Summertime is peak festival season. This is supposed to be a fun, exciting time of year when you get to see some of your favourite artists or discover new ones. But for others, festival season can also mean an increased period of unwanted sexual advances.

Despite the heightened awareness surrounding these issues due to the #metoo movement, sexual harassment and assault is still prevalent at festivals all around the world. A quick google search reveals articles with disturbing titles like Sexual Harassment was Rampant at Coachella 2018. And in response to the high number of sexual assaults at festivals in Sweden, the first cis, non-binary, and trans women-only music festival, Statement Festival is scheduled to launch in late August.

In Montreal, a real conversation about sexual harassment and assault at festivals started in 2016. When Osheaga officials initially brushed off Melanie Doucet’s claims that her drink was spiked, she went to the media to share her story. Doucet’s story inspired The Montreal Women’s Council to survey women about their festival going experiences.

The results of the survey, which included women of colour, women with disabilities, and members of the lgbtq community, were both scary and unsurprising. 56% of women who attended festivals in Montreal reported being harrassed. 37% of women surveyed admitted to being sexually assaulted. And that’s only the women who were willing to come forward. Many victims, either out of shame or embarrassment, never speak up.

So how has Osheaga, which starts this year on August 3rd, responded to these issues? For the second year in a row, the festival has hired the Les Hirondelles intervention team to roam the grounds. In a press release for this year’s festival, executive vice president and chief operating officer of evenko Jacques Aubé stated that “The presence of the Hirondelles is perfectly in line with our primary objective, which is to allow all festival-goers to fully enjoy their entertainment experience in a safe environment.”

Recognizable by their armbands with a pair of swallows, The Hirondelles are specialized security squads designed to increase the safety of vulnerable people at the festival. They will also have booths on the grounds that act as safe spaces for people who feel threatened.

It’s commendable that Osheaga has started taking steps to ensure that everyone (we can’t forget that men are victims of sexual harassment and assault as well) can feel safe from these kinds of vulgar and inappropriate situations. If only we could live in a world where everyone could just keep their hands or comments to themselves, and enjoy the music.

On Friday Osheaga returns to Parc Jean Drapeau for three days of music, art and general fun in the sun. As a result, we at FTB have been putting together our lists of performances we’re most looking forward to see.

Yesterday Stephanie Laughlin put out her list of top choices, today it’s my turn. It’s a mix of bands I already know, ones I want to get to know and ones I want you to get to know. The list is completely personal, totally biased and omits any act that I deem “too big” to preview.

You might have bought a ticket because of the headliners, but there’s a whole day of stuff to do before that so let’s get started.

Manchester Orchestra

A year removed from releasing their critically acclaimed 5th studio album A Black Mile To The Surface, the Atlanta Georgia indie rockers Manchester Orchestra are still out on tour in support and they’ll be hitting the Osheaga stage on Friday afternoon. Their music ranges from melancholic ballad to energetic rock with lyrics that feel very personal, sung ever so sweetly by frontman Andy Hull.

Their songs feel musically spacious yet lyrically intimate, designed to evoke a powerful and emotional response from their audience. What better excuse could you have for leaving work early and getting the jump on the weekend.

 

 

Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Besides the obvious fact that their name is just flat-out awesome Rainbow Kitten Surprise also brings some serious musical talent to the table. Their songs are driven by solid bass and drum grooves, their lyrics are witty and fun, their vocal harmonies are spot on. They’re the type of band that even if you don’t know them all that well, it won’t be hard to get into the show.

 

 

John Jacob Magistery

There’s no way I was going to miss the chance at a little hometown bias in the list, Montreal’s own John Jacob Magistery are on early Saturday. It’s well deserved that the local art/folk rock ensemble is getting a spot on a big stage so I feel it’s only right to show a little support.

If you’re unfamiliar with them here’s their bandcamp page plus their video for Carol, a track I could listen to all day every day.

 

 

LP

Laura Pergolizzi (LP’s her stage name) has been around for a while, released four albums and written songs for some pretty big name acts. I’m not familiar with her work but after listening to a few tracks I was won over.

It’s apparent right away that she’s someone with a truly special vocal style. I’m now looking forward to checking her out live when she plays midway through Saturday afternoon.

 

I could go on and on but with about 100 acts in the festival you have to draw the line somewhere. Besides I’ve got some sunscreen to buy, they’re calling for blues skies all weekend.

* The 2018 edition of Osheaga runs August 3rd, 4th and 5th. Tickets available at osheaga.com

** Featured image of John Jacob Magisteray courtesy Oshgeaga/Evenko

Osheaga, the popular music festival which comes rolling into Montreal every August, is upon us yet again. Anyone who’s taken a gander at the schedule is likely pumped for all the major acts showing up; who wouldn’t want to see Blondie, Florence and the Machine, or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform?

And while I’ll definitely be checking out those shows, what I’m more interested in is discovering new bands I’ve never heard of before. Now they might be old news to you young hip folks, but here are five bands this 30-something is excited to hear for the first time:

Birds of Bellwoods

This folk-pop quartet from Toronto has been building solid buzz ever since their award-winning EP The Fifth. These actor/musicians apparently really bring their A-game to their stage performances.

One blogger praised the band by declaring “When all four members of Birds of Bellwoods step up to the mic, something amazing happens. Their voices play off each other and the audience is reminded of all the beauty in the world left to fight for.”

I’ll find out on Friday if they live up to the hype!

Julien Baker

A quick YouTube search of this American singer/songwriter from Memphis shows that I’m definitely late to the game in discovering her music: Her video Appointments has a million views and her NPR Tiny Desk Concert performance has over two million.

Baker’s debut album Sprained Ankle in 2015 was on all sorts of year-end best lists from NPR Music to New York Magazine’s Vulture. From what I’ve listened to so far, she sounds like the perfect music to play when you’re relaxing at home and need a good cathartic cry.

Milk and Bone

One of the joys of living in Montreal is we have a plethora of musicians creating amazing art. One of the downfalls is there’s so much to take in sometimes you miss out on awesome bands like Milk and Bone! But thank goodness I get to finally see this dreamy electro pop duo which hails from my hometown.

Alex Lahey

This Australian indie-rocker has been making a name for herself ever since her 2016 single You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me, one of the catchiest songs about rejection ever released. Her music immediately makes me nostalgic for the pop-punk days of my youth, when I’d jump head first into a mosh pit at Foufones Electroniques. I may not hit the pit anymore (seriously, i’m in my 30s), but I will be there from the back, eagerly cheering her show on.

The Beaches

This all-female glam rock band from Toronto immediately caught my attention with their undeniable style. (I’m a sucker for a well put together 60s look). And taking a look at their music on YouTube showed that the band isn’t all style and no substance. Their tracks Money and T-Shirt are catchy rock songs I could easily see playing at my next party.

* The 2018 edition of Osheaga runs August 3rd, 4th and 5th. Tickets available at osheaga.com

** Featured image of The Beaches courtesy Osheaga/Evenko

To conjure a more perfect day for an outdoor festival, one would have to conjure a cluster of unicorns to fart pastel coloured clouds of glitter and cupcakes. The sun was bright, the breeze was cool, and no one was talking about Humidex. I had a ziplock full of toilet paper, and was ready to rock the day away.

The pre-game ran late, and I started to panic: we must make it in time for L7! There with 15 minutes to spare, I was glad to see so many eager faces and bands shirts (because 3pm doesn’t feel like the epic time slot they deserve, but no one asked me).

They played everything: from Andres, the first song of theirs I heard back in *ahem* 1994, to last year’s fab singles, and singing along with them in the sun on a Friday afternoon, was epic. Drummer Dee Plakas was out with injury, so Motley Mel held down the beats like she’d always been there.

In fact, in my only almost-brush with fame, I swear Jennifer Finch and Motley Mel passed right in front of me at the Sick Of It All stage, but it happened so fast that I didn’t have the chance to make a fool of myself, so it worked out for the best.

“Let’s celebrate like we don’t give a faaaahhhhk!” – SOIA

Sick Of It All had all the energy you complain that you don’t, and I had to remind myself that brothers Lou and Pete Koller have been fronting the band since 1986. They fired up the crowd, and then hosed them down.

There was a great turnout of cool families with adorable mini punks, so we’re teaching the children well. Bonus points go to those who had to balance small humans over sketchy Porto potty seats and managed not to drop them in the blue. My ziplock of tp proved essential before the sun had even set.

Me First and The Gimmie Gimmies brought the slick threads, and cool classics. They have an endless repertoire, of course, yet I never thought I’d be part of a crowd singing John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads; I was, and I liked it!

They did other improbable ones like Jolene and a super deep cut, a cover of a cover, 60s French band Les Pirates version of Del Shannon’s Hat’s Off To Larry, Oublie Larry.

Fresh of their Thursday night appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, and on a collective three hours of sleep, The Interrupters brought the upbeats, and the hits we wanted to hear.

Rise Against put on a helluva show, which I’M sure didn’t surprise their fans, though I was pretty unfamiliar with them, so I got to be freshly impressed.

There was a neat little food court near the Garden Stage, and I had an awesome kalbi meatball sandwich that I swear was from Lavandaria, but I can’t seem to find any online listing to prove that the reservations only Westmount eaterie was out punking, so all I have is my half baked, sun and beer soaked memory of a damn good sandwich.

Deep shag astroturf!

On our way out, I had one more stopped planned, and that was for DOA, who haven’t actually stopped doing anything since 1978. It was a pleasure to close out the night with a band that was proudly celebrating their 40th anniversary.

This being my first trip to 77, it’s safe to say that I’ll be back with bells on next year. A shout and and much respect to those who did the three day double fest of 77 Mtl and Heavy Montreal; it’s Sunday night, and I’m still beat from Friday…and still super jazzed, too… and totally typing in my new L7 shirt.

* Photos by Dawn McSweeney

LOL Live! Is one of Just for Laughs’ newer offerings, so when they invited me to attend the show, I was intrigued. Presented by Kevin Hart, it’s described as a “A four-night multi-comic mega-event showcasing some of the best comedians from across the continent appearing at the Just For Laughs Festival” so I attended the show on Friday night not recognizing any of the names on the roster but prepared for a good time.

Like any multi-comic event, there are going to be some good acts, some great ones, and a stinker or two. I’m going to talk about the best and the worst.

James Mattern

James Mattern hosted the event and I have to say that as a host he was not the best. While he did a good job warming up the audience for the fact that the show was filmed, his enunciation of the comedians’ names needs work. Me and my guest had so much trouble understanding his pronunciation that I had to look up the names of the comedians before writing this review.

That said, James Mattern IS funny.

His rant about names in the US was hilarious and reminiscent of the late great George Carlin’s work. His bit about Spinach vs Kale vs Arugula was current and funny. He may not have been the greatest host, but he is clearly a great comedian.

Vanessa Graddick

If you want to see a comedian slip seamlessly from jokes about single womanhood to jabs at the Catholic Church, you need to see Vanessa Graddick.

Her style appeals to the single woman in us all, and every joke felt at once personal and endearingly funny. Whether it was her talking about going to different churches to find the best single men, or advising us to toss out our self-help books so we don’t become a “bitter bitch”, she was a joy to watch.

Josh Adam Meyers

Josh Adam Meyers began on a hilariously self-deprecating note.

He introduced himself by saying “I sound like I have influenza and I look like Billy Bob Thornton.”

His humour was a funny combination of pop culture criticism – like how The Walking Dead is implausible because it’s a zombie apocalypse where no one uses cuss words – self deprecation, and vulgarity.

He was the most physical act of the night, unafraid to do sound effects and move his body to get his jokes across – like in his bit about how doggy-style changes with age. He was a treat to watch and I hope he comes back to Montreal.

Rafinha (Rafi) Bastos

Rafi Bastos was by far my favorite act of the night.

He introduced himself as Brazilian : “So yes, I wax my vagina.”

His jokes were hilarious observations about his experiences as a Brazilian man coming to grips with the English language and American culture. One of his best jokes was about sexting:

“We don’t do sexting in Brazil—because we actually f*ck.”

Bastos also made the best and only Trump joke of the night, saying that he thought it would be hard for him to be understood in English… “then I heard the president speak.”

Rafi Bastos’ act is ethnic humour done right. Just for Laughs would be wise to include him on the roster for The Ethnic Show next year.

Andrew Schulz

The true modern test of a male comedian is how they handle a sexist joke. As a huge stand up fan, I’ve seen Jimmy Carr, Rafi Bastos, and JFL newcomer Ron Taylor do this gracefully. Unfortunately, Andrew Schulz failed this test.

In the era of #Metoo, the last voice we need is that of a sanctimonious cis man ranting about how the food is better in countries where women are mistreated. We don’t need jokes that make domestic violence look like it’s a good thing; not only is it offensive, it’s lazy. If the best a comedian can do is praise the mistreatment of women, it’s time to go back to the drawing board or consider a career change.

I did not laugh once during his set, and looking around me, I saw that many women felt the same. The audience members who were laughing were mostly men.

I waited for Schulz to save his set with a little self-deprecation, or perhaps few funny jabs at men – ANYTHING to indicate that he actually respects women or that his comedy was not stemming from genuine misogyny, but it never came.

Instead there were jokes full of racism and ethnocentrism that confirm every negative stereotype about Americans – that they’re sexist, racist, and proud of their biases against other countries and cultures. His one funny joke was about Canadian bacon: “not everything has to be shaped like a hockey puck!”

The rest of his set was cringeworthy.

Shows like LOL Live! are fun, but be prepared to not like every act you see. Be prepared to be offended and even outraged, but if you can handle one stinker in a mass of good and great acts, check it out.

New Faces of Comedy is a Just for Laughs institution. After a couple of rounds of auditions, some of North America’s best comedic talents have a chance to take the JFL stage and show the world what they can do.

The people who perform at this show know they’re not just doing it for people out to be entertained, but also industry members and agents looking for the next great comedic talent. This annual event has not only launched the careers of Amy Schumer and Jimmy Fallon, but also that of host Alonzo Bodden who got his start on New Faces twenty one years ago.

From the get-go, the audience was warned the event would be filmed as part of a documentary. Bodden told us what we should do and not do. With all of us briefed, he slipped smoothly into his role as host, warming us up with jokes about the summer students posing as Just for Laughs security and the “cutest” cadets acting as police on festival grounds.

His best joke that night was about the #MeToo movement and his wish that he’d one day hear a story about a woman complaining of sexual harassment that ended with a male relative beating the heck out of the harasser. With the audience sufficiently primed, he began introducing the comedians.

With shows like New Faces, there are bound to be some comedians that fall flat with some audience members. Rather than focusing on the negative, I’m going to talk about those that really stood out to me and made me laugh the hardest.

Daphnique Springs

For me the true test of a comedian is their ability to tackle difficult subjects and make them funny and Springs was one of the best last night. She tackled topics like Libyan slavery and drugging women’s drinks for the purpose of rape in ways that had everyone laughing.

In the era of #MeToo, Springs is the kind of voice we need to hear more of: a strong, beautiful woman of colour who’s hilarious, sassy, smart, and unafraid. She also made the best Trump joke of the night, saying that he got his wife from a “build a bitch” workshop.

Rocky Dale Davis

Rocky Dale Davis is originally from Alabama and you can tell the minute he speaks. He delivered his jokes with that southern twang people generally associate with lower IQs and Trump voters (same thing). He began his act by addressing his accent, saying that his attempts to speak Spanish made him realize that: “I sound racist in every language.”

Davis’ comedy revolves around the contrast between the ignorance and racism of his roots and his current, more woke, worldview. He used sports analogies to explain that Trump isn’t as racist as the people he grew up with and though not all his jokes were homeruns, there was something hypnotic about his stage presence that made it impossible to look away.

In an era where people on the left look at Southern Americans with utter contempt, Davis’ comedy is a refreshing one that’s both self deprecatingly funny and brutal.

Nina Tarr

No comedy show is complete without someone taking the piss out of rich white people and no one did that better than Nina Tarr.

Tarr’s strong suit is impressions and her ones of “botched plastic surgery face” and “De Niro giving a blow job” were hilarious. What stood out most for me was her use of the term “BILF” aka Baby I’d Like to F*ck, a term she used for spoiled rich women who infantilize themselves to attract men, and whom she mercilessly imitated in her performance.

Usama Siddiquee

In an era of Muslim bans and Niqab bans and Islamophobia, Usama Siddiquee is the kind of comedian we need.
He’s Muslim, fearless, and funny as hell.

Whether it was his crack about his mother suggesting he change his name after 9/11, or how having sex once sent his Muslim values out the window, he was a treat to watch. He was consistently funny throughout his routine, tackling such edgy topics as terrorism, racism, and sexism with grace.

Shows like New Faces of Comedy are a bit like buying a surprise bag from your favorite store. You might not get everything you like but you’re bound to see some great things. Check it out. It’s worth it.

* There are two more New Faces of Comedy shows on July 27th with one group of comedians at 7pm and another at 9pm. Tickets available through hahaha.com

** Watch for our review of the second group from Wednesday night coming soon

If you want snarky raunchy humour delivered in a sophisticated British package, you need to check out Jimmy Carr.

He performs in suits with immaculately slicked and trimmed hair and delivers his jokes with a posh British accent that belies his often vulgar content and wit that is as brutal as it is funny. His offering at this year’s Just for Laughs Festival, Jimmy Carr: The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits World Tour was no exception.

His show is a selection of his best jokes combined with brand new material. Carr began with engaging the audience with local humor, cracking jokes about Canada only having three cities and how he’s now a Newfoundlander because he passed “Newfie initiation” – drinking a shot of screech and kissing a cod… or screwing your sister.

It was a great introduction that set the tone for his show in which no topic, from pedophilia, to bestiality, to sex, to relationships to homosexuality to religion was off limits. That said, if you’re the type get offended by jokes about these things, Jimmy Carr is not the comedian for you.

But he IS funny. I couldn’t take notes during his show because I was laughing too hard.

Whether it was his quip about how he can’t wait to see how America ends, or his classic joke about buying a book called Cheap and Easy Vegetarian for his girlfriend because she’s also a vegetarian, there was no time during his performance that I or the people around me were left wanting.

The biggest fail of the night came not because of Jimmy Carr, whose clean-cut deadpan delivery made even the most offensive jokes funny, but because of the audience. Carr is a comedian who likes to engage the crowds he’s entertaining and anyone who’s seen clips of his shows online would know this prior to seeing him on stage. In addition to picking on people near the front row, he asked questions to the audience at large.

Unfortunately any time Carr posed a question to the audience, there was up to a full thirty seconds before anyone answered him. It was painful to witness, though no fault of Carr himself who with more aggressive prodding finally got the timid crowd talking to him.

If you go to Carr’s show, you’ll have a great time but be prepared to participate a little. It makes the difference between a good show and a great one.

* Jimmy Carr: The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits World Tour runs through July 29th. Tickets available through hahaha.com

Alright Kiddies, it’s time to lace up your boots and get your hair all spikey, ‘cuz the punk show is coming. 77 Montréal is back for its sophomore season, and it’s bringing bands spanning 40 years, two continents, and four countries to celebrate the history of punk music and culture in our badass belle ville.

Rise Against is headlining, along with AFI, and Suicidal Tendencies (Get Your Fight On! is out now), but the whole lineup is a veritable Who’s Who.

Reuniting in 2015, OG riot grrrls/nineties icons L7 released their first new music in 18 whole years last year, teasing a 2019 album. The singles, Dispatch From Mar-a-Lago and I Came Back to Bitch make it clear that they’re still ah-mazing and political, so whether you’re feeling nostalgic, or looking to be cutting edge, this one’s special.

From the eighties, there’s Sweden’s Satanic Surfers who got the band back together after an eight year break for 2015’s Amnesia Rockfest, and have been rocking since, while NYC’s Sick of It All haven’t stopped since 1986, so why the hell would they now?

You know that punk cover of that non-punk song that you dig so hard? It’s by Me First and The Gimmie Gimmies, and they’ll def be bringing sing alongs to this party.

I had no idea that hardcore pioneers DOA were Canadian, but they are, and that’s awesome! From Vancouver in 1978, all the way to their 2018 release Fight Back, they’ll be closing out the night with decades of bangers.

And while they’re repping our West Coast, The Planet Smashers, Les Fucking Raymonds, and Pussy Stench will be showing off Quebec’s skills.

Edinburgh, Scotland’s The Rezillos have been together longer since they reunited in 2001 than their original 1976-1987 stint, but they still deserve the old school cred. They, as well as The Interrupters, are scheduled to make me wish I wore my crinoline, so catch me doing my best Daisy Duck dance by these stages.

I’ve got a Spotify list going, so you can really plan your day!


But wait, my Hardcore Hotties, there’s more than just music!

There’s a vinyl booth promising new, used, and rarities, along with a concert poster gallery showcasing some of Montreal’s rock history, with prints for sale. I’m betting they’ll have some of the goodies featured on the Mtl ‘77 You Are the Scene Archive, which is a trip all by itself. There you can find a poster for when the Dead Kennedys played The Spectrum, with tickets on sale at Dutchy’s, and pics from when Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Blondie played for a whopping $6.50 a head.

In that vein, films and documentaries on punk history will be played on site throughout the day, making it a full throttled cultural immersion.

This is the first Parc Jean-Drapeau event with a straw ban, but beer sucks with a straw, so whatevs. Reusable water bottles are being encouraged, with free refill stations to keep us hydrated, which is awesome, as paying for water is decidedly not punk.

All this bang is a seriously reasonable $70, and for the rockers who just can’t get enough, you can combine it with Heavy Mtl for $210, and really call it a season.

See you there.

* 77 Montréal is July 27 at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Tickets available through 77Montreal.com

In honour of the release of Denys Arcand’s most recent film, The Fall of the American Empire, I thought I would take a look at his roots, the head-turning Quebecois classic, The Decline of the American Empire (Le déclin de l’émpire américain). A film that, in 1986, seemed very topical and relevant.

The Cold War was still happening, the threat of nuclear war hung casually over everyone’s heads, the Soviet Union was on the brink of collapse, the AIDS epidemic was rampant. For some, society seemed to be in decline or at least on the brink of it.

According to one of the main characters, Dominique, in the film’s second scene, society’s decline is evident because of its focus on self-indulgence (in this film’s case, that focus is mostly on sex). This, she says, is indicative of our collective demise.

This is the thesis of her new book, Changing Concepts of Happiness, and the film itself. In an interview with her friend and journalist, Diane, Dominique recounts how this is evident in examples throughout history: in third century Rome, the idea of conjugal love first comes from Diocletian just before the Empire’s collapse and Rosseau’s idea of happiness came in during the French Revolution. Now, she argues, we are witnessing the decline of the American empire.

Diane interviewing Dominique in one of the opening scenes of the film

The film follows eight characters, mostly academics, a group of four women –  Dominique, Louise, Diane and Danielle and four men – Remy, Claude, Alain and Pierre. They are all colleagues at their university’s history department with the exception of Danielle who is a student.

The four men cook an elaborate meal at a lake-side house, while the women, in the meantime, workout at the gym. The camera constantly cuts and pans from one group to another while they indulge in recounting their sexual exploits.

Of the men, Rémy seems to be the most active hedonist of the group, as they all retell their sexual adventures seemingly trying to one-up each other. In one anecdote, he recounts that on the way to his mistress, he was craving sex so much that he had to stop at a brothel.

Alain, the youngest of the group, believes he is unlike all the others because he “doesn’t want to have sex with a new girl every night.”

Pierre lives with Danielle, who he met a massage parlor, after learning she was a student at the university.

Claude, the only gay man in the group, recounts how he likes to “cruise” gay hotspots in Montreal. He once had a lover, but he died in an accident and since then Claude has an uncontrollable lust.

He also has a mysterious disease. Claude is portrayed quite well as an openly gay man on the big screen, years before Philadelphia.

The women similarly discuss their sex lives. Diane describes her sado-masochistic relationship with her new boyfriend Mario once Louise discovers scratches on her back and notes how powerful she feels while in it experiencing the “power of the victim.”

Dominique, single and never married, is equally as promiscuous as Diane.

Danielle, the youngest among the women, is similar to Alain in that she has not had the same experiences and still believes that all she needs is to “be happy.”

Louise, the most conservative of the group and Remy’s wife, blushes at the idea of even flirting with her tennis instructor. She suspects Remy is unfaithful on his trips away but takes comfort in knowing (or rather believing) that while he is at home, he is 100% faithful. The women of course, know this is not true as both Diane and Dominique have in the past slept with Remy.

While at first, mostly all in good fun, the conversations and witty wordplay take a dark turn once they all meet for dinner. Secrets about them are spilled and grievances are voiced, exposing a group that at first seemed very modern in their sexual openness now seeming utterly unsatisfied and unfulfilled.

The degeneration of the group dynamic at this point in a way is a reflection of how Arcand saw society. That personal indulgence for indulgence’s sake is a sign of decline.

Decline is very much influenced by the 1981 film My Dinner With Andre, in its very dialogue-heavy script rife with wit. Although the focus throughout is very much on sex, we do not really see much of it. That sentiment is encapsulated well from one line from Mario:

“They talked about sex all afternoon as if they were getting ready for an orgy. Instead, the big deal is a fish pie!”

Original trailer for the film

The film itself today with its fashion as well as some racial stereotypes, comes off as dated. The ideas however, still come off as somewhat relevant.

In the era of Facebook and social media, it seems that attempts at quick personal gratification are all around us and might speak to a dissolving social structure With the election of Trump and all the other malfeasance in the world it might seem that society could be in decline once again (or even failing as Arcand would argue in his most recent film).

Some might posit, however, that to argue our “society” itself is in decline is questionable. The fall of empires have generally been a good thing for societies as it can mean change for the better, though it does, in many instances, cause periods of disarray. In this sense, the moral relativism of the film can seem kind of preachy.

Regardless of this, the film is quite fun and edgy because of its wit and subject matter and still has strains of relevance to viewers today. So before you go out and watch Arcand’s new film, I’d recommend a quick viewing of this classic first.

Feature Image Courtesy of Cineplex Odeon Films

When it comes to Tom Green, “expect the unexpected” is pretty much a given. Still, nothing could prepare me for the star of Freddy Got Fingered reciting all the Prime Ministers of Canada since Confederation in order.

But that’s exactly what he did at the end of our phone interview plugging his one-night only show at Just for Laughs. He got it right, too (yes, Wikipedia and I fact-checked Tom Green) and would have done the US Presidents, too, if it wasn’t time for him to move on to his next interview.

Green said that this history lesson will be part of his one night only show at Just for Laughs. Last time I caught him perform, modern US politics were center stage, too, as it happened in the lead-up to the last US Presidential Election. This time around, though, don’t expect him to focus on the current state of US politics.

“I don’t like my audience to think they are coming out to hear somebody preaching against Donald Trump for two hours,” he said, “because that’s not really what my show is about.”

Green feels that politics are all anyone is talking about in the States these days, including him, so while he does do a few minutes on the topic, he focuses more on “social issues and talking about the absurdity of life in today’s world, all of the things that aren’t directly associated with politics but are still kind of interconnected with them.”

Green has been performing stand-up since he was 15, with a break to get famous on MTV and in movies. For the past decade, though, he has been making live audiences laugh pretty much full time.

While he always has old and new material in his head and a tentative plan for the show, it’s never set in stone. He edits his show in his head depending on where the crowd wants him to go.

“When I do a joke that may be a little, let’s say, outrageous and if I feel that the audience loves that sort of outrageous commentary, maybe I’ll do a few more jokes like that,” he noted, “but if they’re getting tired of a certain type of subject matter, I’ll know maybe before they do and switch.”

While Green admits that many comics employ improv and audience work like him, what sets him apart are the different energy levels he brings to a show.

“It’s not just about the material,” he said, “it’s about how I’m saying the joke, the speed that I’m going. I’ll literally have nights where I’m doing standup and I’ll realize that this crowd wants me to be more weird, so I’ll change my personality on stage. Then there are some nights I’ll be performing in Las Vegas where I’ll notice the crowd wants me to be a bit more normal.”

But did all those TV stunts Green pulled off with people on the street influence his approach to stand-up?

“It’s almost in reverse,” he said, “people forget that I did stand-up for several years before I started The Tom Green Show. They don’t really necessarily realize that all that stuff on the street, that was rooted in stand-up. The rhythm of me walking down the street with a hand-held microphone talking to people on the street kinda came from me doing stand-up in a comedy club and talking to people in the crowd.”

Green does admit that they definitely both have influence on each other as he has brought his years of trying to pull comedy out of people on the street to the stand-up stage. He even tells people interested in his live show that only know him from TV and movies:

“It’s kind of like those bits I do on the street, except it’s happening live with people in the front row.”

Having seen him perform live once, I can attest to that. This time, though, the people in the front rows should probably brush up on their Canadian and American history.

* Tom Green: One Night Only, part of the 2018 Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, is Wednesday, July 25, 9:30pm at Maison Théâtre, 245 Ontario Est. Tickets available through hahaha.com

Francisco Ramos is a newcomer to Just for Laughs. A Venezuelan who moved to the United States in his teens, he has a unique perspective on what it’s like south of the border for immigrants, something that is prominent in his comedy and which has surprisingly remained constant even in the current political climate.

“I thought it was going to be more especially when Trump became President,” Ramos said in a phone interview, “but it hasn’t. It’s kind of been the same in terms of stereotypes that people have not for Venezuelans but for Latinos in general. I still use it to get my comedy out there and get the stereotypes out.”

Ramos, who will be performing in this year’s JFL Ethnic Show, doesn’t feel that American comedians, in particular those from visible minority backgrounds, have an obligation to address the current state of US politics. He has noted, however, that he never experienced racism or discrimination in Venezuela, but has since he arrived in the US.

“I think that when you’re an ethnic comic, especially in the States, and I know a lot of them, we don’t talk about it because we need to or we have to,” he observed, “ it’s stuff that has happened to us and we have some kind of experience and then we talk about it.”

While Ramos’ comedy does touch on politics, it’s not the main point.

“For me the main thing is to always be funny, he commented, “I’m not going to talk about anything that’s not funny. I do hit it but I don’t go so direct to it. I will be talking about it but it’s give them the funny first. I also don’t try to divide people. Everybody’s got their own beliefs and I try and respect that. I will tell my point of view, but in a funny way.”

One thing that does come out quite a bit in his comedy, and surely will at The Ethnic Show, is the all too common misconception in the states that Latino means Mexican.

“I mean I get it,” Ramos observed, “because the majority of Latinos in the US are Mexican. If that’s what you grow up with, that’s what you think everybody is. For me I’m trying to go ‘yeah, there’s Mexicans, those are Venezuelans, those are Colombians and we’re similar but we also have our differences’. I try to take it as a whole as hit on those universal things that I can do with my comedy. If I hit that, more people will be interested in seeing me and hearing more about the other stories they haven’t heard of.”

Ramos majored in the admittedly un-funny fields of Finance and International Business and started working at an investment firm after college. Then, after what he describes as a “quarter-life crisis” he moved to LA to do standup.

This journey has led him to the JFL stage for the first time. He is thrilled to be here, and when asked about the current state of US-Canada relations:

“I’d say, well now you feel how we feel. I’d say to Canada ‘keep doing what you do’ because you’re doing a great job with your prime minister and everything.”

* Francisco Ramos performs as part of The Ethnic Show in the Just for Laughs Festival starting Wednesday, July 11. Tickets available through hahaha.com

It’s festival season in Montreal and FTB is ready for it. Once again, we will be covering Just for Laughs, the world’s largest comedy festival, now under the stewardship of Howie Mandel among others after founder Gilbert Rozon was forced to step down after several women accused him of sexual assault and harassment.

The festival released a new anti-harassment policy today. While  they promise a better environment behind the scenes, they certainly seem to be staying the (successful) course on stage.

There are the big names like Trevor Noah, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, David Cross, Tiffany Haddish, William H. Macy (I had no idea he did standup) and the aforementioned Mandel. There are also the up-and-coming comics and eternally solid comedians populating the OFF-JFL stages. Festival staples like The Nasty Show and The Ethnic Show are back, too.

Our four-person coverage team is off and running even before the festival kicks off. In the next few days, expect to read Samantha Gold’s interview with Francisco Ramos performing at The Ethnic Show, Ellana Blacher’s conversation with The Nasty Show’s Ms. Pat and my Canadian History lesson from none other than Tom Green. Hannah Besseau will round out our pre-festival coverage with some audio interviews.

Then the real fun begins!

Just for Laughs runs July 11-29. Check hahaha.com for the complete schedule and to purchase tickets and check FTB for our coverage!

In a world that’s crumbling around us it’s good to showcase people and projects that give us hope. Canadian filmmakers Nova Ami and Velcrow Ripper have done just that with their film Metamorphosis.

Full of breathtaking cinematography, soothing meditative music, and incredible insights into the lives of those living through climate change and the artists, scientists, and architects fighting it, the film is one of the few nonjudgmental ones on the subject. It resonates without judging, stating the facts with beautiful images and heartrending stories of people living through what many would deny is happening all around us. The message is not one of impending catastrophe so much as one of hope and potential through creativity.

I had the privilege of speaking with writers/director/producers Nova Ami and Velcrow Ripper on the phone while they were promoting the film in Calgary. This is what we discussed:

Samantha Gold: You call the film a poem for the planet. What exactly does that mean?

Velcrow Ripper: It’s a cinematic poem… It’s not a literal essay. It’s more intended to spark the imagination, to inspire people and help us fall in love with the planet but also to wake up to what we’re doing to the planet. The examples of positive solutions in the film are all captured in spectacular visual style and they’re tended to be more design principles than literal projects that needed to be done.

If people could take one message away from seeing your film, what would it be?

Nova Ami: One message would be that crisis is an opportunity for transformation and that we have a choice in terms of how we respond to this crisis.

Who do you think needs to hear this message most?

V.R.: I’m thinking everyone really. You know from people who are very aware and concerned about the planet and who might be in a state of despair right now. Environmental scientists are probably the most depressed people on the planet right now because they know details so much… All the way to people who are in climate denial and who are suffering from psychic numbing. They also need to recognize the possibility inherent in this crisis and the fact that the solutions and the changes that we need to make to our society to combat climate change are also gonna make our lives better. It’s a win-win situation.

A lot of people think that fighting climate change is more of a task for people in the STEM fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and so on. Your film gave quite a bit of attention to artists doing their part. What do you think is the greatest contribution artists can make to this fight?

N.A.: In terms of art being a way to start a conversation and to allow the viewer to project their own meaning onto it as well. One of the responses that we’re getting about the film is that it’s not preachy or judgmental or lecturing and so it’s a more abstract way of representing what’s going on. It helps us think outside of the box and gives us something to meditate on.

V.R.: Art throughout history has been a very powerful force in social change. Art can wake us up and shake us up and move us on emotional and psychological levels and the film really explores the emotional and psychic aspects of climate change and we felt that art was a really powerful way to delve into these ideas and represent them visually.

You gave almost equal footing to scientists, farmers, and artists in the film. How do you think that science and art can converge in the fight against climate change?

N.A.: A lot of the solutions are very creative and in terms of using our creativity to find solutions to solve some of the problems that we’re facing. I think that’s one of the ways.

V.R.: Another way is that artists can communicate some of the concepts that scientists don’t necessarily express that well to the public.

What do you mean by that?

V.R. : There’s a communication problem with climate change. Just throwing more facts at people doesn’t always work. What we need more than anything is a cultural shift and artists can really help with that and I think scientists and artists working together have a lot of exciting possibilities. One of the things in the film is the Earthships – they’re like pieces of art that you live in that are a hundred percent sustainable – it’s a beautiful combination of art and practicality.

* Check out their site for screening info and their Facebook page for events

It’s summer in the city and things are about to get really hot, and I do mean in the regards to the Montreal music scene. If these upcoming show are any indication of the weather then I predict it’s going to be a very hot, sunny and sultry season. So now’s the time to get your suntan lotion and earplugs ready, here are your shows this week:

Festival SOIR Kicks Off

The festival SOIR will kick off this weekend along Mount-Royal. It encompasses 15 businesses that will “navigate through and between unsettling expositions, distinguished performances and immersive construct. ”

Tonight Montreal chef extraordinaire with a voice of an angel, Beaver Sheppard, will be playing with his band Co/ntry along with Petra Glynt and Birds of Paradise, a trippy art pop duo.

Petra Glynt’s art rock will take you in all kinds of interesting directions. You won’t know if you listening to it standing up or upside-down.

Birds of Paradise, Co/ntry and Petra Glynt perform at L’escogriffe, 4467 St Denis, on Friday June 22 at 10pm. Tickets are $12 and available at lepointedevant.com

The festival SOIR is running until the August 10th. You can check out there variety of performances at soirmtl.com

The Brie Face

If you’re down to see some great hard rock/nouveau punk this weekend then Bistro de Paris is the place to be as The Brie Face will be blasting their audience with punk and hard sensibility.

The Brie Face perform with Cardiff Giant and Pirate Radio at Bisto de Paris, 4536 Saint-Denis, on Saturday, June 23, 9pm. Tickets are $6 and available at the door

Aaron Allen & the Small City Saints

This Saturday check out Aaron Allen play songs from his latest album Judgement Day.He has been lauded for paving a new path for modern country music, while paying homage to its traditions.

Aaron Allen & The Small City Saints perform with Ivan Rivers and Pat Fockler at Barfly, 4062A S-Laurent, Friday June 22, 9pm.

Chad Valley

The electronic sounds of Chad Valley have been called ethereal and mysterious or as I like to call it: The perfect summer music. He’ll be playing with Aquarius dreams.

Chad Valley performs with Aquarius Dreams at Quai des Brumes, 4481 St-Denis, Tuesday June 26, 9pm. Tickets available through Indie Montreal for $12 or $15 at the door.

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

Apocalipsync is the kind of play you go to when you don’t want to think or worry. You just want to enjoy.

A collaborative effort by House of Laureen, a self-professed drag family, the title is self explanatory. Set in the year 2024 where corporate greed and the political left’s obsession with safe spaces resulted in the apocalypse, the show’s three main queens, Uma Gahd, Dot Dot Dot, and Anaconda LaSabrosa, are trying to salvage what’s left and unite humanity.

When I asked Uma Gahd what message audiences should take away from this play, this was her reply:

“I think just that with what’s happened in Ontario right now, it couldn’t have been better timing for a horrible thing to happen because my character represents the kind of thinking that got people into office. If you look at Doug Ford, he doesn’t have a platform! He didn’t have a projected financial plan or anything but his personality or one little thing that he put up that was just scary enough, got people to vote for him…Watch out for the people who aren’t saying things… Listen to the people who aren’t saying anything and BE WARY!”

Unfortunately the message House of Laureen wanted to convey in the play is a bit lost in all the kitsch and drama, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not everyone wants to see a play that’s too political, and the post-apocalyptic drag costumes and well choreographed lip syncs makes this easier to watch for anyone wanting a break from the abysmally depressing current events in the United States and Canada.

The show’s queens each represent a political viewpoint.

Dot Dot Dot represents the far left, obsessed with recycling human waste via composting toilets, something Dot herself is personally obsessed with. In the play it makes for great comic relief as human waste in this world is highly toxic.

Uma Gahd represents the far right, someone obsessed with human comfort via shelters that actually give you some privacy. As Gahd told me in a post show interview, her character is all about maintaining and her costume was designed to show just that. She’s the only queen who is wearing stiletto heels and a corset throughout the entire play along with a full-length skirt that – by her own admission – she was constantly tripping on.

Anaconda LaSabrosa, a big beautiful bearded queen, represents anarchy. Though her character seems to play dumb, she has the most complex thoughts of any in the play.

The song choices in the play are perhaps the best insights into the characters. Anaconda’s lip sync of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball fits the anarchist platform of political destruction. Uma Gahd’s lip sync of Makeup by Amanda Blank conveys the character’s obsession with maintaining appearances, while Dot Dot Dot’s lip sync of Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves displays the obnoxious optimism of her far-left character.

The show is narrated by Peaches LePage, resplendent in pale makeup, lizard hands, and traffic cone boobs. She adds that extra bit of snark and worldly wisdom while managing to seem politically neutral during her brief appearances.

The play’s main flaw was an issue with sound. It was too loud and pitchy, making the audio of the queens’ thoughts as they sat by a fire a little hard to distinguish from the announcements of the world’s leaders via radio. Hopefully they’ll fix the issue for future performances.

That said, fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race may be a little disappointed with what they see. As Director Noah Gahd and the cast told me, most drag queens cannot afford the thousand-dollar dresses and wigs that you see among the contestants on the show. As Peaches LePage wisely said during the interview:

“If you’re not going into massive amounts of debt, you’re not doing drag,”

The costumes in the play are homemade by the cast and it shows. While they do give that post-apocalyptic feel, they maintain the glamour the genre requires. It’s a demonstration of their DIY skills that they’re all beautiful to look at despite limited budgets.

If you want to have a bit of fun and take a break from all the politics in the air and immerse yourself in a world of glitter and catchy tunes, check out Apocalipsync. It’s fun!

Apocalipsync: Humanity is a Drag has two performances left, tonight and tomorrow afternoon. Tickets available through MontrealFringe.ca

Aaaahh, June in Montreal. The time when you can’t walk around any part of the city without running into a local show or even a full-blown festival. There’s so much going on, we can’t possibly whittle it down to just a few listings, but that’s exactly what we’ve done, so let’s get started:

Folk Fest on the Canal

There are three things that make this festival stand out:

  1. It’s called the Folk Fest and the lineup is largely, wait for it…folk music. Sure, there are some acts that verge into somewhat less folky territory, like this year’s indie rock headliners Plants and Animals, but there is always a clear line back to folk. In a town where the (anything but) Jazz Fest reigns, it’s a refreshing change.
  2. It’s community-oriented and clean. It takes place entirely in the Sud Ouest Borough and mostly along the banks of the Lachine Canal. Also, the port-o-johns are spotless and so are the festival grounds. Like Osheaga but with people picking up after themselves.
  3. It’s Free! While donations are encouraged and there is a VIP area this year you can buy into, access to the festival and its three stages is free.

You have three options to head on down to the Canal and catch some tunes in the great outdoors. It’s a folk-ing great time!

 

Montreal Folk Fest runs June 15, 16 and 17. For complete schedule visit MontrealFolkFest.com

Naghmeh and the Southern Shores

We’ve mentioned Naghmeh and the Southern Shores in this column before, but you can never get enough of this local band’s blend of Persian melodies with rock and folk and notably interesting lyrics. They’re playing again tonight, this time at Grumpy’s, so check them out in a very intimate though always rocking space.

Naghmeh and the Southern Shores perform at Grumpy’s, 1242 Bishop, Friday, June 15, 10pm. FREE

Queer Songbook Orchestra

On Tuesday, the Queer Songbook Orchestra will take the audience at Sala Rossa on a musical journey through the last century of uplifting queer narratives in popular music. It’s their mission to celebrate and perform obscured LGBTQ2S historical narratives, as well as tell the personal stories of members of the community and the songs connected to them.

Guest vocalists Safia Nolin and Beverly Glenn Copeland as well as storytellers Louis Negin and Gabe Maharjan will join the Toronto-based 12-piece chamber pop ensemble on stage. This event is part of the Suomi Per Il Popolo Festival.

Queer Songbook Orchestra perfrorm with Darren Creech as part of Suoni per il Popolo at Sala Rossa, 4848 St-Laurent, Tuesday, June 19, 8pm. Tickets are $10 and available through lfttckt.com

Dennis Ellsworth

PEI native Dennis Ellsworth has been making music for over 20 years. He describes his sound over those decades as “dark, smooth, romantic alt-country-ish type songs” but he felt like he needed a change with his latest album, the aptly titled Things Change, produced by Joel Plaskett of The Emergency.

Here’s some of his latest sound:

Dennis Ellsworth performs with Esther Hazy and The Pangs at Barfly, 4062A St-Laurent, Tuesday, June 19, 9pm. $10 at the door

* Featured image via Queer Songbook Orchestra

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