pop-montreal-2016

I hope everyone’s saved up a little money and a lot of energy because tonight marks the beginning of the most frantic week of concerts this year, a.k.a. Hipster Christmas, a.k.a Indie Music Mayhem, a.k.a. the 2016 installment of Pop Montreal. From September 21st to the 25th most (if not every) small and medium sized music venue in and around the Plateau/Mile End will be hosting an unbelievably large and varied collection of artists.

To preview this fest in all its diversity is altogether impossible so we haven’t tried to. These are simply a few options that stick out as highlight to us at FTB. You might want to go check out the full schedule and reach your own conclusions but be warned, if you have option paralysis this might be your worst nightmare.

There’s just so much to do and so little time to do it in. My advice to newer fest goers is to pick something and stick to it, you could spend half the night walking back and forth trying to find the right show.

I know you want to find the “it” show but at Pop there’s actually several “its” going on simultaneously, so just get out there and pick one. To not overwhelm you, here’s three to get you started on your search.

IMTL Day Party and Brunch with Lakes Of Canada + Fleece + Nova + KyAzma

One of the more unique shows that happens at Pop takes two things that aren’t normally known to work in tandem, Sunday brunch and rock concerts, and for the fifth year in a row ignores convention and puts them together. An all-you-can-eat buffet for $7 is a steal in its own right but then you add performances by Lakes Of Canada, Fleece, Nova and KyAzma, who will be debuting their latest music video for  The Circle, and this becomes a highlight show in this year’s fest.

Indie Montreal allows you to buy tickets in advance through their website and I strongly suggest that if you plan on attending you do that. It’s not hard to foresee this show selling out, the lineup alone should bring a lot of interest and when you combine that with the best brunch deal on The Main you’ve got packed venue written all over this.

Lakes Of Canada, Fleece, Nova and KyAzma play Divan Orange, 4234 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Sunday, September 25th, 12:00pm (Doors at 11:30am), $7 in advance and at the door, ticket through indiemontreal.

 

Nanimal + Girl Arm + Pins & Needles + Laureate

If you’re looking for a great rock show at the best dive rock bar in town then head down to Barfly on Thursday night and check out Nanimal, Girl Arm, Pins & Needles and Laureate. This concert should be a hot sweaty mess of tightly packed individuals, like most Barfly events are, so save the fancy outfit for another night and wear the jeans, t-shirt and dancing shoes to this one.

This show is on our highlighted list for a second reason, my “sources” inform me there might be a special guest appearance during Nanimal’s set. Someone who can certainly be considered part of Montreal’s indie rock royalty might be hitting the stage right before your eyes.

Nanimal, Girl Arm, Pins & Needles and Laureate play Barfly, 4062 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Thursday, September 22nd, 9:30pm (Doors at 9), $10.

CJLO BBQ with Wiklow + No Aloha + Joyce N’sana + Guy Madonna

If you liked the idea of combining food and music but think Sunday morning’s a bit too groggy a time for that then perhaps you’d prefer Thursday afternoon’s free BBQ over at Quartiers Pop. This event is being put on by the good people over at CJLO, begins at 2pm and features Wiklow, No Aloha, Joyce N’sana and Guy Madonna.

Before people start going crazy over the “free BBQ” aspect it’s important to point out that the entrance and music is free, I’m pretty sure you’ll have to pay for your own beer and hot dogs. There’s no such thing as free beer, you know this, accept it, move on, you still get to see four great acts for free.

 Wiklow, No Aloha, Joyce N’sana and Guy Madonna play Quartiers Pop, 3450 Rue Saint-Urbain, Thursday, September 22nd, 2:00pm, free.

 

sonreal

From hip hop to synth pop to nerd rock and back again we’ve got it all in this week’s preview. Well actually we’ve got three things and then it repeats. Apologies, I was going for an exciting first sentence and overshot a little.

On a very expected note: keep an eye out next week for our Pop Montreal preview which will be coming to you on Wednesday in order to coincide with the start of the fest.

SonReal

Coming to town next Tuesday is Vancouver based Hip Hop artist SonReal who after years of hard work pumping out great music for free is finally starting to put together some real buzz both here and south of the border. Such is the life of an artist in 2016, give them great stuff for free and hopefully at some point you’ll get a return on your investment.

It’s good to see that all the hard work is paying off as this current tour is taking SonReal to all corners of North America and has him playing to increasingly larger crowds. I suggest that it’s best to see him now because next time he’s in town it might be a little harder to get tickets… and a little more pricey.

SonReal plays Théâtre Fairmount, 5240 Avenue du Parc, Tuesday, September 20th, 8:30pm (Doors at 7:30), $20 + s.c, buy tickets from the box office.

Honey Beard + La Mécanique

For anyone looking for something to do in the UQAM area of town on Friday night, I suggest you head over to M Bar where Toronto based electro synth pop duo Honey Beard will be taking to the stage as part of their Canadian tour in support of their debut album Thousand Million Things. Joining them will be local act La Mécanique who are a rather new group that also draw heavily on those synthtastic sounds that should make you want to get up and dance.

The music might feel 80s inspired but the drink prices will remind you of the 90s as the organizers have promised a happy hour with pints at $4 and pitchers at $10. With the cover being only $5 this is the hands down ideal show to check out this week for students on a budget.

 Honey Beard and La Mécanique play M Bar, 1245 Saint-André, Friday, September 16th, 10:00pm , $5.

Double Experience + East of Sunday + Lunar Trees

On Saturday night Ottawa nerd rockers Double Experience will be taking over The Pioneer’s stage for the first show of a cross Canada tour in support of their newest album Unsaved Progress. If you’re not catching the references I’ll spell it out: this band is passionate about video games which is reflected in the underlying themes of their music.

More apparent to non-video game savvy listeners is that Double Experience are a solid rock band with well crafted and catchy tunes that have crossover appeal to fans of different music genres.

Rounding out the bill are two local acts, East of Sunday and Lunar Trees who are great rock bands in their own right. Put it all together and this show is a full evening of rock and roll for the reasonable price of 10 bucks!

Double Experience, East of Sunday and Lunar Trees play Resto Bar Le Pionnier, 286 Lakeshore Road, Pointe-Claire, Saturday, September 17th, 8:30pm (Doors at 8:00), $10, 18+.

11th annual Hip Hop You Don’t Stop

For fear of it getting drowned out by the Pop Montreal coverage, we’ve pushed the preview of this important community event up by a week. Next Wednesday to Sunday (21st to 25th) a series of multidisciplinary events focused on the arts is taking place in the Côte-des-Neiges and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce boroughs aimed at engaging young people and inspiring them to participate positively in urban arts and Hip Hop culture.

A schedule on the facebook event page will show you the overall list of activities that gives a full picture of the scope of this festival. Being a music column we’re going to focus on the Queens and Kings Showcase which highlights talented young artists in the Montreal Hip Hop scene who will be performing this year under the theme of “Artistic collaboration between men and women.”

The event culminates on Sunday at N.D.G (a.k.a. Girouard) Park with a day long event entitled Elementakiza which is an interdisciplinary, intergenerational day long series of performances and activities combined with a barbecue, tacos and jerk chicken on the menu. You can even get your hair cut!

All activities in this festival are free and all-ages and I’m betting they really don’t care if you actually live in the community. If you’re not a kid or have kids you can still participate by being part of the crowd and showing your support.

HHYDS Showcase Queens and Kings plays Centre d’Essai de l’Université de Montréal, 2332, boul. Édouard-Montpetit 6th floor,  Friday, September 23rd, 6:00pm (till 11pm), free.

HHYDS Elementakiza happens at Parc Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, corner Sherbrooke and Girouard,  Sunday, September 25th, 11:00am (till 1opm), free.

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. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

selah-sue

Well labour day has come and gone which means the kids are back to school (teehee, sucks to be you kids!) fantasy football is back, the days are getting shorter and sadly the summer music fests are all but over. The shows this week are therefore going to be slowly transitioning into more and more indoor events.

Fortunately there are some great shows to look forward to in the near future. Starting with…

Selah Sue

Next Wednesday you can head over to Théâtre Corona and check out Belgian singer/songerwriter Selah Sue who is currently on tour in support of her second album Reason. Selah has been a success on the other side of the Atlantic ever since the release of her self titled debut album back in 2011.

If you listen to a few of her tracks you can see why. Beautifully arranged music that always seems to feel like the swell of a wave before it crashes over top of you is layered in behind Selah’s rich introspective vocals. Selah is definitely this week’s award winner for best artist you’ve never heard of but lucky for you there is some time between now and next Wednesday’s show to change that.

Selah Sue plays Théâtre Corona, 2490 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Wednesday, September 14th, 8:00pm (Doors at 7:00), $27.50 + s.c. in advance / $32.50 + s.c. day of show, tickets available through boxoffice.

All Aboard + The Honest Heart Collective + Hometown Lights + Bordeen + Caraway 

The best option for an indie rock/hometown show this week is happening on Saturday night at La Vitrola where no less than five great local(ish) acts will be hitting the stage to entertain you for the very reasonable price of ten dollars. All Aboard, The Honest Heart CollectiveHometown LightsBordeen and Caraway are all Canadian artists who will make you realize that you don’t have to go far to find good music.

This show should be an intimate, energetic and tightly packed evening of music so don’t complain if you leave a bit sweaty and with some ringing in your ears. Also don’t forget to bring some cash for the merch table, the lifeblood of the indie band tour budget.

All Aboard, The Honest Heart Collective, Hometown Lights, Bordeen and Caraway  play La Vitrola, 4602 Boulevard St Laurent, Saturday, September 1oth, 8:00pm (Doors at 7:00), $10 ($12 at the door) tickets available through lifttckt.

Slayer + Anthrax + Death Angel

Metal fans should take note of one of the biggest shows to hit our area this year outside of the festival circuit. These three thrashtastic pioneers have been doing what they do since the early 80’s and don’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.

I’m not going to speak about the bands at length or link to any of their websites. Fact is, these guys don’t need any promo, this is more of a friendly reminder that they’ll be hitting Metropolis next Tuesday. Now here’s four hours of Slayer music just because…

Slayer, Anthrax and Death Angel play Metropolis, 59 Rue Sainte-Catherine East, Tuesday, September 13th, 8:00pm (Doors at 6:30), $69.50 + s.c. in advance / $75.00 + s.c. day of show, tickets available through box office.

Villa Paradizo

If you’re looking for a fun outdoor activity this weekend but the money isn’t really flowing at the moment you might want to consider Villa Paradizo, the free EDM festival taking place on Crescent and De Maisonneuve this Friday and Saturday. The third installment of this fest has a mix of local and international DJs that will be spinning from 11 am to 11 pm on both days.

For anyone who might have trouble in a crowd or who enjoys spending money at free shows keep in mind all the bars in the area are the best (and only) seats in the house. They’re asking for you to call and make reservations in advance if you want a spot.

The downside is you have to pay “Bar on Crescent between De Maisonneuve and St Catherine” prices for drinks. Personally I’d save the money and go be part of the crowd on the street.

Villa Paradizo happens on the corner of Crescent and De Maisonneuve, Friday and Saturday, September 9th and 1oth, 11:00am to 11pm, free.

* Featured image: Selah Sue via YouTube

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. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

the bombadils

Happy (almost) Labour Day Weekend, everyone! What better way to spend it (and the days surrounding it) than by enjoying some music in Montreal. This week we’ve got rock, indie rock, folk and Rn’B to choose from, so let’s get started.

Gallant

If you like Rn’B then you should be aware of Gallant who is clearly on his way to being the “next big thing” in that genre. His debut album Ology was released last April and now he’s currently on tour in support. Next Wednesday he’ll be stopping by Théâtre Fairmount as part of that tour.

The Bombadils (CD release) + Béatrix Méthé + Colin Savoie-Levac

Tonight Montreal Folk duo The Bombadils will be hosting a CD launch/concert in anticipation of their upcoming album New Shoes which is set to be released on September 9th. If you like folk and lack patience then this is a great way to check out a fun evening of music and get an advanced copy of the CD at the same time.

For those who prefer to avoid human interaction or would rather an MP3 copy you can order the album through their website.

The Bombadils, Béatrix Méthé and Colin Savoie-Levac play, Casa del Popolo, 4873 Boulevard St Laurent, Thursday, September 1st, 8:00pm (Doors at 7:30), $15 ($10 for students), tickets available through lfttckt.

Unblonde + Whitney K + Watering

Another option for tonight is to head over to La Vitrola for an evening of indie rock featuring Unblonde, Whitney K and Watering.

 

Unblonde, Whitney K and Watering play La Vitrola, 4602 Boulevard St Laurent, Thursday, September 1st, 10:00pm, $8 (before 10pm) $10 (after 10 pm).

Labour Day Weekend Rockout

The title pretty much says it all. Friday night Brasserie Beaubien will hosting four local rock bands (Attics & Alleys, Donny Dash, The Leftovers, The Flows) who have decided to put on a show for the amazingly low price of five dollars!

For all you students Labour Day marks the last weekend of freedom for a while so why not get out and enjoy it.

 

Attics & Alleys, Donny Dash, The Leftovers and The Flows play Brasserie Beaubien, 73 Beaubien East, Friday, September 2nd, 8:00pm, $5.

* Featured image thebombadils.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. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

pomme

After a brief pause from local shows last week to give the proper respect due to The Hip, we’re back at it with four very cool and very different events taking place this week. All are at smaller venues with low (or free) ticket prices and none are on the same night as each other so why not go to a few of them?

Evan Taylor Jones

If you’re looking for a great show tonight then head down to the Wheel Club where singer/songwritier/guitarist/former The Voice contestant Evan Taylor Jones will be bringing his unique brand of soulful rock to the stage in support of his new EP The Sunray Sessions Live. Evan’s style shows a clear and deep connection with the roots of rock and Motown brought into the 21st century and given a contemporary feel.

Anyone living outside of Montreal should take note that this summer tour seems to be stopping in every city on the eastern side of this continent. So if you can’t make it tonight I suggest you check out the full list of shows on Evan’s Facebook page and hopefully find a stop near you.

Evan Taylor Jones plays The Wheel Club, 3373 Boulevard Cavendish, Thursday, August 25th, 8:30 pm (Doors at 7).

If We Are Machines + A Devil’s Duo + CFCQ and the Piss of Assurance

On Friday night you can head to everyone’s favorite dive Barfly and check out an evening of indie rock headlined by Vancouver’s own If We Are Machines. This summer the six piece psych rock ensemble is traveling from one end of the country to the other and back again on the very accurately named “Ocean Waters Tour”.

Joining them on stage will be two local acts: A Devil’s Duo (members of A Devil’s Din) and CFCQ and the Piss of Assurance making this quite an amazing lineup especially when you consider that tickets are only five bucks!

(Author’s Note: When I say the Barfly is “everyone’s favorite dive” I do so with empirical evidence, try googling Dive bars Montreal or looking up any poll for Best Montreal Dive Bar and you’ll see what I mean.)

If We Are Machines,  A Devil’s Duo and CFCQ and the Piss of Assurance play Barfly, 4062A Boulevard St Laurent, Friday, August 26th, 9:00pm, $5.

Saturday in The Park (N.D.G Arts Week)

Girouard park and the surrounding area has been full of action these past few days while in the midst of hosting N.D.G Arts Week. This multidisciplinary fest celebrating music, theatre, art, dance and much more has all sorts of events going on this week so check out their schedule and find a little something for you.

The big event for music fans will be Saturday in the Park where a mix of Hip Hop, Jazz, Funk, R&B and Soul will come together in a very open and all inclusive way. The first two hours of the event (5 to 7 pm) is an open mic hosted by Eleuthera. Anyone interested in getting up on stage should send a message and sound sample to  ndgopenmic@gmail.com.

The rest of the event (7 to 10 pm) will be a big jam session with the collective #LeCypher featuring Urban Science and whole group of artists from different genres. If you like improvised music and/or sitting in parks then this is the show for you. ProTip: bring a lawnchair!

Saturday in the Park occurs at Girouard Park, 3500 Avenue Girouard, Saturday, August 27th, 5:00pm to 10:00pm, free.

A Cosy Night with Pomme

This Monday the French singer-songwriter Pomme will be over at Le Verre Bouteille for an intimate evening of music which is a perfect way to hear a musician who describes her style as “des ptites chansons écrites dans des ptites chambres.” If this was a movie I’d say that Pomme is cast perfectly as the “cosy” acoustic artist that people want to go and hear on a Monday.

Pomme plays , Le Verre Bouteille, 2112 Mont-Royal East, Monday, August 29th, 8:00 pm (Doors at 7), tickets available through Indie Montreal, $11.85.

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. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

* Featured image of Pomme via Instagram

naked trump statue the emperor has no balls

Question:
Is the recent guerrilla art installation Emperor Has No Balls (nude Trump statues in various parks) just an example of body shaming or does it get a pass because the subject, Trump, is obsessed with sexist body norms for women?

Answer:
As an American citizen I am embarrassed and abhorred that someone like this has gotten so far in our obviously flawed political system. He is the actual Republican nominee for President of the United States.

He is a racist, sexist, bigoted meanie face. All of his beliefs and moral stances are foolish and full of shit, he is not a politician, he is an ego maniac celebrity, a money grubbing monster, and downright evil doer. BUT, he is a human being.

While I do think he is an idiot and I want to see his campaign crash and burn, I do not believe in body shaming or making fun of any of his physical attributes. You are only as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside, so obviously he doesn’t have much to work with. Judge him on his idioic ideas and not his lack of genitalia.

I don’t want to be shamed for my imperfect body so I will never do the same to another human. The piece features fat shaming and transphobia.

There is no pass when it comes to body shaming. I am a firm believer in two wrongs don’t make a right. If I judge him for being a jerk I can’t go right back and be a jerk in response, we must Love Trumps Hate to move on.

This publicity stunt got his name in the news again, the dumb people are still seeing his name. In good or bad context doesn’t matter, it’s in their impressionable minds. The stunt made headlines.

Although, on one hand I do believe that people should have a sense of humor. Public art is made to stand out, make people think. Trump’s naked body has nothing to do with his political agenda. I do agree that he would be a terrible president, and would probably erect similar statues of himself anyways.

I have dressed up like Trump in the past, mocking him and being satirical. I was a parody, a personification of his idiocracy and “perfect hair.”

Trump wins every time someone says or types his name, I am feeding the machine by even writing this article. He is an “even bad press is good press” believer.

He pulls this stuff out of his ass just to rile people up. He excites the hate mongers and ignites the protesters into a fury. Justice has not been served by erecting the larger than life nudes, he honestly probably really loves them, and will have the whole collection in one of his mansions.

Activist art crew Indecline was in charge of this public art frenzy, naked Trump statues appearing in many major cities: Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Los Angeles- to protest the Republican presidential nominee. At 11 am in each city (8 on West coast) two people dressed like construction workers carried out this 6’5″, 80 pound sculpture under a blue tarp and then literally glued it to the ground and disappeared into the crowd.

Each statue was beautifully hand painted by an artist known as Ginger, a Las Vegas based horror artist (that admits he was once a Trump supporter, then wisened up as the campaign got more out of control). Ginger is known for his monsters, and Trump is a monster.

Once the tarp was removed mayhem insued. So many selfless were taken, one was “jerked off” by a homeless man, another was dragged into a nearby art gallery, but most were taken down by the police. The new goal is to make them for high end galleries and restaurants, willing participants.

Tiny penis and no testicles were the main attraction. Although art is subjective and takes liberties, it is not confirmed whether he actually has testicles in real life or not. He definitely suffers from foot in mouth disease and is a raging sociopath, but that is beside the point.

The Emperor Has No Balls is part of Indecline’s 15 years of art as activism, usually sticking to murals and graffiti. They are responsible for the Rape Trump graffiti on a fence at the US Mexico border. They knew that larger action needed to be taken as the Trump campagn was a real thing, he is the nominee, wow, this is happening!

Everytime I turn on a TV or look at the news I get sick, I worry that this impending doom is the final apocalypse. What will he do as our commander in chief? Not saying I love Hilary Clinton or anything, but COME ON! He is the worst, it’s a joke that has gone too far, and at OUR EXPENSE!

They started to think about how dictators were memorialized in giant statues throughout history. Illama Gore’s infamous drawing of naked Trump got so much attention (even the artist being assaulted due to her work) that it was a clear inspiration for this project.

Trump’s campaign did not comment on the statues. Of course not…

* Featured image: Naked Trump statue in Union Square, NYC

Got a question for Cat? Ask it: Cat@ForgetTheBox.net

gord downie tragically hip live

Author’s Note

When writing previews I usually try to remain impartial, take personal preferences out of the equation, be open to suggestions (especially in support of local bands) and present a little something for everyone. Well this week too bad, I’m only previewing one show.

The Hip’s Last Show

As a music fan and/or a Canadian I’m sure you’re well aware that the Tragically Hip will be playing their last show this Saturday night in Kingston. While most people around the country will be watching/listening at home on pretty much any device they want (CBC will be airing it on TV, radio and all their online platforms commercial free) there is the option of making this a more communal experience.

In Montreal the best choice (and by best I mean the one I’m doing) is to head over to Monkland and Melrose where the Flavours of Monkland street fest was already scheduled to take place and so they decided to partner with CBC and present the show on a big screen. This fest is food truck heaven with a full liquor license and a few activities, such as live music, sprinkled in.

Admittedly this is grafting one event on top of another but if you want the “crowd experience” this is the best bet in the area.

Another solid choice would be to head to one of the many bars that have promised to air the show. Trying to compile a comprehensive list of all the locations screening the concert is proving impossible but suffice it to say you’re safe with any Irish Pub, downtown or otherwise. My suggestion is to call first and try to get a reservation.

The rest of the preview has nothing to do with ideas for where to see the show, I need to say a few things.

Anyone who has seen up close the brutal certainty and finality of terminal cancer knows the emotional toll being placed on Gord and his friends/family right now. It’s amazing that he’s been willing to go on this last tour and I’m not sure how anyone could lift that heavy a weight.

He didn’t have to do a final tour, we all would have given him a pass. So then why go through it? I think saying he’s doing it for “the fans” or for closure or to raise money for cancer research is far too simple. I mean it is all those things but it’s more than that.

I think the best way to explain is with my own personal encounters regarding the “myth” of Gord Downie because it seems that everywhere you go in Canada there’s always someone who has met and hung out with him just waiting to tell you their story. There was the guy on my hockey team who spent a weekend with him at a bachelor party, the former coworker who would always have drinks with him when he came to town or the friend of a friend in Toronto who used to “hang with him before he was big.”

It seems that Gord has shown up at every local bar in the country, had a beer with every person in that bar and shared a unique story-worthy moment with all of them. In all occasions the tellers of these tales always had the same things to say, “he was just there hanging out like one of the guys”, ” the dude was so down to earth”, “he would chat with everyone that came up to him”.

While obviously not all of these encounters occurred I think the myth around Gord stems from the fact that we see him as our friend, the approachable star, the uniquely Canadian form of celebrity. Smart, funny, humble and hard working. This last show isn’t a farewell concert, we’re parting ways with an old and dear friend. No one wants this to happen, we all just realize it has to and we have to be a part of it.

Ok enough serious talk, this is a music blog after all. Here’s (arguably) the best improv moment from (clearly) the best at improvising. Sorry “killer whale tank” fans, this one’s better.

* Featured Image: Gord Downie performs with The Tragically Hip in Vancouver July 23rd (CBC)

montreal uke fest

So what Montreal music options are there this week? Two rock shows (one of the indie and one of the heavier/punkier variety) tonight, a Jazz-Funk Explosion tomorrow and a festival dedicated to the Ukulele Friday and Saturday

Rebelle + Shotgun + The Kents + Mumu

Tonight there’s a great indie rock show going on at Casa Del popolo where four of the coolest bands you’ve probably never heard of will be taking to the stage. Headlining the event will be Wakefield Quebec’s own Rebelle whose seem to be doing something a little different by combining synthy electro pop and indie rock with fuzzy powerful guitar riffs in a way that is getting them attention as one of Canada’s up and coming acts.

Check out their track The Rapture to see what I mean (anyone else hear the intro riff to Fortunate Son at 2:30?) then check out a few more of their tracks to hear a band that clearly does not write the same song twice.

Joining them on stage will be three more Canadian acts in the form of Shotgun, The Kents and Mumu making this a four band bill all for the very reasonable price of $10.

Rebelle, Shotgun, The Kents and Mumu play Casa del popolo, 4873 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Thursday, August 11th, tickets $10.

Montreal Uke Fest 

The title pretty much sums it up, this Friday and Saturday ukulele players and fans will congregate in the Plateau for the Fifth annual Montreal Uke Fest. As you would expect this is a fest with a highly interactive feel where people will be encouraged to participate in the performance as much as watch it.

It all starts Friday night with a strum along session hosted by the Ukulélé Club De Montréal where players of any level are welcome to add their four strings to the mix. On Saturday there will be workshops for up and coming players from 11 am to 5 pm at Casa del popolo and then Sala Rosa will host a uke centric concert starting at 7pm featuring Michael Wagner, U.K.E, Del Rey and Monika Cefis . For more info and tickets check out the Montreal uke fest website.

Strum Along Session takes place at Sporting Club 4671 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Friday August 12th, free.

Various Workshop take place at Casa del popolo, 4873 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Saturday August 13th, tickets and times through Montreal Uke Fest.

Michael Wagner, U.K.E, Del Rey and Monika Cefis  play Sala Rosa, 4848 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Saturday, August 13th, tickets $25 in advance through Montreal Uke Fest or $30 at the door.

Debutant + The Lookout + Ashtray Heart

If full-on rock n’ roll happens to be your cup of tea, or moreover, your pint of beer, then head down to Barfly tonight to check out Edmonton rockers Debutant. This Alberta-based four piece is currently on tour to support their upcoming release Road to Nowhere.

In Montreal, they’re playing with local punk rockers The Lookout and Barfly mainstay rockers Ashtray Heart. “It’s a three piece and that’s too much already.”

Debutant, The Lookout and Ashtray Heart play Barfly, 4062A Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Thursday, August 11th, 9pm.

Montreal’s Jazz-Funk Explosion

File this under a show title that really says it all. Friday night, head down to Casa del Popolo if you’re in the mood for a jazz-funk explosion. The show features three really funky acts: L’escalier regulars Space Base, The Friendly Frogs Freak Show and Colorflow.

There’s also going to be a “Big Mama Space Coloured Freak Jam!” featuring members of the bands before the show. Yes, before. Over an hour before, to be precise, before the door officially opens.

Montreal’s Jazz-Funk Explosion is Friday, August 12th at Casa del Popolo, 4873 Boulevard St-Laurent. Doors at 8:30, show starts at 9:00, but the Big Mama Jam is at 7:45. $7. Tickets available through CasaDelPopolo

* Featured image from the Montreal Uke Fest Facebook Page

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. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

13668773_546948708823888_7399011909853342868_o

“Have you heard the news?

I am bigger than ants!”  – ‘Big Gigantic Body’, The Anthony Hansen Problem

There is nothing in the city right now like The Anthony Hansen Problem. Despite being a newly formed act, they came in at #9 for both “freakiest” and “most pretentious” musical act in CULTMTL’s Best Of Montreal 2016 poll.

When, in mid July, I made my way to Casa del Popolo to see The Anthony Hansen Problem play alongside BoyJune (now Beloveds), The Island of Misfit Toys and Commander Clark’s band, I had no idea just how much fun I’d be having. This show with its greatly slotted bill was hands down the best musical time I’ve had in years.13690888_10102605839847987_3461689634366204884_o

Part performance art and part brazen ego comedy pop rock, The Anthony Hansen problem is is a hard act to describe. A friend of mine, Cas Kaplan of Boyfriends, aptly describes them as ‘absurdist new wave’ and ‘glamaged’.

Recently transitioned from solo act to three man show, The Anthony Hansen Problem is Anthony Hansen (keys, vox), Noemie Kinney of Nanimal (bass), and Evan Magoni of Boyfriends (drums). The decision to switch from one man show to a trio was one that Hansen made after carefully consideration:

“I definitely had a period where I kind of stopped playing for a while and tried to rethink my approach because in as much that people told me it was entertaining to see me doing the one man thing I knew I couldn’t sustain it,” he explains, “It wasn’t any fun and I’m basically enjoying myself a lot more now that I have people to bounce ideas off of and it just it feels less like I’m dwelling within an echo chamber.”

One of the major factors for the switch was the limitations brought on by using a backing track:

“The backing track is not gonna stop, it’s not gonna allow you to banter with the audience. I was sort of really shooting myself in the foot because I was just putting songs back to back to back and not giving myself any breathing room. People even told me they couldn’t tell where one thing ended and other began the pace was way too manic. I think this is the issue when I generally do projects entirely on my own I just get so kind of, I topple over under the weight of my own ambition when I don’t have people to reign me in.”

Hansen met Magoni and Kinney through musical circles whereby they found mutual admiration of each other’s musical stylings and that the two genuinely liked what he referred to as his ridiculous songs.

“For this specific project, I build off of what strikes me as an interesting phrase,” Hansen describes, “I’m taking one specific phrase that sounds like it could be a hook in a song and then just constructing lyrics around it. A lot of times what I do is I’ll take that phrase, write free associatively based on what it makes me think of, and then loosely organize that into a song like structure. That’s part of why a lot of my songs involve me talking and not really rhyming, because most of what I write is stream of consciousness and then edited together after the fact.”

Of the performance and pretentious aspects of his project,  whereby each song seems to come from a very odd backstory, Hansen remarks:

“I tend to write in character a lot and a lot of the characters I write for are unreliable narrators so it’s essentially just you know and like, I remember Andrew (Boyfriends, Smokes) said that the song All This Techonology is Making Us Antisocial made him think of just being trapped in a car, some vehicle, with someone who is talking At you and not registering your discomfort.”

He adds,  “There is a lot of that in my music. I think it gives me a freedom to write from the perspective of people who don’t, I guess, have the same social inhibitions that I do. It’s a way of embodying things that I could not get away with in my normal life. Just being this like very strange, very alienating kind of figure. It’s fun to sort of play with that and just you know, write as someone who deliberately breeches social boundaries within a performance context.”

In terms of what is next for The Anthony Hansen Problem, Hansen says he is really enjoying the band’s current momentum. They’ve played three shows in three weeks and are about to head into the studio to record.

“To be honest,  I like working quickly, you know, just keeping things moving. I’m really someone who can’t relax or stay still so I kind of constantly have to be tinkering with things. I mean, that’s the goal as much as anything is to just always have this outlet that I can turn towards and if other people like it that’s great too.”

“I can promise you though,” he adds with a playful grin spreading across his face, “if someone comes along with like a shit ton of money to give us, we are going to sell out all the way. I’m just gonna start making the worst and most vacuous music I possibly can. Probably break up. Then go on a reunion tour that outlasts how long we stayed together originally.”

Catch The Anthony Hansen Problem at Barfly tonight, August 8, 2016. Show starts at 9pm. 7$

13708236_1075286575874163_8433075963868309615_o

During it’s 20th edition, the Fantasia Film Festival presented Takashi Miike with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Mike’s name has been a staple of the Fantasia experience over the years which is no surprise because the prolific Japanese filmmaker has over 100 credits to his name in 25 years.

If the shear number of films doesn’t blow your mind, the topics, extreme style and depictions of violence, dark humour, and the range of genres of film Miike has directed should: from crime dramas to kids’ films to ultra-violent manga adaptations to musicals to downright disturbing romances.

Personally, my introduction to Miike’s work came in the form of a recommendation by my trusted video store clerk, whose employee curated shelf served as a perfect Fantasia primer for my teenage self, handed me a copy of Miike’s 1999 film Audition (Odishon) with a firm warning and the seriousness of one facilitating a rite of passage. The film still unsettles me whenever it crosses my mind.

Photo by Julie Delisle

I had the honour of sitting down with Miike for a quick interview and had a chance to ask the filmmaker a couple questions.

Fillion: How do you choose which film projects you take on?

Miike: Firstly, I always look to see if I have the capacity to take on the project, if my schedule would permit it. So, if a project comes to me… If I think too much about the content, the budget, or which company the project is coming from, it would be shielding myself and it would cut off certain paths in my life. I don’t want to do that. So, I tend to take on work in the order that it comes to me.

Things change a lot depending on the times. Some of these elements will never come together again. Actually, my natural way is to see that the timing is right. If I think too hard I’ll miss certain connections and things I would have otherwise not known. My way is to try even if I am not familiar, even if it is the first time I attempt something.

Fillion: Which films have you found the most challenging to make?

Miike: Westerns or samurai films. Things that are not happening in our time. In my career, I had never done that before taking these on and it was something that was very interesting.

For example, when you are using horses, I didn’t know where to rent horses or where we could have the horses run. It was completely new for me. These are things that were common in older films but are on the verge of disappearing in current cinema.

The next thing that will be going will be action films with cars. They are too risky and many people no longer want to take that risk. In a film, there always needs to be an element of risk or else the spectators will feel this, that it’s not natural and lacks something. A film is like a gamble, to amuse the public, you have to bring something exciting. So overall, for me, making samurai films, older styles of films, was both interesting and very challenging.

Terra Formars: Bugs in Space

Along with coming to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award, this year, Miike brought two titles to the festival: As The Gods Will (2014) and Terra Formars (2016). Terra Formars is a live action adaptation of the Japanese manga series of the same name. Although not among the type of films I usually cover at Fantasia, Miike’s Terra Formars turned out to be a total blast: an action packed sci-fi somewhere at the meeting point between Starship Troopers and Power Rangers with a nod to Blade Runner.

001-20

In a distant future, humanity is looking to Mars as a solution to the overcrowding on Earth and the depletion of its resources. Hundreds of years ago, a space program sent moss and cockroaches to Mars as a means of warming up the planetary atmosphere and making it a livable habitat for humans. After a failed first attempt at colonization, a second top secret mission is sent to Mars to rid the planet of its cockroach problem.

Led by Ko Honda, the mission participants are promised big bucks and fresh starts as long as they accept being subjected to some genetic modifications to survive on martian soil. Oh, and kill the cockroaches.

Not even an hour after their arrival, the space team (a mix of small criminals, murderers, hackers, yakuza), quickly realizes that beyond being annoying and strange, Ko Honda has misinformed them. Turns out the cockroaches have mutated into gigantic powerful beasts of sorts and that their genetic modifications were actually to give each of them the abilities of insects multiplied to human scale.

Terra Formars is ridiculous in so many ways and self aware. The film is as funny as it can be sort of gross, in the best of ways, and the action is exhilarating. Discovering which creature the crew have been spliced with brought me back to the thrill of seeing Power Rangers as a kid and waiting to see what the rangers would morph into.

Ko Honda, the film’s villain of sorts, is one of my favourite characters in the film. I’d honestly like to see a sequel that focuses on his character some more. Although he has some of the stereotypical characteristics of film villains (especially those of earlier films), there was something really endearing, fun and fresh about Miike’s villain.

Ko Honda’s obsession with fashion took on a new meaning after meeting Miike in person. Ko Honda is almost a counterpoint to Miike in many ways: Ko Honda is agitated and skittish while Miike is poised and calm. That said, Mike has to be one of the most fashionable directors I have ever met at Fantasia. His jacket was striking, enough so to make Ko Honda totally jealous.

*Photos of Miike courtesy of Julie Delisle

new faces unrepped just for laughs

Any Just for Laughs show that has words like “faces” in the title is always a bit of a crapshoot. You know for sure that you’re going to enjoy the host who is usually a comic legend but the remaining roster generally consists of comics, good and bad, who are yet unheard of and hoping to make a name for themselves on the Just for Laughs stage. The Just for Laughs show New Faces: Unrepped was no exception.

New Faces: Unrepped consisted of a slew of American comedians trying to bag an agent or gig. The audience consisted primarily of industry reps and agents looking to find their next star.

The show was hosted by comic legend George Wallace, who was doing a one-man show later in the week. By his own admission, Wallace had no material ready to host New Faces and opted instead to work the crowd.

Host George Wallace (photo Felicia Michaels, courtesy Just for Laughs)
Host George Wallace (photo: Felicia Michaels, courtesy Just for Laughs)

He clearly knew none of the comics performing that night and was reminiscent of a kind, well-meaning uncle who invites a ton of people to a barbeque but has absolutely no idea who any of them are. Despite his lack of preparedness, he remained the show’s star.

The show was a mixed bag with every stereotype represented. You had the clean cut white sarcastic guys, JP McDade, Danny Palumbo, and Brendan Lynch, the snarky smiling feminist comedian, Molly Ruben Long, a sassy black woman, Janelle James, some African American males, Neko White and JB Ball, a few ethnic comedians, Ismail Loutfi and Raoul Sanchez, one Zach Galafianakis clone, Casey Crawford, and one creep, Geoffrey Asmus.

JP McDade was the kind of comedian one would want for a major American sitcom. He’s white, blond, cute and snarky, perfect for shows like How I Met Your Mother that appeal to white audiences who want to laugh at other white people. His comedy was good but not great and his delivery clearly needs a little refining because his jokes were spaced so far apart the audience lost him at least half the time.

Next up was Ismail Loutfi, a Muslim American comedian. Unlike the other comedians that night, his comedy was largely political, bravely tackling issues of Islamophobia and American ignorance of Muslim American culture. To keep the audience going, he peppered his routine with a lot of self-deprecation and unlike the other comedians that night, his material was by far the most interesting, if not the funniest.

African American comedian Neko White clearly has a lot of potential. His delivery and timing were spot on which made up for the occasional lame joke. He started his routine by announcing that he was from Harlem and bravely addressed the issue of gang violence in the US in his comedy.

Raul Sanchez could only be described as OK. His delivery was OK, his jokes about incarceration were OK, and as a comedian he came off as just OK.

JB Ball was the other African American male comedian on the roster and his delivery and the timing of jokes were also spot on. The problem is that his jokes were mostly sexist towards women, which is FINE provided the jokes are funny, which they weren’t.

Casey Crawford of North Dakota was by far the funniest of the bunch. Clad in an Expos T-shirt and Canadiens hat, Crawford seemed desperate to win over Canadian audiences. As it turns out he didn’t need the gimmicky outfit, undoubtedly the product of a gift shop raid. Crawford’s jokes were FUNNY and his style had the adorable awkwardness reminiscent of Zach Galafianakis.

casey crawford
Casey Crawford (photo: Felicia Michaels, courtesy Just for Laughs)

Molly Ruben-Long was the feminist comedian of the night. I’m all for feminist comedy and I’m all for female comedians, but her jokes were lame, so while I found myself silently cheering her, I couldn’t bring myself to laugh.

Janelle James is an ex dominatrix who moved to white suburbia. Her jokes were funny but not bend over funny. As the oldest and most charismatic performer that night, she deserves a shot but ageism is probably going to play a role in whether she gets it.

Brendan Lynch was funny and self-deprecating in a way that was kinda charming. He’d be another good casting choice for a snarky white sitcom character.

Geoffrey Asmus was the most memorable of the comedian not because he was good, but because he was BAD.

Asmus’ stage persona is one of a sanctimonious entitled chronically ill white male with delusions of grandeur. He began his routine by physically attacking a member of the audience who was cheering him, before describing a medical condition with such specificity there was no doubt he actually had it.

He talked of being a virgin who’s never masturbated in a way that was more painful than funny. He claimed that not engaging in sexual activity allowed him to hone his intellect and bragged that he knew everything.

Asmus claimed that he even knew about Canadian Prime Ministers and asked the audience to name one. I turned to my partner and bet him that I could stump the guy after which I called out “Diefenbaker” (the Prime Minister in the 60s who had a rivalry with JFK). Asmus said Diefenbaker was a white male, hardly remarkable given that nearly ALL Canada’s Prime Ministers were white males, in other words: I won.

Asmus’ performance was barely wiped out by the final performer of the night, Danny Palumbo.

Palumbo clearly wears a mustache to hide the fact that without it he’d probably look like a twelve year old boy. He was snarky and funny, and as a foodie, his comedy about culinary ignorance appealed to me. Unfortunately a lot of his jokes were the boring passive-male-in-a-relationship stuff that’s been WAY overdone in comedy.

Shows like New Faces: Unrepped are something to experience at least once. In them you get to see a legend work the audience with grace and see potential up and comers work their magic while others crash and burn.

* Featured image: Felicia Michaels, courtesy Just for Laughs

heavy montreal

This week is very yellow line centered as two festivals hit Île Sainte-Hélène at the same time, I tell you the coolest (or maybe it’s the most random) thing you could do tonight and we actually mention a local band (Les Breastfeeders) amidst this sea of summer festivals.

Heavy Montreal

For anyone into the metal/hard rock scene the angry little brother of our city’s festival season Heavy Montreal takes over Parc Jean Drapeau for it’s ninth’s edition this Saturday and Sunday. Around since 2008, this fest has steadily grown in popularity and has even seen a re-branding from it’s earlier incarnation Heavy Mtl (or heavy metal!!!!) in order to hopefully gain some crossover appeal and attract fans from a wider variety of musical tastes.

A little piece of advice for the organizers: you can change the name of the fest all you want but when you book bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed, Nightwish, Killswitch Engage, Napalm Death and Hatebreed to play then who are you kidding, it’s a bloody metal show! I guess their idea of diversity is a couple of headliners that are more hard rock than metal.

For those who don’t want to leave the island or pay the rather ummmm heavy ticket prices there’s also a Heavy in the City aspect to the fest with a bunch of smaller shows and after parties you can attend for a fraction of the cost. For example on Sunday you can head down to L’Astral and check out Cult of Luna as part of the official after party.

The most interesting off site activity by far is taking place Thursday night at Concordia University where organizers Grimposium are hosting a screening of the new film Death by Metal followed by a bilingual panel discussion with members of the industry as well as the director Felipe Belalcazar.

This will be followed by the coolest thing you could possibly do tonight, a workshop on how to sing death metal vocals. That and the fact the event is totally free makes this my hands down top pick of the week!

Heavy Montreal plays Plaine Des Jeux at Parc Jean Drapeau, Saturday and Sunday, August 6th and 7th, tickets $149.50 or 275 through Heavy Montreal.

Cult of Luna play L’Astral, 305 Rue Saint-Cahterine Ouest, Sunday, August 7th, 11:45pm (Doors at 10:45pm), tickets $21.50 through Heavy Montreal.

Grimposium presents Death by Metal at Concordia University, VA114 Cinéma, 1395 René-Lévesque Ouest, Thursday August 4th, 7pm, free ($5 suggested donation)

ÎleSoniq

Also taking place at Parc Jean Drapeau this Friday and Saturday will be one of our newer and more musically specific festivals, ÎleSoniq, which basically turns part of Île Sainte-Hélène into a big outdoor rave. This event is also expansive in it’s secondary options available to people who want to stay on the island of Montreal in the form of a series of afterparties.

ÎleSoniq plays Parterre du Parc Jean Drapeau, Friday and Saturday, August 5th and 6th, tickets $95 to $250 available through ÎleSoniq boxoffice.

Yellow Line Fashion Show

For those paying attention to the dates you’ll notice that on Saturday afternoon there will be an overlap of people heading to Île Sainte-Hélène for both ÎleSoniq and Heavy Montreal. The festivals are obviously separate but anyone taking the yellow line will be treated to quite a display of strikingly different fashion senses.

Les Breastfeeders + OL’ CD + Hobo Lord

For those who want a straight up kick ass rock show I suggest you head down to L’Escogriffe on Saturday where Montreal’s own Les Breastfeeders will be playing with the support of two Toronto acts OL’ CD and Hobo Lord. Take a little pinch of punk, a dash of surf, mix it with a three and a half minute garage rock song and you’ve got the recipe for the evening.

In festival season we sometimes get locked into trying to see the biggest and best international acts around. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s important to remember there are some seriously talented local acts ready to give you their all… and for a much more affordable price.

 Les Breastfeeders, OL’ CD and Hobo Lord play L’Escogriffe, 4467 Saint-Denis, Saturday, August 6th, tickets $10.

* Featured image from Heavy Montreal 2013 by Chris Zacchia

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. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

the history of gunpowder

Despite what you think, The History of Gunpowder is not an educational band on how gunpowder was brought into existence. Instead this (currently seven piece) band will educate you on the bastards of the world.

Somewhere between dirty blues, indie rock and all around freak-out orchestra, The History of Gunpowder is a rather new powerhouse on the Montreal scene. The band has had around 25 members, always fronted by Alex James Morison, and in Montreal is currently a seven piece featuring Quinn Dennehy on drums, Henri Rabalais on keys, Aleksi Campagne on violin, Stephane Krims on bass, Chris Maskell on tenor and Shawn Rikenbach on bari.

Their latest album, released May 6th and titled Stained Glass, Rye and Wax, features over 17 musicians. From Vancouver to India to Montreal, this album is not only a compilation of talented musicians but tells a story or two throughout.

This isn’t your everyday indie rock album full of love ballads. Inside you’ll find something a little more profound (though it might take you until the third listen to figure it all out).

The album cover proudly boasts a hand-drawn Ostrich (by Eric Brunning) squawking right in your face. That’s kind of what the band feel likes whether you’re listening to their latest album or at one of their in-explicably chaotic live shows. Alex Morison explains the un-explainable nature of their re-occurring aesthetic choice:

“The ostrich doesn’t warrant a proper explanation because absurdity is too inextricably involved in my music. The ostrich is just a potent symbol of something that you hate; it represents a lot of the screeching on the album and a lot of the chaos. You couldn’t represent that shit with a humming bird. It’s taken on a symbol of it’s own.”

Symbolic nature is just the foreplay of the album with potent and compelling storylines running through it. One of the main themes is “about the bastards that exist,” tells Alex James Morison. “Your way of dealing with them and repressing them or rather finding some sort of mechanism of reciprocity towards them. They oppress all of us and they better know what’s coming to them in the end.”

Picture a helpless creature in the middle of the desert. Picture that same creature trying to kill those vultures that pick him out every damn day. This is what one of their songs, The Ditch, feels like with lyrics such as “playing dead in the desert, catching vultures with my butterfly net.”

The Ditch is one of the songs on the album that might hit a particularly intense emotional string for more than one reason. It starts with a schizophrenic man commenting on his illness and what happens in mental institution.

“Quinn was on the street on Saint Catherine,” explains Alex “and the thrifty mother fucker that he is he heard an inspiring voice. It worked perfectly because that song is about being prayed on, being the prey of something. This individual has been the prey of a system that has led him to escaping it. Though I can’t understand his level of oppression and trouble, the ditch is my own song for escapism.”

You won’t just find escapism in their music either, their live set is prone to boughts of theatrics, with a voice that breeds power. It’s not only Alex James Morison’s voice that brings the power. When these performers step to stage, expect more than just their music because here you’ll find a spectacle you won’t easily forget. This even includes a little burlesque including artists such as Aria Delanoche, Frenchy Jones and Fifi Fantôme.

Alex explains what he brings to their live sets: “I want people to come in and not be able to leave the focus of the stage. You paid your good money to see us we’re going to give you as much as we can. You won’t be able to just come in get a beer and not be captivated by the stage. When you come to see The History of Gunpowder live, you’re going to walk away going what the fuck did I just see.”

Check out their latest album, Stained Glass, Rye and Wax, on bandcamp.

Carrie Fisher (1)

I had completely forgotten that Carrie Fisher was in The Blues Brothers. The 1980 cinematic masterpiece, that is, not the sequel that should simply have been titled Why?

Both films, though, did warrant a mention by Fisher as she hosted her Just For Laughs Gala. So did politics in Hollywood when it comes to older women, something she has first-hand experience with.

She also spent quite a bit of her time on stage talking about, well, what do you think? Star Wars, of course. This was, after all, Princess (now General) Leia herself, doing comedy in Montreal.

I’ll admit I had to restrain myself from going all-in with the Star Wars puns when starting this review. She was, after all, an icon of my childhood. So…not so long ago, Sunday night to be precise, in a galaxy a few Metro stops away, Carrie Fisher was a Force to be reckoned with onstage…

There. Done. Now on with the show!

It was quite a good show, too. It started off with Brian Posehn nerd-gasming over the host and devoting his entire set to his love of Star Wars and hatred of the prequels (which Fisher wasn’t in…damn, with her absence in Blues Brothers 2000, she’s two for two).

Ronny Chieng (photo Eric Meyer, courtesy Just for Laughs)
Ronny Chieng (photo Eric Meyer, courtesy Just for Laughs)

The non-childhood memory enduing highlight for me has to be Ronny Chieng. The current Daily Show correspondent’s set was focused on Asian stereotypes and how he deals with them.

Australian comic Joel Creasey told a rather funny story about a brief Twitter feud he had with fellow Aussie Russel Crowe. Creasey had very good stage presence, though he spoke a bit too quickly for me to catch everything.

We also got Jim Norton’s sort of defense of Donald Trump (not really, but it was funny),  Cristela Alonzo’s take on sci-fi realism, Celia Pacquola’s interesting view of rings, Nathan MacIntosh with a quite funny bit on the current state of tech and Ivan Decker talking mangos, of all things.

The night, though, clearly belonged to Fisher. Thanks to her HBO special Wishful Drinking we all know that she can carry a stage show. Thanks to Force Awakens interviews and some of her performances over the years (like the one in the aforementioned Blues Brothers) we know she can be funny.

But can she carry an entire standup show as host? Turns out, yes.

While her bit on other Leia hairdoo options may have been a bit by-the-numbers, though still funny, her opening monologue was a solid bit of standup. While some comics tell personal stories and then try and related them to pop culture, Fisher is pop culture, or at least a huge part of it, so she was able to cut out the middle man, so to speak.

And her song about addiction, another subject which we all know that she knows quite well, was a great way to close the show. Self-aware, casual, honest. It was pure Carrie Fisher.

 

* Featured image by Eric Myre, courtesy of Just for Laughs

Cameron Esposito

Rushing from watching the fireworks at Montreal’s Old Port, I was almost late to Cameron Esposito’s show at Montreal Improv. I’m glad I wasn’t, because it was perhaps one of the most entertaining and different sets I’ve ever seen.

What do I mean? For one, you know how stand-up comedians usually try to seem candid because it makes their spiel more believable? After all, you are listening to a complete stranger telling you stories about themselves. You need to first care about these people, before you can even consider laughing at them. Even then, more often than not, the line between the stage and the audience remains very palpable.

Yet with Esposito, her attempts at connecting with the audience not only do feel real, I’m pretty sure they are real. Throughout the show, she talked with two members of the audience. Usually, when that happens, the comedian tries to fit as many jokes as they can about that person’s life. Esposito, however, seemed genuinely interested in what these people had to say, and actually listened. Now, maybe she was just that good at acting, but I remain convinced that it was all real.

For second, there aren’t nearly enough LGBTQ comedians represented at JFL. As far as I can tell, most comedians I’ve seen at JFL have been straight folks, and mostly guys. After a while, these stories get old, because straight love/sex stories are the only stories you hear in the mainstream. Most movies, most TV shows, most anime, most anything – straight stories are everywhere.

So I’m really glad I got to see Esposito at this JFL. She and her wife Rhea Butcher – who also happened to be the opener for Esposito – are really funny. Both of their sets have your run-of-the-mill “America is awful, Canada is so much better” jokes as well as really thoughtful rants/commentaries about gender, politics, and gender and politics.

For instance, one part of Esposito’s set was literally a speech about why Hilary Clinton is fit to be the next president of the U.S. – if not the best candidate the U.S. has seen in a while. I’ve seen many comedians during this year’s JFL, and Esposito was the first one to talk less about Trump, and more about Hilary. Admittedly, it was strange that she got so serious during a stand-up comedy show, but I think I’m into it. In fact, I really like it and I think more people should do it.

We always talk about how comedians are supposed to critique society, point out its flaws or whatever. This is what it should be like. Pointing out problems about society and making you laugh on the side – I might add that no hearing impaired people with terminal illnesses were insulted in the process (looking at you Mr. Ward).

Furthermore, the topics Esposito talks about actually challenge people’s perceptions and understandings. To take that a step further, Esposito and Butcher are launching a new show on Seeso called Take my Wife. Unfortunately, Seeso doesn’t stream outside of U.S., so we won’t be able to watch the show in Canada, but as Esposito puts it, “we don’t need [the show], because we accept people.” The accuracy of our positive verdict notwithstanding, it was really amazing to see a lesbian comedian feel free to make jokes about her identity, without having to fear any bigoted hecklers.

Then again, maybe that was because she was preaching to the choir and the people at the show were already the kind of people who know that gender is a social construct and sexuality is a spectrum.

After this show, I’m very confident that I need more Cameron Esposito-kinda comedy in my life. Funny but not trivial stuff. If we truly want comedy to be a type of subversive act that will mould society into something better, that’s what we need.

* Featured image courtesy of Just for Laughs

Jeff Goldblum (1)

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes secret about how media accreditation works. You usually ask to get as many tickets as possible to review as many shows as possible. And if you’re a relatively smaller blog like FTB, you don’t expect to get into the big shows. That’s just showbiz, as they say. So you can imagine my surprise at seeing that I was able to get tickets for BOTH Jeff Goldblum’s and David Cross’ galas on Wednesday night.

That’s a lot of comedy!

Jeff Goldblum Gala

Let’s start with Jeff Goldblum – he’s a delight on the stage. He is well dressed, well-spoken, and very self-aware. He knows what it means to be Jeff Goldblum, and he knows that impressionists love to do him. That’s probably why he had an entire segment dedicated to him teaching the audience how to do the “Jeff Goldblum.” You touch your face, go on …uhm… really long, run-on paragraphs, and …uhm… get REALLY EASILY EXCITED about …you know… things. Eh, it doesn’t work when I’m writing the impression I guess. But you get the gist.

I never thought of Goldblum as a stand-up comedian, and I will stand by that statement. He was magnificent as a host, but some of the jokes were – well, they could have been better delivered by an actual stand-up comedian. I also could tell that he was reading his jokes from a teleprompter, so that kinda broke the magic for me as well. Still, he’s a funny guy and no one can take that away from him. I highly doubt anyone is trying to do so, anyway.

Godfrey
Godfrey at the Gala.

At Goldblum’s gala, the audience was able to see Darrin Rose, Godfrey, Patrick Haye, Russell Howard, Elon Gold, Charlie Pickering, Lynne Koplitz, and Adam Ferrara. Out of these 8 (omg) comedians, I can confidently say that my favourites were Russell Howard, Godfrey, and Charlie Pickering. But don’t get me wrong, all of them were amazing comedians, and the audience seemed to agree with me.

It’s just that I have a very particular style of humour and these three fellas all hit the spot. Howard is from the UK and – obviously – delivers his jokes in that classic British style. His delivery is not as dry as some other Brits, which is admittedly a nice change of pace. I don’t exactly remember how the conversation got there, but at some point he started talking about same-sex marriages. He said that some people in the UK are afraid that they could lead to a lesbian queen. He than started miming the queen getting a blowjob and screamed “Yeah, does it taste like stamps?!” Best queen joke I’ve heard in a while.

David Cross Gala

David Cross is a gem. He is the master of awkward comedy and I just love that. Once his name was announced, Cross appeared behind the gates on the scene, with his pants down. He pulled them up immediately, and then started doing his spiel. He started telling us about how Americans feel about Canadians and how much trouble they have trying to mock Canadians.

The harshest thing they can think of, apparently, was that Canadians are so polite. He says that it’s funny that Canadians are so polite. And that gets me thinking… Most comedians at JFL have a bit about how people in the US think about Canadians. I wonder if that was a collective decision on their part, or is it just an easy – almost cheaty? – way of breaking the ice with the audience. Once they’re done with talking about US-Canada relations, they start talking about American politics. They’re all collectively afraid of what might happen if a certain giant Oompa Loompa gets elected.

Cross is an infinitely better stand-up comedian than Goldblum. Some heckler guy made him mess up a joke, but even then he was able to keep his cool and make that into a joke that the audience just loved. He is less charismatic than Goldblum, but that’s not what he is going for anyway. He’ll be awkward on the stage and you will love it. I mean, at least if you’re into that kinda thing.

At Cross’ gala, we had Maria Bamford, Louie Anderson, Nick Thune, Todd Barry, Scott Thompson, Nish Kumar, and Mark Forward.

David Cross (2)
David Cross, a.k.a. baseball cap Santa Claus.

Nish Kumar was by far my favourite among this lineup – and that despite the fact that I was really excited to see Maria Bamford and Louie Anderson. I was expecting Bamford’s set to be different than what it was. She kept in character throughout the whole thing, which is to be expected if you’re familiar with her style. And with Anderson, I suppose I was still remembering him as the guy who did the mid-90s cartoon series Life with Louie. He wasn’t really – but still was pretty funny.

It was my first time seeing Kumar, however, and I was very impressed. Again, he’s a comic from the UK, so obviously I liked his style. His humour is very smart and very political. He talked about how almost impossible it is to write right-wing comedy, but also it’s difficult to write a left-wing action film. “You’d have no interest in watching the Avengers go to the UN Security Council,” as he said. I love politics, and I love comedy – and Kumar was the perfect mixture of both.

Overall, these two galas were both very amazing and funny. If I could spend five hours sitting in the same hall, listening to these comedians again, I would do it without hesitating.

All photos by Eric Myre, courtesy of Just for Laughs festival.