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

Just because we’ve stuck inside for a year and a half doesn’t mean we can’t have fun…right?

With this years POP Montreal taking place in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions, it will be a bit of a leaner festival. It will, however, be a much more local presentation with some major acts coming out of the woodwork to make an appearance. 

This might be the Montreal artists’ year to shine at POP.

I don’t know about you but I’m ready to go out and check out music and finally and try to feel normal again. I don’t know what to expect with the restrictions, but I do know one thing: I will hear some great music!

Here’s my list of pics at this years POP:

The Besnard Lakes

The Besnard Lakes are one of my old faithful bands that I’ve seen at many festivals and their shows have never let me down, always giving a great performance. This legendary local six-piece really takes rock to the next level and I really dig their bass heavy, minimalist sound.

Another Montreal staple at this years festival that you have just need to check out.

Besnard Lakes are playing at the Theatre Rialto @ 9:30 on Wednesday September 22nd

Islands

I really like Nicholas Thorburn’s work and it’s fair to say that there will be a lot less confrontation than at a Unicorns show. So expect a good performance!

I’ve always had a little soft spot for this band and for the most part really enjoyed Return to Sea and Vapors thoroughly. I thought were very good albums even if the latter wasn’t critically received. Definitely recommend checking these guys out.

Islands are playing at Theatre Rialto @ 9:00 on Friday September 24th

Paul Jacobs

Expect good things from the Paul Jacobs as this local musician brings back that sweet lo-fi 90s psychedelic sound that was emerging kind of on the lines of Mac Demarco’s Salad Days, but uniquely capturing a lot more substance and details.

Paul Jacobs is also an artist of some note, even making the flyer for Basinfest a few years ago. Expect to see him incorporate a lot of his art into his show.

Paul Jacobs is playing at ausgang plaza @ 8:00 Friday the 24th

the Kommenden

Power-pop band the Kommenden  looks like it would be a fun riot to check out. Really enjoyed listening to their album idle years which is a fun adventure through poppy ditties that have a distinct modern feel but also draw upon early 80s new wave and 70s pshyche.

the Kommenden will be performing at Clubhouse rialto @3;30 pm on the Thursday the 23rd of September

Gus Englehorn

Gus Englehorn’s punky vocals go great with his music. If you can check him out I recommended it. You’ll get some very interesting vocal performances ala Johanathan Richmond or Steve Malcamusreally  in songs like Patty Sees Her Soul or Stay Little.

Gus Englehorm will be performing  at Clubhouse Rialto @ 3:30Pm on the Thursday the 24th of September

Suuns

Coming off there last masterpiece album Images du Futur Montreal band Suuns have really established themselves among Canada’s premiere Avant Garde rock bands 

Listening to them is like taking an oral cruise to what awaits us in the future, musically. It’s great to see such a talented local band make it internationally.

Suuns have managed to tap into a desire for great electroacoustic experience by experimenting with electronic and experimental guitar. They are definitely one of my favorite local bands.

Give a listen to one of my favorite tracks, 2020:

Suuns will be preforming at Theatre Rialto @ 9:30 on Saturday the 25th of September

Interested in seeing any of these shows? Check out the POP Montreal website for the complete schedule and to purchase tickets

Follow @forgetthebox on Twitter and Instagram for live coverage from Jerry Gabriel and Joe McLean

I’d like to start by acknowledging the elephant in the room: writing a preview for a live music festival feels a little strange considering we’ve all been avoiding large public gatherings in enclosed spaces for the last year and a half. It’s probably going to feel even more weird being back at a live rock show.

I get that some people might be hesitant about resuming these types of events so if you are planning on making it out please do your best to keep yourself and everyone around you as safe as possible. Current government guidelines will be in full effect at all Pop Montreal shows, no exceptions, no whining about it.

Usually POP is torture for anyone with option paralysis but this time around the paired down all-Canadian schedule will make picking what to see much easier. I strongly suggest you get your tickets in advance though as seating is limited.

Myself and fellow intrepid reporter Jerry Gabriel will be checking out shows throughout the fest so look for more content throughout the week on FTB’s main site and all our Social media channels.

If you’re not sure what to see here’s my list of artists to check out: it’s completely biased, totally random and only meant to be a jumping off point for ideas.

Literally Anything!

My first pick for what to see this year is “Literally Anything!”. No, that’s not the name of the newest Indie sensation (although that would be a pretty cool band name).

It’s been a while buddy, just go out and see something will ya? The pandemic has been tough on artists, especially the smaller ones, showing your support for any of them would be much appreciated. Just pick a show and go!

The Besnard Lakes

It’s hard to believe but the Montreal based psych rockers have been around for almost 20 years! Their latest album The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings was released in January of this year and I’m betting you haven’t heard any of the tracks live.

Catch them this Wednesday or you’ll have to wait till 2022, tour dates are a little sparse right now.

El Coyote

Missing the Folk Fest for a second year in a row folking sucked so I went looking for a show that could fill the void. What I found was alt country/folk band El Coyote at Théâtre Rialto on Friday Sept 24th with Sin & Swoon, Katie Moore, Li’l Andy and The Firemen.

That’ll do quite nicely, love the vocal harmonies ladies!

Bad Skin

Proving there’s a complete lack of coherence to this list up next we have punk rockers Bad Skin who are playing at Clubhouse Rialto on Wednesday September 22nd at 6 pm. I just love the idea of a punk rock show that starts at 6pm so you can stick it to the man and also get to bed at a reasonable hour!

Tickets are only 5 bucks so you could also combine this one with another show later in the evening and it wouldn’t break the bank.

POP Montreal 2021 runs September 22-26 at various venues. For complete schedule and tickets, please visit POPMontreal.com

Featured Image: The Besnard Lakes via POPMontreal.com

It’s POP Montréal‘s 20th Anniversary this year! The recent (well, the two decades-long) Montreal fall music tradition will be back to celebrate with a hybrid event running September 22nd through the 26th.

This year’s lineup, which understandably boasts a hefty local and Canadian contingent, will feature headliners Cakes da Killa, Backxwash and SUUNS as well as festival veterans The Dears and The Besnard Lakes. Favourites Art POP and Film POP will also return this year.

There will be virtual shows and in-person performances. For in-person concerts, you’ll need to get your tickets online first and have a health pass to get into the venue. All current public health protocols will be observed.

“Yes it’s still a pandemic so we have to remain safe and careful but we can celebrate and be thankful that we can still go to shows and see amazing live music,” Creative Director Daniel Seligman said in a press release, adding: “What a gift!”

We’ll have some of our picks for the festival in the weeks to come, but you can already get your tickets.

POP Montreal’s 20th Anniversary runs Septemer 22-26 2021 at various venues and online. For schedule and tickets, please visit POPMontreal.com

June is traditionally the beginning of Festival Season here in Montreal. Of course, with things not back to normal yet, it looks like this June will be…the beginning of Festival Season here in Montreal. Wait, what? Yes, there will be festivals this year. Maybe not exactly like before, but in person. This week it’s the Fringe, plus we’ve got a new single and music video from local band Titelaine and POP Montreal is doing a rooftop concert.

Let’s get started:

Montreal Fringe Returns with a Scaled Back In-Person Roster of Shows

The Montreal Fringe was one of the first festivals that had to shut its doors to in-person performance in 2020, so many were hoping it would be one of the first festivals back this year, and it is! 2021 will be the festival’s 30th Anniversary and a hybrid version of the event running the whole month of June, with in-person performances running from June 10-20.

This real-world component will feature 154 performances by 30 companies spread out over five venues. Yes, that is not the usual amount of shows Fringe-goers may be accustomed to, but it is bolstered by a large online component.

It’s also predominantly local. With the border to the south still closed and inter-provincial travel limited, there is a required but also welcome focus on local talent this year.

While there won’t be a FringePark (aka the Beer Tent) this year, the festival will be offering guided outdoor experiences including an hour-long tour of the night sky in Jeanne-Mance Park hosted by Trevor from Plateau Astro. 10 patrons max.

And while we usually take press releases that say things like “Tickets are going fast!” with a grain of salt, in this case, we believe it. This is a popular event with limited capacity and people are just itching to do something outside. Some shows have already sold out, so you’d wise to act quickly.

The 2021 Montreal Fringe Festival runs June 1-30, with in-person shows running from June 10-20. Tickets and schedule available at MontrealFringe.ca

Montreal’s Titelaine Release Photo souvenir Single and Video

We last saw Titelaine when they were performing at Le Ministère as part of Indie Montreal’s Sunday virtual concert series Les dimanches couvre-fun. Tomorrow, the Montreal-based electro-pop duo will release their latest single and video for the song Photo souvenir.

The song “deals with the tug of war between enjoying the present moment and nostalgia for past ones”. The video was filmed on the shores of Rivière des Prairies by Anne-Sophie Coiteux and intercut with footage from the duo’s cellphones.

We’ll update this post tomorrow (Friday) with the video, but, for now, enjoy another one of their tunes:

Photo souvenir will be released on Titelaine’s YouTube and SoundCloud on Friday, June 11

POP Montreal’s SOLD OUT Rooftop Concert with TIKA and Hanorah

So, just why are we plugging a show that has already sold out? Because only the in-person version has a full house, or rather full rooftop, the rooftop of the Rialto to be specific.

That’s where TIKA and Hanorah will perform this Saturday evening as part of the Kinaxis InConcert Series. There will be social distancing protocols in effect at this event, but since all the in-person tickets have been sold, it would be kinda pointless to go through them here.

Instead, anyone who didn’t already buy tickets can experience the show virtually (maybe even on your own rooftop if the WIFI is good enough and you have a rooftop you can go to). It will be streamed live on Facebook.

POP Montreal presents TIKA and Hanorah live in concert Saturday, June 12, at 7:30pm on Facebook Live. Visit the FB Event Page for details

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

It’s starting to really feel like summer, as it usually does in the mid to late spring, so people will be going out more in the days and evenings and, due to the continuing curfew, staying home at night. With that in mind, we’ve got an in-person artistic residency, a new album and stuff from local artists you can order online.

Let’s get started:

PC the Infamous Releases the Visionary Wonderland Album

Montreal-based rapper, producer, singer, songwriter (and also actor) PC the Infamous has done quite a bit since hitting the local music scene seven years ago. He has produced and performed eight albums and now his ninth, Visionary Wonderland, was just released, following two singles and two music videos.

PC the Infamous performs in both English and French and his style incorporates everything from classic rap to trap to indie rock, techno pop, synth wave and emo rap. Here is the latest video that premiered along with the release of the album:

Visionary Wonderland by PC the Infamous is available on multiple platforms

The MAI’s Et si on réimaginait le monde II Continues

The MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) has always had a strong commitment to sharing and facilitating access to its resources and it’s in the middle of doing just that. Et si on réimaginait le monde II is a paid residency series focused on artists with visible or invisible disabilities, deaf, hard of hearing, neurodiverse, living with a mental illness, or with different abilities or physiques which began April 26 and runs until June 4.

Two of the four shows, Le magasin ferme and Fragments have already concluded, but you can still catch Troubleshoot by Mathieu and Simon Renaud and then Cartographie : Les eaux intimes, a dance show guided by Georges-Nicolas Tremblay with Marie-Hélène Bellavance, Ariane Boulet, Anthony Dolbec, Simon Renaud and Alexandra Templier from Corpuscule Danse.

Troubleshoot runs May 17-21. Cartographie : Les eaux intimes runs May 24-28 and May 31 – June 4 at MAI, 3680 rue Jeanne-Mance. Info available on the MAI website

Puces POP is Back Online for Spring

While things are still looking up for a full-on (or as full-on as possible) in-person POP Montreal this September, Puces POP, the quarterly local market, will once again be an online affair this spring. The changing rules on venue capacity made an in-person market difficult, so they decided to try and repeat the success they had in the winter with a virtual version.

The catalogue launched today. It features arts and prints, clothing, jewelry, treats and more, all from local artists and companies, just like the regular Puces POP.

The Puces POP Spring 2021 Catalogue is now available at PucesPOP.com

Featured Image from Le magasin ferme, courtesy of MAI

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 week, we may not have the nice temperatures we enjoyed last weekend, but we do have a virtual transdisciplinary exhibition, a live virtual concert and a movie about the making of the 2009 POP Montreal music festival.

Let’s get started:

Van Grimde Corps Secrets’ Virtual Exhibition Embodiment 2

Dance company Van Grimde Corps Secrets has been all about collaborating with other artists from different milieus since the early 2000s. Their latest project, a virtual exhibition called Embodiment 2, is no different.

In 2015, the group founded by Isabelle Van Grimde began sharing its research into the EVE 2050 triptych with other artists to foster collaboration and discussion. The result was the EVE 2050 web series.

Now, they have combined that series with Brad Necyk and Gary James Joynes’ film The Birth of the World to create this virtual exhibition.

Embodiment 2 is available as a virtual exhibition from April 8-May 8 on the Van Grimde Corps Secrets website

Sean Kosa Plays Ctrllab’s Esc Series

Ctrllab is an art gallery and performance space, though during the pandemic, the venue on St-Laurent has been functioning mainly as a media production company. This Saturday, they welcome back one of their favourite in-person guests for a virtual performance.

Electro Minimal Tech artist Sean Kosa has been part of the music scene since he was 14 in Toronto. Over the years, he moved to Montreal, then to Asia and now back home to our city where he has performed in various venues all across town.

Here’s some of Kosa’s music:

Ctrllab Esc Series 008 with Sean Kosa streams Saturday, April 17 at 7pm on Twitch, Facebook Live (on the Ctrllab page), Mixcloud and YouTube 360. This is a FREE performance

The POP Movie Now Streaming

In 2009, Andi Slate had just completed a feature film and decided to go back to basics. The filmmaker shot over 55 hours worth of footage of her POP Montreal colleagues putting on the festival as well as shows during said fest.

11 years and at least two projects later, Slate returned to that footage and put together The POP Movie, which first screened at the 2020 Edition of POP Montreal. Now, it’s available for all to stream!

The POP Movie by Andi State is now streaming for FREE on YouTube

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 week we’ve got a film and arts festival dedicated to LGBTQ+ works that highlight members of Black communities, a music video premier from a local alternative folk rock group and a Valentine’s market from the people behind POP Montreal.

Let’s get started:

The Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival

We’re in the middle of Black History Month and the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival is set to return for its 13th edition. This year, the theme is, appropriately, Resistance.

With all that is going on south of the border and around the world, resisting is key. The festival also plans to resist any negative effects COVID might have on their ability to reach audiences by making the entire event free and online.

With seven feature films 23 short films and representation from nine countries, the conversation is sure to continue. There will also be found tables, a comedy show and even speed dating.

The 13th Edition of the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival runs February 12 – March 12. For the complete schedule and more info, please visit massimadi.ca

Aquarius Dreams Release Music Video for Flora’s Earthtones

Montreal-based alternative folk rock group Aquarius Dreams released their lastest EP Flora’s Earthtones way back in pre-COVID 2019. While they are planning to go on a “reformative hiatus” and then re-emerge when the pandemic is done, they are first releasing a video for the EP’s titular track this weekend.

Directed by Callum Sheedy, the video “alludes to the degradation of the relationship between humanity and nature, the dance between moral volition and action.” Part of it is also clearly shot on Mount Royal, which always leads to some spectacular visuals.

Puces POP is Back Online for Valentine’s Day

The annual POP Montreal music festival is all set for an in-person edition this fall, but while the curfew and other COVID restrictions are still in effect, their popular Puces POP market has reinvented itself, just in time for Valentine’s Day. They have an online catalogue available until March 1st.

You can buy products from over 70 local artisans. We’re talking body products, clothing, jewelry and much more.

You can find it all at PucesPop.com

Featured Image: Screenshot from Flora’s Earthtones by Aquarius Dreams

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

Last week I had the privilege of attending this year’s installment of POP Montreal, the fest that humbly began in 2002 with less than 20 bands and has ballooned to that number just in venues alone. On top of the more than 450 bands they also now have visual arts, cinema, kids activities, symposiums and probably a few more things I’m forgetting about right now.

When you look at the lineup from those early years what stands out the most isn’t the number of bands but instead just how many of them went on to big things. This is the allure of POP, catching that hidden gem of a band before they hit it big and being able to watch them in a small venue setting. At least I thought this was the allure, more to come on that in a moment.

Obviously trying to analyse the full lineup in detail to figure out who to see is impossible so I didn’t even bother to try. I just picked a few things that interested me and went with it. I expected there would be some misses along with the hits and allowed myself some time to wander to unplanned shows as well.

The results were as to be expected, a mixed bag of good, bad and random. For the purposed of this article I will focus on the most random and fun show I saw. Yes, just one show out of 450. I figure there’s no point in trying to talk about everything anyways so I might as well talk about one thing the right way.

When I made my way to Sala Rosa on Thursday night for headliners Hollerado what I knew about them ahead of time was that they had been around for a while and they were a rock band with punk influences. That was about it.

Very early on in the show lead singer Meno Versteeg gave me another crucial piece of information when he told to the crowd that this was going to be their last show in Montreal. Ever.

The band is parting ways with one final album release and tour. I had mistakenly made my way into Bizzaro POP, and alternate dimension where instead of seeing a band on the cusp of making it big you watch a group about to end their career.

The show was a perfect storm for a live performance: a group of high level professional performers with years of stage experience and tons a chemistry between them with a grand total of zero fucks to give about anything anymore.

With a lot of bands you can almost see the weight of “trying to make it” on their shoulders. This tends to bog their shows down by always sticking to conventional performance archetypes.

Hollerdo was anything but that, playing for the joy of it, having a blast and nothing more. They were pretty random as well with some of their decisions making the show anything but generic.

For example, they were dressed in matching Adidas tracksuits that were hardly flattering. Why? They joked that Adidas was going to give them ten thousand dollars and claimed that drummer Jake Boyd cost them the money by not also wearing a matching suit. In reality they just felt like it.

How do I know the reason for the tracksuits? Because this was the first question they answered at their mid show Q & A. The show just sort of stopped and people were given time to ask anything they wanted. “What’s with the tracksuits?” was the obvious first question.

Other randomness involved inviting people unprepared on stage to play songs. This is something that most bands wouldn’t risk but when you have nothing to prove to anyone then I guess you just go for it and hope for the best. In the end those ended up being some of the more memorable moments of the night.

My last random moment was when they mentioned that their show the next day in Sherbrooke was going to be canceled so they could go to the climate strike “because some things are more important than a stupid rock concert.”

I assumed this was just another joke or pandering to the local crowd but I checked their twitter and the show was actually canceled. I guess at some point you have to get your priorities in line.

Google searches don’t really explain why these guys are breaking up and it seems odd to me since they are relatively young and there seems to be no “creative differences.” Whatever the reason, it’s a shame. But at least I got to catch the end of the wave.

“I’m getting too old for this shit!”

Steph, sometime in August 2019

That was my initial reaction when it was proposed I cover POP Montreal this year. I’ve been covering the festival for FTB on and off since 2010 and was confident after last year I was done.

My reluctance had nothing to do with POP Montreal itself by the way. If you read my early reviews, my love for the festival is clear. Instead, it had everything to do with the prospect of spending a week going to evening shows on the other side of town. This old lady needs her eight hours of sleep!

So, what are my thoughts on this year’s festival? While I am likely to hand off the reporting to younger bloggers in the future, of course I’m glad I attended.

For me, the festival has always been a great way to get out of my music rut and discover new up and coming artists before they hit it big. Arcade Fire played Pop Montreal in 2003 for instance, a year before the release of Funeral.

Since you don’t know any of the acts, you take a chance every time you walk into a POP Montreal show. But that’s the fun of it! Sometimes you strike gold, other times the show is terrible and you quickly move along to the next venue.

As in year’s past, I absolutely saw some terrible music… but we won’t focus on that. Instead, let’s dive into the artists who made Pop Montreal 2019 worth it.

What it really comes down to with POP Montreal is trusting venues in the Mile End/ Plateau will deliver the music goods. NYSSA from Toronto caught my attention during my initial research and holy moly am I glad that I saw her show at Casa Del Popolo.

This electro-glam rocker commanded your attention the moment she walked onto the stage with nothing but her vocal pedal and iPad. You might think that doesn’t sound like much, but let me tell you that girl had so much stage presence I was immediately hooked.

She absolutely deserves to become a very big thing, but we’ll have to see if the music gods deem it so. 

For day two I headed to O Patro Vys, interested in checking out another band I included in my preview, Basement Revolver. Sadly as the headliners of the evening, they were on long past my bedtime for a weeknight.

BUT the evening was not a loss because I was introduced to the joy that is Alex Dirk, aka the lead vocalist of the Winnepeg band Begonia. Part Adele, part Florence Welch, Dirk belted out the tunes with an intense passion that it was impossible not to be mesmerized. 

Day Three of the festival was when I saw all the aforementioned terrible bands this yearbut then I decided to try O Patro Vys again on a whim. The vibe was much different than the night before; calmer, much less packed.

Thankfully before my companions and I decided to call the night a total loss, Laura Carbone and her band came onto the stage. It’s a perfect example of why a small audience doesn’t necessarily mean a mediocre band; they were anything but! I was glad I got to be amongst the few in Montreal who got to see their set.

For my final night of POP Montreal 2019 (the festival is five days, but sadly I couldn’t make Sunday’s shows), I headed to The Rialto for a more low-key evening of folk-rock. Even if the bands are so-so it’s always a pleasure hanging out in The Rialto; thankfully the acts absolutely delivered.

The highlight of the night for me was Hollie Fullbrook, aka Tiny Ruins. While I was disappointed not to see this UK born New Zeland-based artist perform with her full band, she was still wonderful to see as a solo act. I highly encourage anyone into folk music to check her out.

So for what I assume will be my last ever POP Montreal post (lol I say that now, but who knows what next year will bring), let me end by imparting some wisdom to those who are thinking about attending this festival in the future:

The non-music portion of the festival can be interesting, but honestly rarely worth it. When it comes to the music it’s all good to do preliminary research, but more often than not you end up throwing that plan out the window as the festival goes on.

But EMBRACE the chaos! A festival like this is all about discovering something new, and more often than not you will love what you discover.

Featured image of Tiny Ruins by Adrien Gooding

Four days of Pop Montreal are now in the bag and the indie music storm has yet to subside. As usual the quest to see everything has been utterly futile with so many shows happening in short succession.

At this point we’ve given up on any type of schedule or plan and instead have resorted to wandering the show bars of the Mile End open to whatever indie rock/pop/hip hop we happen to encounter. We’ll have more live Tweets tonight and detailed reviews coming out next week once we catch our breath.

For now here are a few of the highlights from our wanderings:

Hollerado’s last show in Montreal was on Thursday night. Glad to be a part of it (Joe)

Featured image by Adrien Gooding

POP Montreal 2019 concludes tonight and we’ll be live tweeting. Also check out our full reviews and a photo post in the next few days

Pop Montreal starts tonight and as usual FTB has asked me to do the impossible and pick my choices for the best shows to go and see. If you take a peek at the schedule you’ll see that’s clearly impossible with so many bands playing in such a short period of time.

Here’s a few options that most caught my eye but even as I write this I’m seeing many more choices that I might like. I tried not to stick to one genre or type of show but I did stick to music only.

I will just briefly mention that there’s way more to Pop than just music, my other favourite part of the fest is Film Pop which has some really interesting movie screenings this weekend.

Ok, on to the music!

Blinker the Star

Not every band you see at Pop has to be fresh off their debut album. Veterans of the Indie rock scene Blinker the Star have been around since the 90s, which for some of you might feel like ancient times, but believe it or not they actually had good music way back then.

This isn’t however a pick for nostalgia’s sake, they have a new album out and it’s quite good. I’m interested to see how it will be performed live when they play at Petit Campus on September 26th.

Wolf Castle

I’ll admit my interest was initially peaked by the clever name reference but when I looked into it I didn’t find a fictional Austrian action star whose bit part has been an endearing part of a long running cartoon comedy series. Instead I found a young rapper, singer, producer who hails from Pabineau First Nation in New Brunswick.

I checked out his bandcamp and immediately got sucked in. Maybe you will too. If you do, he’s playing at La Sotterenea on the 26th.

Les Louanges

First of all, free show! Also worth noting: it’s at 4pm on Saturday (28th) and it’s outdoors at Skatepark du Mile-End. Those factors combined makes this one of my “family friendly” suggestions. It would also be a good choice as the opener for anyone who is planning to make it out on Saturday night.

I’ll let the music speak for itself but I will just add that I had a chance to catch the end of Les Louange’s set at Osheaga this year and I was very impressed. I’ll be sure to catch the whole thing this Saturday.

KOKOKO!

If you’re out on Wednesday night this is the show to end the evening with. Starting at 11pm at the Piccolo Rialto (with openers Mabika-Ki & Le Moovmnt Populaire Bantu and DOOMSQUAD) KOKOKO! will be bringing their mix of modern electronic music and lo-fi instruments to what is certain to be the best dance party of the night.

Proving that music can be made by just about anyone and with just about anything, this collective is known for making instruments out of items that you wouldn’t normally expect. Check out this live clip to see what I mean.

Blue Grass BBQ

The title is pretty self-explanatory. On Sunday afternoon from Noon till around 7 there will be a free (to get in) BBQ at Skatepark du Mile End. This is another great choice for those of you with kids or on a budget.

It features various bluegrass artists throughout the day. You can check out the Pop Website for specific band listings but it’s safe to say that at whatever point you show up you’ll be getting hear to free bluegrass music and relax outside. Not a bad combination!

POP Montreal 2019 runs until September 29th. For complete schedule and ticket info, check out popmontreal.com

September winding down means it’s time for another edition of Pop Montreal. While I’m excited to take part in all the festival has to offer (art, film, discussion panels and a craft fair) today I’m going to focus on the top five musical acts I’ll be watching at this years festival.

It’s an eclectic bunch of artists from around the world whose online presence, at least, has piqued my interest. Will they deliver? I’ll find out September 25th-29th.

1. Basement Revolver

(Hamilton, Ontario)

With the lead singer’s dreamy vocals and the band’s self-confessed inspiration from 90s indie-rock, this trio from Hamilton was one of the first shows on my radar this year. Not only was I drawn in from discovering their single Wax and Digital on YouTube, but also learning about the ways successful bands have to hustle in the digital age.

2. Charlie Cunningham

(Bedfordshire, England)

With impressive guitar skills that are influenced by the Spanish flamenco tradition combined with intimate yet accessible lyrics, England’s Charlie Cunningham is another must-see show for me this year. On first listen, his music gives me a Jose Gonzalez kind of vibe.

While I’m looking forward to his show at Phi Center, I’m also eager to listen to this music more at home alone with a nice cup of tea on a rainy day.

3. NYSSA

(Toronto, Ontario)

Described as “Toronto’s answer to Robyn”, NYSSA is an electro-glam rocker who has been working the music scene since she was twelve. After being a part of numerous Toronto bands, these days she’s the kind of artist whose most comfortable on stage alone with a loop pedal and her iPod.

After listening to her single Champion of Love I’m confident I’m not going to be dancing on my own to her show at Casa Del Popolo.

4. Tiny Ruins

(Auckland, New Zealand)

Not since Flight of the Concords have I been this pumped about a band from New Zealand. Unlike the sarcastic comedy of Jermaine and Brent, Tiny Ruins are a very sincere folk group that has been around for almost a decade.

Even if their live show at The Rialto doesn’t end up living up to expectations, watching the hypnotic video for Olympic Girls has already made me a die-hard fan.

5. Daniel Norgren

(Boras, Sweden)

As a reclusive singer/songwriter from rural Sweden, a recent Pitchfork article describes Norgen as a man who “happily exists as an outsider among outsiders, and he weaves the joy he finds in isolation and in nature into his songs.”

Having released his first international record Wooh Dang it looks like this folk/blues artist is interested in stepping a toe at least into greater recognition. I’m looking forward to seeing his show at Cafe Campus to see how he fares with a North American audience.

Tickets available through popmontreal.com

POP Montreal released the first part of their lineup for their annual fall festival at a 5 à 7 on Wednesday in their new venue, Chez Ursa, which is conveniently located right below their official headquarters.

The atmosphere at Ursa is friendly. Dan Seligman, POP’s co-founder and creative director, even acknowledged the good vibes as he thanked us all for coming.

The venue itself is quite cozy; lamp-lit, with a rug in front of the stage which creates a sense of the familiar comfort of being in your own living room, the only thing missing being seats. Although on my way to the venue I had the unfortunate luck of choosing a particularly broken Bixi bike, and so my feelings about the matter were more inspired by my aching legs than anything else… Choose your bike wisely, folks.

When I first arrive, Hua Li is casually mixing her set, fluidly transitioning between a mix of rap and RNB. Her adorable dog, Edna (pictured below), joins her on stage, calmly gazing out at all of us while Li sways rhythmically in time with the music. The combination of their presence invites a relaxed overall mood, though there is an air of something among us that is similarly curious and intriguing.

The performances also include POP’s first play: Trapped in Elon’s Mansion, written by Joe Bagel (of which a reading of an excerpt was performed at Chez Ursa). The play was inspired by a twitter fight between Elon and Jarrett Walker, and is full of rapid-fire witticisms, many in reference to Musk and his ex-girlfriend, Clair Boucher (Grimes), and their own various connections to Montréal.

Musk, giving his two cents to the mayor of Los Angeles

Some other noteworthy acts from the lineup also include: Laurie Anderson, Tirzah, and Aldous Harding. (Full list of performers to date pictured below). The festival is set to take place from the 25th to the 29th of this September throughout Montreal. Tickets are on sale now, and can be purchased through POP’s website.

FULL LIST: Laurie Anderson, Tirzah, Aldous Harding, Nick Cave, Weyes Blood, Kokoko!,  Yung Baby Tate, Moor Mother & Jerusalem in My Heart, Félicia Atkinson, Jon Bap, Hollerado and Xiu Xiu, Jess Sah Bi & Peter One, Tinariwen, Shonen Knife, 47Soul, Kedr Livanskiy, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Oshun, Ian Isiah, Lafawndah, Ex Eye, Teto Preto, Torres, Jerry Paper, Kelman Duran, Daniel Norgren, Haviah Mighty, Blanck Mass, God Is an Astronaut, Marwa Loud, Helm, Emel Mathlouthi, Jessica Moss, Ellis, Bad Waitress, Charlie Cunningham, Fink, TiKA, Colin Stetson, Rebecca Foon, Rakta, Ellemetue, YlangYlang, Trapped in Elon’s Mansion, Hua Li, James Baley, Mobydick and Friends, Desiire and Odile Myrtile.


It’s been three years since my last POP experience, so I headed down to the Rialto Theatre last night without knowing what to expect. As soon as I entered the POP Montreal opening party, I immediately felt at ease. The vibe was inviting, intimate, and full of that specific kind of excitement that fills the air at the beginning of any festival: you can’t wait to discover the next great thing.

After looking through our press swag bags, dancing to the DJ, and absorbing the atmosphere, Joe and I left the opening party. We headed down Parc, making a stop at the Crying-Laughing show at Espace Pop. In the old days I never used to see anything but music shows, so this year I’m trying to expand my horizons and see more of what the festival has to offer.

Joe and I eventually made our way to Sala Rossa, where our first music show of the night was Dany Laj & The Looks. While not groundbreaking by any means, they are a very fun rock n’ roll band that got our show watching off to a great start.

Then we were meeting a friend for a drink across the street at Casa Del Popolo, so Joe and I decided to check out the music there. Honestly I wish we hadn’t. Raf Wilcot seemed to try a little too hard to come off as the brilliant tortured artist, when in fact his music was tame and uninspired.

What changed my mood was heading to La Vitrola to catch their last two shows of the night. I was immediately charmed by Moscow Apartment, a teenage girl band from Toronto. They were just so sweet and had such great stage banter you couldn’t help but fall a little bit in love with them. They reminded me a bit of First Aid Kit, and I wish them all the success!

We ended off the night by going from one extreme to the other. After the sweet folk-pop of Moscow Apartment, Laura Sauvage came swagerring onto the stage, demanding that we get the hell off our seats and come rock out. They played a shorter set then scheduled because their drummer had to run off to another show, but what they did play was full of punk rock energy that got everyone at the small venue dancing. It definitely inspired me for all the rocking that’s still to come!

* Featured image of Laura Sauvage by Stephanie Laughlin

** POP Montreal 2018 runs until Sunday. Full schedule at POPMontreal.com

Rejoice indie music fans for today marks the beginning of this year’s installment of Pop Montreal! For those of you who suffer from option paralysis I give you my deepest sympathies because, as usual, there’s just so many shows to choose from.

Even just looking at their schedule can send shivers down the spine of someone who wants to see and do it all. Last week Stephanie Laughlin gave you her picks for what to see and this week it’s my turn.

In order to streamline my choices and prevent my head from exploding, I’ve narrowed it down to these four categories: The Hidden Gem, The Top Venue, The Top Headliner, Best Overall Show.

Keep in mind that this list is far from extensive, completely biased to my musical tastes and prepared without any thought for the logistics of how someone would attend shows that overlap with each other time-wise. This is just a jumping off point for five days of hipster heaven.

POSTDATA

One of the many (many, many) hidden gems of Pop is POSTDATA, the solo project of East Coast indie rocker Paul Murphy more commonly known for his work in Wintersleep. They’ll be at O’ Patro Vys on Thursday to headline a show featuring Caveboy, Art D’Ecco and Strangerfamiliar.

This part-time project might not get big time attention but after listening to a few tracks I’m baffled as to why. The songs are well crafted, the lyrics are interesting and there’s an accessibility to the music that should interest people with different musical tastes.

POSTDATA perform with Art d’Ecco and Strangerfamiliar Thursday, September 27, 8:30pm at O Patro Vys, 356 Mont-Royal Est. Tickets are $13

Barfly

With so many bands to choose from I knew I had to cheat and pick a whole venue. One of my highlights every year is heading over to my favorite dive Barfly to check out a bunch of bands that you probably don’t know and normally wouldn’t find there outside of POP.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday night they’ll be running shows there with packed lineups for only ten bucks. It’s a sma… urrr I mean “intimate” venue that always has a rock and roll vibe. I once saw a guy on stage there playing the cello and it still felt rock and roll for some reason.

To go with the low ticket price, it’s also got the most affordable drink prices of any of the venues in the fest. Add all that up and there’s a good chance it will be packed on all three nights so get there early if you can.

Usually the bands aren’t as well known but if you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore some new music this is the best place to be. This year I’m looking forward to getting to know Toronto based indie rockers Goodbye Honolulu who are headlining on Thursday.

Barfly is at 4062A St-Laurent

Wolf Parade

While this is a highly unoriginal choice, I’ve decided to put Montreal indie rock royalty Wolf Parade on this list as the top act because of the sheer volume of shows they have in this year’s fest. They’ve taken up residence at Sala Rosa from Thursday to Sunday, so whichever night you plan on heading out, they’ll be waiting for you.

Sometimes picking between a bunch of bands you’re not super familiar with can be a bit tedious, if you just want to go out and be assured of a good time, this is the best option. They’re even hosting an after-party on Sunday the 30th at La Sottorenea for those of you who just don’t want the fest to end!

Wolf Parade perform with various opening acts September 27-30, 9pm at Sala Rossa, 4848 St-Laurent. Tickets are $30 (or $10 for the Basement After-Party)

Blitzen Trapper

Another of the more established acts in this year’s fest is Blitzen Trapper who have been combining indie rock with country and folk influences since 2000, often to critical acclaim. The Portland-based quintet will be supported by three great local acts John Jacob Magistery, El Coyote and Corey Gulkin on Saturday night at Le Ministère: Salle St-Ambroise.

This is my vote for the show with the most solid lineup top to bottom. Event hopping at POP can be fun, especially on a Saturday night, but if you’re not in the mood for that, give this show some serious consideration.

Blitzen Trapper, John Jacob Magistery, El Coyote and Corey Gulkin perform Saturday, September 29, 9pm at Le Ministère – Salle St-Ambroise, 4521 St-Laurent. Tickets are $15

* Featured image from Goodbye Honolulu’s Typical video, via YouTube

** POP Montreal runs September 26-30, full schedule at POPMontreal.com