It’s officially the last week of summer, but just because the sun is calling it quits a little earlier every evening doesn’t mean you should too! After all, you wouldn’t want to miss all of the amazing shows Montreal has in store for us this fall.

Stay updated on all the best shows happening each week, right here! And now for this week: 

Thursday, September 19th: The Struts

Rock fans get ready to roll because English glam rock band The Struts will be traveling to Montreal this week to perform as part of the tour for their second album Young & Dangerous. Released last October, it contains two of their lead singles: Body Talks and Primadonna Like Me.

Stylistically The Struts emulate a unique and modern twist on classic rock with a flamboyant 70’s/80’s flair to it. If that sounds at all like your cup of tea, catch them in the act this Thursday, the 19th, at Mtelus Theatre. 

Primadonna Like Me – The Struts

The Struts with Des Rocks play M Telus, 59 Saint-Catherine East, Thursday, September 18, 2019 at 8pm. Tickets available through MTelus

Friday, September 20th: Marie Davidson – Save the Last Dance for Me

Montreal musician Marie Davidson’s music is absolutely brimming with personality. Her style is minimalistic tech house with plenty of synth, drums, and often her own spoken words; at times laughing, singing, chanting, yelling, all coming together to create an absolutely haunting experience of sound.

She’s been touring internationally since the release of her fourth solo album, Working Class Woman, and now she’s back in Montreal to perform as part of the Red Bull Music Festival at Studio Notre Dame this Friday! The show will also include artists such as Afrodeutsche, Solitary Dancer, and more, and tickets are only $20, so don’t miss this opportunity to see what is sure to be a captivating experience. 

The Psychologist from Davidson’s most recent album, Working Class Woman

Red Bull Music Festival presents Marie Davidson: Save the Last Dance For Me at Studio Notre-Dame, 500 Alphonse D Roy, Friday, September 20 at 10pm. Tickets available through the Red Bull Music Festival

Friday, September 20: Big Shiny Tunes Vol. 6 – CJLO Funding Drive 2019 

Come support Concordia University’s one and only radio station for part of the CJLO FUNdrive 2019, celebrating near 20 years of being on air! 17 different Montreal bands will be covering 17 songs from the album Big Shiny Tunes 6, which, if you didn’t already know, is part of a series of rock albums released through MusiquePlus in Quebec in the late 90s.

The event will be taking place at La Vitrola, and will feature a variety of local talent, such as Summerled, Barnacle, and Jon Cohen Ex. Don’t miss the chance to support your local radio, and jam to all your favourite 90s rock throwbacks played by your favourite Montreal bands. 

Big Shiny Tunes 6 is at La Vitrola, 4602 boul St-Laurent, Friday, September 20 at 7:30pm. RSVP on the Facebook event page

Jon Cohen Ex gives us Baby Life

Friday, September 20th: Frankie Cosmos

New York band Frankie Cosmos, fronted by Greta Kline, is everything you could want from indie-folk as a genre. The songs are most often wistfully personal, and emotionally stirring, as if you were listening to the music equivalent of reading Kline’s own diary.

The combination of the seemingly simplistic but conscious lyrical manner along with Kline’s unobtrusive voice achieves a touching clarity in both sound and meaning. Be sure to catch the band at L’astral this Friday, but be prepared to feel some feelings you probably haven’t felt since high school.

  Frankie Cosmos gives you a haircut

Frankie Cosmos with Lina Tullgren and Locate S,1 plays L’Astral, 305 Sainte-Catherine West, Friday, September 20 at 8pm. Tickets available through Evenko

Monday, September 23rd: Mac DeMarco 

Oh Lizard Man, the nightmares you’ve caused…

Canadian singer and songwriter, Mac DeMarco, who is known for his soft psychedelic rock music, kooky personality, the gap between his two front teeth, and the song that will always send me into the depths of my feelings (see below), will be making an appearance at Mtelus on Monday.

Be there or DeMarco will come to your house dressed as the lizard man from his Nobody music video and sing you soft, haunting lullabies while you sleep. 

Sing it with me: alone again!

Mac Demarco with Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa plays MTelus, 59 Saint-Catherine East, Monday, September 23 at 8pm. Tickets available through MTelus

Are you or your band playing a show in Montreal? Let Lillie know at music@forgetthebox.net. We’ll do our best to include you in an upcoming Shows This Week, but, of course, no promises.

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

How do you describe a show you can’t see? Do you go by the sounds? The scents? The sense of motion? Or do you pretend to be like the heroes in eighties and nineties martial arts films and try to “see without seeing”?

I was invited last Thursday to experience two scenes from the play Camille with other members of the local media. The brainchild of Concordia professor Audrey-Anne Bouchard, it’s a multi-disciplinary show specifically designed for those with visual impairments.

Bouchard lives with Stargardt’s disease, a rare macular disorder. After the media preview I had a chance to sit with Bouchard so I asked her about what it is and how it affects her, for when I first saw her, she seemed to have perfect sight.

“I don’t have the gene in my body that eliminates Vitamin A so Vitamin A accumulates itself on my retina and it blocks a part of my sight which is exactly at the center of both my eyes so I use my peripheral vision,” she explained. “I’m quite fortunate that I’m still very autonomous because my peripheral vision is good and I can see and I work with my sight a lot. The hardest is really to read, like to focus on the details. When I go see a show, for example, if I’m not in the first row I will most likely miss an actor’s head or a part of the image – I always miss a part of the image. The closer I am the easier for me it is to put all the pieces together.”

Unfortunately for Bouchard, there is no treatment for the disease yet. In order for Bouchard to see, she has to rely on her peripheral vision, explaining that if she wanted to see into my eyes, she will train her sight a little over my eyebrows because focusing on the center would make them fall into the dead spot of her vision.

Bouchard created the show after speaking with people who were completely blind as they confided in her that they were always feeling that they were missing part of the experience when they went to a dance or a theatre piece. She created the show with the goal of having an experience where people with no sight won’t miss anything and it will be interesting for them.

“Everything is conceived not to be seen. The language that we created is transmitted through the other senses.”

The project started three years ago when the team met with seven people who have different visual impairments and asked them if they would be interested in a show like this. For Bouchard, it was important to have this adventure but only if those for whom the show was created would want to experience it.

The show is multidisciplinary, meaning that it includes multiple forms of art such as dance, theatre, music, and they’re all intertwined. Instead of having one theatre scene, one dance scene, and so on, they are all one “in the language of the show”. The choreography, by Laurie-Anne Langis who is also a dancer and massage therapist, does not just involve dancing to music, it also involves how you approach someone to guide them. The interaction between spectator and performer is part of the choreography of this show.

In order to develop the choreography, the team worked with people with different kinds of visual impairments, some fully blind, some with partial sight. This was important for Bouchard, for despite her disorder, she relies on her sight and works with it a lot.

Over the three years developing the show they had thirty different people come into rehearsal – whom Bouchard refers to as their ‘experts’ – to tell the cast how they would like to be guided. The team also underwent training in partnership with the RAM – the Regroupement des Aveugles et Amblyopes du Montreal metropolitain and they gave the team training on how you guide someone who cannot see, as there are certain specific techniques involved. They even organized activities for the team including a dinner in the dark with other blind people so they got to experience what it was like and get their feedback.

To experience the show, those with sight have to wear a blindfold. Given how much visual impairments can vary, I asked Bouchard how severe would they have to be to wear the blindfold for the show.

“If you can see anything – light, movement, color – you have to wear the blindfold. It’s only if you can see nothing that you won’t wear a blindfold.”

I got to experience two scenes from Camille as part of this media preview. They taught me two things: the first is that we take our sight for granted when humans have so many other senses by which we can process information. The second is that you can still experience theatre without sight.

Prospective audiences should know that there are parts of the show that might make you a little dizzy, and that in order to guide you, the cast will touch you a little during performances, but nothing inappropriate or weird.

If the snippet I experienced is any indication, Camille is going to be a great show. It’s running from September 4th to 22nd at the Montréal, arts interculturels (MAI) and tickets are available through the MAI website.

I saw Lesbian Speed Date from Hell this past Sunday and having experienced the emotional rollercoaster of the piece, I was curious as to how it all came about. I had the opportunity to email back and forth with the show’s producer Christina Saliba and she gave me some fascinating insights.

The show was originally submitted to be part of Festival De La Bête Noire, Montreal’s first ever horror-themed festival. One of their writers had an idea for a piece about speed dating.

Saliba’s own experiences with lesbian speed dating events at the popular queer hangout Notre Dame des Quilles and the interesting date encounters she had at them really helped the story come together.

Saliba explains that when she saw the call for submissions for Festival De La Bête Noire, she jumped at the opportunity not only to present something queer-centric, as many working on the production identify as queer, but also to present horror comedy.

“Horror-comedy is a genre that is not commonly seen on stage. The horror aspects of the show are boundary pushing, not only for the audience but for the artists involved. Horror allows you to sit within your fears and anxieties and face them in a safe and controlled environment. There certainly may be some triggering moments for some audience goers as it is a show that tests limitations. However, the comedy aspect to it provides that relief and comfort. It’s a fantastic juxtaposition of genres and a fun medium to work in.”

Many people primarily associate horror comedy with The Evil Dead movies starring Bruce Campbell, so I was intrigued as to what it meant to someone putting on a show of that genre.

“I would say it is more outlandish, over the top, and hysterical rather than gore, terror, and horror. The comedy takes you out of the horror fantasy.”

The cast of Lesbian Speed Dating came from diverse backgrounds including comedy, sketch, improv, TV, and film. For Saliba, this diversity of perspectives elevates the show. While auditions were held, some of the show’s talent were deliberately sought out because of their unique talents.

“The structure and the script are there, but they are all so talented that they bring in the occasional ad-libbing and improv. Half of the team falls under the queer umbrella, as authenticity, particularly with our leads, was essential for me.”

Though the show only ran for two nights during Festival De La Bête Noire, Saliba couldn’t let it die. She had her sights set on it being part of Just for Laughs and a cast member suggested it be part of Pride’s programming. Saliba hopes to eventually take the show on tour internationally.

Lesbian Speed Date from Hell is a true horror comedy. Following a successful run at the Mainline Theatre as part of Off- JFL/Zoofest, it’s back as part of Montreal Pride’s official programming. Presented by Pride along with Christina Saliba, the show is funny and scary, and for abuse survivors, it can be triggering.

The play revolves around Jackie (Katharine King So), a young lesbian who is grudgingly attending a speed dating event hosted by her friend and neighbor Regina (Kathy Slamen). Regina is your typical lesbian cougar. In case you had any doubts, Slamen’s costumes consist of mostly of leopard print, and her portrayal is a hilarious mix of sassy, maternal, and raunchy.

At the event, Jackie meets Amy (Martha Graham), an awkward blonde, Natalie (Alexandra Laferriere), a beautiful black lesbian jonesing for Regina, Kyle (Jeroem Lindeman), a stereotypical dudebro and Ashley (Kate Hammer), a former one-night stand of Jackie’s with a big grudge.

What follows is a display of awkward conversations, hilarious facial expressions, and uncomfortable torture scenes.

Hammer’s portrayal of Ashley is at once horrific and riveting. All the time she’s on stage you never doubt her anger, her malice, or her psychosis. Her madness is believable yet just over the top enough to keep the play from being too real.

King So’s Jackie is a perfect foil for Ashley’s crazy. Her screams are bone-chillingly realistic and her fear and outrage appropriate.

Survivors of abuse will likely find the interaction between Jackie and Ashley uncomfortably triggering as there is blood and violence and accurate portrayals of pain. But there is enough humour in the play to balance it out.

The fight choreography is hilariously done in slow motion and with more courtesy than one would expect in a struggle between a psychotic murderer and a desperate victim. There are murder mystery clichés like the strategic use of on and off lighting, and Jeroen Lindeman’s Kyle is amusingly obnoxious and a reminder of why our culture needs more feminist entertainment like this.

That said, if you’re an abuse survivor go in prepared to be a little uncomfortable and reassure yourself that with the horror comes plenty to laugh about. For everyone else, be prepared to laugh, cry, and gasp in horror.

It’s an emotional rollercoaster of a show, but it’s worth it.

Lesbian Speed Date From Hell runs until August 16, tickets available through Montreal Pride

I spent the first half hour after arriving to Parc Jean-Drapeau looking for a poncho vendor so as to avoid the unpredictable showers, but by the time that I found one I was too late as they had already sold out. Fortunately the rain had, at this point, died down for the most part. I spent a few minutes after that lying in one of the dryer Eno hammocks (a god-send, #île-hammock?) that had been set up in the trees trying to figure out my game plan for the day and cursing the gods for letting me wear white shoes. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1EZ3s6HzoD/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

The first show I caught after the rain simmered down a bit was Underher, an act which on Île-Soniq’s handy app with all of the artists and set times seemed to feature producer, Kalden Bess and singer, Jessica Abruzzese. However according to Underher’s Spotify, Facebook, Instagram etc., it seems as if Bess is now the solo sound behind Underher. While this was an unfortunate toll on île-Soniq’s already low count of female artists, Bess still put on a great show; sipping his drink and leisurely taking puffs of a joint as he DJ’s.

The stage was set perfectly amidst the trees and water, and the sun finally peaked out from behind the clouds. As the audience thickened, many eager to try out their dancing shoes and groove to his alluring rhythmic sound, the energy shifted from dance to something slightly more ethereal and sensual, if not almost eerie at times (think: someone breathing slightly on the back of your neck. Though perhaps this was just the airy breeze).  

The next show I caught was Whipped Cream–one of the four featured female artists–and hands down one of the most bad-ass performers I saw at the festival. Her fans were already screaming for her when she walked out onto the stage, decked out completely in a green and blue Pleasures tracksuit with her iconic long blonde hair draped over her shoulder.

There was an evident symbiosis between the untamed energy of the crowd and her own fiery enthusiasm as she bounced with them, even jumping down onto the lower stage during a song to dance along. Her bass sound is clearly inspired by hip-hop, but the range of her musical style is evident as she skilfully churns out head-banging bliss with every song, including Beethoven’s Fur Elise. Stage presence? 10. Outfit? 10. Set? 10. Adjective that I can’t think of which could describe a coalescence of bad-assery and being adorable? 10!

Next up for me? KSHMR, an American musician and DJ from California, and his performance did not disappoint. I however opted to take a break from being elbow-ed and shoulder-ed by every guy clad in a tank top in the crowd and watched this one from afar, atop (what once was) a grassy hill in the back. Though I admittedly had previously had little exposure to KSHMR’s music, during day two of the festival I’d overhead many of the other festival-goers raving about him, and decided to check him out.

When the crystal clear and calm sound of classical piano pierced through the various festival noises I was immediately hooked. KSHMR’s music is perhaps universally captivating, including sounds from seemingly all corners and genres of the world that build to epic stomach-dropping climaxes. The show ends with fireworks and a shout-out to the fact that apparently Canada has some of the most beautiful women. A cheesy sentiment, but loveable all the same. 

When I got to Claptone’s show back at the stage where I had started, the sun was setting behind us against the water. Claptone, a German DJ with a secret identity, was clad in their usual beaked mask and white gloves, which greatly added to the energetic but mysterious ambience of their tech house sound. The music is hypnotic, though its rhythm is diverse and energetic–a sort of melancholy still seeps through.

Nicole Moudaber

The final performance I saw on the last day of the festival was the iconic Nicole Moudaber, taking over the stage from Claptone, an immediate change in tempo, but the air of mystery remained. Her dark glasses and captivating curly fro give her an enigmatic air of je ne sais quoi, as she lead her audience through the valleys and troughs of her ambient house sounds that resonate in my ear drums long after I left the island (my brain still waits for the drop that never comes in the metro car home). 

Day two went quick, and while some of it was a blur, much of it also remains to be incredibly salient in my mind. Each of the performances that I managed to see left me intrigued and hungry for more, from the soft hypnotic rhythms to the head-banging bass drops, to the surprising but appreciated classical music references; each exemplifying the all-encompassing nature of electronic music. Thanks for an unforgettable weekend Île-Soniq! 

Photos courtesy of the lovely Celeste Bonnier.

The theatre is dark, the rules are announced, and the band breaks into America the Beautiful as a solitary figure in a blonde wig and cape approaches the stage. Waiting is the band and a drag king in leather jacket, denim, and do-rag, with the sad-downcast eyes of a domestic abuse victim. The figure approaches the mic and in a reveal reminiscent of FranknFurter in the Rocky Horror Show, the cloak is opened to reveal a facsimile of the Berlin wall, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s title character breaks into the show’s first song Tear Me Down.

Following a successful run in November 2018, In the Wings’ Promotions’ production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch was invited to be part of Montreal Pride’s official programming. As director and the show’s Yitzhak Noelle Hannibal put it:

“The show is so iconic in the community, that it’s the perfect fit for Pride.”

The venue has changed from Cabaret Mado to Café Cléopatre, but aside from a few enhancements, the show is every bit as riveting as during its first run.

For those of you unfamiliar with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, it is the brainchild of actor John Cameron Mitchell and musician Stephen Trask, who developed the off-Broadway show which then became a cult film and from there a Broadway show starring Neil Patrick Harris. The show is about a slip of a girly boy from communist East Berlin and is a blend of glam and punk rock, politics, and gender bending, with tunes so catchy even the biggest curmudgeon will be dancing in their seat.

Trask was a major part of the first Montreal run, sitting on dress rehearsals and answering Hannibal’s texts as needed. The result is a show that’s more than just pretty makeup, gender-reversals, and catchy tunes.

In my review of the show’s first run, I noted that the relationship between Hedwig – played by New York based actor Andrew Morrissey, and Noelle Hannibal’s Yitzhak was interpreted as one of domestic abuse. In this rendition that portrayal is enhanced with more passive aggression by Yitzhak – there are muttered curses, and spitting, and Yitzhak’s eyes seethe with the hatred of the powerless for their oppressor.

Morrissey’s Hedwig contains more deference for Yitzhak’s talent, as if the abuse comes from the recognition that her talent is no match for Yitzhak’s and she can only shine by putting him down. It provided more nuance to the characters from a script that by Hannibal’s own admission, had very little to guide them.

Morrissey’s Hedwig is much improved from the November run. Though his German accent is on and off and his voice is occasionally pitchy, you see more madness behind the makeup, more sincerity behind the line:

“I’ll laugh because I’ll cry if I don’t.”

With this more nuanced portrayal is all the sass and sex the part requires, and Morrissey pulls that off beautifully.

As important to the production as its stars are the band and costumes. Hedwig undergoes multiple costume changes during the show and designer Sig Moser clearly understood what the show is all about.

“He was very familiar with the show and the film version and brought in some fantastic ideas that would work with our extremely tight, indie budget. He can whip up a dress in an hour,” said Hannibal, whose own costumes were tweaked to work better for this run.

The outfits are an amazing mix of showmanship, denim, leather, lace, and sequins, a true nod to music genres you’ll live during the show.

The band, made up of Ian Baird, Kevin Bourne, Stephen Menold, and Sebastian Balk-Forcione, are not passive background musicians, but people who must actively interact with Hedwig and Yitzhak on stage. Though I wished the tempo of Tear Me Down was a bit quicker, the band did not disappoint. Decked out in punk rock pieces and colored hair, they are an amazing accompaniment to a show that features glam and punk rock in all its glory.

That said, the show is iconic for a reason, so come with an open mind. You won’t be disappointed!

The current run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch finishes tonight. Tickets available through HedwigMontreal.com

Day one of Île Soniq  had some rainy moments, but even the turbulent weather wasn’t enough to keep anyone from enjoying the festival!

The day started out with its usual Montréal-style festival festivities: a full metro car echoing with excited singing and chanting from eager festival goers, almost like an energy pre if you will.

When we arrived at Parc Jean-Drapeau we were greeted by the warm sun and I got my first look at the newly renovated festival grounds, that have recently been relocated to its previous spot on île Sainte-Hélène. The layout of the festival is spacious, even for vast crowd of festival goers and the view of the city and the glistening water just makes the experience all the more ethereal. 

The first show I catch is Sydanie, a Toronto-based rapper (and self-described “bad rap mom” on her Soundcloud). She’s glimmering angelically in a sparkling jumpsuit and doesn’t hesitate to bust a move in it as she raps some realness.

We definitely felt her energy when she performed her newest song I want u 2 see this and even debuted an unreleased track Abby. Sydanie doesn’t just speak truth in her music though, and midway through her performance she reminds us of the sadly minimal effort by Île-Soniq to hire any female performers by shouting out to “the fact that I’m the only live performing female for the day.”

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While I wait to catch MurdaBeatz’ show, I head over to the superman ride that île-Soniq has set up for its festival goers. As I’m strapped into the ride I hear the crowd screaming as he hits the stage, but by the time it’s over the rain has taken over the festival and stopped the show. At first the crowd screams for MurdaBeatz, but as it starts to get pretty wet it begins to dissipate in large pieces as everyone seeks out shelter. 

By the time it stops I’m just in time to catch Nora En Pure, a South African-Swiss DJ known for her deep house and indie dance music. Her music is light and euphoric even amidst all the clouds and intermittent rain, an almost perfect foil for the next show I saw: 1000volts. 

South African-Swiss DJ, Nora En Pure

The story of 1000volts’ conception reads like a love story to me, and I can’t unsee it. Hip-hop ace Redman and trap and bass producer Jayceeoh joined forces after working together on a song in 2015, and have been bridging the gap between hip hop and electronic music ever since. Their name didn’t disappoint either with the electrifying performance they gave, perfectly set under an actual stormy sky.

While I was waiting to catch Lil Pump on his first trip to Quebec, I also managed to catch Oliver Helden’s performance — a sea of beautiful people swaying back and forth to the uplifting but poppy sound — as well as the end of Smokepurpp’s show from afar which had perhaps one of the most energetic crowds I saw, singing along to all of his songs and bouncing rhythmically together with shots of the mosh pit hitting the big screen every few minutes.

Festival-goers enjoying Sheck Wes’ performance

I made sure to catch Mo Bamba at Sheck Wes’ show, took a few minutes to get some poutine in me and then trekked back to the Mirage Stage with the masses to catch a glimpse of Soundcloud sensation Lil Pump, who was unsurprisingly 20 minutes late to his own show. Though I do enjoy a few of his most popular songs, (Gucci Gang will always be a bop), his overall performance felt to be a bit of a disappointment, but that can probably be blamed more on his tech guys as the cameraman was visibly struggling to follow him across the stage and his DJ/hype-man’s mic seemed to be louder than his own, obscuring the sound of his voice and lyrics punctuating everything Pump said with the perhaps overly frequent and loud “yuh”s and “okay”s. Once it started to rain, it was a sign for me to leave. 

Overall the first day was absolutely jam-packed with exciting and energetic performances for every sub-category of electronic music, even including a metal EDM performance by Sullivan King, as well as the various hiphop/electronic music fusions, (although almost completely lacking in female performers). See you all at Day two for what will hopefully be better weather! 

Photos courtesy of the lovely Celeste Bonnier (featured image of Sydanie and her backup dancers)

Île Soniq concludes today, tickets available through IleSoniq.com

Friday and Saturday this upcoming weekend (August 9th & 10th) will mark the sixth annual Île Soniq festival, which will be returning to its original site at Parc Jean-Drapeau. So grab your sunscreen, don’t forget to #stayhydrated, and get ready to dance like its your last chance, because this one might just knock you into September.

Now, if you’re anything like me, the hardest part of almost any festival is simply figuring out how to divvy up your precious time. But fret not, because I’m gonna fill you in on all the shows you’re not gonna want to miss this year (and you can find the full lineup below)!

Montreal’s Own

This year’s Île Soniq lineup is choc-full international talent, sure, but for those of you that are interested in finding out what Montreal–a city that has been home to some of the world’s most promising artists–is bringing to the table this year (besides the festival itself, of course), look no further.

Adventure Club

If you don’t know them already, Christian Srigley and Leighton James started off as a pop-punk band and are now an electronic dance music duo based out of Montreal.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 7:05PM-8:05PM

Relaxjosh

Relaxjosh is a local Montreal DJ with a unique but evolving sound. Though he’s been DJing since 11, he released his first single, Famous, only last year.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 1:00PM-1:45PM

Underher

Underher is a sensual electronica/techno act created by Kalden Bess. Genre? Music to have sex to.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 2:30PM-3:30PM

Sam Lamar

Sam Lamar has been rapidly rising through the ranks of the bass music scene, and has shown no signs of stopping yet!

Playing on Friday, August 9th from 2:45PM-3:40PM

DJ Bolarinho

Image result for dj bolarinho

DJ and producer from the collective ‘Drôle d’oiseaux’, best known for his groovy funkytrap and of course his mystical beard!

Playing Friday, August 9th 1:00PM-1:45PM
#groovy🧔🤙

Bad-ass Babes

Île Soniq didn’t book many female performers this year 😒 … But here are a couple baddies you should check out.

Sydanie

Sydanie is a Jamaican-Trinidadian Toronto-based queer rapper and supermom and she’s changing the game in the Toronto hip-hop scene.

Playing Friday, August 9th from 1:15PM to 2:00PM

Whipped Cream

Whipped Cream, aka Caroline Cecil, goes hard with her limitless and versatile bad-ass bass sound.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 4:05PM-5:05PM

Nicole Moudaber

Nicole Moudaber is a Lebanese/British radio personality and techno DJ and producer. She’s also behind MOOD, her own record label and global party brand. She gets pretty wild on the dance floor, and doesn’t hold back when she’s turning tunes either.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 8:50PM-10:50PM

Nora en Pure

Nora en Pure is a South-African/Swiss DJ known for her deep house and indie dance music. She’s also a core member of the Helvetic Nerds.

Playing on August 9th from 2:55PM-3:55PM

Some other personal faves…

1000volts

Superduo Redman & Jayceeoh team up to zap you with 1000 volts of their own bass and hiphop fusion, bridging the gap between rap and electronic music.

Playing Friday, August 9th from 4:00PM-5:00PM

Lick (the DJ)

Lick the DJ (ha-ha) is from San Francisco, specialising in fine techno, deep house, and tech house. His music is vivid and electrifying.

Playing Friday, August 9th from 1:00PM-1:55PM

Ronin

Ronin is a DJ, producer, and avocado-enthusiast. If you’re somehow not already amped when you show up to Ile Soniq, you will be after his set.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 2:00PM-3:00PM

Dabin

Dabin Lee grew up surrounded by music and it shows. The Toronto musician’s melodic electronic music will make you feel like you’re living the emotional climax of the movie of your life, wind in your hair and all.

Full Lineup & Tickets

2019 LINEIP

Check out the rest of the lineup.To get your tickets if you haven’t already, or for more information check out the Île Soniq website, and I’ll see you all there!

The third and last day of the festival started with the talented Toronto DJ Kirsten Azan, aka Bambii, at scène de I’île. Bambii is no stranger to the Montreal scene and gathered a decent crowd of fans who danced to the rhythms of dancehall and electronic music.

Bambii (photo ©2019 Benoit Rousseau, courtesy Osheaga)

For our second show, we saw Alex Anyaegbunam, better known by his stage name Rejjie Snow, Irish rapper. After a few technical issues on stage, Rejjie Snow started at 5:20 and put on a decent show. He also presented part of his new material which will be in his upcoming album: Baba Black Sheep which he recently finished and will be dropping soon.

Rejjie Snow (photo by Bianca Lecompte)

The number of attendees doubled and we headed to the main stage to see major acts such as Hozier, Team Impala and last but not least, our personal favourite Daniel Glover aka Childish Gambino to wrap up the festivities.

Childish Gambino (photo by lamyazpixels)

As people were chanting his name Gambino appeared on an elevated platform in the middle of the crowd and made his way to the blue stage to put on a show. He connected with the audience while taking selfies and high fiving as many as possible, the crowd sang along to his hits Summertime Magic, Sober and This is America.

Childish Gambino brought out a full band and chorus to the stage and it was a magical experience.

Featured image by Bianca Lecompte

Osheaga was a great three days of hardy drinking and music and all I can say about this year’s festival is that there were so many pleasant surprises.

Let’s get right to it: Sunday night was the big night because of its two headliners: Tame Impala and Childish Gambino.

Tame Impala put on a near perfect show. The crowd was transfixed with the neat light beams coming from the stage that seemed to put everyone in a trance. They played most of their songs from their latest LP but did a few good oldies like Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and Elephant.

Childish Gambino then brought the crowd to complete ecstasy by hitting it home and closed out the night with some spectacular fireworks right after the crowd sang along to This is America.

Photo by lamyazpixels

Earlier in the day Metric got the crowd going. At times Hains started speaking what seemed to be poetry about getting shit done in your life.

Mac DeMarco was acting all goofy all day. It culminated in him doing a funny cover of Metallica’s enter Sandman.

Saturday night’s romp with chemical Brothers was one for the bucket list. These superstar DJs were definitely one of the highlights of my festival experience.

Honourable Mentions:

Teke:: Teke, Fisher and Vladamir Cauchmar to name drop a few, were as entertaining as ever. And Kurt VIle put on one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen him do.

Strangest Act:

Black Tiger Sex Magic was definitely the strangest act of the festival with helmets that light up and the oddest crowd mix of electronic dance music bros, pretty ladies and weirdos.

Coolest Performance:

The coolest performance trophy goes to Reignwolf to for their use of the space to play their guitars and bass and the final meshing of the guitar and bass together to end the set.

Side note: As for the venue the park new old location was definitely noticed by people for being more spacious and with a lot more amenities.

The only one negative thing I noticed with the amount of dust I was at this year’s festival maybe it was caused by the amount of construction in Montreal or on site or perhaps it was the sand that was laid out at the base of the mountain but whatever reason a lot of people were covering their face as because of it. Hopefully next year it won’t be as dusty.

Featured image by lamyazpixels

Day Two is now in the books, let’s try to recap the blur that just happened, shall we. Like with any festival you’re always experiencing something while missing out on something else. It’s the nature of events like this so someone else’s snapshot of the day might be completely different.

Vladamir Cachmar (photo Jerry Gabriel)

We at FTB went into the Saturday with a plan that we wouldn’t at any point make a plan. Just follow a friend to what they’re going to, ask a stranger for a suggestion or wander aimlessly. Here’s a few of the places our wanderings took us to.

Photo by Jerry Gabriel

We happened in on King Princess who a friend told us was the next big thing waiting to blow up. She didn’t disappoint, we’ll have to remember to check her out again.

We decided to hang in the back for Janelle Monáe, see the big picture of the festival.

It can’t all be high energy, met up with some old friends and made some new ones hanging out on the hammocks

The crowd for Black Tiger Sex Machine was a drum of gasoline waiting to go up and the Montreal based trio didn’t waste any time lighting the match that set the whole thing off.

The best hidden gem for the day (and strong candidate for highlight of the festival) were garage rockers Reignwolf who used every possible inch of the stage and every ounce of energy they had during their performance.

Frontman Jordan Cook seemd hell bent on climbing to the top of every structure he could find while playing his guitar solos. Amps were swaying, patch cords were being pulled tight around beams, security was having a panic attack. You know, standard rock and roll stuff.

He even jumped into the crowd for a little bit one on one time with everyone. All this while singing the chorus “Are you Satisfied?” Yes Jared, very much so.

The Chemical Brothers capped the day off with an immersive performance combining their music with a multimedia light and video show complete with confetti, giant robots and beach balls. Probably the most complete top to bottom performance we’ve ever seen and a masterclass on how to combine music with other medium.

Featured image courtesy of lamyazpixels

Osheaga 2019 finishes today (Sunday). Tickets at the gate or through Osheaga.com

Day one of Osheaga 2019 is now in the books and it set a pretty high bar for the rest of the weekend. Here’s a quick recap of some of the highlights, awards ceremony style.

The best improvement award goes to the venue itself. Last year renovations pushed Osheaga out of its normal spot on Île Sainte-Hélène and most, myself included found it to be a bit of a headache. This time around they’re back in their usual spot and it seems to have been very well received by most concertgoers.

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Checking out this ferris wheel #osheaga fun

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The best stage presence award goes to Mitski who brought a table and chair on stage with her and played lovingly with them all set. What at first looked like a one or two song gimmick turned into a set long love affair with inanimate objects.

Interpol

The coolest dude at the party award goes to Interpol’s Daniel Kessler who decided to attire himself in suit and shades. Despite temperatures soaring in the afternoon he kept the full coat and tie on the whole time! That’s some serious commitment to looking like a rockstar there Daniel.

The best surf rock goes to Teke Teke, because we love them and love surf rock and we wanted to give them a shout out.

The most touching moment award goes to the Lumineers for deciding to ignore standard procedure by reserving the encore for one of their big hits and instead chose to pay homage to Montreal legend Leonard Cohen by covering has classic Democracy.

The Lumineers

Their low key version, dropping the classic drum beat and musical hook till the very end, made the song something a little bit Cohen and a little bit themselves while still capturing the important part of all Cohen songs, the lyrics. Maybe the crowd didn’t know all the words to this one but the overall message, which like most Cohen songs is still relevant today, was quite clear.

Kurt Vile and the Violators

Photos by Jerry Gabriel (except featured image by Joseph McLean)

Osheaga continues through Sunday, tickets at Osheaga.com

Osheaga‘s back this weekend for 3 full days of music, art, food and fun in what is likely to be very hot sun. The lineup this year is as impressive as ever with some very big names sure to draw big crowds.

Here at FTB though we try not to focus on any of those big names. It just seems a little silly to preview what you already know.

Instead we’ll be talking about the hidden gems playing earlier in the day when you might be more inclined to wander aimlessly and get to know a new artist. Here’s who I’m most looking forward to getting to know, feel free to check out their full lineup and form your own opinion.

Stay hydrated my friends!

Disclaimer: This list is totally biased to what I’m into at the moment so don’t tell me I missed someone or it’s in some way wrong.

Teke::Teke

I’ve always had a soft spot for surf rock bands, especially when they list Takeshi Terauchi as their biggest influence. If you don’t know who he is I advise you to do a quick little google search.

It also doesn’t hurt that Teke::Teke are from good ol’Montreal and what would Osheaga be like without a little hometown bias in the preview.

Give them a listen and you’ll see they’ve got the old surf rock vibe but with some twists. There’s a lot of modern elements as well as some traditional Japanese instruments mixed in for good measure.

grandson

While I’m not super familiar with grandson, his track Apologize keeps showing up everywhere and I’m curious to get to know a little more about him. He’s a relatively young artist and starting to get chart-level success so this might be a “I remember when” situation where you get to catch someone before they really blow up.

Mallrat

I’ve always found it funny that “fashionably late” even applies to concerts in Montreal. If you’re like me and actually make it to places at the correct time you can check out Mallrat bright and early at the crack of 1 pm on Sunday.

I know, what an ungodly hour to be awake, and on a Sunday no less! But it will be well worth it. At just 20 years old, this Australia singer/rapper is already starting to make waves, best to get on the boat early.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

The elevator pitch for why St.Paul & The Broken Bones is on this list, the dude can sing like it’s nobody’s business. A whole lot of soul, a little bit of funk and a superb horn section have me curious to see what the live version of the tracks I’ve heard will sound like.

Mitski

Ok so Mitski is definitely not a lesser known artist but she’s on in the afternoon so it might still count. Besides, this is my list and I’ll do what I want!

She’s the winner of the “Osheaga Artist I’ve Been Listening to Most Lately Award” and as the winner of this completely arbitrary prize she wins a spot on this list.

Mac DeMarco

In this case I have no excuse, it’s super duper duper breaking the rules to put Mac DeMarco on the list. So he’ll go at the bottom and I won’t dwell on it for long but I had to since the “hipster Jimmy Buffet” is absolutely nuts live, don’t forget to go see him, who knows what craziness he’ll get up to.

You might even get to hear his tone deaf drummer sing classic rock songs like he did last summer at Lollapalooza. Like who does that?!?

While this year’s line-up at Osheaga is heavy on the electronic and hip hop acts, there are still plenty of bands for those of you who want to rock out. And personally, while it’s nice to have the mix, sometimes you just want to rock out.

Here my picks for the best indie rock performers playing Osheaga this year:

Real Estate

Indie pop sensations Real Estate have found themselves at a crossroads with their last LP, with longtime lead guitarist Matt Mondanile leaving the band, but still have the chops to take it all the way.

In Mind (2017), their fourth studio album and one recorded in the absence of Mondanile, shows the band is still very viable. With this album taking them in new directions, the future looks for Real Estate.

Sunday, August 4, 4:30pm @ National Bank Stage

Mac Demarco

I was supposed to avoid writing about the headliners, and let’s face it Mac Demarco is a headliner even if he isn’t the top bill. He has played shows in front of tens of thousands, spawned a resurgence in semi-psychedelic lo-fi sound (and many have tired to copy his trademark sound), and he smokes the king of all cigarettes, Viceroy.

His lo-fi sound started in Mile End but has now reached the four quadrants of the world. And boy has it been one long strange trip.

He’s known for being an oddball and goofing around on stage, so expect to see some serious antics! But his unique sound gives him the tight niche of laid back slacker rock that is just very compelling and very good.

Sunday, August 5, 5:15pm @ Bell Alt TV River Stage

Teke:: Teke

The eclectic coming together of musicians from well-known Montreal bands (Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra, Boogat, Pawa) created Japanese-influenced post-punk psychorockers Teke:: Teke.

If you yen for some traditional Japaneese  surf rock infusion then this might be the band for you.

Friday, August 2 3:45 @ Perrier Tree Stage

Braids

Montreal Art rock band Braids will take the stage a year after winning the Juno for Best Alternative Rock group.

They got me with their 80s electronic beats over Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s vocals, which can be pretty haunting at times especially when infused with some pretty interesting vocal effects.

Sunday, August 4th, 1pm @ Honda Valley Stage

Kurt Vile and the Violators

I’ve been a fan of Kurt Vile ever since the first time I saw him play at Casa del Popolo. He was alone at the time playing his guitar with crazy pedal effects and his sweet nasal voice. Sufficed to say, I was pretty impressed.

His lo-fi sound and voice fills the psychedelia of his songs with wry, sardonic lyrics. His last album Lotta Sea Lice, co-written with Courtney Barnette, was truly inspiring and now he’ll be on stage with the Violators, a band that adds overall emphasis to his unique style.

Friday August 2, 8:15pm @ Honda Valley Stage

We Are Monroe

If you really need to rock out at Osheaga this year then check out Montreal’s own We Are Monroe. They are part classic rock with a new twist Their singer brings a great voice in the singing style of The Black Keys complimented by some terrific backup guitar.

Friday August 2, 2:20pm @ Perrier Tree Stage

Reignwolf

Part metal, part rock, this band knows how to riff out an amazingly catchy song. They flew under the radar for a long time until Rolling Stone magazine called them one of the top 10 artists you need to know.

Now, with their new album out Hear Me Out (2019), they are set to go on tour with The Who later this year. Catch them while you can.

Saturday, August 3, 8:40pm @ Perier Stage

Osheaga runs Friday August 2nd to Sunday August 4th at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Tickets available through Osheaga.com

Featured Image Courtesy of Laura Fedele/WFUV