This week there is plenty of great music to check out in Montreal. We’ve got indie emo rock, relatable non-bubblegum, hard rock and even a burlesque show (not technically a music show, but it still fits).

Let’s get started:

Sounds Of Melancholy: Ziggi Jadovsky To Hit The Stage

In a world spurred on by the likes of Instagram, where it’s almost a sin to not be happy shiny people 24/7, a breath of fresh air has finally appeared. Ziggi Jadovsky is her name. And she’s The Genuine Article.

She’s caught the attention of the press without any record label support or artist development team. Her voice has been described in the press as otherworldly, genuine, magical, beautiful, and a world class stand out.

For those of us who are tired of hearing the bubble gum pop lyrics of meaninglessness, you are going to love the title of her first single. Wait for it. Morning Dread. Something a lot of us can relate to:

“I noticed I felt more vulnerable to self-defeating thoughts when I first wake up and heard others mention they felt the same, so when the words to the song arrived in my head one morning, I knew I had to get them down. I get lots of conspiratorial nods and nervous giggles of recognition when I perform Morning Dread and felt it time to finally give it a visual treatment to share with a wider audience.”

Her songs address issues like grief, fighting negative self-talk with an encompassing air of nostagia. She’s backed by a jazz rock trio backline of musicians with a cohesive sound that’s reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane, Tim Buckley, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Billie Holiday.

The Ziggi Jadovksy video release party is at Théâtre Sainte Catherine, 264 Ste-Catherine Est, Friday, April 20, 5pm-7pm. Free

Indie Rock Emo Spring Tour Lands In Montreal

Southwest indie rock band Lydia graces the stage in Montreal this week. The band’s popularity has risen over the years thanks to MTV and Yahoo Music giving a lot of playtime to their single When It Gets Dark Out. The hard working band has played to massive crowds at Vans Warped Tour and Bamboozle Festival.

When asked about their songwriting process, frontman/guitarist Leighton Antelman had this to say:

“Lydia’s main goal is to evoke emotion – no matter what emotion it is. I don’t care what specific feeling that is…it just has to pull on some things inside you, change your DNA around for a bit. That’s how a song makes the cut or gets thrown to the curb these days. If what you do can make the audience feel genuine emotions, I think you’ve done your job.”

Emo Pop Punk outfit Moose Blood will be headlining the show. They’ve been compared to Brand New, The Get Up Kids, and Amercican Football. The band members starting honing their skills in metalcore bands like Burn Down Rome and Harbours, but eventually gravitated to more singing and melody.

Their first EP reached number 45 on the Billboards Heatseekers Chart. They’ve entertained big crowds at Warped Tour, Reading and Leeds. They will be promoting their freshly released album I Don’t Think I Can Do This Anymore released last month.

Moose Blood and Lydia perform at Théâtre Fairmount, 5240 Ave du Parc, Thursday, April 19, 8pm. Tickets are $26 and available through the Fairmount box office

Barfly Is For Debauchery

Come see some amped up live rock n roll at Barfly, make sure to get there early as the pub packs up fast and it’s a small space. Local rockers Dead Messenger and Half Measures will be sharing the sage with Mad Ones from Toronto to rock your socks off.

Dead Messenger, Mad Ones and Half Measures perform at Barfly, 4062A Boul St-Laurent, Saturday, April 21, 10pm. PWYC

 

Candyass Cabaret

Okay, so this one’s not a music show, but by all indications it will rock, as burlesque shows in this city generally do. Since the sister column to this one, Arts Shows This Week, is on a bit of a hiatus, we’ll talk about April’s Candyass Cabaret (there’s a new one the third Friday of every month) here instead.

The theme this time seems to be the vernal equinox (even though that was last month, but it took a while for spring to arrive) and the lineup features Candyass veterans Damiana Dolce, Roxie Hardon and Nat King Pole. The host is Jimmy Phule. If you’ve never been to one of these shows, what are you waiting for? The autumnal equinox?

Candyass Cabaret: Vernal Delights is at Café Cléopatra, 1230 Boul St-Laurent, 2nd Floor, Friday, April 20, 10pm. Tickets are $10

* Featured image: ziggijadovsky.com

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. Our week goes from Thursday to Wednesday, so let us know by the preceding Sunday, though not too much in advance, or you may get lost in the shuffle. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Did you hear the birds chirping early this morning? Did you notice the dewy grass thawing? Winter if FINALLY over!

The cool breeze this morning confirmed what we’ve been all waiting for. Spring is here for real. And we’ve got some great live bands to celebrate the good times ahead.

A Night Of Rock N Roll Decadence

Les Ismore bring their their grungy classic folk rock to the stage with tinges of LA glam metal and reggae to boot.

They will be sharing the stage with Naghmeh and the Southern Shores who will rock out their folk rockin’ tunes with middle eastern influences and lyrics dripping with sass.

Sharing the spotlight that evening will be Broke Diplomates who’ll showcase some fine 70s psychedelic and British Invasion influences.

Opening act Sella will display some witchcraft influenced dark vibey music drenched with blues soul and dark cabaret.

To top off the list, second opening act Jason Allman, will also appear on stage. With no presence online, who is this mystery musician? Is he one of the Allman brothers?

Les Ismore Montreal, Naghmeh and the Southern Shores, Broke Diplomates and Sella perform at Crobar, 1221 Crescent Street, Saturday, April 14, 9pm, $7-PWYC at the door

Pop Jazz With A World Class Voice

“With an honesty and warmth that sets her apart from so many artists, Doty is an emerging Canadian talent who is clearly one to watch for 2017 and beyond.” CBC Music

Ellen Doty. She’s got a one in a million voice. She’s a real road warrior; her last cross-Canada tour included 42 show that she booked herself.

She will be in town to display her latest album which is all about pop, jazz, soul, folk, and indie music. Yet, instead of the usual instrumentation, this album has no bass, background vocals, horns or layers. Just piano, voice, and drums showing off a raw and spacious sound.

Come see her soulful act, a show you won’t regret.

Ellen Doty performs at Casa del Popolo, 4873 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Tuesday, April 17, 8pm. Tickets are $14.30 and available through Indie Montreal

From YouTube Pranks to the Stage in Montreal

It’s not important that he’s sold 40 million records worldwide. It doesn’t matter that his 80s single Never Gonna Give You Up was a huge hit.

What’s really important here is that Rick Astley, yes THAT Rick Astley is performing here in our hometown.

Not familiar with his work? Sure you are (if you’ve ever been Ric-Rolled).

It’s great to share this video without making it part of a prank:

Rick Astley performs at Theatre Corona, 2490 Notre-Dame Ouest, Saturday, April 14, 8pm. Tickets through Evenko (Currently SOLD OUT) 

An Evening Of Musical Revelrie

Sweet Roger brings his genuine performance to the stage fueled by the sounds of folk, Americana, and alternative.

Also performing that evening is vocalist, guitarist/composer Nolan Hubbard who brings his evocative acoustic-pop songs from his first album recorded in Nashville by recording industry heavyweights.

Also sharing the stage will be passionate singer songwriter Cinzia who, along with The Eclipse, will showcase her rock pop songs with stellar vocals.

To top off the list, Americana country rocker Greg Mcevoy blows in from Toronto.

Sweet Roger, Nolan Hubbard, Cinzia and the Eclipse and Greg McEvoy perform at Barfly, 4062A St Laurent, Friday, April 13, 8pm.

From Ballads To Bangers
Scenic Route To Alaska will be in town to spread their contagious pop sound. They are already a a hit in Australia and Europe, and their unique brand of pop actually has substance. To find out more about this band check out our contest post for details.

Scenic Route To Alaska perform at Quai Des Brumes, 4481 St Denis St, Wednesday April 18, 9pm. If you don’t win the contest, tickets are $11.85 and available through Indie Montreal

* Featured image of Les Ismore via Facebook

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. Our week goes from Thursday to Wednesday, so let us know by the preceding Sunday, though not too much in advance, or you may get lost in the shuffle. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Impressive three-piece rock pop outfit Scenic Route To Alaska will grace the stage at Quai Des Brumes this week. And now you have a chance to see them for free courtesy of FTB and Indie Montreal.

Pop Band With Substance

They’ve been signed to a number of record labels of the years. They’ve gained a cult following in Australia and Europe. They’ve released singles on CBC Radio to much love. They’ve been recognized at the Western Canadian Music Award. And their songs are all over the place on popular TV shows.

What’s cool about their songs is that the lyrics are simple yet meaningful:

“And after a long day I finally rest my eyes
Under the Eiffel Tower lights
Dream of the river and you by my side”

From Ballads To Bangers

Their latest album, Tough Luck, was produced by the man behind Tegan & Sarah and The New Pornographers, producer Howard Redekopp. The 10 track LP shows off a tight and dynamic live sound that is not afraid to be organic on the production side of things. The album truly engages the listener as you find yourself wanting to hear the songs over and over again.

Maybe that’s due to the fact that it’s a rare find to discover a pop band that has something of importance to say. Or maybe its simply the catchy vocal rhythms, memorable melodies, and rich arrangements.

Either way the album captures the same energy the band projects on stage: an exciting high energy performance, with a fun contagious vibe.

How To Win

To win two tickets, comment below and tell us what your favorite single is of the band and why you love that song so much. Best answer will get their name +1 on the VIP guest list!

If you’re not familiar with them yet, give Tough Luck a listen or check out their BandCamp for more songs:

Scenic Route To Alaska perform at Quai Des Brumes, 4481 St Denis St, Wednesday April 18, 9pm. If you don’t win the contest, tickets are $11.85 and available through Indie Montreal

* Featured image via Facebook

Hello Forget The Box Readers, we are back again for another edition of Montreal Live Music Shows This Week.

It’s cloudy. It’s rainy. And there’s no sun. But there is hope that the grey skies will clear out for blue ones very soon. In the meantime, Spring Winds are blowing in some nice talent into Montreal, and some of that talent is homegrown as well.

So without further ado, lets see whats in store for you this week.

Pop Dance Anthems A La Violon – Aleksi Campagne

If you haven’t heard of Aleksi Campagne, you will soon enough. Hailing from Montreal, the 24 year old singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist has an impressive track record:

He’s played live for Radio Canada and TVA. He’s lent his violin skills to well known Canadian folk legends Heather Bishop and Connie Kaldor. He’s been on the bill at high profile Canadian festivals like the Vancouver Folk Festival. He’s performed in Paris at the famous bistro Le Petit Journal Montparnasse. He’s made appearances at private record label showcases like the International Folk Alliance Conference in Kansas City. He’s also sang backup vocals at for prominent artists at shows at Place Des Arts.

This week he is launching his debut album that combines a smooth mix of pop, folk and jazz. What’s exciting about his signature sound is the combination of distortion, normally reserved for heavy rock and metal, and violin. His songs have been described as “wickedly catchy dancing anthems.”

There is no evidence to suggest that his talent is in large part due to studying for two years under the wing of Parisian violin maestro Didier Lockwood. There is, however, some evidence showing that his sound is similar to violinist Andrew Bird, and R&B star Sam Cook.

And there is A LOT of circumstantial evidence pointing to the fact that his show will get sold out quickly. So, jump on this opportunity to catch an up and coming artist for an intimate album launch at Patro Vys.

Aleksi Campagne Band performs with Old Time Honey at O Patro Vys, 356 Mont-Royal Est, Thursday, April 5, 9:30pm. Tickets are $10 or $18 with a CD and available through AleksiCampagne.com

Moonfruits Comes To Charm Montreal At Place Des Arts

Ontario based folk duo Moonfruits, great band name by the way, are touring to support their sophomore album Ste Quequepart. But it is no ordinary album.

The concept album draws inspiration from the duo’s road stories- they have played over 100 shows just in Canada alone, and the rest from pure creative imagination. The songs lyrics tell stories about an imaginary village where love and a sense of community co-exists with the stark realities of poverty, prejudice and inequality.

Yet a sense of hope permeates their overall artistic message. For them, its all about celebrating common ground and walking in another’s shoes

The duo who sing in French and English are known to charm their audiences with their sincerity and humor and will be playing as a quartet to deliver a full band sound with drums, double bass, guitar, banjo and percussion. And Lots of Heart.

A great performance awaits you at Place des Arts this week, hope you can make it.

Moonfruits perform at Salle Claude-Léveillée – Place des Arts, 175 Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Friday, April 6, 8pm. Tickets are $20.25 and available through Place des Arts

The Soul Of Blue Rodeo Comes To Town

Jim Cuddy is back. If your a fan of country rock, especially of the Canadian variety, then this is a not to be missed opportunity. The 62 year old country rocker will be gracing the stage right here in Montreal with his heartfelt brand of country rock.

Cuddy released his latest album Constellations last January so you’ll be hearing some brand new music live this time. As always, songwriting is top notch and it’s no secret why Blue Rodeo was such a great Canadian success.

Corona Theatre will be generously offering a free copy of the album with the purchase of your ticket. In my book that’s a great two for one deal so grab it because it doesn’t happen often!

Jim Cuddy performs with Barney Bentall at Théâtre Corona, 2490 Notre-Dame Ouest, Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7 at 8pm. Tickets are $61.50 and available through Evenko

Canada’s Next Big Thing Arrives In Montreal

They are Canada’s next Sloan. The most exciting show this week is the arrival of Nova Scotia bred Hillsburn who will be playing an intimate album launch at Casa Del Popolo. The up and coming band has a busy month ahead; BOOKED SOLID everyday this month on tour across The Great White North.

They’ve got a fresh authentic sound that has got audiences dancing on their feet. They’ve hooked up with Classified for one of their singles off their new album. You won’t get this chance again to see them at such an intimate venue as Casa.

We covered the band in more detail for our contest post, so check it out for more details on why this is A MUST to check out.

Hillsburn perform at Casa del Popolo, 4873 boul St-Laurent, Sunday, April 8, 8pm. Tickets are $9.80 and available through Indie Montreal

A Dose Of Nu Gaze For Your Ears

Do you like bands like Blonde Redhead, My Vitrol, And Silversun Pickups? Do you miss the good old days of alternative rock that showcased droning riffs, messy non-linear distorted guitars, and gloomy vocals?

Look no further, Montreal’s own Paddle To The Sea will electrify the stage with their high energy hooks. The first time I heard their adrenaline fueled song, Moon, it blew me away. Like why aren’t these guys famous; seriously?!

Their chimmey shimmering guitars combined with dark vocal hooks are really comforting to the ears. Yet they don’t sound overproduced; instead the generate a raw and edgy authentic sound that is radio friendly. Hello CHOM, get with the times already.

Regardless, the power trio is currently in the studio recording their second LP, with seasoned go to producer Fern Bouie – who does sound for big bands that come to town like The Beach Boys and other high profile acts.

If you can’t make the show, listen to their song moon, its a killer track. Go share it with all your FB friends and help these guys get some visibility.

Thicke Sugar, Paddle to the Sea and Lost Acres perform at Petit Campus, 57 Prince Arthur Est, Saturday, April 7, 8pm. Tickets are $10 at the door

Throwback To MTV Unplugged

I love the vibe of high energy rock bands that strip everything down to cedar wood guitars, brush sticks, and acoustic bass guitars sans AMP. You can really hear the songwriting craft with no distortion and high volume to distract you from the essence of the song itself.

Nirvana, Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam in the 90s come to mind when thinking about such intimate music circles and an adoring crowd in the cozy New York City MTV unplugged studios of yesteryears.

Well, we are getting a little treat this week at our local watering hole Barfly. Hailing from neighboring Toronto, The Do Good Badlies, are in town but they won’t be plugging in. Instead it will be a wireless evening, with three of the four members going up on stage one at a time to showcase the songs they’ve written for the band with just acoustic guitars.

There will be whiskey. Lots of whiskey, mainly supplied by Sir Jack Himself, as the rockers are proudly influenced by the classic timeless sounds of the 60s garage rock, 70s classic rock, as well as more modern tinged sounds a la Arcade Fire.

It will be a feel good music night and PWYC makes it hard to say no to this unique night at Barfly.

The Do Good Badlies’ What Goes Around Songwriter’s Circle is at Barfly, 4062A St-Laurent, Thursday, April 5 at 10pm. PWYC

* Featured image of Moonfruits via Indie Montreal

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. Our week goes from Thursday to Wednesday, so let us know by the preceding Sunday, though not too much in advance, or you may get lost in the shuffle. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

There’s nothing in the world like a band that plays to sold out crowds every single night. Hillsburn’s tour schedule is impressive: booked solid almost every night for the month of April. You can tell right away when a band is about to fly high.

Coming to see Hillsburn play live in such an intimate setting as cozy Casa Del Popolo is like going to see Nirvana play songs off their Bleach album at Foufounes before they got HUGE!

So without further ado, here are:

Four Really Good Reasons Why You’re Gonna Love To See Hillsburn Play Live:

High Profile Gig

First off, they’ve graced the stage at high profile festivals, you know, the ones where CTV, and La PRESSE show up with their minivans and cams:

Breakout West
Canadian Music Week
East Coast Music Association Week
Canadian Folk Music Awards

The crowd is gonna be stellar at Casa for the show, and who knows what well known faces you might recognize. If you want to impress your date, this is the Go To show this week.

Unexpected Sound

Second, their sound is hard to describe. And these days, this is almost impossible. Yet they sound fresh and contemporary. They’ve been described in the media as anthemic and timeless.

If you’re on the hunt for new music that doesn’t sound recycled and derivative, come see this band.

Egos Left at the Door

Third, there are no rock stars here. Everyone collaborates towards the UNIT, and that’s what comes across in the music, a nice cohesive sound that’s about the songs.

If you are about the music and would rather avoid the divas and drama queens of the music industry, this is YOUR NIGHT

Independent Like You’d Never Believe

Fourth, Hillsburn proves that the human spirit is still alive. Fiercely independent, the quintet decided to bypass the confines of the traditional studio environment. Instead, they choose to write, compose, collaborate and record their second album in a Halifax apartment.

When a up and coming band band buries an award-winning debut album and chooses to go the independent route for their second album, people sit up and take notice.

Birds of a feather flock together. If you value being independent and not selling out, this is a band you want to associate yourself with.

Bonus Points:

Their track Everywhere is produced by Classified.

They’ve captured the interest of FACTOR (government program that offers financial support to talent-rich artists).

The Contest

It’s quite simple. To win two free tickets, comment on this post telling us why you want to come see Hillsburn! The person who writes the best response will get on the VIP guest list +1 to see Hillsburn live on Sunday, April 8, 8pm, at Casa del Popolo, 4873 boul St-Laurent.

We will announce the winner on Friday, April 6. If you don’t win, tickets are available through Indie Montreal.

Good luck!

Café Le Cagibi has long held down the fort as a sort of (meta)physical gateway to Mile End at the corner of St-Laurent and St-Viateur. Yet after more than a decade—and amidst a strip dizzyingly gentrifying—the iconic café and show venue is moving on up.

Faced with—among other things—rent spikes north of 200%, Le Cagibi has opted to restructure. The metamorphosis actually began over a year ago, says Jess Lee, one of the proprietors. “As a group we tackled the issue of our lease, discussed landlord negotiations, and weighed pros, cons and feasibility of our various options,” she says.

“We decided moving was the best option.”

The iconic Mile End strip of St-Viateur between St-Laurent and Parc, built and popularized by places like Le Cagibi, has been gentrifying for years. Yet the gradual price edging of yesteryear has tipped over into something of a point of no return.

As documented by Gazette‘s T’cha Dunlevy, Le Cagibi’s rent increase came at the hands of Jeremy Kornbluth and Brandon Shiller, proprietors of upwards of seven properties on the strip, in addition to properties housing the controversial Starbucks in Marché Jean-Talon and the (now defunct) Gordon Ramsay remake of Le Laurier BBQ.

Yet according to Lee, there’s a silver lining to all this jazz. “Cagibi has always tried to provide a space for employees to learn and develop new skills and take on projects they’re excited about. The coop really formalizes this and takes it to the next level, allowing more folks to access the work, responsibilities and profits of ownership,” she says, noting that the new space will allow employees “to have more input into how the business runs,” and that regular nonworking members are also set to “benefit financially by receiving profits of the business and be able to choose where and how money goes back into the business.”

As such, Le Cagibi will join a growing cadre of city co-ops, such as nearby Touski and Divan Orange. The latter two proved particularly inspiring to Le Cagibi, according to Lee. “(These co-ops) were doing similar business operations and Touski provided us with an understanding of their structure which we definitely used as a springboard for discussing our own.”

So when will Le Cagibi as we know it be dissappearing? Having held its final show, the latest word is that current Le Cagibi will close around April 3rd. Lee says that the new space—on St-Zotique near St-Laurent—is slated to be open “as soon as possible… in time for Spring.”

The food menu might see some changes, though the details are still being hammered out.

As for the fate of the iconic Mile End of St-Viateur east of St-Laurent, things are much less certain.

“I think it just becomes more palpable and stark as financial capital begins to explicitly dominate the landscape,” says Lee of the changes. “But I think there’s a lot of resistance in Mile-End to allowing things to progress and a lot of continuous local support for long standing neighbourhood institutions.  I think the real estate corporations buying into the neighbourhood are aiming to make Mile End a new Griffintown or Notre Dame in St. Henri, but in my opinion, they’re overshooting in their expectations.”

“If they continue to blow out the locale economy,” she says, “in five years time my guess is there will be many unrented facades, a lot of business turnover and a few boutique operations or multi-national corporations using their storefront as advertising rather then as a points of sale.”

Cagibi has a fundraising campaign, where you can also find out about joining the collective

Featured image via Flickr/bittermelon / Creative Commons reuse.

Hello dear FTB readers and welcome to another edition of Montreal Live Music Shows This Week.

We have an eclectic mix of recommendations for you, from avant-guard progressive metal to authentic electro-pop. We also have some great local alt country/bluegrass as well as maritime acoustic folk rock coming your way.

Since there’s nothing positive to say about the rain and snow on its way to Montreal, let’s keep things on the up and up and focus on the live music!

Come See What the Maritimes Are Blowing In

Nova Scotian Jesse Potter brings his heartfelt solo act to Barfly to showcase his latest songs filled with creativity.

Hailing from an ocean side town in Annapolis Valley, Potter draws inspiration from the crashing waves of his hometown, and the awe-spiring nature that surrounded him growing up.

Inspired by jazz, gypsy music, folk, and pop, he brings his unique brand of adult contemporary acoustic jazz to Montreal on his first cross Canada tour. But make no mistake, he’s been grinding away at developing his sound for several years; he has a full LP out produced by Scott Hupman of The Hupman Brothers, and has played well known festivals back home like Lunenburg’s Folk Harbour Festival and Wolfville’s Deep Roots Music Festival.

Musical inspirations include Andy And Ariana, Micah O’connell, Adam Bazinet, and Chris Robison.

“Everything is constantly influencing my music. When I’m writing a song, my environment, the people around me, what sounds I heard throughout the day, and even the way I’m positioned affect how the song turns out in the end.”

Potter has a great uplifting and positive vibe on stage so come show your support for this very special artist:

Montreal’s own folk rock outfit Temporary Flings open the show. It is the brainchild of two songsmiths Shawn Thicke and Jean-Marc Grenier. Both had a hard time finding the right musicians to work with, but once they met, the chemistry sparked immediately and they came up with four songs right off the bat the first time they jammed.

Influenced by classic bands like Led Zeppelin, The Hip, and Dave Matthews Band, the misfits teamed up with rockers Zacharie Robert on bass and Jas Bat on drums to complete the lineup.

“Our songs tell stories of outcasts, underdogs, criminals, dreamers, and romantics in search of redemption”

Jesse Potter performs with Temporary Flings at Barfly, 4062A St-Laurent, Friday, March 30, 8pm

El Coyote: A Happy Accident

Alt country folk outfit El Coyote will be launching their first album of all original material at Casa this week. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Gilles Castilloux at The Treatment Room; the go to studio for big names like Plants & Animals, Stars, Wintersleep, and We Are Wolves.

The band was a happy accident resulting from casual Friday night jams for local musicians with busy careers to let loose, have some fun, and get through the winter. But as the weeks went by, everyone around the table started to realize that there was something more to this. Originals started to appear and by springtime, a full album worth of material was ready.

El Coyote is a great blend of country, americana and bluegrass that comes with a lot of heart and soul. And the vocal harmonies are stellar.

El Coyote perform at Casa del Popolo, 4873 St-Laurent, Tuesday April 3, 8pm. Tickets $13/$15 available through Casa del Popolo

March Is For Metal

Indiana progressive metal band The Contortionist come to Montreal to rock the stage and promote their latest album Clairvoyant. The band has been part of over 22 concert tours so far. The hardworking metallers, influenced by bands like Deftones, Meshuggah and Dream Theatre, have four studio albums and three EPs so far.

Lyrically, The Clairvoyant album has a melancholy vibe. Unlike their their previous album Language, which was more upbeat, this time around the lyrics focus on death and the darker side of that.

The Contortionist is one of those bands that is the opposite of bands like Slayer, Killswitch Engage, or AC/DC who do the same thing album after album. Instead, they are taking the route of bands like Pink Floyd and Mastodon and experimenting with new ideas and sounds each album.

The band started off releasing their first album of typical heaviness: down tuned guitars, with big riffs and lots of chugging. Solid album but nothing that set them apart from the dozens of other bands doing the exact same thing.

Three albums later, with a new vocalist, the band is coming into their own. The atmospheric vibe gives their single Reimagned a dreamy feel, and you can hear pop influences within.

The Contortionists perform at Théâtre Fairmount, 5240 Ave du Parc, Saturday, March 31st at 7pm. Tickets are $28 and available through Théâtre Fairmount

Riding The Electropop Wave

Hailing from North Carolina, Grammy nominated duo Sylvan Esso have been working the circuit since 2013 with their brand of indie-electro pop. Their first album reached No. 39 on The Billboard 200, and they’ve played The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

The band has come a long way. Both musicians were in bands that never went anywhere. But a chance encounter at The Cactus Club in Milwaukee changed their destinies forever.

They recorded their self titled debut album in an apartment bedroom and started touring in a Toyota Prius, the band having to do their own light show. 12 months later, they were headlining theatres and playing big festivals.

Their second album garnished positive reviews. Geena Kloeppel of Spin wrote:

“What Now finds the band questioning the confines of electronic pop music, deconstructing traditional notions of beat and melody with intricacy and ingenuity.”

What Now includes the single Coffee which has streamed 47 million times on spotify.

Sylvain Esso perform at Théâtre Corona, 2490 Notre-Dame Ouest, Tuesday, April 3, 8pm. Tickets available through Evenko

And For Those Who Like Things A Little More Polished

M bar is hosting an interesting evening Friday; distinguishing themselves from the rock, pop and metal going on this week, we have a special show that is swinging with jazz, lounge, and art rock.

The all star lineup of The Firing Squad consists of Alex Lepanto, drums, Gideon Yellin, guitar, and Lloyd White, bass. This professional backing band will be supplying the tunes for inspiring singer Enzo S, as he brings his version of jazz, funk and rhythm and blues to the stage.

Incredibly, this show is absolutely FREE. Plus, happy hour is happening LATE, so you’ll have from 10pm-12pm to fill up on cheap drinks and enjoy some TOP NOTCH musicians grace the stage.

The Firing Squad & Enzo S perform at M Montreal, 1245 rue Saint-André, Friday, March 31, 10pm, FREE

* Featured image of The Firing Squad via Facebook

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. Our week goes from Thursday to Wednesday, so let us know by the preceding Sunday, though not too much in advance, or you may get lost in the shuffle. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Hello dear Forget The Box readers!

The clocks have sped up, we just had our first day of spring and things are looking on the up and up. You can feel it in the air as the sun shone the other day and everyone felt anticipation for the good weather on its way in.

It’s a very hopeful time of the year and the artists this week are the first performers to bring in this wonderful season: there’s 16 year old prodigy Billie Eilish, pop music’s savior from the likes of Britney Spears and company, the classic old school metal Iced Earth, and local working class musicians Naghmeh and the Southern Shores all playing in town this week.

Naghmeh and the Southern Shores: Local and Soulful

“Her love for nature and her positive vibes spill out of her music.. the energy of Naghmeh and the Southern Shores is contagious … leaves you wanting more.”

– Fred di Santo, Artist Relations @ Godin Guitars.

Come check out Iranian Canadian front woman Naghmeh Shafiei and her bandmates Don Pinkerton (drums), David Saveliosky (bass) and Seth Duin (lead guitar) for a late brunch performance at L’Escalier. Fusing Persian melodies and rhythms in her vocals with soulful rock and folk influences, Naghmeh draws bits and pieces from the likes of Metallica and The Eagles, and her open minded taste in several genres.

If you are a fan of melodramatic/quasi-sarcastic lyrics, you are sure to be entertained. It’s always a score to come see a band of seasoned performers play.

This hard working band plays a live gig or two every month, so the four-piece are not new to the scene. They’ve hit up Casa Del Popolo, Grumpys, and Brutopia among other well known bars.

Naghmeh had been gracing the stages of open mics in Vancouver, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Calgary, and Berlin prior to settling down in Montreal. And it shows. The energetic front woman has great stage presence and knows how to work a crowd.

“I often think and write about love and war, about friends and family, about gratitude and uncertainty. About all and nothing at all.”

Naghmeh and the Southern Shores perform at l’Escalier, 552 Ste-Catherine Est, Saturday March 24th from 3-5pm. Free

Iced Earth

Hailing from Tampa Florida, birthplace of Death Metal, Iced Earth brings its 34 year rich history to Montreal. Spearheaded by founding member and main songwriter/guitarist Jon Schaffer, with 11 studio albums thus far, fans of bands like Death and Testament are in for a real treat.

.So come join Iced Earth for a night of old school thrash, power metal and that special Florida metal sound that grows alongside the orange tree groves of Sunkist.

The Noise and Heavy Montréal present Iced Earth performing with Sanctuary and Kill Ritual at Théâtre Corona, 2490 Notre-Dame Ouest, Sunday, March 25 at 7:30pm. Tickets available through Evenko

Billie Eilish

If you haven’t hear of 16 year old prodigy Billie Eilish, you’ve definitely heard her single Ocean Eyes that went viral and has 35 million streams on Spotify. The young musician is making waves, with Apple naming her their Upnext Artist last October.

Born into a family of actors and musicians, Eilish was raised and home schooled in Los Angeles where at age 11 she started writing songs with her brother. Although her songs are pop in nature, she’s got an unusual take on the genre.

“My first real song was about the zombie apocalypse…I literally watched The Walking Dead and I took little lines from it.”

Her song Bellyache is about a psychopath who s just killed all her friends. And her lyrics for the track Hostage are also unexpected:

I want to steal your soul
And hide in your treasure chest

The pop star also has a unconventional style: baggy pants, track suits, silver hair and likes wearing a Louis Vuitton scarf around her neck in the heat of the summer.

“I just like dressing out of my comfort zone. I want to dress in a way that if I was in a room full of people wearing regular clothes, I would be like “Oh I bet everyone’s looking at me. I want to feel that way. That’s my casual.”

Billie Eilish performs with Reo Cragun at Théâtre Corona, 2490 Notre-Dame Ouest, Tuesday, March 27 at 8pm. The show was originally moved from Fairmount Theatre because it was sold out but now is sold out at the larger venue as well

* Featured Image of Naghmeh and the Southern Shores via naghmehasong.com

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. Our week goes from Thursday to Wednesday, so let us know by the preceding Sunday, though not too much in advance, or you may get lost in the shuffle. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Hooray! It’s the last week of winter. Time has sprung forward, the clouds are starting to part ways, and even though it’s still cold outside I swear I saw these dudes wearing florescent shorts the other day.

Montreal, as usual, has tons of live shows going on. We made a special effort to fine tune our list for some truly relevant picks that we believe would be of special interest to you, our dear readers. We got pop, we got heavy, we got psychedelic, we got folk, we’ve got the political and more!

Oh and the prices are quite attractive for all the shows, I’d even venture to say that some of these are being had at bargain basement prices. So don’t let some great opportunities pass you by and enjoy our pics of the week!

The Moonlight Club: A Show Not To Be Missed

Montreal’s own The Moonlight Club plays an intimate show Thursday March 15th @ L’Escogriffe to launch their first LP. If you’re in the mood for emotive dreamy music with a hefty dose of 80s new wave hooks, you’ll be kicking yourself for missing this one.

This raw authentic power trio doesn’t play shows that often so you’ll want to jump on this one. We had the pleasure of interviewing the band. You can read it and then head down to l’Esco for an early show.

The Moonlight Club LP Launch is at l”Escogriffe, 4461 St-Denis, Thursday, March 15, 5-8pm, FREE

Earthless: Tight Power Trio With Heavy Grooves And Lots Of Vocals This Time Around

Hailing from San Diego, instrumental band Earthless combines classic & psychedelic rock, modal jazz (think Miles Davis) and krautrock. Don’t get the wrong idea, though, these guys are not stoner rock. In fact, they don’t even smoke pot and would rather opt for a refreshing iced tea.

They’ll be supporting their newly released album, Black Heaven, playing at L’Astral on Thursday March 15th. The band recorded the album in Joshua Tree, California, with Eagles of Death Metal’s Dave Catching producing.

Although Earthless has been mainly an instrumental band, this is the first album where the majority of the songs have vocals. If you are into bands like Rocket From The Crypt, Nebula, Hot Snakes, you’ll want to see these guys play live.

Oh, and the new vocals sound fantastic. Here’s a sample:

At $24.75, attending this concert is a real steal.

Earthless with Kikagaku Moyo and Jjuujjuu perform at L’Astral, 305 Ste-Catherine Ouest, Thursday, March 15, 8pm. Tickets available through Evenko

Beth Ditto: Outspoken Singer Graces The Stage In Montreal

She’s got vocal pipes of steel. She can keep up with the likes of Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and Eta James. The former singer of punk band Gossip Beth Ditto will belt out dancy uplifting tunes at Theatre Fairmont Friday March 16.

She’s also an outspoken against body shaming and a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and isn’t shy to be known as “a fat, feminist, lesbian from Arkansas. “A real refreshing take on pop music:

Beth Ditto with SSION performs at Fairmount Theatre, 5240 Ave du Parc, Friday, March 16th, 9pm. Tickets are $34.05 and available through Evenko

Hobo Party: A Beautiful Evening of Acoustic Based Music With Music Sang From The Heart

Truly a feast for the ears. This is my personal underdog show for this week; and what a diamond in the rough. Listening to the music, I’m just amazed how soulful these two local acts are, a real treat at a price a fraction of what the show is worth.

Fingerpicking goodness resonates from Ol Savannah with music sung deep from their southern souls. They’ve been honing their sound since 2008, first as a duo and then expanding into a five-piece with three albums under their belt.

You can hear them harnessing the sounds of Appalachian hill music and delta Mississippi blues. This show will be a launch for their new EP Hobo so make sure you get your CD/download. Check out their superb rendition of Nobody’s Fault But Mine:

Opening act bluegrass/folk/punk/pop Bats In The Belfry is an all female string trio that play songs that are truly haunting and heartwarming about the human condition with superb vocals. An engaged fan came up with the best description yet of their style: Darkgrass. Here is a track from Hounded; an album that truly stirs the soul:

This is a benefit show to support Montreal’s Sun Youth. So bring canned goods, and some unused clothing to donate and get $2 off the $10 door price.

Once again, what a steal this show will be, and combined with a great cause, you can’t go wrong.

Ol Savannah with Bats in the Belfry perform at l”Escogriffe, 4461 St-Denis, Thursday, March 15th at 9pm (following The Moonlight Club). $10 at the door or $8 with a donation

Gutserversary: A Night Of Heavy Music and Optional Debauchery

It will be loud. It will be heavy. Gutser will be headlining their fourth anniversary show presented by CJLO and GrimeyMTL on  Friday.

Although billed as a band “too lazy to break up” their album Gutser Sucks (2016) is tight, and well defined and screams hard working musicians:

If your in need of some catharsis, you’ll enjoy Venomenon’s dark heavy grooves. With its tight rhythm section and prominent vocals, you’ll enjoy this high quality local band:

Aggressive, no holds barred, Jesus Horse will blow your eardrums out with their harsh aggressive bombastic groove-alicious tracks:

KATO rounds off the bill; although we couldn’t find a demo, they have a cool name and that counts for something, right?

Four Year Gutserversary is at Casa Del Popolo, 4873 Boul St-Laurent, Friday, March 16th at 8:30pm. Tickets are $5 in advance or $7/PWYC at the door

* Featured image via Earthless on Bandcamp

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. Our week goes from Thursday to Wednesday, so let us know by the preceding Sunday, though not too much in advance, or you may get lost in the shuffle. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

The Moonlight Club is a Montreal based power trio with exceptional songwriting craft that released their first LP on Feb 2nd, 2018 including two official singles. They possess a refreshing and energizing signature sound that demonstrates strong hooks combined with inspired creativity.

You don’t want to miss their intimate album launch at L’Escogriffe this Thursday.

Fact Sheet

Time spent in studio: 9 days
Number of songs on LP: 7
Number of musicians: 3
Sound: lush jangly guitars with a generous helping of 80s new wave hooks
Band formation: 2010
Artist Development Support: Indie Montreal
Past work: 2 EPs (2015, 2016)

They look like typical indie rockers you’ll spot walking the shady streets of the Mile End; beards, jeans, tattoos and semi-hollow guitars. But what distinguishes this power trio are its songs: energetic, authentic, with an unusual intensity.

The indie three-piece drew inspiration for the band’s name from a club in London’s West End Lane that showcased bands that were part of the New Romantics club scene of the 80s including Joy Division and The Specials. The fact that psychedelic electronic act The Stone Roses played there before the beloved club closed down added to its mystic appeal.

Primary songwriter, guitarist and lead singer Francois Royer Mireault and John Pankert (bass and vocals) each jammed with a lot of musicians over the years but it was really their chemistry together that fueled their passion to embark on a musical journey that captured the attention of artist development firm Indy Montreal.

That chemistry remained strong and lead to the creation of their first EP, Words in Gold, in 2015, and then again to their next big step which was recording their first debut self-titled album in 2017.

Francois draws inspiration from The Stone Roses, Neil Young and The Kinks.

“These bands write beautiful timeless songs that leave you dreaming for days. They record songs in their own way with their own quirks and particularities. These artists write songs that come from an honest place.”

Frank Rousso’s agile expressive drumming and John’s groove laden deep bass lines draw inspiration from bands like Half Moon Run, Plants & Animals and Leif Vollebekk.

An Obsession With Songwriting

Francois’s approach to songwriting is organic and free flowing, where there is no start or finish.

“I’m always observing reality and re-purposing it into a song.”

His phone is filled with little bits of ideas here and there. When the right time comes, he’ll use his backlog of 15-20 ideas and then he’ll hunker down and really focus on the details.

Both he and John, the band’s other primary songsmith, work on their concepts by themselves until a sketch is ready to show others. After that, its months of fine tuning with the objective ears of friends and band-mates and then a final spin with a producer.

“Songwriting isn’t just a craft, it’s an obsession. There is no recipe. You can copy tricks from famous songwriters and pop stars but it won’t feel authentic. Your audience knows instinctively when a song is authentic and when it’s not.”

Living Life Large At Breakglass Studios

The band burrowed themselves away for only nine days in the studio to emerge back into the world with seven brand new songs. They chose to record at famed Breakglass Studios nestled in a loft in the hills of Montreal’s leafy Plateau.

With 5000 square feet, vintage Fender Silverface amps, a 70s Ludwig drum kit, a grocery list of ribbon microphones, and a 1968 Neve Pre 80 Series input console; the boys were in good company. Guided by the wisdom of talented producer David Smith (Elephant Stone, Patrick Watson, Leif) the band went on a musical journey and discovered what they were made of.

Spacious Dreamlike Sounds From The Ether

In the vein of less is more, The Moonlight Club demonstrates that a lot can come out of simplicity.

Although they already recorded two EPs before this album, their core signature sound has remained the same. If anything, they’ve refined the arrangements for recording their first LP demonstrating an increase in confidence and willingness to reveal more.

With less fills, less distortion, less speed and more space for vocals, and the addition of agile drummer Francois Rousseau, the band has channeled the spirit of raw authentic bands like Neil Young and Joy Divison, celebrating their own unique take of an expansive energizing sound.

“Our sound is a natural response to the overproduced music on the airwaves right now. It’s just not good for your brain or your soul.”

The band opted for a raw sound for other reasons as well such as limited studio time and being a three piece power trio, but perhaps even more importantly:

“It’s way more fun to just plug and play,” Francois noted, “when the band plays live, what you hear on the record is what you hear on stage.”

Future Endeavors

Plans for 2018 include several shows already booked in Montreal for the upcoming months, filming some original video clips for some of the songs as well as creative side projects for various members of the band. Also, there are some live sessions with local radios in the pipeline. In addition, the band has their eye on getting on the roster for outdoor summer festivals to gain exposure to a wider fan base.

You can catch them launch their album and perform this Thursday, November 15th, at l’Escogriffe, 4461 St-Denis, from 5 to 8pm. Until then, check out their site or give a listen to their first single:

Nuit Blanche, for me, is all about checking out as many random things as I can with friends, running into people I haven’t seen in a while and taking the metro home at a time it doesn’t usually run just because I can. This past Saturday was all tgat, but also a chance to celebrate and remember the unforgettable Montreal poet, songwriter and icon Leonard Cohen.

After some time spent at a church and the obligatory run through the Belgo Buildings, we braved the sea of humanity in Place des Festivals to make our way to the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (or the MAC) where the exhibit Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything was showing. The line looked daunting at first, but moved quickly for a Nuit Blanche line.

The first room we entered turned out to be the one we would spend the most time in. It was all about Leonard’s music career, with concert footage from each era mixed in with interviews and archival photos and video simultaneously projected on three walls.

It was on a loop but it took about an hour for the whole loop to start again. It was chock full of great footage and I saw a good chunk of the crowd singing along at several points and caught myself doing the same.

After being treated to a quality mini musical doc, we checked out the rest of the exhibit. There were rooms with presumably equally as thorough videos on Leonard’s poetry and writing and one with an organ where each key played a recording of Leonard saying something.

I would have liked to spend more time in these rooms, but the Nuit Blance bustle and the fact that it was close to closing time (pun intended) for the museum meant I would have to do that some time in the future (okay, enough, two is pushing it). Seriously, though, I will make a point of returning to fully immersing myself in this exhibit before it closes.

While the use of technology was impressive throughout, there was one section, separated into two rooms, that took it to the next level. In the first, there was one screen with a choir singing Leonard Cohen songs (what else). Rather, they were singing parts of Leonard Cohen songs.

When you went around the corner, there was a larger room with what seemed like over 20 screens in a circle facing inwards. Each one had a different person on it and they were all singing or speaking different parts of the same song the choir in the other room was singing, in sync.

If you got close enough to one screen, you heard that person either taking part in the song or moving around, rustling pages or clearing their throat quietly. It was very intimate and human and technologically slick at the same time.

Pretty sure all or at least most of the people were local, too. I recognized one person I know and a few others seemed very familiar.

And then there was the hologram. Yes, in a room made up to look like Leonard’s from some non-specific time in his lengthy career, there was a balcony with a Leonard Cohen hologram sitting down and looking out on the city.

While everything on Nuit Blanche was free and this exhibit normally isn’t, I don’t mind paying to take it in again and fully experience it. From what I already experienced, it’s unique, a great tribute and worth it.

Really glad that Leonard was part of my Nuit Blanche this year.

* Featured image by Stephanie Laughlin

** Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything runs at the MAC until April 9, 2018

Last February, I wrote about Don Hertzfeldt’s first feature film It’s Such a Beautiful Day. Among other things it amazed me how many themes he could explore in such a short amount of time and also do it so in depth and with so much meaning.

As I wrote: “Hetzfeldt is able to make us feel more for a simplistic stick figure than most films can makes us feel for or relate to actual human beings.” In World of Tomorrow, he does this again but in a shorter amount of time (18 minutes).

The World of Tomorrow follows Emily, a 4-year old girl (voiced by Hertzfeldt’s 4 year old niece, Winona Mae) who discovers a machine and starts to fiddle around with it. While she is pressing buttons, a screen appears and she is contacted by a mysterious figure quickly revealed to be herself (well not necesarily, it’s a clone of herself) 227 years into the future.

In The World of Tomorrow, human beings have learnt how to clone themselves and transfer their memories onto their clones, essentially creating a technique to live forever. The Emily clone is revealed to be a third generation of Emily clones (let’s call her Emily 3G), who has contacted the original Emily (referred to in the film as Emily Prime) to extract a forgotten memory from her 4-year old self before the world ends.

The future that Hertzfeldt presents is obsessed with legacy and nostalgia. Those who cannot afford to clone themselves either store their memories in digital cubes or grotesquely allow their faces to be stretched onto animatronic machines after their death so they can still “always be with their loved ones” long after they are gone.

Emily 3G goes on to explain to her young self that in her clone-dominated culture where robots do all the work, the most popular activity is watching memories on screens passed on from their “originals” or primes. As generations go by, the memories start becoming just of their past selves watching screens in an effort to understand what it means to be human. This sad and depressing metaphor is made even more poignant with the vivid background images of people watching screens and watching themselves watching screens.

The film is not only notable for its ideas but also for the colourful and vibrant backdrops throughout. You could almost pause it at any point and be struck with a wonderful, chaotic mess of colour and floating lines.

Emily 3G often gives long, drawn-out, monotonous explanations of her future to which Emily Prime, obviously unable to comprehend the complexity of the words she is being told often responds with a simple: “Okay”or a mix of gibberish. Emily 3G’s deadpan delivery and Emily Prime’s obliviousness adds a much needed aspect of hilarity to a more or less, gloomy existence.

This dynamic is shown well in the scene when Emily 3G, after tediously explaining the extreme risk of time travel, then proceeds to time travel her prime into her own time without even a second thought (knowing that it could end her existence). Emily Prime arrives unharmed, unaware of what could have happened. In other scenes too, Emily 3G casually drops lines like “We are all doomed Emily” to which Emily Prime laughs at happily.

Probably my favourite scene in the film (and arguably the most emotional and heart-wrenching) is when Emily 3G goes through her life experiences with love (or when she thought she was in love). At first she explains how she fell in love with a rock while working on the moon and then a fuel pump and an alien monster she named Simon while working in space until eventually she fell in love with a fellow clone, David.

She feels a sort of familiarity with him as another generation of the same clone was part of an art exhibit when she was younger. As the clone is an older and already deteriorating version, it dies, leaving Emily alone.

Emily Prime asks Emily 3G if she misses David to which her clone replies:

“I do not have the mental or emotional capacity to deal with his loss. But sometimes, I sit in a chair, late at night, and quietly feel very bad. When the night is at its most quiet, I can hear Death. I am very proud of my sadness, because it means that I am more alive. I no longer fall in love with rocks.”

There are many quotes to chose from in this film but this one is by far the most memorable. Emily 3G tries so desperately throughout her life to feel some sort of humanity (even going as far as putting her original self at risk of death) but the only way it seems she can is by experiencing loss. To her that is something to be proud of because as she later mentions to Emily Prime, it is important to try and live a life well-lived: “Live well and live broadly. You are alive and living now. Now is the envy of all of the dead.”

The World of Tomorrow explores some themes that are tough to deal with at times. Fortunately for us, Hertzfeldt does it with his clever, off-brand style of comedy  and aesthetically-pleasing backdrops and in only 18 minutes. So if you’ve got some time to spare, maybe you’re waiting for the bus or waiting for your laundry to dry off, pop open this film, you won’t be disappointed.

WORLD OF TOMORROW from don hertzfeldt on Vimeo.

Images: Bitter Films

The Last Jedi has turned out to be one of the most polarizing Star Wars movies to date. That’s just one of the many reasons why it’s not only great Star Wars but also excellent cinema.

The paragraph above is my spoiler-free review. If you haven’t seen the latest installment in the new trilogy, go do so, then come back and read the rest of the article because there are many SPOILERS ahead. You have been warned.

It seems that most people either love this movie or hate it. The haters can be split into two groups:

The first are those responsible for the abnormally low Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 52%, sharply contrasting the critics’ score of 92% fresh. They’re basically a small but vocal group of trolls who have a problem with any diversity showing up in a blockbuster. I really don’t care about what they think and I doubt Disney/Lucasfilm do either.

Rey: Fans cared about who her parents were, maybe too much

The second group, though, are Star Wars fans. In particular Original Trilogy (OT) fans who endured the prequels and had a very real new hope (pun because I had to) that a Lucas-free Lucasfilm could bring back the Star Wars they loved for years.

For the most part, they were okay with The Force Awakens, both in spite and because of it’s retro feel. From what I can tell, many of them quite liked last year’s standalone film Rogue One, too.

This time, though, they’re not having it. 65 000 (and counting) people even signed a petition to get it stricken from the Star Wars Canon.

So what has them so upset? It isn’t the visuals which are absolutely stunning. It isn’t the action sequences which are some of the best Star Wars has come up with. It isn’t the special effects which are, for the most part, practical (yeah, there’s a bit of prequel-like CGI, but it’s kept to a minimum).

While the primary target of scorn is writer/director Rian Johnson, I don’t think it’s for his directing or dialogue. He gets better performances out of his actors than George Lucas did in the prequels and the cast is solid. They are serious and emotional when they need to be and cheesy when that’s what’s called for.

You won’t find any talk of sand and it getting everywhere in The Last Jedi and even the jokes work, which it turns out is thanks in large part to some script doctoring by the late, great Carrie Fisher who plays Leia Organa for the last time in the film.

So What’s Got Them So Pissed?

The problem these Star Wars die-hards turned haters have is with the story itself.

For starters, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) isn’t heroic, at least not until the very end. He’s flawed, weary and filled with regret.

No, he doesn’t join the dark side of the force like his father did. If he had, I think it would have been an easier pill to swallow for many of the film’s detractors. Instead we get a flawed and self-loathing Luke critical of both his and the Jedi’s importance in galactic events. He also says quite clearly that it’s arrogant to think Jedi are needed for the light side of the Force to continue to exist.

Not some people’s Luke

The Force is in everyone and every thing, you don’t need to be a Skywalker or a Kenobi to master it. Good thing for Rey (Daisy Ridley) because it turns out that she is neither, if Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) can be believed on this particular point.

Her parents were junk merchants who probably sold her for drinking money and are buried on Jakku in an unmarked grave. She is “nobody” but also the only hope for the Resistance and the entire galaxy.

Some fans, though, feel “that’s not how the Force works!” Or at least that’s not how it worked in the OT or one of the many ways they predicted it would work in this film.

Another section that ruffled more than a few feathers was Finn (John Boyega) and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran)’s trip to the casino planet of Canto Bight. Generally, the argument against this sequence’s inclusion was that it was a needless distraction from the dueling main stories of Rey/Luke/Kylo and the Resistance trying to escape the First Order in a movie that clocks in just over the two and a half hour mark.

The Last Jedi is Star Wars at its Best

I’m a Star Wars fan, an OT old school Star Wars fan. I’m not the type that will blindly accept anything produced under the banner. While I understand where the harsh criticism of The Last Jedi is coming from, it fundamentally forgets what made the original three Star Wars films so great in the first place.

They surprised us, had us enthralled in the universe, guessing what might happen next and keeping an open mind about new ideas and interpretations. The Last Jedi does just that.

I didn’t think Snoke (Andy Serkis) would meet his fate in the second film, but after he did I realized it makes so much sense that Kylo Ren would supplant his master and become the main baddie. This unexpected event hasn’t generated nearly the amount of buzz you’d think it would.

I also wasn’t expecting the Luke that we got, but am glad that he wasn’t just a bearded version of the same Jedi I grew up with. Just as Anakin had his redemption thanks to Luke in Return of the Jedi, this movie was the story of Luke’s redemption with help from Rey and Yoda (who also had his own visual redemption from being a CGI character in the prequels).

We didn’t see Luke’s fall from grace except in flashbacks, but where we find him in this movie makes sense and makes for a better story. Also, learning that Hamill wasn’t thrilled with his character’s development  (and later regretted saying so), I’m doubly impressed at the excellent performance he gave.

This was a more powerful and interesting evolution of the character I grew up with than him staying totally light or going dark would have been. His revelations on the Force and the Jedi help evolve the Star Wars universe to where it needs to be.

While I gleefully partook in the theorizing on Rey’s parentage (I leaned towards the Grandpa Obi Wan theory), I didn’t get mad at the movie when I was (most likely) proven wrong. In fact, that revelation brought a tear to my eye. You don’t need to be from the Star Wars equivalent of noble lineage to be extremely important.

This carries over to the Canto Bight sequence. Now I’ll admit that when we first went to the planet, I thought for a moment that we were all of a sudden back in the prequels for no apparent reason and was expecting someone to try and sell Finn death sticks.

CGI used for progressive good: Canto Bight creature

Soon enough, though, it became apparent that this was a thematically integral part of the story. Poor kids and CGI beasts abused for the amusement of wealthy war profiteers drinking the Star Wars equivalent of champagne are tied into the Force and the future of the galaxy just as much as the Skywalker family.

This becomes crystal clear in the last scene of the movie but is brought to the forefront first by Rose, herself from this world, not the one of space battles and Jedi. That this is taking us away from characters we know for a bit isn’t a mistake, it’s kind of the point.

I was also thrilled watching Finn and Rose plow through the 1% fully aware of the irony that Disney would be marketing the beasts they were riding on as well as the poor kids who tended to them as action figures. Even the intentionally cute for marketing purposes stuff worked in this movie. I can live with porgs, but BB-8 taking control of an AT-ST was great.

Good Movies Get People Talking

Good Star Wars, come to think of it, good movies, get people talking. The amount of think pieces this film has already generated is impressive, quite impressive.

People are contemplating everything from how it takes a stand in the class war to how it is a cautionary tale against the toxic masculinity found in the trope of the hero who goes in blasters wailing. I’ve even seen two articles calling it a subversive AF masterpiece and one from an Expanded Universe fan arguing it has changed Star Wars forever and why that’s a good thing.

The Last Jedi is not only great Star Wars, it is a great movie, period, just as the first three films were. Rian Johnson isn’t changing or erasing the Original Trilogy, he is respecting it by helping the cinematic universe it spawned evolve.

This is exactly the Star Wars we need right now and I love it.

* Images: Lucasfilm/Disney

Here I am again! Reviewing another of Hollywood’s most awful, probably best left untouched. With the release of a new Star Wars film and the holiday season, I thought it was the perfect time to re-open the vault! So here is my review of the infamous 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.

George Lucas once famously quipped about this cinematic debacle that if he had the time and a sledgehammer, he would track down every copy of it and smash them. He then proceeded to buy every single copy so that it would never air again.

Unfortunately for him and luckily for us the Internet exists and has acted as a living tomb to this turbulent television special. And I sat through it so you don’t have to. This holiday special was definitely special in its own way.

After the first Star Wars film was released in 1977, it was a huge surprise success. A lot of people actually expected it to flop at the time. Hollywood wasn’t used to high-cost space operas. Rather, films that were popular then were more like the French Connection or The Godfather; movies with uncompromising tough guy protagonists. Directors were more interested in gritty realism than fantasy.

Star Wars was very expensive to make, in fact it was one of the most expensive movies to have ever been made at the time. If it flopped, 20th Century Fox would be out hundreds of millions of dollars.

To give it a chance, they only granted theaters the right to show The Other Side of Midnight, a highly anticipated novel adaptation, if they picked up Lucas’ space opera as well. Although The Other Side of Midnight was a marginal success and did modestly well by any standards, as we all know, it didn’t do anywhere near as well as Star Wars.

The film was so unexpectedly popular that merchandise and toys couldn’t be sold on the spot and film-goers had to get a sort of IOU. All of this unexpected popularity then gave birth to the Holiday Special.

George Lucas wanted to keep Star Wars on people’s minds during the holiday season as the making of the second film progressed so he granted CBS permission to proceed. To say he regretted this decision is an understatement.

Obviously, due to the success of Star Wars, the expectations for this television special were astronomically high. It did not deliver, mostly because a lot of it is just straight up weird.  From the first scene that is solely in Wookie grunts (without subtitles) to virtual reality Wookie porn, this movie has a lot of moments that were probably best left forgotten.

The variety extravaganza begins with Chewbacca and Han flying through space. Chewbacca wants to get back to his family on his home planet of Kashyyyk to spend “Life Day” with them (why couldn’t it have just been Christmas or any other holiday?) and Han unenthusiastically reassures him that they will get there as soon as possible.

It is not Han who is miserable but Harrison Ford himself who is evidently bored as hell throughout the entire thing. He really does not want to be in this TV special. He’s even admitted he never saw the entire thing.  Apparently he was forced into it by his contract and there was no way out of it.

After the opening sequence, we are introduced to Chewbacca’s family who sound like they are part of the seven dwarfs; his wife Malla, his father Itchy and his son Lumpy. They are shown speaking wookie…with no subtitles…So the scene is basically just ten plus minutes of unintelligible grunting. Good start.

Then Malla calls Luke asking where Chewie is. To cheer her up, Luke tries to make her smile in what is the first of many awkward smiles throughout the film. See in the clip above when Han and Chewbacca finally arrive (1:26) for an example.

Other than the main story, the film is just filled with weird variety acts from older stars of the day like Harvey Korman, who was well known for his work on the Carol Burnett Show. He tries to liven up the show but is no match for how miserable the main cast feels about the whole thing. In the clip below, he shows Malla how to cook:

The weirdest scene is the aforementioned “wookie porn scene.” Itchy is hooked up to a weird chair device that shows Broadway star Diahanna Carrol giving a seductive performance of This Minute Now. This thing is, as Harvey Korman says: “Wow, if you know what I mean.” No, what do you mean Harvey? How did this even get into a children’s film?

Another aspect which made this film so cringey on the night it aired were the ads. You can see all of them below (along with news breaks):

These were pulled from the same (presumably) VHS copy the movie was. Some downloads have them together.

A lot of them were corporations trying to do some feel-good stuff, like GM’s slogan “People building transportation to serve people”. A slogan so incredibly benign, it’s almost more boring than some parts of this film.

An extra weird one is at 2:47. A bunch of people who represent the International Ladies’ Garment Worker’s Union break out into awkward song. Even for a self-described lefty who loves unions, this was weird for me too.

The film does have some okay moments like the cartoon with Bobba Fett. Fun fact: This is actually the first time we see Bobba Fett! So if anything this monstrosity gave us a badass Star Wars character. So I guess it wasn’t all that bad?

Although a total affront to Star Wars, the Holiday Special is notable for several reasons. For one, if you can believe it, it is the first Star Wars film to come after the original release. Second, and more importantly, it was the first film to showcase the Star Wars expanded universe (although many fans and Lucas himself deny it is part of Star Wars cannon).

Since the first film was shown, there have been hundreds of additions to the franchise including novels, comics, animated television shows, video games and more (though Disney de-canonized a bunch of these a few years ago). And if anything, The Star Wars Holiday Special gave us that concept.

Even some of the ideas from the expanded universe were used in subsequent Star Wars films. So I guess we have the holiday special to thank for that? (Also again, Bobba Fett)

In all, this is an amazingly terrible film and if you are a lover of bad movies, well this is right up there. Unlike The Room which is so bad it’s funny, The Star Wars Holiday Special leaves us cringing and that’s what makes it so great.

Happy holidays!

Full movie (if you really feel like it…):

Starchild Stela is a prominent part of Montreal’s underground art scene, known mainly for their activist graffiti/street art, zines, and fine art. If you live in Montreal, chances are you’ve seen their work in the streets. If you haven’t, now you’ll probably notice them everywhere.

High-femme imagery and characters paired with bold slogans such as “support survivors” (of sexual violence) and “he won’t change, just leave” can be found painted on exterior walls, freight trains, and slapped on mailboxes/other public spaces in sticker-form. Fierce and powerful, they have a style that turns heads and makes a difference, from making drab infrastructure more aesthetically pleasing to making the world a better place.

Starchild Stela agreed to do an interview on how they got started, their relationship to DIY culture, giving back to the community, and their views on the Montreal graffiti scene.

by Starchild Stela

girlplague: When did you start doing street art/graffiti, and why?

Starchild Stella: This is a question that comes up a lot for me in interviews, and it’s a bit odd to answer for me because it was still an era where street art wasn’t popular yet. It wasn’t an enlightened decision, it wasn’t really planned.

I started because other people I knew were tagging, everybody in my circle kinda did it (although not seriously). Everybody had their name & signature. At that time we didn’t have access to fancy sprays and it was niche and you got to really suck at first, just the type of stuff teens who spent lots of time outside would do.

I really had not much going on in my life at that time besides struggling and being angry at the world, I was drawing a bit but “art’’ wasn’t really a thing for me. I was a “bad kid” and went through a lot with the justice system, was on probation (for other reasons) during pretty much all my teenhood and pretty much felt untalented and useless. I think I was also looking for something to do to deal with myself.

My first “graff” was pretty much the same character as I do today but it was really bad. We stole sprays in a car and we did it, and I remember, ah – that’s really something I could be good at. (This would be circa 2002-2003).

You make personal/art zines. Do you find a correlation between the DIY nature of both zines and graffiti?

There’s a DIY connection with everything I do, it is my lifestyle. Coming from a low income background and still being poor, unfit for conventional “work” because of disability as well as a desire for independence led me to live “for free” as much as I can.

I think it’s also grounded in a hope for community. Zines were an inherent part of my recovery, and so is graffiti. I don’t like rich people graffiti – lol. I think consumerism and technicality within the “industry” of graffiti makes it feel inaccessible to people.

I see it as an illusion; you can add flares and robotically paint something fancy looking but it won’t be interesting if you don’t have a genuine style. The truth is you don’t need fancy paint to make cool things. I don’t know, for me graffiti that is not DIY is likely to be boring and I couldn’t care less for art by privileged university students or 30 something graffiti uncles. This may sound cocky but the scene is so oversaturated!

The graffiti/street art scene is very male-dominated. How has this affected you as non-binary and femme?

Honestly I was so unaware of feminism before – the way people acted towards me within these circles made me really self-conscious of my gender, how I was never gonna fit in. Experiences of misogyny made me learn about anti-oppression.

Graff is a scene where women are still perceived as either sluts or wifey. Since I don’t fit in either category that just makes me an oddity. But at the same time, graffiti has no gender. If you put the work in, the people that need to know will know, it’s not about pleasing people, so at the end you do you. It”s about you and your friends fucking shit up.

by Starchild Stela

You do a lot of work fighting against rape culture, transphobia, racism, and other types of oppression. Is there a political agenda in your work, or is it natural to you because you are passionate about these topics?

At this point I don’t know if qualifying my art as “fighting” is correct; generally I explore in topics that affect me directly. For example, I do lots of work surrounding surviving traumas, especially in my writing.

I don’t see my art as activism but often people say that my work is political. But it’s fucking 2017 I think anyone’s work is political. As a white person, I think it’s inappropriate to call anything I do as anti-racist or anti-colonial, although I do my best to unlearn oppressive behaviours, to learn and pay reparations where it’s due. But these things are not a political agenda; I think we should all take the time to reflect in the ways we are complicit and support directly the work of people who are affected by these systems of oppression.

I try to “give back’’ to my community in various ways; however I tend to do work only about experiences I know. I’m highly interested in anti-oppression politics, read a lot, do my best to unlearn oppressive behaviours and recognize the ways I am benefitting from systemic oppression. I try to remain critical and humble.

You’ve been travelling a lot and doing a lot of work in other cities, including a residency at James Black Gallery (Vancouver) in July. What are your experiences with and feelings on doing work in places other than Montreal?

I have been here all of my life, so it feels good to get out. I am immensely privileged to be able to do that work. Montreal for me is my home of traumas. Going places I’ve never been, even if they are only a couple of hours drive away, makes the memories flow around and heal myself.

I am lucky. I want to meet new people and often feel stuck in Montreal. Travelling brought me perspectives. Right now I’m working on an upcoming show with Laurence Philomene to be held in Toronto.

You have a large following, including almost 10 000 followers on instagram. What do you have to say to fans who are inspired by you, and/or want to follow in your footsteps?

Don’t follow my footsteps is my main advice lol. I say that because I made lots of mistakes, learned some lessons the hard way. I’d just say do what you love with sincerity, be humble, even if you think you’re the shit there’ll always be people who will disagree.

Listen if you get called out, learn to take your space, and leave room for others. You don’t have to be under the spotlight all the time. Be aware of your privileges. Respect the people who support you. Have fun – you can’t have fun all the time of course, but if the work you do brings you joy, you are up to something.

Do you have any non-art related aspirations in life?

Live my best life. Getting my shit together. Baking the most delicious desserts on earth. Developing my practice as a witch. Being there for survivors. Develop strong friendships and travel if I get the chance. Being financially stable enough to support my family and my cats without stress. I want to put energy in healing & managing my PTSD, to live a healthy and joyful life.

You can view their work on instagram (@littlestarchild) and buy their art, zines, stickers and more merch in their etsy shop, or check out their zine distro

In advance of the new film, The Disaster Artist directed by James Franco, which came out yesterday, I thought I would review a now classic cult film, The Room, directed, produced and starring leading man Tommy Wiseau beside his “best friend” Greg Sestero who plays the supporting role of Mark.

I had for years heard about the infamous film from friends. I had even watched a couple of clips and read a couple of reviews about it but nothing would compare to watching the actual movie in its entirety.

After saying I would go see it several times, I finally did two Sundays ago, when two friends extended the invitation. We did not just watch it online however, we saw it at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa, which would provide an even better experience than simply watching it at home on a computer or on TV.

The Mayfair, located on Bank Street, was one of the first theaters to consecutively play The Room every month, starting in 2007. This was the 99th consecutive monthly screening, with Greg Sestero in the audience who gave a very lively Q&A after the film was done.

I thought I knew what to expect going in as I had seen many clips, but it was worse than I thought. For one, half of The Room is basically extremely awkward sex scenes that make you question if anyone who worked on this film had actually ever been exposed to any sort of sexual education. But this is just one of the reasons it is so bad that it’s funny and entertaining.

The film begins with the aforementioned Tommy Wiseau in his leading role of Johnny, the “steretypical” average all-American man with an unidentified foreign accent which is most definitely probably not American (but nobody knows). The movie’s awkwardness is in full force in the first scene when an orphan boy that Johnny takes under his wing, Denny, attempts to join him and his finacé (or future wife as she is often referred too) in bed together… Sets the stage well.

The movie basically centers around the relationship of Johnny and Lisa, who are happily engaged or so we think! We soon realize that (out of nowhere) Lisa doesn’t love Johnny anymore and begins to go after his best friend Mark.

Johnny’s life starts to spiral out of control as he begins to realize what is happening. Pretty basic plot, hard to really mess up. The Room, however does just that masterfully with the “interesting” cast of secondary characters who have nothing to do with the actual story.

There are some scenes that leave you scratching your head and saying: “Who was that? What did that have to do with the movie?” For example, Peter, Mark and Johnny’s psychiatrist friend, helps Johnny by listening to him about his relationship problems. But after one scene where Johnny, Denny and Mark are playing footballs in tuxedos (because that is the only way to play football), Peter trips and falls down and then we never see him again.

Instead, his character is replaced with some random guy who is inserted into the plot with no explanation. Apparently, the reason behind this was that the actor playing Peter couldn’t stay on for the production long enough to finish his scenes. Also, Wiseau notably unnecessarily re-shot scenes over and over again, according Sestero’s book which Franco based The Disaster Artist on.

Other than this, the film is filled with memorable scenes, like Lisa’s mother very casually and briefly bringing up the fact that she is dying of cancer, the infamous flower shop scene where the dialogue just does not make sense, tuxedo football, the list goes on.

Seeing it in the theatre even further enhances the experience. Fans yell out things to the screen or throw spoons at the screen whenever the framed picture of a spoon in Johnny and Lisa’s apartment comes up.

When the movie was taken out of theaters in the mid 2000s it had grossed only $1800 US. Now it is a worldwide phenomenon.

There is a sort of inspiring quality to this that The Disaster Artist captures quite well. Some people dream about making films, but Tommy actually did it and that, in some way, shape or form, is inspiring even if the film was less than desirable.

You can catch the Disaster Artist in theaters starting Friday and watch The Room online, at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa monthly and at other random screenings (including some double features with The Disaster Artist)