Heavy Montreal 2019 is right around the corner, so metalheads all around this beautiful Heavy Metal City™ that we call Montreal are trying to figure out which bands they want to see.

Slayer? Anthrax? Evanescence? Slash? Godsmack? Skillet? I mean sure, yeah, you can go watch the bands that we all know. But this loud festival is also the perfect opportunity to expand your horizons and get to know some local rockers. So without further ado, let me bring you that horizon.

Mountain Dust

White Bluffs by Mountain Dust

Mountain Dust is basically what would happen if Ennio Morricone was a rockstar. Vocalist Brendan Mainville tells some very cool stories that have ups and downs worthy of being made into Spaghetti Westerns of their own. The music rides the waves of these lyrics, ebbing and flowing between calm clean vibrato chords and violent riffs that’ll get you moving.

Mountain Dust will be playing July 28th at 1pm on the Monster Energy APOCALYPSE Stage

Junkowl

Sickness Lives by Junkowl

Despite having formed in 2017, Junkowl’s first album Ravenous comes out in Fall 2019. Still, they’ve made a name for themselves in the ol’ Heavy Metal City™ with their energetic performances. And you know they have what it takes, since they won this year’s En Route Vers Heavy and literally earned their spot to perform. So technically speaking, this is gonna be an award-winning performance!

Junkowl will be playing July 28th at 1pm on the Brasseur de Montréal GARDEN Stage

Dopethrone

Killdozer by Dopethrone

Dopethrone plays a unique Canadian genre they call slutch metal – in their words: “A foul Canadian mix of yellow snow, crackhead diarrhea, blood, tears and broken dreams.” Make of that what you will, but Dopethrone’s music is not for the faint of heart. They’re heavy, they’re angry, and there will be a heck ton of trashing.

Dopethrone will be playing July 28th, at 1:30pm on the Blabbermouth FOREST Stage.

The Great Sabatini

Still Life with Maggots by The Great Sabatini

I really like how The Great Sabatini describes themselves. “Our music is an aggressive mixture of noise rock, doom, hardcore, and metal wrapped up in a burly sludge aesthetic. All four of us handle vocal duties. We play loud, and with conviction.” Thick riffs, loud vocals, and dare I say some funny themes? (Just look at the video above.) I’m looking forward to this one.

The Great Sabatini will be playing July 28th at 3:20pm on the Brasseur de Montréal GARDEN Stage

Despised Icon

Day of Mourning by Despised Icon

Despised Icon has only one objective: to absolutely melt your face off with speedy speedy riffs and explosive blast beats. Seriously, it’s ridiculous how fast drummer Alex Pelletier can go. This is the kind of metal all those naysayers think of when they say metal music is too violent. All the more reason to check them out, if you ask me.

Despised Icon will be playing July 28th at 2:40pm on the Black Label HEAVY Stage

Kataklysm

… And Then I Saw Blood by Kataklysm

We’re now getting into some more established bands. Kataklysm is a classic death metal band who has been around since 1991. Their latest album “Meditations” somewhat refreshes their sound, making it more melodic and… accessible, for the lack of a better word. All that is to say, whether this is the first time you’re hearing of this band or you’re a seasoned veteran, their Heavy Montreal performance is going to shred.

Kataklysm will be playing July 27th at 2:40pm on the Black Label HEAVY Stage.

Anonymus

La mèche est courte par Anonymus

Comme l’avait dit Rémy Belley aux commentaires de la video ci-dessus, “MÉTAL QUÉBÉCOIS TABARNAKK !!!” Mais seriously, Anonymus est le seul groupe dans cette liste qui chante en français. But of course, that’s not the only thing they have going for themselves. This 30 year-old thrash band still slaps. Their latest album “Sacrifices,” has everything that a thrash fan wants: speedy riffs, thick breakdowns, and melodic solos. Give’em a listen and then come check them out.

Anonymus will be playing July 27th at 2pm on the Monster Energy APOCALYPSE Stage

Heavy Montreal runs July 27th and 28th, tickets available through HeavyMontreal.com

Look for our coverage tomorrow and Sunday on social media and here on the site!

Yeah, maybe summer 2019 has been a little mellow so far, but nothing lasts forever… and Montréal’s most kickin’ punk festival is finally back in town and ready to rumble for its third season, celebrating the last 40 plus years of punk rock.

The one-day punk festival, ’77 Montreal, will be going down for its third year in a row once again this Friday the 26th at Parc Jean-Drapeau, with headlining bands Bad Religion and Pennywise as well as many more.

Including an exciting mix of punk groups from far and wide, such as The Exploited all the way from the UK, to Wavves from California, to our very own Montreal punk rock bands like the Gutter Demons and Red Mass, who will all be featured at this year’s ’77 Montréal for a fully immersive punk rock festival experience. You can find the full lineup below.

’77 Montreal boasts an experience for all ages of punk rockers, with free entrance for kids 10 and under and a Kids Zone equipped with crafts, games, and a relaxation area. The festival will also bring out some of Montréal’s staple food and beer vendors, as well as a record and poster fair, the ‘Marché aux Punx’, to anyone looking to satisfy their nostalgic fix through vintage vinyl, posters, collectible items, and other exhibitions.

Dawn McSweeney, who covered the event for FTB last year, made a playlist for this year’s event to get you ready:

Take a sneak peak of what ’77 Montréal has waiting for you and check out this ’77 MTL 2019 Spotify Playlist!

Tickets are on sale on ’77 Montreal’s website for $77 plus tax, with a Gold Pass option available for $117. And for those of you who don’t wanna miss out on Montréal’s Heavy metal festival, you can also get the 3 day Weekend Warriors pass for only $225 which includes tickets to both festivals!

2019 Lineup: Bad Religion, Pennywise, Streetlight Manifesto, The Exploited, BIGWIG, Wavves, Four Year Strong, OFF!, Pulley, Cro-Mags, The Dirty Nil, The Menzingers, Charly Bliss, Avengers, Mute, Gutter Demons, SUDDEN IMPACT, Red Mass, The Anti-Queens, Young Party, The Lookout, and more to come

In April, the Montreal City Council officially dubbed it a “heavy metal city”. The whole thing seems to be City Councillor Craig Sauvé’s idea – or at the very least, it was Sauvé who brought this to the Council’s attention.

Sauvé’s motion basically says that Quebecois heavy metal – with Montreal at its center – is globally acknowledged for its quality and the liveliness of its local scene. 

As this year’s Heavy Montreal (formerly known as Heavy MTL) approaches, this whole Heavy Metal City™ thing got me thinking. First of all, what the heck does that even mean?

Well… As mentioned in Sauvé’s motion, Montreal has a very rich history of metal. So many great bands got their starts in our beloved city – or around it at least. Sauvé mentions Cryptopsy, Necrotic Mutation, and Despised Icon, but those are but a few examples. Voivod wasn’t included in that list because it’s technically from Jonquière, even though they are very active in the city to this day. On top of these more classic bands, you also got groups like Mountain Dust and The Great Sabatini, which keep the scene always fresh.

But you don’t get to be a Heavy Metal City™ by just producing good bands. You’ve also got to have a pumped up audience to get trashing. And oh boy do Montreal crowds trash. I’ve been to quite a few shows here and it’s always a treat. Sure, you pay to see the bands perform your favourite songs, but the true joy comes from experiencing it together with a bunch of long haired, black t-shirt wearing, sweaty people headbanging and jumping up and down. 

And also Metallica’s James Hetfield has said (among a thousand other people) that Montreal is his favourite city to play. Sure, he may say that a lot, but to say that about the place where you suffered serious burns on stage and then Axl Rose still got the headlines, that’s some serious love of our audiences.

That being said I’m just a young boy, so feel free to doubt my experience and expertise on this matter. But…Montreal was the home to North America’s first international heavy metal festival, aptly named World War III. 

I wasn’t even alive in 1985. But talking to Hellbound in 2010, “Toronto scene mainstay” Dave Busch was “blown away by such an incredible lineup.” You had Quebec’s Voivod, California’s Possessed, Florida’s Nasty Savage, Switzerland’s Celtic Frost, and Germany’s Destruction. 

And although the vibrancy of Montreal’s local scene is in a league of its own, it is this global, international side of things that makes me think that Montreal truly deserves this new-ish title. What was started in 1985 lives on today via Heavy Montreal.

I’ve been self-proclaiming as a Montrealer for only seven years, but I’ve been to every Heavy Montreal since 2012. And while I hate the commute to and from Parc Jean-Drapeau, I still end up at Heavy Montreal because they keep attracting great metal bands from all over the world.

Montreal doesn’t really need its City Council to officially dub it a Heavy Metal City™ to be one. The metalheads of this city already knew that. But there are still some benefits to this acknowledgment. 

Metal remains the so-called “black sheep” of music genres. It’s loud, in-your-face, and VioLEnt (whatever that means.) People have no trouble embracing genres like jazz or indie pop. Getting that official recognition might make it easier for the nay-sayers to get over themselves. 

One such nay-sayer was councillor Marvin Rotrand who was concerned that heavy metal is too ViOlEnt. I mean yes, but it’s not like a musical genre can be inherently evil. If anything, it’s like a pitbull. It might end up being bad at the hands of bad people. But like, let me enjoy my metal, I don’t do anything bad with it. Get over yourself. Listen to some Black Album Metallica and embrace this beautiful genre, like the city did.

Heavy Montreal 2019 is July 27-28 at Parc Jean-Drapeau. A preview of some of the acts to check out this year is coming soon

I arrive at my first Piknic Électronik of this summer, (#8 of 2019), two road-beers down the hatch and eager as ever after a long week to get some sun and dance to some electronic music (or more so in my case, sway back and forth as rhythmically as I can relative to the ratio of sangria I’ve consumed over time).

I, of course, have naively failed to account for the rather large crowd that Piknic often attracts on a day as beautiful as this, and with the same idea (and perhaps gusto) as everyone else, head for Parc Jean-Drapeau at peak hour, and am consequently forced to sober up some while I wait in the tunnels of the vastly over-crowded yellow line.

The train is packed full, and we all spill out of the station in a mass, ambling to the main entrance of Piknic. Luckily, though, the line at the rather densely packed entrance is quite large, it moves slowly but surely, and as I wait to receive an entrance bracelet from a smiling staff member, the atmosphere is reinvigorated by the excitement of those around me. Their enthusiasm fuelled most likely in part by a similar cocktail to mine: excitement, anticipation, alcohol, and an absolutely perfect amount of sunshine. 

Inside the festival there awaits a sea of animated festival goers; a diverse crowd of people united by their attire of tank-tops, shorts, and fanny packs, and a palpable enthusiasm. They’re talking, drinking, dancing, swaying.

Some are sitting in the lounge chairs on the outskirts, or hammocks, watching their friends playing volleyball  under the sun at the sand court between the two stages. Many people are in line waiting to refill their cups and buckets of Sangria and beer, but the largest sea of people is situated in front of the main stage, the perfect place for imbibing both sound and sun, and neither come as a disappointment on this day. 

A game of volleyball if you look closely… But if all you see is sun and trees you still get the picture!

At the main stage French DJ, Groj, who is known for his live singing during his performances opens with a rhythmic and psychedelic set that grabs the crowd’s attention. The music is resonant, sonorous amidst all the trees, and yet somehow still bright and energetic, in a way that somewhat mirrors the energy of the crowd.

Groj’s performance is followed by the headliner of the evening: German DJ, HOSH, part of Diynamic record label. His lively house and techno sound has been likened to the journey of a collapsing star, and the comparison does not disappoint.

HOSH’s music captivates his audience, with its spirited buildups and explosive melodic peaks. And as the beautiful day transitions into a beautiful dusk with the sun setting over the main stage, it’s time go home again although this time I decide to walk instead of bother with the crowds at the metro. If you ever get the chance and don’t mind a bit of a walk, the view from the bridge at sunset is rather captivating.

For tickets and information on upcoming shows, please visit Piknic Électronik’s website.

DJ HOSH: Soundcloud | Spotify | Facebook

DJ Groj: Soundcloud | Spotify | Facebook

ShazamFest, a unique outdoor annual summer festival, returns for its 14th edition, and this year with more whimsy than ever. It has perhaps the most eclectic diversity of performances to occur at a single festival.

ShazamFest features a diverse range of entertainment including, but not limited to: live music performances, circus acts, burlesque, dance, theatre, poetry, wrestling, skateboarding, and much more. The festival is set to take place from the 11th to the 14th of July (this weekend), and is to be hosted in the Eastern Townships, 90 minutes outside of Montréal at festival founder Ziv Przytyk’s organic family farm. Free roundtrip shuttle services from Montréal are available, as well as free on-site camping. 

The festival is also particularly distinctive for its green initiatives, as part of its dedication to an eco-responsible and sustainable approach. ShazamFest is very encouraging of its zero-waste initiatives, having only produced 12 bags of garbage at its 13th edition last year and aiming to create even less this year by encouraging festival goers not to bring single-use bags, using only reusable or compostable dishware, providing unlimited free local source water, bringing in organic local food vendors, and numerous other eco-friendly features.

The headlining acts of ShazamFest XIV will be Afrikana Soul Sister, Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire, the Souljazz Orchestra, and Susie Arioli. A few additional must-see features include Matthew Silver, Ziv’s Sunset Show, Bibi Lolo BangBang the clown, a burlesque segment by Swell Sisters La PetiteFleur and Queeny Ives, and many more.

Here’s the full lineup:  

Visit ShazamFest’s website for more information about the artists and tickets.

Win Tickets!

That’s right, FTB is giving you a chance to win a pair of tickets ($125 value) to Shazamfest! Simply share this post on Facebook or Twitter, tag @forgetthebox and say Shazam!

We will draw a winner from the entrants and announce it Friday morning.

For everyone else, tickets are available through ShazamFest.com

Happening on July 11-14, 2019, 2722 Way’s Mills, Ayer’s Cliff, QC J0B 1C0 in the Eastern Townships.

Free entry for children 12 years & under
Free admission all day Sunday 
Free roundtrip shuttle services from Montréal 
Free on-site camping

Summer is back and so is Piknic Électronik, with an exciting line-up of local and international electronic artists playing every Sunday from May 19th to September 29th. The 17th edition kicked off on May 19th with DJs Adam Husa, Mike Haddad, and Dufire, as well as others.

This weekend catch Bonobo and his traveling festival Outlier at Piknic Élektronic for a special Saturday OFF-Piknic event also featuring Totally Enourmous Extinct Dinosaurs, JETS, Prefuse73, and Durante, followed by a 100% local line-up on the island this Sunday including DJs Kora, Sinca, DJ Sunset, Lou Fre$h, and a special surprise guest!

Just picture it: you, your friends, a bucket of alcohol (yes, they have buckets), the sun setting over the St-Lawrence river, and Piknic’s consistently eclectic and electric line-up of artists. What better way to spend any summer Sunday than dancing in the sun?

The festival takes place in Parc Jean-Drapeau, just 10 minutes outside of the city on the Metro’s Yellow Line and goes on every Sunday from 2pm until the sun goes down.

Watch the full summer 2019 line-up below:

Visit Piknic Électronik’s website for complete line-up details and to purchase tickets! Season, family & student passes are also available

Local rapper and native Montréaler, Decent (@Dece_Af) debuted his album Dece as Fxck at a launch party hosted by Last Call Bar Creations on St. Laurent this past Tuesday evening. Although originally from the West Island, Decent spent several years abroad in England and Thailand. He’s now back in town and ready to take over the rap game with his natural talent for singing, rapping, and making beats.

Last Call Bar Creations

Last Call is spacious and well-lit. After receiving your ‘decent’ stamp at the door, you walk past several large camera lights set up for photos and some artists doing live paintings, and then into the main space with the stage dead ahead, a rack of Decent merch to your left, and Last Call’s bar to the right.

The ceilings are tall, and the room seems to be changing color with the light: blue, green, red, then blue again. Most people are having a drink and laughing with each other, some are dancing to the trap music being mixed by a DJ at the front of the room, as they wait for the show to start.

The room itself is so absorbing that when Decent jumps up on stage and starts singing without any warning, the transition almost goes unnoticed, but once he starts doing his thing he quickly commands complete attention of the room and the audience lets out a cheer.

Decent is comfortable on the stage, once or twice even stepping down into the center of the room, as well as stage-diving into the eager crowd of fans. His music is easy to dance to, and hard not to bounce to, and he knows it.

Check out Decent on instagram @dece_af, Apple Music, Youtube, or Spotify. Here’s a sample:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Anyone who grew up in Canada in the 70s and 80s grew up with the songs of Raffi. An Armenian born in Egypt whose family immigrated to Canada in 1958, he became a household name following the release of his first album in 1975.

He was in Montreal on Sunday to do a couple of performances at Theatre Maisonneuve and he did not disappoint. All proceeds went to the Raffi Foundation, a group that commits to helping the most vulnerable and recognizes that : “Every girl and boy is entitled to love, to dream and belong to a loving village and to pursue a life of purpose.”

The stage was set with an easy chair, a guitar stand, and a rug, giving audiences the impression that we were visiting him at home and not seeing a legend. He bounded on stage with a spring in his step, radiating more life at age 70 than most of us do at 30.

Though his beard and receding hair are now salt and pepper gray and he’s swapped his Hawaiian shirt for a long sleeved plaid one, his voice rings clear and true as it did 40 years ago and radiates the same level of warmth Gen Xers and Yers have grown to know and love.

His audience was comprised of parents who bought his albums in the decades ago and people who grew up with him, some with kids so small their feet barely reached the edge of their seats, some without kids who are there because they crave the kind of loving comfort he offers in an economy that won’t pay fair wages and is systemically trying to strip our rights away. I was of the latter group, and as he began to play I found myself singing and clapping along as I did at the age of five in my pajamas while my parents played his albums on vinyl.

Raffi announced that there would be singing, guitar, “and a lot of bad jokes.”

“It wouldn’t be Raffi without Dad jokes,” smiled fellow concert goer Sarah Anderson.

Raffi started with the classic tunes he’s known for, including Six Little Ducks, Tingalayo, and his version of the Jamaican folk song Day O. True to form, he always let the audience know when they should participate with strategically timed claps, call lines, or sound effects.

He played the annoyingly catchy Banana Phone song with a few ad-libbed lines, including, when singing about all the people he would call with said phone: “I’ll call the White House and have a chat!” It was a line that prompted cheers from the adults in the crowd but was undoubtedly lost on the children.

Though Raffi played tunes from his newest album, Dog on the Floor, he played up to what he affectionately refers to as the Baby Beluga Grads, people like myself who grew up with his music.

I was happy to see him play my favorite of his songs, Down by the Bay, a song that features a lot of silly animal rhymes and wordplay and leaves room for ad libs. When I was a kid in the 80s and 90s dabbling in poetry, I used to try and come up with my own lines for the song, and Raffi did not disappoint that inner child.

He jokingly attempted lines he knew wouldn’t work, causing older audience members to bust out laughing before he finally concluded with: “Did you ever have a time…When you couldn’t make a rhyme?!”

As he guided the audience, he chuckled, giving you the vibe of a favorite uncle or long lost grandfather. Though the concert was only about an hour long – a choice undoubtedly mindful of the limited attention spans of younger audience members – he packed as much as possible into that hour, playing two medleys of his classic tunes.

He often concluded a song by turning to the side, guitar handle out, back arched, in a nod to heavy metal and rock stars. Though most audience members were as well-behaved as could be given the young age of many, there were unfortunately at least two jerks who kept yelling demands for the song Baby Beluga, the Raffi concert equivalent of yelling “Do Stairway!” at a rock concert. Fortunately, Raffi remained unfazed and continued on with a smile, playing the requested song only when he was ready.

When the concert ended Raffi got a standing ovation that was well-deserved. Just as we thought it was over, he bounded back on stage to treat us all with an encore, including a new verse he wrote for Baby Beluga to address all his fans that have since grown up. In it was a call to action, telling us that we were the future, and to fight for social justice, equality, and against climate change. It was this final gesture that brought a tear to my eye and had me sniffling a bit as I left the concert hall.

After all, if Raffi believes in us, shouldn’t we?

Featured image via YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Featured image of Laura Sauvage by Stephanie Laughlin

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

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

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

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

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

POSTDATA

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

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

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

Barfly

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

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

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

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

Barfly is at 4062A St-Laurent

Wolf Parade

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

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

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

Blitzen Trapper

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

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

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

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

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

On September 26th, Pop Montreal returns with another five days of music, film, panels, and visual arts. It’s been a few years since I’ve attended this very Plateau/Mile End festival, but I already know I’m going to have a good time. Because unlike other bigger festivals where you’re drawn to check out what you know, at Pop you’re guaranteed to discover a whole slew of new exciting artists you’ve never heard of before.

Here’s my list of what I’m most looking forward to checking out at Pop Montreal 2018:

Bad Reputation

Ever since I first heard the song I Love Rock n’ Roll as a teenager, I was drawn to the badass that is Joan Jett. This year as part of Film Pop, the festival will be screening a documentary by director Kevin Kerslake about the legendary feminist punk rocker. I’m also looking forward to attending the screening at the newly opened indie/art house movie theater Cinema Moderne on St-Laurent.

Wednesday, September 26, 8pm, Cinema Moderne, 5150 St-Laurent. Tickets $12

Kilo Kish

While rap music isn’t usually my thing, I was so drawn by the music video for Elegance by New York artist Kilo Kish that I officially have added her show to my must-see list. While researching Kish I discovered that Pitchfork recently dubbed Elegance one of the best songs of 2018, declaring “Building from the stream-of-consciousness style that characterizes most of her catalog, Kilo Kish turns her racing thoughts into crackling electricity.”

Wednesday, September 26, 11pm, Piccolo Rialto, 5723 Ave du Parc. Tickets $20

Puces POP

My favourite part of POP. The festival has these fairs year-round now (if you’re friends with a Plateau gal, you’ve undoubtedly been dragged to one of these events), but the biggest of them all is always during the main festival in September. For three glorious days, you can shop for prints, jewelry, food, makeup and clothing. So come watch hipsters gather in their natural habitat, and leave with a cute new print to hang on your wall!

September 28-30, Eglise St-Denis, 454 Laurier Est. Schedule

Molly Nilsson

Molly Nilson is a Swedish pop singer that, according to Pitchfork “does ennui like no one else.” That combined with her 80s music sound has me excited to see what she does onstage. I would love to tell you more about her but she doesn’t have much of a social media presence… which kind of only makes me want to get to know this artist more.

Thursday, September 27, 8:30pm, Bar “le Ritz” P.D.B., 179 Jean-Talon Ouest. Tickets $16.50

Art POP

In between film screenings and shows, I plan on checking out the many art shows that are also happening during Pop. Here’s just a sampling of the ones I’m most excited for:

Où sommes-nous

OBORO and White Frame co-present Où sommes-nous, an exhibition by Judith Albert, Katrin Freisager, Dana Claxton, and Nik Forrest. These four established artists open and disrupt our knowledge of space and time, bringing into question the line between reality and illusion through poetry and resistance. (info)

Pop Pavillion

Art POP is collaborating for the very first time with the Association of Visual and Media Arts Masters students (AEMAVM) of the Université du Québec à Montréal to co-present POP Pavillon, AEMAVM’s annual group exhibition showcasing the work of 11 exciting, emerging artists. (info)

Whispering Pines

Centre Clark presents a new exhibition by Shana Moulton, an artist who creates evocatively oblique narratives in her video and performance works. In Whispering Pines, the artist presents art pieces combining an unsettling, wry humor with a low-tech, pop sensibility.(info)

* POP Montreal 2018 runs September 26-30. Full schedule available at POPMontreal.com

** Featured Image: Screengrab from Kilo Kish’s Elegance video

Montreal’s The Holds are a band inspired by the greats and their local contemporaries. Frontman Ryan Setton cites classic R&B artists like Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder, classic rock acts such as The Animals and Led Zeppelin and  local acts like John Jacob Magistry and The Damn Truth among the band’s influences.

“When we approach what we do,” Setton said in a telephone interview, “we’re influenced by the past but we’re not thinking about it. We’re definitely in the moment of what’s going on now (on the Montreal scene). The result is The Holds.”

Setton feels that the scene that influences them is also one that gives back.

“Montreal’s always been a very supportive scene, a lot of people are supporting the bands,” he said, adding that “it can be tough, though, at the same time because there are a lot of bands. So it can be intimidating sometimes as an artist to find out just where you fit in.”

The Holds is Setton on vocals and guitar, Justin Wiley on drums and percussion, Eric Hein playing lead guitar and André Galamba on bass. That was the same lineup I caught at their EP launch two years ago, shortly after the band’s formation.

“We are lucky enough to have the same lineup for years,” Setton observed, “building chemistry and having a good band chemistry and interaction between the musicians is super important. With the first EP it was more like ‘Hey, let’s do this!’ We didn’t really know where it was going to go. But doing this second record it was clear we’re all on the same page…There’s no confusion as to what direction we’re headed in as a band.”

While The Holds are a band that sticks together, they also tried living together for four days in the country. This was in order to record their first full-length album Juke, featuring songs they had already written over the course of a year and a half.

“We had recorded many times in the city,” Setton remembered, “and at the end day everyone would go home and we’d have to come back in the morning and get back into the flow. That’s why I thought if I get everyone together, we’re in one place, we’re stuck there…and it was totally worth it because it all worked out for the best.”

You can hear for yourself this Saturday when The Holds play live and release Juke. In the meantime, enjoy this video from their first EP:

* The Holds Juke Album Launch with special guests Celina Wolfe and Lea Keeley is Satuday, August 25 at 9pm (doors 8pm) at le Petit Campus, 57 Prince Arthur Est. $10 (includes a dropcard with a download code for the album)

Day 3 of Osheaga seemed like any other. Folks both young and old lining up for the attractions in between the long awaited sets of their favourite artists.

The atmosphere was jolly, friendly and exciting. There was much to be entertained with and everyone seemed delightfully entangled with the surrounding crowds and atmosphere.

With seesaws, contests, and plenty of freebies, Osheaga is certainly a place where one could relive their youth.

Ready for Day 3

 

These dudes clearly didn`t read the sign

 

Checking out the Perrier Greenhouse

 

Fun comes in all forms at Osheaga

 

Jungle wowing the crowd

 

A screen grab, so to speak

 

DVSN from a distance

 

Excited crowd for Brockhampton

 

Excited crowd with Brockhampton

 

Even with 95% humidity day two of Osheaga was still was packed, energetic affair. As we arrived this afternoon, it was hard not get swept up in the crowds of kids singing “Ole, Ole, Ole, oh LEY!”

It really set the tone of what Osheaga is all about; swarms of people heading off island to get rowdy.

Here are a few snapshots of the day:

Chad and Avril waiting in line to get on the Yellow Line

 

Aaaand we’re back!

 

There’s a ball pit on sight so that kids of all ages can play when not checking out bands.

 

When you’re the old people at the party this is the band you’ve been waiting for. Blondie is still rocking it as hard as ever

 

Nice to see some local eateries represented. Grumman ’78 is a favorite for St-Henri locals and now known to the locals of Osheaga.

 

Not to mention it’s damn tasty and a great way to re-fuel before more music

 

Chilling in the back as the sun goes down listening to Lord Huron. You have to sit sometimes.

 

San Holo saying goodnight

 

There were nighttime makeovers too

 

We decided to watch Arctic Monkeys from a safe distance

 

Here’s a better view (photo P Beaudry, courtesy Osheaga/Evenko)

 

The view as you leave Osheaga

A day at Osheaga is like a rollercoaster. It’s fast, crowded and constantly in movement.

The key, just like a roller coaster, is to stay focused on the spot right in front of you and keep your wits about you.

It’s impossible to do everything and trying will result in truly doing nothing. Instead pick what you like the most and stick with it.

Here are a few brief moments in time that capture some of what went on today:

The Scene

 

The Music (Of Course)

Rainbow Kitten Surprise (image P Beaudry Courtesy Osheaga/Evenko)

Chromeo (photo Chris Zacchia)

The Food (more on this tomorrow)