Thursday marked the second day of POP Montreal, and it was arguably the best day for electronic music lovers. Kaytranada, a Haitian-born, Montreal-raised producer who is known for his groovy, R&B infused dance music, played his second sold out show in Montreal at the SAT.

Since the start of his career in 2010, Kaytranada has been able to cultivate his own unique sound that differentiates his music from other producers, which has allowed him to not only draw in thousands of loyal fans from Montreal and across Canada, but also grow rapidly as an intentionally recognized producer.

I attended some Kaytranada shows a few years ago, back when he was opening for bigger producers and playing at smaller club-type venues, like Le Belmont. The setting was intimate, and everyone who attended was there for the music. I knew this wasn’t going to be the case on Thursday, simply based on the fact that this was a sold out show at the SAT, which is a sizeable concert venue.

Planet Giza and Graves were the opening acts of the show, and the crowd loved them. Or maybe they were just really stoked for Kaytranada. Before the opening acts were even over, I had a layer of sweat all over my body from how crowded and hot the space had become. I was already nervous about how I was going to be able to withstand that level of heat for the rest of the night.

Once Kaytranada came on, everything went wild. I became a human sandwich, pressed hard in between people in the crowd. Kaytranada started his set with one of his classic tracks, and continued his set with catchy beats that just make you want to dance.

The problem was, you couldn’t dance because there was simply no room for it. Every couple of minutes, an intoxicated person would push through the crowd, falling on the people around him or her, trying to get as close to the front as possible.

It was hard to immerse myself in the music when I found myself caught in the middle of all of this. Kaytranada seemed to be okay with this though, because at one point during his set, he took the microphone and said “this isn’t a concert, it’s a party!”

Kaytranada played a good set, but I wouldn’t say it was spectacular. He played many of his older songs, which I enjoyed, but there were definitely points in the night where I had trouble telling the difference between one song and another. This may have been a result of his staple sound that can be found in most of his music, or because I wasn’t able to immerse myself enough into the show.

It disappointed me when I realized that much of the crowd was not there to enjoy the music, but simply for the hype that Kaytranada has become. I’m thrilled for him to have found fame and success, and he definitely deserves it. Despite that, I’ll forever miss those raw, intimate shows he was able to play before he became a mainstream musician.

As a long time fan of Kaytranada who went to the show for the music, it was difficult to fully enjoy myself. However, I have no doubt that those who went to the show to party had an amazing time. I wish Kaytranada the best with his career and I will continue to support his music, but I can’t say I am planning to ever go to a Kaytranada show again.

“Why aren’t we getting finger banged in a church parking lot right now?” I asked my burlesque dancing brethren.

I walked into a restaurant in full glitter makeup with another performer, Max Darling. The cashier started talking to us because she recognized that we were Stripteasers. A few minutes into our conversation she said “Thank you!” I asked for what?

She explained that the first time she watched one of our shows she also happened to be on her first date with her current boyfriend. They were both so turned on by our show that they ended up getting dirty in a church parking lot afterwards.

I was jealous, I never get any action due to my show, I just end up tired and eating dinner at 3 am alone. I want to get finger banged in a church parking lot, dang nabbit!

We are sex facilitators

Party2People are always having more fun than me. I feel like it’s nearly impossible to have a bustling sex life when you are a burlesque dancer. Our confidence scares the shit out of most people. It seems like the only people who have the balls to hit on us are absolute creeps or fawning fans that are just plain doing it wrong.

I am in the business of making everyone else horny, which is great, but by the time I change into my street clothes and count my money the party is over. We are sex facilitators.

It feels good to go to an event and not be performing, hosting, or volunteering it. Just to let loose and enjoy yourself for once. Generally, I will go to a cool art event once and then be like “omg I have to be part of this! I have so many ideas” then that’s it, I’ll never really enjoy it the same carefree way ever again. That’s how I became a burlesque dancer and festival organizer.

To serve and entertain

I am also a bartender. Again, being paid to bring the party to the people. To serve and entertain. Midnight. New Year’s Eve. Everyone else is about to have their kiss and I’m pouring champagne. Missing the party cuz I am the party. Someone needs to stay at least sort of sober to make it all run smoothly.

July 3rd parties at my parents house were always my one big shin dig of the year. It was tough because I had to stay sober enough to keep shit under control. The neighbours and my mom still got mad, half my friends would be naked in the pool and the other half passed out drunk on good times and strong as fuck jungle juice.

Cat McCarthy

This year was the first year since high school that I did not throw the party and my friends were shocked. It was bittersweet. I went to a music festival instead and got crazy and enjoyed myself fully. I mean it was cool to have an annual party that people looked forward too, but I couldn’t hang anymore.

One day it might be nice to step back and let someone else take the stage

I’m either too tired to party or ready to party when everyone is too drunk. I recently hosted and performed at an art party called Peepshow. The end of the night was approaching and our show had killed it. The peenyata (giant phallic piñata) was smashed and the keg was nearly kicked over. People were dancing their faces off, smiling and cheering. Then, over in the corner on the squishy beanbag-like tentacles, was a pile of tired and heavily glittered burlesque dancers. We had once again given it our all.

Backstage Performers

Work to live not live to work. Working during shows or family outings is the worst. I love my job, don’t get me wrong. I do all of my jobs with absurd passion or I don’t do them at all. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.

But one day it might be nice to step back and let someone else take the stage. Let them entertain me. Let someone else hang their art, dance to their own beautiful beat, and most importantly, serve me drinks.

But that day is not today. The show must go on and it will be fantastic. It’s what I breathe. It’s my life and inspiration.

We humans love our traditions. Some have persisted for valid reasons. Others? Well, I think on some level, we just enjoy the drug of empty repetition.

I’ve long been an eager proponent of the history, rituals, and heritage of the meal. But sometimes, we confuse the latter concepts. Some traditions are really just calcified habits – long grown irrelevant. To find their rightful place as a cultural and an economic force, restaurants need to transcend the “tradition” of front-line staff, working for tips.

Now, I realize that I’m treading on dangerous ground. Thou shalt not criticize the 20% gratuity, especially here in La Belle Province. But after years of experiencing both sides of the gratuity system, the situation has become as clear as day to me.

The compensation methods, and hence the respect for and the job security of the server has not kept up with its rapid professionalization.

A restaurant bill in the US showing gratuity charges. Commensurate salaries and gratuity charges are common in many parts of Europe and Asia and have been shown to correlate to better overall wages, more job security, increased professional development opportunities and better employee engagement.

Despite a sharp hike in gastronomy’s cultural currency here in North America, we still cling to the quaint tradition of “tipping the service what it’s worth.”

There are college degrees for restaurant service now, for God’s sake, not to mention mixology, tableside prep and food service theory. (More on the odd tension of these degrees in a future article).

Artful dining and drinking are finally entrenched as legitimate “cultural fields” here in North America. The wealth of highly skilled servers has long outweighed the pretenders. It’s time to shake off the cobwebs and allow the industry to occupy its rightful place.

Where else are consummate professionals still legally encouraged to work for well under minimum wage?

The consumer’s echo? How unfair. I’ll just leave a bigger tip.

Well, I do that, and I used to get tips both big and small. That’s the problem. Instead of thinking beyond the issue, everyone just screams out to increase tips. We are perpetuating a system that is ultimately harmful to servers, restauranteurs, and eaters.

Why, in this one industry alone, are all the tried and tested responsibilities of the owner — adequate compensation for skilled employees, evaluation of roles and performance — deflected so heavily to the customer?

Tradition? Job instability, high turnover, and an uncomfortable and unnecessary dynamic for the client. That’s a tradition! An ineffable part of restaurant culture. But who is really winning from this tradition? And do we realize it’s predominantly a North American addiction?

I’m continually amazed by how rarely we compare the resto to similar cultural experiences. For some reason, we blindly accept that over-regulation and unquestioned traditions can utterly stifle in this one case — for no real reason other than the resistance to change. I’ve ranted in the past about how utterly counterproductive it is for this province to outlaw restaurant tickets, or to let people pay for reservations.

When it comes to working for spare coins, this old, logic-defying current prevails: Servers are inherently different from workers in cognate industries.

The problem is, that is just not true.

Perhaps we just feel guilty about being served food? Does it seem too much of a luxury to be compensated like a normal part of the economy? Try this offhand analogy: riding by plane is luxurious, yet I don’t hear of passengers being asked to invent a rate for the pilot once they’d safely landed.

Diners order give

Servers are not a special class. They are simply skilled people with jobs. Their skills and experience are as valid as any other profession.

Yet there is some weird mystique to the profession that fogs our view. The latter is one of the nasty byproducts of an empty tradition. It goes something like this: My server is akin to a street performer, s/he should have to surprise and delight me if I am to allow him/her to make ends meet.


Firstly, such expectations are not consistent with those we have for other services, and other skilled professionals. Customer satisfaction, typically, revolves around the expectation that the person we deal with is competent — hopefully decent — in their role. In most situations, this is easily enough for us to expect someone to be fairly compensated.

Second, a server is also not a freelancer in a public place. A server is an employee generating revenue for a government-sanctioned business. The restaurant industry is one of the most heavily legislated in the province, which is about the the furthest thing (on the surface) from an emergent street economy.

Why not just start paying servers like everyone else, which is to say paying servers based on normal principles of compensation? I’m no expert on the latter, but from my own life, it usually involves one’s prior levels of experience and performance year over year.

Check Please

Some say serving is a sort of performance. Fine. Yet unless they are being defrauded or willingly gigging for free, even, say, actors and musicians know to a much higher degree than servers the terms of their contract before performing the actual work.

Because when it comes to a server’s core earnings (tips), the contract is wholly unkonwn. The real contract is not with their boss. It’s with their diner. And they do not have permission to interview diners before the first glass of water is brought to the table.

The problem, therefore, is not the tip itself. People should always tip in life if they feel compelled, and cash is only one (albeit efficient) vehicle to acknowledge one’s actions, or to express gratitude.

But regular wages — eventually salaries — are the only way to keep servers and restaurants stable and relevant in today’s economic and cultural sphere. In no one’s fantasy is the restaurant still an economic or cultural experiment. Rather, it’s an institution, for whom structural change is long overdue.

So how can restos afford to pay servers real wages? Maybe increase booze markup, add a service charge, hike menu prices; in other words, let us diners absorb the cost of a newly stable profession. Because in many ways, we already are.

This Thursday, the Habs kick off their 34th playoff rendez-vous with the Bruins. At least one pundit is calling for a 7 game tussle. Do you know what equates to? Twenty-one hours of screen time, multiple weeknight drinking sessions, and, if you’re lucky, a sprinkling of good food.

Back at series outset, BlogMTL highlighted some viewing hotspots and Eater helpfully listified some foodie-oriented playoff viewing joints.

But we’re on to round 2 and we feel it’s time for a fresh, eccentric and fiercely budget-friendly compilation of playoff bars in Montreal:

1) Fiddler’s Green

via Facebook

This small pub is ridiculously underrated. A semi sous-sol steps south of its more cavernous Irish cousin, the Embassy. This is where to come for a true change of pace. You’ll be enamoured with the die-hard fans that make this their pub of choice (and will probably hate me for blowing their cover). Prices are better, vibes cosier, and atmosphere more homey than their pubby cousins up the street.

WARNING: the back section is for very serious fans only–don’t even consider sitting there if you want to sneak in conversation during the game!

1224 Bishop / Facebook page

2) Pub Sir Joseph

via Facebook
via Facebook

The St-Laurent gastropub has truly come into its own with its carefully considered menu, tasteful décor and a heady range of booze. It’s usually quite full, so get there before first face-off.

4902 St-Laurent / Facebook page / website

3) Café Ciné-Express

Those who haven’t stepped inside will probably sneer at the suggestion. But those who’ve been for a game know what’s up. Ciné-Express not only offers a glut of huge screens, cheap pitchers, and affordable nibbles, but they’re host to private nooks. Each can accomodate a group of 4-8 or so and contains a private couch and TV. No extra cost.

1926 Ste-Catherine O.

4) Inspecteur Épingle

via Facebook

Tall boys of Labatt 50 and a huge HD screen? A quirky clientele that effortlessly mixes young and old? What more could you ask for? Well, food. So make sure to stop somewhere first on Duluth.

4051 St-Hubert / Facebook page

5) Taverne Régale

See #4. But add more screens, more CH flags and more old men. (Bonus: it’s directly across the street from the Charlevoix métro entrance, so you can easily stumble home).

2567 rue Centre / Facebook page

6) Chez Baptiste sur Masson

via Facebook

Chez Baptiste is a perennial favourite, but its Masson outpost is more fun. As their website insists, you risk “2000 square feet of pure pleasure.” Interesting drink specials every night of the week, and the opportunity to crawl over to some other spots on thriving rue Masson.

3014 Masson / Facebook page 

7) Taverne Normand

via Facebook

The Taverne takes hockey very seriously, so much so that you might like to reserve your spot in advance. But screens are abundant and the atmosphere is almost like being at the game. What’s more, they have $5 pints.

1550 Mont-Royal est / Facebook page

8) Chez Claudette

via @PhilipAuthier/Twitter

You will not find a casse croûte that more seamlessly merges lack of pretension, budget-friendliness, and utter passion for Habs history/lore. Screens are more limited, but the whiff of excellent poutine and a repeat of ’93 is in the air at Claudette 24 hours a day!

351 Laurier est 
Cover photo via Reg Natarajan/Flickr.

Mélanie Joly is the newest face on the Montreal political landscape. Rather than join up with an existing party and start her political career running for a city council position, the 34 year old lawyer, PR professional, former Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Fondation du CHUM and Fondation de l’ITHQ board member and founder of several political think tanks in Shaughnessy Village is running for our top municipal job, Mayor of Montreal.

“I was profoundly frustrated with what was going on in Montreal,” Joly explained, “I think that in order to make sure that you really offer change, you have to be coherent, you have to start from scratch. So we thought let’s develop an entirely new program with an entirely new team. We’re a political startup.”

Her team, Le vrai changement pour Montréal – Groupe Mélanie Joly, currently consists of 46 candidates, most of them in the 25-40 age range. With 103 seats up for grabs in the municipal election, Joly is “very open” to working with people in other parties if she wins, regardless of what party they come from.

“I don’t have a preference,” she said, “what’s most important is that people are competent, people walk the talk and people have integrity.”

Melanie Joly speechWe were speaking before Joly took the stage as an invited guest at les Jeudis d’Apollo, a monthly series showcasing Montreal’s artistic talent alongside people behind some of the city’s newest startups. An appropriate venue given how Joly sees her new party but also her love of Montreal’s nightlife.

In order to prevent Montreal from becoming “another suburb” she is proposing that we create a nightlife charter. In fact, it’s one of the key points of her platform. Basically, bar and restaurant owners would enter into a pact with residents “to make sure that everybody is happy and that there’s a good balance between interests.”

She wants to use this approach in all parts of the city, not just the areas that already have a vibrant nightlife. She cited the emerging Notre Dame Street bar scene in the Sud Ouest borough and all the new restaurants that opened up on Fleury Street in Ahunsic over the past decade as examples of where such a charter could be effective.

“It’s really important to understand the realities in different neighbourhoods,” she added, “I don’t think that it’s the same solution throughout Montreal. I think you must adapt to every neighbourhood, to every borough.”

While Montreal may be famous for its nightlife, it’s also well known for its activism. One of the most contentious things the current city council did was pass amendments to Municipal Bylaw P6 banning masks at protests and requiring protesters to provide a route which needs to be approved by the police, otherwise the protest could be declared illegal.

After mass kettling this past winter, people started calling for the changes to be repealed. There was a vote, with then interim mayor Michael Applebaum arguing for the bylaw to remain intact and Projet Montreal trying to remove the changes completely. Applebaum’s side won, barely.

Joly agrees with P6 critics that there should be no legal restrictions on wearing a mask at a protest. She also feels that the SPVM has too much discretion when it comes to applying P6. But she also thinks that any group seeking to demonstrate in Montreal should provide their route.

“For us, it’s fundamental, it’s a question of balance of rights between people using public space and also demonstrators,” Joly stated, “I really believe we need to find a practical solution where people can express themselves and that we protect freedom of expression but at the same time that we are able to really make sure that there’s good planning in terms of resources on the part of the city when the demonstrators are demonstrating.”

But who should get to approve the routes, the police or another body? Joly feels there is a need for clarity.

“We need to make sure that there’s a policy that really is clear in terms of what can be done,” she said, “right now there’s too much discretion. We must make sure that the new generation of Montrealers respect the work done by police officers and if there’s too much discretion given to them and too much arbitrariness, that won’t help and they won’t necessarily want to respect an authority that has too much power over them. It’s a fine line but we must make sure that the rights are being well balanced.”

It seems balance is important for Joly, whether it has to do with protests or nightlife. Will Montreal’s electorate balance in her favour? We’ll all find out on the third of November.

* Photos by Valeria Bismar

Have you ever craved some Hair of the Dog in the middle of getting a haircut? Dream no more, because it’s become a reality.

Yes, to all of you curious voyeurs! It isn’t just a gimmick! The Blue Dog Motel, a bar wedged between many others on the populated and always busy St Laurent Boulevard, won’t judge you for ordering a gin and tonic with a side of haircut, day or night.

Perhaps for some dutch courage? Relaxation? Social lubrication? Whatever the reason may be, we should all bow down to Montreal born Daniel Marin who had a vision, and pioneered the concept, bringing a bit more fun onto the urban block.

Daniel, a talented hair barber and local ambassador for the Californian water based hair product Layrite, started off giving cuts at the last St-Laurent street sale. The concept really caught on and so his chair was moved from the sidewalk and into the infamous platform level of Blue Dog that once resembled the trippy living room from A Clockwork Orange.

Blue Dog Barber-003

The space has been transformed into a comfortable yet edgy mini salon that suits the atmosphere of the bar. In it, there is the station where Dan works his magic, and a mini bar stashed to the side offering different types of liquor. The bottles are stashed away at times and liquor service is generally offered at the bar itself.

Daniel is a versatile artist who seems willing to work with many different hair types, regardless of length, fullness, texture, or gender. The “no problem” look he gave me when I asked if he would be able to tame my unruly waves was definitely assuring.

“To me, it’s very personal,” he replied when asked where he draws the line, “they tell me what they want, and I let them know if it’s possible beforehand.” He also takes walk ins, which is ideal for those who are feeling impulsive.

As the night progressed and I watched him work his magic, Daniel’s talent with hair really shone through. I witnessed him transform a burly hipster with mop hair into a sleek looking gentleman (with tamed scruff) and a soft looking, slicked back style that I felt tempted to run my fingers through.

Blue Dog Barber-010

I couldn’t help but notice that one of Daniel’s other customers, and Daniel himself, had this similar haircut that resembled heartthrobs of my childhood days. When I asked him if this style was in any way reminiscent of the mid 90s, he scoffed and said “it’s from the 20s and 30s!”

This seems to be the effect that the combination of Layrite and his creative genius have on men’s hair. The product gives an end result of hassle-free hair, is easily washable and holds for just as long as its petroleum jelly based ancestor.

In my opinion, whether it’s 20s, 30s, 90s, trendy, or merely crafted from Dan Marin’s mind, I have nothing against the lads of Montreal walking around town with hair like Leo DiCaprio.

So, why should we start going to Blue Dog to get our hair cut? Well, it’s the only liquor licensed barber in the city and who wouldn’t want to do shots in the middle of a makeover? Also, it’s very economical, since Dan has already done the haute salon scene and doesn’t care to overcharge people for a new look.

Blue Dog Barber-006“What I wanted to do is be one of the lowest on the block,” he said, “25 bucks for men 35 for women.”

If requested, (or if he likes you) he’ll whip out this super nifty head massager called The Hangover Cure. When this device was demonstrated, I didn’t want to leave it alone.

Some may think this establishment could be a road to disaster, but Daniel gives off a super professional vibe. He never works past midnight, appears to be super sober as he’s doing his job and dims the lights/restricts the Barbier area of the bar when he’s off duty, “unless it’s a busy night and space is limited. Then we turn it into a VIP area.”

In my opinion, this establishment is a fun and fresh idea. It’s nice to know that we have the option to knock back a couple while getting a haircut. It’s a super fun concept, and besides, Blue Dog is planning on getting a striped Barber Pole for the occasion.

Do people think this is going to go far? Daniel’s lovely girlfriend and fellow hair stylist Maral definitely thinks so: “this isn’t a pop up shop, it’s gonna get bigger, I feel it.”

* photos by Chris Zacchia

This Saturday welcomes the tenth celebration of Montreal’s Nuit Blanche. These festivals have been happening all around the world for over two decades now. The goal: to transform a city into an all night art party. With events from dancing to performance to  poetry to visual art, there is something for everyone. This is the one night a year we are shaken out of our homes to experience the city and it’s cultural decadence illuminated.


Programming is in five different zones: Quartiers de spectacle, Old Montreal, The Olympic Park, The Plateau and Mile End, and even an underground site throughout the metro stations. During Montreal’s all nighter,  the metro will stay open all evening, as well as shuttle buses around the city to get you to and from each happening – clearly you have no excuse to stay in this Saturday! Do your best to plan the night accordingly as there’s lots of ground to cover and lots of hours to fill. After a few fantastic Nuit Blanches in several major cities, I look forward to see what Montreal brings to the table.

Here is my advice on how to get the best out of your Nuit Blanche experience:

1. Plan accordingly! Make a list of the sites you want to visit, plan out your route and double check times to make sure you can get there on time. Most listings include start and end times, as well as the times that the artist is present (if you’d like to get a more immersive understanding of what you’re experiencing). With many things closing at 3 a.m., do your research and check out what you’re really interested in, there is nothing worse than making it across town to be disappointed with the experience.

AS_6_2_C_Bolduc2. While the snow might be melting, let’s not forget it is still winter. The best advice I can give for enduring a full Nuit Blanche is keep warm. You might be bouncing between sites but remember travel time is included, and as the sun goes down it gets chilly. Wear an extra layer or two if you’re trying for endurance this Saturday.

3. If you plan on enduring the entire night – make sure you get enough sleep. Maybe catch a nap, and take the first couple hours off. Getting out a bit later means that the crowd becomes thinner, which allows you to have a more intimate experience as a viewer. If you take this route, make sure you double check times of the events you’d like to get to as some of them aren’t open the full duration of the festival. Remember, the metro is open all night, no reason to rush!

4. Let yourself be fluid. While it’s best to have a plan, it’s okay if you don’t hit each spot on your list right away. You have all night, and there’s tons of beautiful art of each persuasion to experience.

Here are some of the events I recommend Nuit Blanche 2013:

Catherine Bolduc, Labyrinth (Ikea) (Square-Victoria)

Caroline Dejeneffe, La Naissance, La Vie et La Mort (McGill)

Emily Hermant, Hésitations (Bonaventure)

Matériaux Composites and Marie Eve Fortier, Living Room N˚2: L’effet Tunnel (Square-Victoria)

AS_1_4_F_DuboisFrance Dubois, Nébuleuses (Place-des-Arts)

Vincent Ducarne, Still Lives (Square Victoria)

Luminosonicities, Goethe-Institut (Place-des-Arts)

Every Song I’ve Ever Written, Usince C (Beaudry)

The Divine Comedy, Galerie Bac (Beaubien)

Turn on a Dime, Citizen Vintage (Mont-Royal)

Spaces Between, Mainline Theater (Sherbrooke)

 Nuit Blanche at the CCA

You can also download the Nuit Blanche iPhone/Android app for updates.

A happy Nuit Blanche to all!

As the winter progresses and the winds get harsher, we become more and more inclined to stay cozy through the week and into the weekends… or maybe we just complain more about our country. In spite of our winter lifestyles, Igloofest is doing a pretty good job of getting us out of hibernation. Even in -20˚C weather, the crowds are thick and people are partying as hard as ever. It is pretty novel to suit up in your snow gear to party and play outdoors and Igloofest is the best excuse. I don’t know how to skate, I hate hockey, and I have only had a couple Beaver Tails in my life, but Igloofest makes me feel like a true Canadian!


This was my second weekend at the festival, this time around I feel like I got to enjoy more of the event and it was awesome. The warm up stations were a blessing on such a chilly night, and were even more appreciated when I realized there were marshmallows being offered! I also took the time to check out the Virgin Mobile Igloo, where the crowd was tighter (and therefore warmer), and the locals were banging pretty impressive beats. Not to mention you get to rave in an igloo.

A Tribe Called RedWe got there just in time for A Tribe Called Red. I’ve seen these guys a few times as they came out of Ottawa, the city I grew up in. The trio is made up of DJ Bear Witness, Dj Shub and Dee Jay NDN. They perform what they’ve dubbed “Pow Wow Step”, mashing up indigenous song and sound, electro beats, with the occasional mainstream tunes. You can download their album for free at Spinning awesome tracks as per usual – these guys never let me down!

Headlining on the 31st was Caspa, a producer from the UK. I started listening into dubstep when I was sixteen. My introduction to it was FabricLive.37, a collaboration album produced by Caspa and Rusko. My heart has a soft spot for the DJ that got me started on the music I spent my formative years dancing to. When I saw him on the lineup I got a little giddy to say the least. His set was better than I had expected, and kept my body moving and my temperature up!

Awesome music is paired with equally awesome visuals at Igloofest. Each weekend brings with it not only guest DJs, but guest VJs. Giving credit to the VJs shows a ton of respect for the craft. Let’s be honest, it happens ever too often that this aspect of the live music scene is less acknowledged. The visuals on January 31st were provided by Chocobeets, and Tind. With the amazing lighting, projection, and screens installed, the VJs have been doing a fantastic job at keeping our eyes happy.

3-igloofest-095My first Igloofest has helped to make my first Winter in Montreal even more fun. Unfortunately now I’m left longing for Piknik Electronique and the music festivals the summer will bring.

For all our awesome pics from the night check out ForgetTheBox on FB
Photos: Chris Zacchia

Igloofest’s first week is behind us and with such a strong beginning we’re happy they decided to extend it an extra week. That means there are still nine more nights to go. Hopefully Mother Nature will be nicer to us, but like a girl working the festival mentioned: “It wouldn’t be the same if we weren’t freezing cold; only the true electronic music lovers come out and play under these circumstances.” Here are my thoughts on the first weekend, including Wolf + Lamb and performances at the local DJ stage.


Wolf + Lamb proved once again they’re true party animals. They delivered a DJ set that even your mother would have danced to. It might sound negative  but when it’s as cold outside as it was last Thursday, a little crowd pleaser here and there is exactly what you need. They put a smile on everybody’s face when they dropped Eddie Murphy’s hit “Party all the time”. They played one of my guilty pleasure “Sensual seduction” by Snoop (when he was still) the Dogg and finished their journey with Detroit anthem “Big Fun”.

Mistress Barbara

Mistress Barbara followed up and you could feel a true connection between her and the crowd. She loves what she does, and in return Montreal fans fought the freezing weather and stayed until the very end.


Talking about Montreal DJs, I was happily surprised by the Virgin Mobile Igloo. Not only that sound quality is way better (it’s a cozy sphere so the speakers are more efficient compared to the outdoor setting), but I must say our local scene is healthier than ever. I got to see G O’Brien, who’s been a techno veteran for years now, formerly involved in the rave scene and later in afterhours such as Sona and Aria. The stage is in a closed, heated area and it literally saved my life last Thursday. It’s definitely the best way to defrost your body and discover new talents. Beware though, the space is small and the line up is long but your toes and ears will thank you for being patient.

2013 Igloofest thur-128 2013 Igloofest thur-109Igloofest was not at full capacity on the colder days which made me wonder why they don’t offer a special price for exceptionally cold weather. I mean, not everybody can stay outside when it’s -25 and most people will think twice before spending 20$ when they know they can’t deal with the cold for more than an hour or two.

This weekend we’ll be back covering: Miss Kittin, Ellen Allien, Nina Kravitz, Pan-Pot, TNGHT, and Schlachthofbronx. Here is a bit of a preview.

If you’re a female DJ or just a fan of the female persuasion (and I know there are more and more of us out there), do yourself a favor and attend Igloofest on Thursday January 24th. Miss Kittin and Ellen Allien will be sharing the stage and seeing these two working in the electronic music industry for over a decade has been truly inspiring.

Late Sunday nights spent in a light snowfall with good company have been the breeding ground for some of the best moments I’ve had. There is nothing more beautiful than a still winter evening and taking a quiet stroll through the deserted urban landscape that is our fair city.

This passed Sunday I was particularly restless after a week of illness and home improvement projects. I spent most of the holidays without a voice and one of the worst colds I’ve had in a while. The bright side is the money I didn’t spend on partying and keeping up with my friends allowed me to splurge on décor! However when I realized it was my last night before a new semester, I decided it was necessary to put on my new boots and head out on the town.

The four piece of Wild and The Wind playing at Casa Del Popolo

Sunday is a day of relaxation, but you can still find a fun event if you’re going stir-crazy. Give your local concert venues a check and you can usually find a cheap show to suit your Sunday vibe. This past Sunday I attended a friend of a friend’s show at Casa Del Popolo, a venue located on St Laurent just south of St. Joseph (that serves fantastic black velvets for five dollars).

Sunday’s line up was Wind & The Wild (formerly On a Bear Hunt), Little Stella, and Geronimo. Though the STM late night Sunday service is not the most reliable, I made it for the last act. I enjoyed my drink and settled in for the sounds of Wind & The Wild, a Montreal based band whose members reign from Aylmer and Chelsea, Quebec. They kept me at a good level of lively, with their relaxed sound and twangy vocals. They played a few upbeat danceable songs, a couple of covers, but mainly their own tunes. It was five dollars well spent.

The show ended at twelve and I decided to continue on because… I was already out. The next place we slid to was Barfly. Each Sunday they host a bluegrass jam session, and there is no cover. In a very loose environment, the crowd is a mixture of young to old (ish) folks drinking, playing pool, chatting, and listening to the live music.

barfly2As most anyone who has lived in Montreal longer than a couple months knows, this city is a small one. On any given night it is just as likely that you will make a new friend, as it is you will run into an old one. To me there is nothing more comforting than a chance encounter with someone you knew in a different time or place, it helps you feel like the world is a manageable size.

After some catching up you continue your adventure together. By this point some dancing might be in order. If you’re around the plateau, you have the three staple options: Blizzarts, Blue Dog and Korova. No lines, no cover, decent tracks, and occasionally, if one is lucky enough, an empty dance floor all for themselves. Disagree as you may, but for me nothing beats starting a dance floor with some good company.

Perks of Sundays: you never know who you’ll run into, you’ll only have to pay cover once, and despite how many buses you miss, you can walk home down the middle of Sherbrooke, Parc, St. Laurent, or in wherever direction your bed lies, unbothered by the usual spew of on coming traffic, because this metropolis sleeps early on Sundays.

As part of my continuing “I’ve never…” series, I went dancing outdoors in below freezing temperatures at Igloofest!

Winter in Montreal is unforgiving, bipolar and frette en esti, which is Québecois speak for really freaking cold! I say the only way to get through it is by taking advantage of it as much as you can, in a “can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em!” sort of way. Shake off the hibernation and get outdoors. Though Montreal is a bustling metropolis, it also has spaces for playing outdoors. Go skating at Beaver Lake, the pond at the Lafontaine Park or in Old Montreal, cross-country skiing at Parc Maisonneuve, snowshoeing on Mount-Royal, winter running/hiking, whatever it is, just find something fun to do outdoors and play in the snow. So what, it’s winter? Get over it and deal. It may be a little killjoy of me to be yet another person writing and talking about Igloofest, but if you hate winter and you hate being outdoors, then I dare you to venture over at least once while you are in Montreal.

For the most part, electronic music is not my thing. I have attended my share of raves and after-hours once-upon-a-time. I’ve had my moments of lust with trance, drum&bass and dubstep. Every once in a while, I need to expense extra energy and freestylin’ my way to the dance floor is one easy way to do it, grooving to the sounds and getting lost in mesmerizing light shows. Igloofest is in it’s 6th edition, located in Old Montreal on the shores of the Saint-Laurent River, and though it has now come to an end, it shows no signs of melting away next winter. The event is brought to you by the same folks that put together Piknic Electronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau during the summer, in aims of democratizing electronic music. Politics aside, this is certainly a must try at least once in Montreal.

Layer on the long-johns under snow pants, thermal shirt under fleece under winter coat. Pile on the gloves, scarf, hat and winter boots. If you want to go the extra mile, raid your parents’ closet for that one-piece snowsuit you begged them to never wear again or hunt one down at a vintage second-hand shop. When the temperature drops way below zero, you definitely want to stay warm if you’re planning on spending a number of hours outside. Igloofest has unquestionably gained in popularity over the years, so you may end up waiting in line. Half an hour after shuffling along the entrance, I finally reached the threshold of ice sculpted bars, contained bonfires and light-shows glowing up the sky. All the while, my toes managed to achieve the preliminary stages of frostbite, and the night was just beginning.

First thought that came to mind was that I had to find a way to warm up, for fear of chickening out on winter and returning to the comfort of a heavy blanket and a movie. Everything feels better after some mulled wine. It was time to pick a stage and get dancing. Brightly coloured one-pieces, animal shaped tuques, all sorts of off-the-wall accoutrement are the norm and are amusing conversation pieces. “Did you see that guy wearing the furry bunny costume?” “Is she really wearing a mini-skirts without leggings?” “Let’s count the number of sombreros we spot in one night!” Visual commentary aside, discussions are limited to woot-woots and other monosyllabic expressions.

IgloofestAfter a couple drinks, jumping up and down and getting my feet moving, I managed to get the blood flowing back to the tip of my toes. Busting a move in the middle of a crowd certainly gets things heated up both inside and out. All senses are involved: the bright lights, the beats pounding, tingly sweetness on your tongue, the heat generating between your fleece and your skin, crisp air on your cheeks, the scent of cold air filling your lungs. Everything beckons you to get lost in the ambiance, let loose and tear-up the frozen dance floor.

Even if it is only once in an icy blue moon, Igloofest is part of living life in Montreal. At the end of the day, I am still a rocker-chick at heart, but for now, back to the game: I’ve never ridden my toes of frostbite while dancing at Igloofest… throw back a shot of Jäger.

Every city has something to offer and Montreal is of course no exception. I have been living in Montreal for over a decade now; I originally moved here for school and stayed to work. In those first inaugural years here, many precious hours were spent experimenting my near-adulthood and basking in the late-night buzz of drinking games. Embarrassing yourself and others, and not really giving a shit about it.

Remember those days? Me too, barely at times. “I’ve Never..” was the drinking game friends and I returned to regularly (and Quarters – I was a pro!). Through it we all caught-up on missed experiences and not-so-innocently compared notes. The rules are simple: if you’ve done it you take a drink. There are a number of things that I’ve done. I have surfed my way to the front stage at punk shows, drunkenly scarfed down a poutine at 4am, ran up the Mount-Royal, lazed on its grass feeling the beat of the tam-tams under the warmth of the summer sun. I have seen (most of) Montreal’s museums, attended (some of) its festivals, but experienced only a fraction of all that Montreal has to offer. There is nothing like a hot bagel from St-Viateur or Fairmount after grabbing a latté at Café Olympico on a warm fall day. There is a bustling energy throughout the city in the spring when the bar terraces first open up, all the hemlines skyrocket and you linger sipping on that first sangria, urging on the heat of the months to come.

Montreal wouldn’t be what it is without its winters, every year marked by the mornings-after of heavy snowfall, the entire city temporarily immobilized under a white blanket, flawless until the morning rush settles into its winter routine. I have come a long way from my first days in the McGill ghetto, just barely venturing past the student “safe zone” of what was the St-Laurent, Guy, Mont-Royal and Saint-Catherine’s perimeter.

Finally, curiosity got the better of me (as it often does) and I slowly started discovering this city’s various eclectic boroughs. I’ve tried the famous hot spots and also accumulated a personalized list of favorites – for no other reason than the memories they ignite. There are those things that are typically Montreal that you must experience at least once, especially if you have lived here as long as I have. There are the Montreal essentials that you can’t miss, some that I’ve mentioned others to come, but others that may not be as obvious. To fully grasp a city it is all about trying things that are not necessarily your cup of tea, but need to be lived at least once.

Whether you are passing through, staying a while or settling down, break out of your own skin and truly see what experiences this city has to offer. If the world truly does end on December 21, 2012, that means that I have less than 49 weeks to let loose and scratch off all those things of my list and truly experience living in Montreal. No more coasting through this city’s day-to-day, week on end. This year I am replaying the “I’ve Never…” game but taking it to a whole other level. If I am going to start calling myself a Montrealer, then let’s make it official shall we? Over the course of this year I’ll be experiencing all the things that make Montreal, Montreal! And I’ll be sharing my experiences here, with you.


My first item on the list is Igloofest, happening the last three weekends of January on the Quay of Old Montreal, offering 9 nights of performances by various artists of the electronic scene. I’m thinking this sounds like a rave in a winter-wonderland, glow-sticks and furry boots included. Now, all I need to find is one-piece snow suit…