courtesy of Phil Shearing

It may be fall, but this weekend is Osheaga Weekend in Montreal! More specifically, it’s the Osheaga Get Together this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Sure, the three days in early August chock full of both international, Canadian and local musical talent and tons of audience members (aka Osheaga Proper) skipped this year and will return in 2022, but this weekend’s event promises the same level of excitement with some key differences.

Osheaga Get Together will exclusively feature Canadian talent. We’re talking some of the biggest Canadian music stars as well as up-and-coming acts to look out for. Plus many of the performers are also local.

While it will be the usual three days, there will only be two stages, which, of course, gives you a chance to catch more of the acts. The event is limited capacity (so get those tickets while you still can) and will be implementing all current Public Health protocols.

Normally when we cover Osheaga, we focus on the local and Canadian acts instead of the headliners. This year, though, the Canadian and local acts ARE the headliners, so I’ll just talk about some of them.

Here is some of what you can look forward to:

Friday

Montrealer and pop-electro-jazz singer songwriter Charlotte Cardin is the big name capping off Friday night. She is currently on tour supporting her Canadian chart-topping studio album Phoenix.

Friday will also feature Toronto-based R&B duo DVSN (signed to Drake’s label), Montreal band The Franklin Electric’s first show at home in a few years and much more.

Saturday

Saturday boasts a hip hop and RnB-heavy lineup. Toronto-born and Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter Jessie Reyez makes her Osheaga debut in the headlining spot.

Majid Jordan, the Toronto-based RnB duo also signed to Drake’s OVO Sound label will perform as will rapper Roy Wood$ and many more.

Sunday

On Sunday, it’s largely an all-out rockfest, featuring Montreal-based headliners Half Moon Run, Montreal-based festival favourites The Damn Truth, and Montreal punk rockers Les Shirley all play. Come to think of it, Sunday is largely an all-out Montreal rockfest (well, there is some Toronto, Quebec City and New Brunswick thrown into the mix, but I did say “largely”).

Osheaga Get Together is October 1, 2 and 3 at Parc Jean-Drapeau. For the complete lineup and tickets, please visit Osheaga.com

Featured Image from Osheaga 2018 by Joe McLean

We may be in the midst of POP Montreal, but that’s not all that’s happening in our fair city culturally this weekend and week. So, with that in mind, please allow us to take a little break from our POP coverage and present some other options:

The 17th Montreal International Black Film Festival is Up and Running

The 2021 edition of the Montreal International Black Film Festival, Canada’s largest Black Film Festival, started yesterday and runs until October 3rd. This year, the 17th consecutive event, will be a hybrid festival, with a promise to “inspire through bold programming – online and in person.”

The festival will feature films from over 30 countries and include a nod to the Francophonie, the work of local filmmakers and films featuring well-known international figures such as Colin Kaepernick, Quincy Jones and more. The Black Market will return as an online event featuring intimate discussions with some film luminaries as well as industry panels. The free and in-person MIBFF in the Neighborhoods also returns in both Montréal-Nord and Côtes-de-Neiges.

MIBFF21 runs September 22 – October 3. For the complete schedule and tickets, please visit MontrealBlackFilm.com

The Lef7overs Return!

No that’s not a typo. Montreal-based The Lef7overs are most definitely inspired the 90s Riot Grrrl movement and bands like L7 in particular.

We’ve mentioned them here a few times as they used to play around town quite a bit, before all the venues shut down, that is. Now they’re back tomorrow performing as part of Vernissage LIPSTICK RIOT at Gallerie DBC in the Village and it’s a free show.

Give them a listen:

The Lef7overs perform as part of Vernissage LIPSTICK RIOT at Gallerie DBC, 1387 Ste-Catherine Est, Friday, September 24, doors open at 5pm

Montreal’s Shira Choir Featured in New Documentary Just As I Am

By the time you read this, it will already be too late to attend the World Premier of the new documentary Just As I Am, but there is still plenty of time to catch it on CBC Gem and CBC TV.

Filmmaker Evan Beloff and producer Marvin Rosenblatt chronicle the lives of several members of Montreal’s Shira Choir, an all special needs choir as they live and perform through a global pandemic.

Just As I Am streams on CBC Gem starting Friday, September 24th and airs on CBC TV Saturday, September 25th at 7pm

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

September is Suicide Awareness Month and today (September 10th) is World Suicide Prevention Day. Tomorrow, Suicide and Mental Health (SAMH) Montreal will be holding a Suicide and Mental Health Awareness Walk in Montreal.

It starts at 1pm in front of the Sir George-Etienne Cartier Monument on du Parc (where the tam tams take place). It also serves as a reminder that suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in Canada and takes more lives than war, murder and natural disasters combined.

SAMH Montreal “is a non profit organization dedicated to helping people find support through difficult times and hope after loss.” They also hope to help stop that loss from happening in the first place by raising awareness through events like this one.

With the general focus being on physical health over the past couple of years, it’s important not to forget mental health.

Featured Image via the SAMH Montreal website

The Suicide and Mental Health Awareness Walk starts Saturday, September 11 at 1pm in front of the Sir. George-Etienne Cartier Monument on du Parc. More info on the Facebook Event Page

Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Samantha Gold discuss the upcoming Montreal Municipal election (with an emphasis on the Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Montreal Nord boroughs), the possibility of a fall Federal Election and Quebec’s new vaccine passport.

Follow Samantha Gold on Facebook @samiamart and Instagram @samiamartistmtl

See Samantha’s mural outside of the Union United Church

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter and Instagram @jasoncmclean

Gracia Kasoki Katahwa will run for Borough Mayor of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce under the Projet Montréal banner. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante made the announcement earlier today at a press conference in the borough alongside Katahwa and seven other first-time candidates whom Plante referred to as the future of her party.

Katahwa joins an arguably crowded field which includes incumbent Borough Mayor Sue Montgomery, originally elected as a Projet candidate and now running with her own borough-specific party Courage – Équipe Sue Montgomery. Longtime City Councilor for the Darlington district Lionel Perez is running for the post as the candidate for Denis Coderre’s Ensemble Montréal, a party of which Perez was recently the Interim Leader.

Matthew Kerr is running under the banner of Mouvement Montréal, the party started and led by Balarama Holness. Meanwhile, Alex Montagano promises a “back to basics” approach as he runs with his borough-specific party Team/Equipe CDN NDG.

Katahwa has a background in healthcare and is the only black woman on the Administration Council of the Ordre des infirmières du Québec. While this is her first foray into politics, she has a long history with the borough.

CDN/NDG is shaping up to be one of the races to pay close attention to this November.

Featured Image via Projet Montréal on Facebook

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

Let’s get started:

Osheaga Through the Ages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under Pressure is Back Online

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

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

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

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

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Comedian Arthur Simeon is the kind of voice we need more of. Born and raised in Uganda but now based out of Toronto, he brings his life experience as an immigrant and a black man in Canada to his comedy, while still managing to keep such a heavy topic light and funny.

His comedy album, The Blackest Panther, is a riff on the fact that Wakanda from the Black Panther film and comic book series is allegedly located in Uganda. I had the privilege of seeing him perform at Rick Mercer’s Gala in 2017 where he was one of the highlight performances of the evening, so I was eager to speak to him before his appearance at Just for Laughs’ 2021 hybrid festival.

Like most entertainers, Simeon’s ability to perform was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. He admits that he’s done everything but standup since it started.

“It’s been a lot of downtime, I guess. I mean I worked a little bit; I did some writing for myself and for others. I grow plants, or tried to, just to keep my mind off of things, I read a lot, caught up on a lot of reading that over that over the years I’ve sort of let slip, but I’d run out of excuses. I was reading fiction for a long time but I was convinced try non-fiction. I went back to a book I read as a teenager called The River Between which is a classic African novel that I hadn’t read in a very long time and it still holds up, is still wonderful… A bit of fiction, a bit of non-fiction.”

With the rise in awareness of racism in Canada during the pandemic, I wanted to know about Simeon’s experiences with racism as a black man and a Ugandan immigrant with an accent. Segwaying into the subject, I mentioned that Canadians like to think they’re immune to the racism problem. Simeon immediately shut that notion down.

“Obviously, being a performer and an entertainer and traveling in so many different places I have first-hand experience with racists.”

In terms of whether racism is more of a rural thing, Simeon feels that it’s a problem no matter where he is.

“I don’t like the rural idea of people because it feels like it’s a lot of white people trying to distance themselves from their own actions. When they say ‘oh it’s the country bumpkins’ it’s like no, it’s not. I’ve been threatened, and slurs have been used in the middle of two major cities in Canada, that being Toronto and Montreal, right in the middle of the city. I’ve also been threatened in rural Canada, so it’s both. I don’t think it’s a geographical thing, I think it’s a mentality thing, it’s an ideology thing. I feel like it’s something everyone has to reckon with and everyone has to wrestle with whatever bias they have especially if it manifests itself in hateful language or action that affects other people.”

Though Montreal has been the location of a lot of Simeon’s professional success, his favorite part of Canada is the Maritimes. He finds it picturesque and loves St. John’s Newfoundland, but quips that perhaps it’s because he doesn’t live there.

While I feel that stories and comedy like Simeon’s are especially important in this social environment of heightened racial tensions and the Black Lives Matter Movement, he doesn’t necessarily see it that way.

“I think it’s being received a little more openly because the conclusions we’ve had about racism have opened up from just the hate. I think everyone focuses on just the hate and rightfully so because as we’ve seen, a man can just plow through a family just going for a walk and purely just based on hate, so I like that we address the hate a little bit, but the hate is sort of just the culmination of a lot of other things that we’re doing: the lack of education, the lack of empathy, the lack of real understanding between people who are not the same as you, and so the conclusion we’ve had in the last few months have opened up about everyone’s individual responsibility.”

He calls on everyone to stop throwing blame around, the way some claim racism is just a problem among the ignorant or rural populations. He feels that every single person contributes to that hate that culminates in violence that kills people.

In terms of his plans for his Just for Laughs appearance this year, he plans to be more purposeful in his comedy with a focus on entertaining rather than sounding preachy.

“I think after this year and after all the stress, I think there will be genuine purpose to reach out to as many people as I can and try to entertain.”

Arthur Simeon will be appearing as Just for Laughs 2021 as part of an all-star lineup for Comedy Night In Canada which takes place tonight, July 28th, at 10pm at Club Soda, 1225 Boul. St-Laurent, and will be available free online as of July 30 at HaHaHa.com

Cassie Cao is no stranger to Montreal. She lived here for four years while studying Economics at McGill and has returned on more than one occasion to perform at Just for Laughs, but she hasn’t been here since the last pre-pandemic JFL in 2019.

“I’m genuinely thrilled to be coming to the festival,” Cao said in a phone interview, “I didn’t know if it was going to happen this year.”

While Cao will be performing “Live in Montreal” to both an in-person and online audience, some of the comedians playing this year’s hybrid festival will do so from either Los Angeles or New York City while others will take part in local Crave and CTV Comedy tapings.

“I’m excited to see what’s going to happen,” Cao said of the potentially unique experience this year, “I suspect that people will make it fun. We’re all getting double vaxxed. Comics are always fun people, we’ll find a way to make it fun.”

Cao did keep busy during the pandemic, mostly by booking TV roles and doing some TV writing, but also by turning to a medium many other comics have found: the Zoom comedy show:

“I did do some Zoom shows. I liked the Zoom shows a lot…as a comedian, you are mostly bound by geography and that’s why you have to tour…and that’s the hardest part of the job, but with the Zoom shows I was doing shows in New York and LA and meeting American comics and seeing what other people are working on and happy to be invited onto their shows.”

She also considers herself lucky for getting to do some TV tapings in front of live audiences mid-pandemic, including one for the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

“It was wild,” Cao remembers, “I was travelling by air during the second wave and everyone was like ‘it’s fine, doing live comedy’.”

Currently based in Toronto, Cao sees it as a great town to do comedy in, during normal times, of course. She hopes that when the scene returns, it will do so full-force.

“I don’t know what the landscape will look like when everything comes back up,” she notes, “but I’m confident that people want to see live comedy, so the demand will make things happen.”

As for her former home of pre-pandemic Montreal, she remembers ordering St-Viateur bagels for McGill Economics events, but mainly the nightlife:

“Honestly, I’m not going to lie, I love that everything’s open 24 hours in Montreal. In Toronto, you’d think that it is, but it’s not. Toronto shuts down at midnight. In Montreal, I lived there for four years and I just didn’t sleep for four years, there’s just always stuff going on…All the best stuff in Montreal happens after 2am.”

Most of the best stuff, that is. There will definitely be quite a bit of fun had before midnight with Cao and others at JFL Live in Montreal.

Cassie Cao will perform as part of JFL Live in Montreal, hosted by Jon Dore and featuring Dino Archie, Jen Grant, Nigel Grinstead, Marito Lopez and Rodney Ramsey. Wednesday, July 28, 7pm, Club Soda and available online as of July 30 at HaHaHa.com

Jason C. McLean speaks with veteran comedian and Just for Laughs mainstay Andy Kindler about hosting this year’s JFL Alternative Show from L.A., the state of comedy, his affection for Montreal and more.

Follow Andy Kindler on Twitter @AndyKindler and his podcast @thought_spiral

For the complete Just for Laughs schedule: HaHaHa.com

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean

Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Dawn McSweeney discuss some of the week’s top news stories:

Quebecers can move up their second vax shot and things are re-opening. Is Montreal getting back to normal?

Trudeau appointed Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General. Is this just a deflection? Should he tax the churches?

After Game Four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Montreal Police teargassed the crowd outside the Bell Centre without warning. What was their excuse and does it hold up?

Follow Dawn McSweeney on Twitter and Instagram @mcmoxy

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter and Instagram @jasoncmclean

After offering a scaled back all-online version in 2020, Just for Laughs is back in person this summer…with a twist. What is arguably the world’s biggest comedy festival and one of the major tentpoles of the Montreal festival season will run in 2021 from July 26-31 and offer in-person standup shows in Montreal, New York and Los Angeles.

This difference is undoubtedly due to JFL’s hefty international comedic talent component mixed with the uncertainty surrounding international travel restrictions. There isn’t presently a border exemption for comedians, no matter how funny they are.

Montrealers who want to watch the out-of-town shows can do so online. They can also enjoy all the local shows that way, too.

All in-person standup shows will be available online for free. This includes the Just for Laughs Awards Show, which will feature recipients Dave Chappelle (Comedy Person of the Year), Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo (Comedy Writers of the Year), Jason Sudeikis and Bill Lawrence (Comedy Series of the Year for Ted Lasso) and SNL’s Bowen Yang (Breakout Comedy Star of the Year) with more to be announced.

Other big names and returning favourites this year include Kevin Hart, Patton Oswalt, Gina Yashere, Andy Kindler, Dave Merheje and The Daily Show‘s Dulcé Sloan. The Nasty Show and the newly re-branded The Alternative Show are back and so are more recent creations New Faces and Comedy Night in Canada.

Just For Laughs 2021 runs July 26-31. For ticket info and to watch shows online: hahaha.com

A News Roundup FTB Fridays with host Jason C. McLean and special guest political emcee and filmmaker Jay Manafest. They discuss:

Quebec’s second vaccine dose, vaccine skeptics and problems with the website

Montreal politics

What Canada Day means following the discoveries of bodies at former Residential Schools

The Habs in the Playoffs

Listen to Jay Manafest on Bandcamp

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter: @jasoncmclean

Yesterday, Montreal, Laval, and the remaining Red Zones in Quebec turned Orange. Today, Quebec Premier François Legault announced that as of next Monday (June 14th), all of Quebec’s Orange Zones will become Yellow Zones.

The Premier made the announcement at an early afternoon press conference joined by Christian Dubé, Minister of Health and Social Services, and National Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda. He added that the one region of concern that may not turn Yellow is Chaudière-Appalaches.

So what does being in a Yellow Zone mean? Well:

  • Indoor home visits are permitted for maximum two households
  • Outdoor home visits (backyards and balconies) are permitted for a maximum of eight people
  • Bars can re-open until midnight at 50% capacity with customers remaining seated, no more than two households per table (as well as other restrictions). Bar terrasses are already scheduled to re-open province-wide this Friday
  • Indoor recreation is permitted with certain restrictions
  • Travel between regions and cities is not recommended, but permitted

A full list of what being in a Yellow Zone means, including rules for auditoriums, funerals and places of worship as well as more detailed bar and recreation rules can be found on Quebec’s COVID-19 website.

The next stage down and the best stage to be at (aside from “pandemic over”) is the Green Zone, a status currently only enjoyed by Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Nord-du-Québec. As it may be in everyone else’s future, here’s what it means:

  • Indoor and outdoor (backyards and balconies) home visits are permitted for a maximum of ten people from different addresses or the occupants of three households
  • Bars are open with a maximum of three residences or ten people sharing the same table. The other restrictions are the same as in Yellow Zones
  • Travel between regions and cities is possible

A full list of what being in a Green Zone means is available on Quebec’s COVID-19 website.

Legault also said that students graduating can have their proms, albeit outside and for a maximum of 250 people.

Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Samantha Gold discuss some of the top news stories of the day (local, national and international):

Quebec’s curfew lifting, Marjorie Taylor Greene stalking AOC, hidden systemic racism in the Federal Government, the Montreal Municipal Election & this summer’s hybrid festivals.

Follow Samantha Gold Artist on Facebook @samiamart and Instagram @samiamartistmtl

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean