Miguel Legault Piknic

Laying in a tent that defies all logic and common sense underneath a sleeping bag because everything is pulsing, feeling the vibrations of live music and people. Smelling nature, every sense electrified, and every feeling new and intense. Beneath your eyes are more colours than you could have ever imagined, melting into each other and swirling uncontrollably to create a new way of thinking. Music is more intense, art is more beautiful, everything is sensual, and your mind is open wider than it has ever been before.

Sounds great right? Be careful! Drugs are fucking scary and can kill you. Being reckless can mean DEATH! It’s important to be in a safe place with people you trust while tripping. A bad trip can change your life forever – but I’m not going to give you the scary accounts that your D.A.R.E. counsellor gave you. Be an adult and make up your own mind.

Music festivals are more than just pretty girls dancing in flowing dresses with flowers in their hair and guys playing frisbee, while bands play all day and night. Music festivals are also the Number One place where people experiment with psychedelic drugs. Rapper A$AP Rocky openly reports that he took LSD at the South by Southwest festival and then slept with nine women. Whoa. Not everyone has psychedelic orgies, each experience is different.

A painting I did of Lisa Frank on acid.
A painting I did of Lisa Frank on acid.

I was recently at a smaller scale festie and I couldn’t believe how many people were selling all the drugs. “Molly… Mushrooms… Ketamine…” were common greetings, almost like a peanut salesman at a ballgame. Every conversation I overheard involved the sentence “Man, I was really tripping balls last night!” Every person there was on something, it seemed. I was surprised how out in the open it all was, considering that all of these things are illegal. The police were out in full force all around the gates of the festival. I know a few people who were busted for weed. They didn’t get all the drugs though.

Scantily clad smiling girls and sweaty shirtless guys slithered about with wide eyes, fully dilated pupils, and the look of a god/goddess. Hula hooping, flow arts, dancing, making and listening to music, and art making are commonly enhanced by these drugs. Colorful intricate art is important to the visual experience.

The first two hits didn’t seem to do a thing, then a third was taken (not a good idea, give it time to kick in). By the time all three kicked in, everything was a roller coaster ride. I was also the funniest person in the world. Eyes watering. Dancing as if floating. Everything was warm and life made sense. Several hours in I did not have the same zest. Hiding within myself I needed to go into the cocoon and go the fuck to sleep.

Often the worst part of an acid trip is the fact that it can take 12 hours or more to come down. You feel like it’s going to last forever, and that’s super duper scary. When doing these drugs you definitely want to plan at least 48 hours for the high and the come down. Don’t plan on working the next day or going to dinner at your parents house. Interacting with anyone at all will seem difficult actually. Also, your serotonin levels will be depleted so don’t expect to be jovial.

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The term “Psychedelics” refers to drugs that alter cognitive perception and cause dreamlike hallucinations. Tests have been done that prove these drugs can help with stress, PTSD, OCD, and dealing with the end of terminal illness. The most commonly used drugs in this category (besides marijuana) are LSD (acid) , psilocybin mushrooms (magic shrooms), and DMT (the spirit molecule). MDMA (Molly or Ecstasy) and the dissociative drug Ketamine are also very popular recreational drugs in this setting. Cocaine, marijuana, hash oil dabs (pure THC) and good old fashioned alcohol are often thrown into the mix to try and maintain a state of control over the “trip”.

Dabs are intense, you need to use a blow torch to do them. The first time I ever did one was in my friend’s van and I definitely felt like a badass. Molly/Ecstasy is scary because most of the time it is cut with dangerous chemicals or you are actually buying bath salts. Candy flipping is when you combine ecstasy with LSD. Hippie flipping is combining ecstasy with mushrooms. DMT is the strongest of these drugs – it contains chemicals naturally released when you are dying.

Music festivals need to realize that they can’t stop people from experimenting with recreational drugs. Harm reduction and education is so important. The Lightning Bottle Music Festival in California is offering resources to help minimize the potential fall out. They are partnering with DanceSafe and the Zendo Project to provide a judgement free space to address drug dangers before they happen. They educate people about things like heat stroke, dehydration, and the signs of overdose. They also provide condoms, earplugs, water, and an extended line of communication about safe trips. The Zendo Project advocates drug policy reform and mental health services for people on psychedelic drugs. If someone is upset or confused during their trip they can turn to a trained drug therapist for help.

Major festivals have been under a watchful eye due to the amount of tragic drug overdoses and deaths. The fact is that most of the cheap synthetic substances being pushed are not what they are supposed to be, often mixed with things like rat poison. Colorful pills and powder filled baggies traded off in porta-potties between strangers are dangerous. The Electric Zoo festival requires their audience to watch an anti-drug PSA and also has medical students on hand to help with situations.

With anything you put in your body it is important to do the research and be smart about your choices. Some people see the psychedelic experience as a birthright, that you must expand your mind to see the world completely. Nobody can police your brain.

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It’s once again time to roam the frozen streets in search of performative emancipation.

To keep you energized, here’s a randomized list of edibles available between 7 pm to 3 am.

Spontaneity is key here – so when it comes to Nuit Blanche food in 2015, pick what you like in the heat of the moment.

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In no order whatsoever (because Nuit Blanche is all about spontaneity), here are 10 eatable, drinkable temptations to drop into your itinerary:

1) Well, fine, maybe you’re the linear type. If you want a basic starting point, pay hommage to the Swiss theme of this year’s Montréal en Lumière fine dining program and warm up with some mouth-burning FONDUE. Other than the severely lactose-intolerant and this guy, who can, POSSIBLY, SAY NO TO FONDUE? What’s more, you’ll start your night off at the base of all activities: Place des Arts. –> Until 3 a.m.

2) Next, as the world is caving in all around us, why not pay tribute in an ironic way to the oil sands with a fracking-themed cocktail? Half-awareness tactic, half (hopefully) innovative gustatory delight, the Maison du développement durable has you covered with various edible “curiosités de pétrole.” –> Until 2 a.m.

3) Though not technically a food event, the Salon du Livre Gourmand makes use of the BaNQ’s always well-curated exhibition space, and this year the theme is feasting. Is this free feast for your mind’s eye worth it? Why, that’s alimentary, my dear Child!  –> Until 11 p.m.

4) Over in the Plateau, the cuvée d’hiver promises a ton of spiritual uplifting, from whisky to microbrews. Try a few bites at this event at the Église Saint-Enfant Jésus and catch some rock’n’roll – with electro-swing? Huh? anyway… Let me know when you get there!) –> Until 2 a.m.

5) Some people spend decades trying to get their name in lights. For $2, get can get your name in chocolate–> Until 1 a.m.

6) Le “Snow Food” is all about exploring the modes of outdoor eating. A special version of the Food-Truck-Fridays at Parc Olympique, this polar extravaganza by the Association des restaurateurs de rue du Québec is a sure bet, and a good way to get out east to check out the art of the Pôle Parc Olympique. –> Until 1 a.m.

Bonne_Nuit_blanche_a_tous_-_Montreal_en_lumiere7) Over at Artexte’s exhibits, you can get free hot choco while they’re still open. –> Until midnight.

8) Another polar menu is offered over in Parc Lafontaine by the quaint Éspace Lafontaine. Chef Martin Bérubé’s QC-focused goods feature polar salmon, something called “crispy storm” and a Qweebek Turkey kebab (not a Turkish one…get it?) Beers and wines on offer, too. –> Until midnight.

9) Similar to last year at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, you can check out candies and mulled wine – though this year while you’re perusing the exhibits of the Musée d’art contemporain. –> Until 2 a.m.

10) Finally, in the spirit of pure conjecture and blatant prejudice on my part, try out the Belgo building, which I love on Nuit Blanche, and whose art purveyors usually tack together some wacky snackbar, and maybe a dance party or disco as an added bonus. One never knows where your frozen-on-the-outside, sweaty-on-the-inside feet will lead you.

11) A user-generated “bonus” option where you help us fill our pages! Found your own tasty stop? Let us know: @ForgetTheBox or @JoshDavidson.

P.S.: we’re also going to be live-tweeting (until we get too cold, too lost, or too drunk), so keep us informed of your best discoveries all night long for some sweet, satiating retweets!

Osheaga 2014 Gogol Bordello © Bianca Lecompte

2015 has been off to quite a busy start, but before we get too involved, let’s take one final look back at 2014.

Every year we ask our contributors to vote on the favourite two posts they wrote and the two posts they liked most from all the other contributors on the site. Then, in a not-too-scientific manner, we turn that into this list.

In no particular order, these are the top posts of 2014 on FTB:

Standing in solidarity with Ferguson by Cem Ertekin, photos Gerry Lauzon

After the grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri erupted. In Montreal, the Black Students’ Network of McGill organized a vigil. Cem Ertekin was there to report and record audio and Gerry Lauzon took pictures (read the post).

Burlesque: A Naked Revolution You Can Do Too! by Cat McCarthy
Cat McCarthy on what burlesque has done for her and can do for you, too. For her, it’s a revolution of sexual liberation. (read the post).

Our first and (probably) last post about Jian Ghomeshi by Johnny Scott

We only published one post about Jian Ghomeshi this year: Johnny Scott’s satirical response to the overbearing presence of Ghomeshi images in his Facebook feed. The story is important, but do we really need to keep looking at his face? (read the post)

Electric Winter: an interview with Igloofest’s Nicolas Cournoyer by Bianca David

Did you know that Igloofest started out as a joke? Well, it did, and now it’s anything but. Find out about the fest’s origins and its future in Bianca David’s interview with founder Nicolas Cournoyer. (read the post)

Black Lives Matter - In Solidarity with Ferguson Montreal vigil (5)
From the solidarity vigil for Ferguson held in Montreal on November 25, 2014. Photo by Gerry Lauzon.

 

Solidarity with the enemy: When the oppressor wants to fight oppression by Jason C. McLean

When municipal workers took up the fight against austerity, Jason C. McLean wondered if it was possible to show solidarity with those who didn’t reciprocate. Also, would that even be a good thing? (read the post)

Channeling Energy with Brody Stevens @ OFF-JFL by Jerry Gabriel

This year, we covered Just for Laughs, OFF-JFL and Zoofest. One of the more, um, interesting performances we saw was by Brody Stevens (he had a cameo in The Hangover). Find out why it piqued our interest in this report by Jerry Gabriel. (read the post)

Ferguson – The Grand Hypocrisy: Legitimate violence, ideology and the American Dream by Niall Clapham Ricardo

How legitimate is a legal system that serves more to oppress than to protect? Niall Clapham Ricardo takes a look at the aftermath of the Ferguson Grand Jury. (read the post)

The rise of EDM at Osheaga by Jesse Anger

This year, we returned to Osheaga and Jesse Anger discovered that it was more electronic than ever. Find out why. (read the post)

 

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From November 29, 2014 Refusons l’Austerité march in Montreal. Photo by Cem Ertekin.

 

Say no to victim blaming by Bree Rockbrand

When the Montreal taxi rape story broke, Bree Rockbrand searched for stories of similar cabbie assaults. What she found lead to this post about why we need to stop victim blaming. (read the post)

Cuddles and catpuccinos: How Montréal is setting the course for cat cafés in North America by Josh Davidson

CAAAAAATS! But seriously, there are cats, plenty of them, at Montreal’s two cat cafes, the first such places in North America. Josh Davidson reports. (read the post)

Snowpiercer is a Welcome Addition to the Current Dystopia Craze by Thomas O’Connor

With the dystopia genre going the way of vampires, Thomas O’Connor takes a look at Snowpiercer. Is this a film that can buck the trend? (read the post)

SPVM officers issue a ticket for a situation they created (AUDIO) by Jason C. McLean

Lindsay Rockbrand just wanted to lay down for a few minutes on a park bench, but the SPVM wouldn’t let that happen. Even though it was before 11pm, they managed to give her a ticket for being in a park after hours (read the post and listen to the interview)

Tinder, Tinder, On The Wall… by Jules

Jules decides to try out Tinder. Wonder what will make her swipe left? Find out. (read the post)

Igloofest 2014 7 © Bianca Lecompte
Igloofest 2014. Photo by Bianca Lecompte.

 

2014 in Review: Why Feminism Still Matters by Stephanie Laughlin

It’s not usual for a year-in-review piece to make it to the list of favourite posts, but Stephanie Laughlin’s look at the events of 2014 as a reason feminism is still needed bucks that trend. Find out why. (read the post)

Some Nasty Advice: The Nasty Show @ JFL by Hannah Besseau

We didn’t like everything at this year’s JFL. While Hannah Besseau enjoyed the Nasty Show overall, she does have some advice for next year. Will those planning it listen? (read the post)

Quebec election postponed until August: Marois by Jason C. McLean

Our April Fools posts usually catch a few people (usually those just waking up) off-guard, but in 2014 we really seemed to have hit a nerve. Maybe it’s because the scenario we jokingly proposed wasn’t all that inconceivable, given the climate. (read the post)

P6 is police collaboration and I refuse to participate in it by Katie Nelson

Katie Nelson argues why, under no circumstances, people organizing a protest should comply with municipal bylaw P6. It is collaboration, pure and simple. (read the post)

Osheaga Day 3: The Green stage rules them all [PHOTOS] by Bianca Lecompte

More Osheaga! This time, it’s the Green Stage and quite a few photos by Bianca Lecompte. (read the post, check out the pics)

Petrocultures 2014: Oil Energy or Canada’s Future by Sarah Ring, photos by Jay Manafest

This year, McGill held a conference on oil and Canada’s energy future. It welcomed people with sustainable solutions to our dependence on fossil fuel and Ezra Levant. FTB’s Sarah Ring and Jay Manafest were in attendance. (read the post)

#FantasiaFest Interview with Director Leigh Janiak of Honeymoon by Pamela Fillion

No, this isn’t just in here because it mentions Ygritte from Game of Thrones, but that helps. It’s actually a pretty cool interview by Pamela Filion with Leigh Janiak, Rose Leslie’s director in Honeymoon. (read the post)

Our collective struggle: Austerity and Spring 2015 by Cem Ertekin

This piece by Cem Ertekin is a prediction of what’s to come in the Quebec student movement (SPOILER ALERT: We’re in for another Maple Spring). It’s also a great primer for anyone wanting a rundown on just what austerity is and Quebec politics for the last few years. (read the post)

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For his latest documentary, Hubert Sauper enlisted some friends to help build a plane, which they then flew into Sudan to shoot We Come As Friends over the course of six years: before, during, and after the referendum that caused the country to separate, and gave way to South Sudan’s independence.

Sauper was at the Quebec premiere to present the film, explaining that it’s a documentary about the pathology of colonialism. For those unfamiliar with the conflict, the documentary provides a brief history of Sudan’s opposing leaders and their allies: Sudan’s Muslim president Omar Al-Bashir keeps close ties to China, whereas South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir Mayardit was rewarded by president Bush with a cowboy hat for his Christian beliefs.

At first the viewer is given the impression that the country is torn due to religious differences, but it is quickly revealed that oil is at the root of the conflict, which has brought its share of foreign involvement. A number of situations and conversations reveal a seriously troubling reality.

Comments from foreigners induced many an eye-roll, from Texan missionaries calling South Sudan “New Texas,” to a British soldier claiming that if locals haven’t been able to gain peace in over 200 years, they must not want it badly enough. Foreign investors boast that their investments will allow the South Sudanese to profit some as well – so there is no shame in making a buck off oil extraction. Meanwhile, an old man explains how he was given a contract to sign without understanding what it was – a contract which paid him 25K USD to hand over his land, of which he never saw a penny.

This new colonialism seems more insidious now – though South Sudan was not recently discovered, it is all too familiar and unsettling to see white missionaries and investors arrogantly insert themselves into South Sudan.

I did catch myself being pleased at South Sudan’s independence, if only because I’ve romanticized the idea – until Sauper revealed that the independence was orchestrated by Texas oil companies, who were simply looking for another profitable venture (which most certainly explains the presence of Texan ministers and missionaries shaming children for being naked, forcing them out of any traditional garb they might don and into school uniforms). It’s typical “divide and rule.”

The film is striking in its contrasts, and Sauper has an exceptional eye for jarring details. The UN’s New Year’s Eve festivities see a drunken Scottish lout suggestively shake a bottle of champagne and pop it while a local South Sudanese woman is outdoors, carrying buckets and cleaning. Local villagers explain how their village is becoming a mass grave due to murders, and that water contamination has killed their livestock and plants, as a UN truck drives by, its passengers likely unaffected by these realities.

These situations might seem cliché, but the documentary does a great job of steering clear of sentimental commentary, merely showing a reality that us privileged folk like to pretend is over. Sauper admitted this was the longest he had ever worked on a film. One can only imagine how alert he must have been to capture such fantastic, telling, and eye-opening coincidences on film.

An absolute must see, especially for those who argue the benefits of oil extraction and colonialism.

For the full RIDM schedule, please visit ridm.qc.ca

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Many dream of opening a restaurant. Unfortunately, cash, logistics and a litany of permits can nip that dream in the bud. But for Montréal cooks and eaters, World Restaurant Day has brought salvation.

The world’s “biggest food carnival” touches down in Montéal again next Sunday, August 17, from noon until midnight, enabling 34 would-be restauranteurs to to share their “cuisine éphémère.”

Photo credit: Restaurant Day Montréal Carnaval Culinaire

We’re here to prompt you to get out on the sidewalks and alleys ASAP that day. Though some restos seem to offer long hours, don’t delay–many locations ran out of food on the last WRD in May!

Here’s an super-brief sampling of what’s on offer:

– Authentic Toulousain and Sicilian sausages in an alley in Villeray

– Dishes honouring grandmas from Iraq, Italy, Morroco, along with storytelling and art on Beaubien

– A personal fave: “St-Tropez in Hochelaga,” billed as an after-party for full bellies replate with “sunset, cocktails & soul-jazz in a urban forest.”

– The ever-popular “Tacos mamacitas” crew, this time cooking up Chilean Sopaipillas, tacos Cochinita pibil or Papas con raja and Mexican-style corn.

– A wake-and-bake menu at Tam Tams featuring salad with hemp seeds, cookies, Bhang milk and more. As this pop-up restauranteur urges, “Come by to say high.” (4040 Parc, by the statue)

– Trout gravlax, shrimp sausage, curried pull pork…in sandwich form, with blueberry basil lemonade.

Photo credit: Danielle Levy Nutrition (World Restaurant Day Montréal May)

Still not convinced by the gastronomical surprises on offer for you that day? Here’s a bonus: this food is CHEAP. Devoid of overhead costs and eager to show their talents, these cooks are eager to spoon pure value right into your mouth.

While the pop-up resto has taken North America by storm this past decade, Montréal has been slower to adopt. Take advantage of this one-day free-for-all that will keep your belly, heart and pocketbook satisfied until the next WRD this Fall.

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It’s a sweet 16 for MEG, Montreal’s longest running summer festival completely devoted to electronic music. The truly great thing about MEG, despite the festival’s growth in popularity following the commercialisation of electronic music in recent years, is it continues to showcase the up-and-comers — especially on the local level — and remains on the cutting-edge of a genre that can often feel lost in the mainstream.

MEG’s programming this year is stellar (as usual) but it’s impossible to see everything so here we present our top picks for the 2014 edition.

FRIDAY, JULY 25

Sango + Andre Power + Eden Hagos + Da-P + Yung Gayance @ Le Belmont

Michigan’s Sango is championing the so-called atl-R&B scene but he rises above the rest by combining Latin music influences into his work, blending baile funk with trap and hip hop layered on top of his minimalistic electronic beats. His debut full-length album, North, dropped earlier this week and can be heard in full via the Soulection bandcamp page.

Show starts at 10 p.m.; tickets cost $18.50 in advance and can be found at Atom Heart, MOOG Audio and Laïka or online via MEG.

SATURDAY, JULY 26 2014

Essaie Pas + Apigeon + Syzzors + Mathématique @ Divan Orange

Montreal’s Essaie Pas is dark, depressing and cinematic. What initially drew me to them was the psych influence in their earlier releases. They’ve since incorporated more dreamy synth sounds into the mix with good results.

Show starts at 10 p.m., $11 in advance via MEG or $15 at the door.

Suuns + Technical Kidman + Seoul @ SAT

My pick for the entire week would have to be Suuns and Technical Kidman. Both are fantastically acclaimed Montreal acts that have really come a long way in the past few years. Suuns have joined the big boys now and have gone touring across North America and overseas several times since the release of their debut Zeroes QC in 2010.

Technical Kidman released the follow-up to their 2011 self-titled debut earlier this month. On A Stranger Voice, the band departs from more traditional instrumentation in favour of charting untrod electronic territory. This summer, they’ve been doing the festival thing, playing NXNE in Toronto and Sled Island in Calgary. They’ll soon embark on a short Canadian tour so this is your chance to see them before they set off.

Show starts at 9 p.m.; tickets cost $17 in advance and can be found at Atom Heart and MOOG Audio or online via MEG.

SUNDAY, JULY 27

MEG x Piknic Électronik @ Parc Jean-Drapeau

MEG owes much of its success to its tradition of collaboration with other musical institutions, both at home and abroad. In addition to its annual showcase at Osheaga, MEG will be commandeering this week’s edition of Piknic Électronik. Hailing from across the pond, headliner French Fries will be joined by Paul Trafford, Manaré, Aleqs Notal, Woulg and a surprise guest. Oh and this is a Christmas-themed event.

Show starts at 2 p.m., $15 at the door. MEG festival passes are not valid for this event.

THURSDAY, JULY 31

The Gulf Stream + Melodule + Groj @ Divan Orange

This is a good example of what MEG does best: taking fresh, young, local talent and putting them on the map. This is a night featuring Montreal’s fastest-rising stars in the genre: The Gulf Stream, Melodule and Groj.

Show starts at 10 p.m., $10 at the door.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 1

MEG x Présence Autochtone presents Electro-choc @ Place des festivals

This year’s free event in the Quartier des spectacles’ Place des festivals features the genre-defying Cris Derksen. Derksen is a classically-trained, award-winning cellist of Aboriginal descent. She blends classical and folk music with electronic elements and the result is unlike anything you’ve heard before.

Parisian duo Acid Arab offer up their own blend of seemingly clashing genres, blending electronic music with traditional Middle Eastern and Northern African folk music.

Show starts at 8:30 p.m., free.

Honourable mention: MEG Boat feat. Benjamin Damage + Acid Arab + MMF & AKTA. I’ve relegated this to ‘honourable mention’ status because, come on! Partying on a boat in the St-Laurence river to some of the best DJs out there? No contest.

The 2014 edition of MEG Montreal runs until Saturday, July 2. Read an interview we did last year with festival founder Mustapha Terki.

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Fantasia is upon us. If you are anything like me and the fans that flock to theatres for this one of a kind experience, your summer can finally begin. The lineup this year is stellar which makes choosing which films to see that much more difficult. Screening decision anxiety and panic is amongst us. Never fear! Take out your colour-coded pens, rulers and notebooks; here are the must-sees of the 2014 lineup!

15.  Metalhead

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Director: Ragnar Bragson

Writer: Ragnar Bragson

Iceland, 2013

Metalhead touches on themes of tragedy, grief, youth, faith and fate. Hera lives in a small town with little to offer her and is haunted by the death of her brother. She rebels against the bourgeois world of her parents and creates a safe haven for herself in the world of heavy metal: a world that she slips further into body and soul.

Screenings: Monday, August 4 at 7:10 p.m. and Tuesday, August 5 at 7:35 p.m at Salle J.A. De Sève (1400 de Maisonneuve w.).

 

14. The House at the End of Time (La casa del fin de los tiempos)

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Director: Alejandro Hidalgo

Writer: Alejandro Hidalgo

Venezuela, 2013

Dulce receives ghostlike messages warning her of her husband murdering his own children. Panic ensues as do tragic events and Dulce is incarcerated for a crime she didn’t commit. Thirteen years later, on parole, Dulce must stay within the house where all these tragic events happened. Fantasia programmer Mitch Davis hails this tale as both scary and touching: not your typical haunted house story.

Screenings: Saturday, July 26 at 9:30 p.m. at Theatre DB Clarke and Wednesday, July 30 at 5:20 p.m. at Salle J.A. De Sève.

 

13. Feed the Devil

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Director: Max Perrier

Writer: Matthew Altman

Canada, 2014

The world premiere of Feed the Devil is co-presented by the Montreal First Peoples Festival. This film follows Marcus, who is in dire need of some fast cash, as he, his sister and his girlfriend search for a marijuana plantation rumoured to be near a First Nations reserve. According to legend, this plantation is smack in the middle of a hunting ground for the gods, where no human is to enter and no human who has dared to enter has ever returned.

Screening: Monday, August 4 at 8:30 p.m. at Cinémathèque québécoise (335 de Maisonneuve e.).
* Tickets for this film will not be available through Fantasia’s ticket outlets and Fantasia passes are not valid for this film. Visit Montreal First Peoples Festival for more info.

 

12. The Snow White Murder Case

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Director Yoshihhiro Nakamura

Writers: Tamio Hayashi, Kamae Minato

Japan, 2014

When a young office worker’s body is found, social media is quick to make the news viral. A television director soon comes into some juicy intel and realizes that this sensational case might be the perfect way to break through in the industry. He begins to to investigate the case, accounts multiply and cloud the waters: who killed Noriko?

Screening: Tuesday, July 29 at 10 p.m. at Concordia Hall Theatre.

 

11. Cybernatural

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Director: Leo Gabriadze

Writer: Nelson Greaves

USA, 2014

After a humiliating video is posted online by her friends, a young girl kills herself. On the anniversary of her death, the six cyberbullies meet up on Skype. However, an uninvited seventh user joins the conversation and seems to know everything about the crime. As events unfold in real time, the six cyberbullies get a taste of their own medicine and the body count soon begins to rise.

Screening: Sunday, July 20 at 9:30 p.m. at DB Clarke Theatre.

 

10. The Creeping Garden

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Directors: Tim Grabham, Jasper Sharp

United Kingdom, 2014

This documentary centres on something all around us but almost everyone is unaware of it: plasmodial slime mold. Slime mold is not plant, not fungus, nor animal but a strange hodge-podge of all three. It even exhibits forms of intelligence. The Creeping Garden explores this uncanny organism through interviews and microscopic photography and boasts a score by Jim O’Rourke.

Screenings: Sunday, July 27 at 9:45 p.m. & Monday, July 28 at 3 p.m. at Salle J.A. De Sève.

 

9. Life After Beth

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Director: Jeff Baena

Writer: Jeff Baena

USA, 2014

This comedy follows Zack who falls to pieces after the death of Beth, his longtime sweetheart. Zack grows closer to Beth’s parents in the wake of her death until they suddenly shut him out. For, you see, Beth has come back from the grave and doesn’t realize she’s died. Zack is overjoyed… but for how long?

Screening: Saturday, July 19 at 7:15 p.m. at Concordia Hall Theatre.

 

8. At The Devil’s Door 

Director: Nick McCarthy

Screenplay: Nick McCarthy

USA, 2014

From the writer of The Pact, a film that left audiences with an unshakeable chill, comes this tale of a real estate agent (Catalina Sandino Moreno) who faces the task of trying to sell a house with a sordid past. The film stars names you will recognize such as Naya Ricera (Glee) and Ashley Rockwards (Awkward). I can’t wait to see them in something out of high school and into a more dark and dangerous setting.

Screenings: Saturday, July 26 at 7 p.m. at DB Clarke Theatre & Tuesday, July 29 at 5:10 p.m. at Salle J.A. De Sève.

 

7. Honeymoon

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Director:  Leigh Janiak

Screenplay: Leigh Janiak , Phil Graziadei

USA, 2014

Honeymoon is a cabin-set flick that refuses to rely on traditional scares. Paul and Bea are on their honeymoon but things aren’t quite the bliss that you’d expect. The central questions in this film are “who did I marry?” and “am I enough?”

Screenings: Tuesday, July 22 at 7 p.m. at DB Clarke Theatre.

 

6. Jellyfish Eyes (Mememe no Kurage)

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Director: Takashi Murakami

Screenplay: Takashi Murakami, Jun Tsugita

Japan, 2013

There is a lot of excitement brewing around the sci-fi/fantasy epic Jellyfish Eyes sponsored by The Japanese Foundation at this year’s Fantasia. Masashi’s father was lost in the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 resulting in his mother relocating them to a small town, near a university research center. Masashi finds a little flying creature and soon discovers that all the others kids at school have secret creature buddies who — unlike his pink bud, Jellyfish Boy — are controlled by their smartphones. But all isn’t honky dory in this town and something dark is brewing…

Screenings: Sunday, July 20 at 12 p.m. at Concordia Hall Theatre.

 

5. Housebound

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Director: Gerard Johnstone

Screenplay: Gerard Johnstone

New Zealand, 2014

Kylie is on house arrest in the home where she grew up where she is forced to live with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. Like Kylie, an angry spirit is also displeased with the new living arrangement. But like it or not, Kylie is gonna have to do the time — even if it’s in a haunted house.

Screening: Sunday, August 3 at 9:45 p.m. at Concordia Hall Theatre.

 

4. The Harvest

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Director: John McNaughton

Screenplay: Stephen Lancelloti

USA, 2013

When Andy gets sick, his pediatric heart surgeon mother, Katherine, has to start working from home. When a neighbourhood girl begins to befriend Andy, his parents — whose universes have centred around him and his illness — react in a strange way. According to Mitch Davis, “The Harvest exists in a disquieting median space between sinister fairy tale and shattering human horror.” And if that’s not enough, The Harvest promises what looks like a kick-ass performance by Samantha Morton.

Screening: Monday, July 21 at 9:30 p.m. at Theatre DB Clarke.

 

3. The Midnight Swim

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Director: Sarah Adina Smith

Screenplay: Sarah Adina Smith

USA, 2014

The Midnight Swim is one of the most intriguing films of this year’s program. Dr. Amelia Brooks studied the mysteries of bottomless Spirit Lake, which became the site of her death when she didn’t resurface after a dive. Her three daughters head to Spirit Lake to reflect on their relationships with their mother and return to their family home. The sisters begin to believe that something supernatural is at hand after they jokingly summon the spirits of women who have drowned in the lake.

Screening: Sunday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m. at DB Clarke Theatre.

 

2. Suburban Gothic

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Director: Richard Bates, Jr.

Screenplay: Mark Linehan Bruner, Richard Bates Jr.

USA, 2014

Suburban Gothic is the second feature by Richard Bates Jr., director of the bloody and breathtaking Excision. The film follows Raymond (Matthew Gray Grubler) who, like many of us in Montreal, can’t find a job with his college degree and has to move back in with his parents. Raymond has had visions for most of his life and joining with local bartender Becca (played by the amazing Kat Dennings) things go in unexpected ways. According to Ted Geoghegan, “Suburban Gothic is popcorn cinema at its most endearing — a saccharine ghost story featuring a faultless mix of honest scares and well-played humour.”

Screening: Saturday, July 19 at 9:45 p.m. at Concordia Hall Theatre.

1. Frank 

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Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Screenplay: Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan

United Kingdom, 2014

Official selection at Sundance 2014, Frank stars Michael Fassbender as Frank, the frontman of a band who swears by a giant plaster cartoon head that he never takes off. The film follows Jon who meets Frank and his strange lineup of bandmates and follows them down a strange musical odyssey to the SXSW festival in Texas.

Screenings: Sunday, August 3 at 4:20 p.m. at Concordia Hall Theatre & Monday, August 4 at 5:15 p.m. at Salle J.A. De Sève.

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Honourable mentions:

Man in the Orange Jacket, Aux Yeux Des Vivants, Prom Night, Dys-, Wetlands, When Animals Dream, To Be Takei, and Summer of Blood

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The 2014 edition of Fantasia runs from July 17 to August 6.

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Some shows this week: Suoni per il Popolo continues, Fringe POP outdoor show at Parc des Amériques, the Montreal Infringement festival and B.C. metal band Bison returns for round 2.

FRIDAY, JUNE 20

Infringement: Crazy Knows Crazy + Richard Lahmy + Realms of Bliss + The Extract @ Barfly

Show starts at 9 p.m., PWYC.

SATURDAY, JUNE 21

Fringe POP: Syngja + Kurvi Tasch + Medhi Cayenne Club @ Parc des Amériques

Show starts at 7 p.m., PWYC.

Infringement: Psynlangwage + Lucky Lex + Jay Manafest + Nikolai KUSH + Drop D @ Le P’tit Cabaret

Show starts at 9 p.m., PWYC.

Amen Dunes + Alex Calder + Syngja @ Casa del Popolo

Doors open at 10 p.m., $10 in advance via Blue Skies Turn Black or $13 at the door.

SUNDAY, JUNE 22

Fringe POP: Le Trouble + Athens + Hua Li + Look Vibrant + Nanimal @ Parc des Amériques

Show starts at 4 p.m., PWYC.

Bison + USA Out of Vietnam + Vile Intent + Xothogua @ Turbo Haus

Doors open at 8 p.m., $10.

Infringement: This is not [sic] @ Le P’tit Cabaret

Show starts at 10:30 p.m., PWYC.

MONDAY, JUNE 23

Geographer + Diamond Bones @ Divan Orange

Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12 in advance online via Indie Montreal or at L’Oblique, Atom Heart and Cheap Thrills; $15 at the door.

suoni per il popolo

Suoni per il Popolo, Montreal’s premier experimental music festival, has been dedicated to showcasing the weird, the fringe, the avant-garde and the just plain out-there for over ten years. Part of their mandate is to dissolve musical borders and genres and to promote a culture of collaboration. The result is a truly diverse collection of performances with some surprising combinations. This year’s festival runs from June 4 to June 22 and includes workshops and art exhibits as well as nightly musical performances.

Today we’re presenting only a small sample of musical acts participating in the festival but you can see the full calendar here.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4

Crosss + Sheer Agony + Shitsu @ La Vitrola

Crosss — Halifax-born, Toronto-based — blend elements of metal, sludge, doom, psychedelia and grunge. Going over to the dark side can be overwhelming if you’re not already into that but Crosss extend a sweet invitation and gently pull you in. They’re joined by the unabashedly poppy Sheer Agony and new Montreal punk band Shitsu.

Show starts at 9 p.m., $6 at the door.

THURSDAY, JUNE 5

USA Out Of Vietnam + Public Animal + Marie Davidson @ La Sala Rossa

It feels like they’ve been around forever but USA Out Of Vietnam will be launching their debut album Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes Thursday. Blending elements of drone, dream pop and psych, the band favours lush harmonies and infectious melodies and takes the time to build them up properly. Toronto garage rock band Public Animal and electronic pop songstress Marie Davidson open up the show.

Show starts at 8:30 p.m., $8 in advance through Suoni per il Popolo or $10 at the door. 

FRIDAY, JUNE 6

Steve Bates & Seijiro Murayama + Sam Shalabi & Stefan Christoff @ Casa del Popolo

Montrealer Steve Bates is an audio/visual artist whose work often explores our relationship with time. He also runs The Dim Coast, a space dedicated to experiments with sound. Seijiro Murayama is a Japan-based percussionist who focuses on improvisation and electroacoustic, conceptual compositions. They first played together at the legendary Rhiz club, Vienna’s go-to venue for experimental electronic music. The duo are joined by Sam Shalabi — composer, guitarist and oud player (Land of Kush and Shalabi Effect) — and Stefan Christoff — pianist, journalist and activist. Their work is a mix of Western free jazz improvisation and makam, a system of melody types used in Turkish classical music.

Show starts at 8:30 p.m., $12 at the door or online via Suoni per il Popolo

MONDAY, JUNE 9

Parquet Courts + Tyvek + Protomartyr + Heat @ Il Motore

Brooklyn-based weirdo-punk band Parquet Courts have been steadily rising in popularity since they broke onto the scene in 2010. Sunbathing Animal, their third album, drops today.

Show starts at 9 p.m., $15 at the door or online via Suoni per il Popolo.

TUESDAY, JUNE 10

Die Like A Dog Trio (Brötzmann, Parker, Drake) @ La Sala Rossa

It’s been 12 years since the last Die Like A Dog performance, back when the group was a quartet. This time around, German free jazz legend Peter Brötzmann is joined by double-bassist William Parker and percussionist Hamid Drake.

Show starts at 8 p.m., $28 at the door or online via Suoni per il Popolo.

FRIDAY, JUNE 13

Ought + Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche + Harsh Reality @ Casa del Popolo

Ought released their debut full-length album, More Than Any Other Day, via Constellation Records this past April and have since received widespread critical acclaim. They are joined by no-wave, afro-beat, trance-pop outfit Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche and experimental noise band Harsh Reality. Read Pamela Fillion’s interview with Ought.

Show starts at 8:30 p.m., $10 at the door or online via Suoni per il Popolo.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 18

Omar Souleyman + d’Eon + Nouveau Zodiaque @ La Sala Rossa

Omar Souleyman‘s story is the stuff of legends and I won’t do it justice in three lines of description that I’ve confined myself to here. Basically, he’s a Syrian artist whose sound blends traditional Middle Eastern folk music, Shaabi (a form of working-class Egyptian street music) and electronic elements. He built up his fame performing at weddings throughout the Middle East, recording over 500 cassettes in the process. He was picked up by North American label Sublime Frequencies and released his first studio album, Wenu Wenu, produced by Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden.

Show starts at 8:30 p.m., $25 at the door or online via Suoni per il Popolo.

SATURDAY, JUNE 21

Jerusalem In My Heart + Morphosis + Charles Cohen @ Usine C

Jerusalem In My Heart live is a totally immersive audio/visual experience. The group makes modern experimental Arabic music, blending traditional sounds and melodies with contemporary electronic elements.

Show starts at 8 p.m., $15 at the door or online via Suoni per il Popolo.

terra lightfoot

Terra Lightfoot (no relation to Gordon Lightfoot) performed as part of the Sonic Unyon CMW showcase on Saturday night at Cherry Cola’s. Lightfoot is playing as part of a trio these days, and the band led by this musical powerhouse lit the place up, performing many new songs which will be featured on an album she’s currently working on. Somewhere during the first song, everyone’s attention shifted to the stage, where she held it until the last note.

Her rich and powerful voice are perfect for the indie folk music she writes. Influenced by blues pioneers like Robert Johnson and Leadbelly, Lightfoot’s music reveals these influences as well as rock, country and more. She blends these together into a truly personal style that allows her to finger-pick some songs (she’s proficient at this) and blast out full and powerful chords in others. Yes, she’s quite the guitarist!

She effortlessly transitions from ballads to energetic rock tunes to country-infused numbers, including one she dedicated to the Carter Family. The mellow, perhaps melancholy sound quality of her voice doesn’t seem like it would fit with the sheer power she wields, yet it’s a wonderfully surprising combination that makes her voice unique. She has excellent control.

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In 2012, Lightfoot won three Hamilton Music Awards including Best Female Artist, Best Female Vocalist and Best Alt/Country Album of the Year. Lightfoot has toured Canada three times, overseas once already, and is now in the midst of recording an album with her other band, the Dinner Belles, while preparing her sophomore album under her own name. So, she’s making waves both at home and abroad.

Lightfoot’s voice and guitar are the focal point within the band. Here is one of her newer songs, ‘Moonlight’, performed with her talented trio for Exclaim! TV.

Photos by Stephanie Beatson.

flash lightnin

The bar was full to capacity two hours before they hit the stage. So full I couldn’t risk losing my spot near the front to get a drink at the bar for fear that I’d never make it back again. And so, drier than a nun during mass, I took in what turned out to be one of the best live shows I’ve seen in quite some time.

Flash Lightnin’ are a local Toronto band made up of Darren Glover (guitars/vocals) and Darcy Yates (bass), and I’m still trying to figure out how I didn’t find out about these guys earlier. Formed in 2007, they paved their way via a residency at the Dakota Tavern. Their first EP, 2008’s Destello, captured their energetic live show and earned them opening slots for Eagles of Death Metal, Metric and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

They recently returned from a tour opening for ZZ Top. They have released two full-length albums since, including Flash Lightnin’ and their very recent For The Sinners. ‘Flash Lightnin’’ the song has been featured in blockbusters Thor, Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows and The Last Stand.

Their set began with them cheersing the crowd with shots. From the very first note, I understood what everyone had so eagerly waited to see. Their music is gritty, raw and real. Gritty, but also incredibly technically proficient. Glover is one amazing guitarist, not only because of the speed and accuracy with which he performs very difficult solos, but because the solos in each song are noticeably different from all the others, tastefully crafted specific to each song. It was really something to see (and hear).

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In addition to the guitar work, the songs are also fun and well written. They have interesting rhythmic fills and changes, aided by the masterful playing of Daniel Neill on drums at this show. I should mention that despite Neill not being a regular band member, the threesome was super tight, a testament to the skill level of each musician. Neill timed and executed each fill with perfect rhythm, and between the three of them, every shot was bang on. The energy that the band established with the first chord was maintained through their entire set and Glover, obviously at home on the mic, worked the crowd like a seasoned pro.

People in the audience kept buying them more shots, and more yet. By the end I was amazed that Glover was still able to perform his flawless guitar solos. It was such a great show that I didn’t care that the drunk guy in front of me kept spilling his beer all over me, or that practically every person in the room had nasty BO. I can’t say a single negative thing about this band or this show.

So if you’ve been living under a rock, as apparently I have, and have not caught wind of this band yet, it’s time to peek your head out and take notice. Here’s ‘Flash Lightnin’’ (the song) performed by the trio last month at a show they opened for ZZ Top.

Listen to those tasty drum fills and the guitar solos, especially the one towards the end of the song. Oh man. So good.

Photos by Stephanie Beatson.

oh susanna

Oh Susanna is a veteran in the Canadian music scene by now, but this was my first time seeing her perform. I knew she was a prolific songwriter, excelling at story-telling tunes, but I had no idea how talented she really is until her CMW set. Or how deep her roots within the scene go. She’s also brilliant and adventurous. She had the idea a while back to reach out and ask her musician friends on Facebook to write songs for an album that will be comprised of said songs.

She played many of the songs at this show, and even had a six-song sampler for the upcoming record that she gave out, including tracks by Joel Plaskett, Royal Wood, Keri Latimer, Ron Sexsmith and A. Presley, Jim Bryson and Melissa McClelland. What an interesting and brave project. The album will be called Namedropper.

The album was initially planned to be out last fall, however Oh Susanna was diagnosed with breast cancer and began chemotherapy, hence delaying the progress with the album. In fact, the CMW show, part of the Sonic Unyon showcase, was her first in about a year. I’m happy to report that it went swimmingly and she looked great; so cute with short hair (there’s a definite resemblance to Natalie Portman).

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Her country folk music has ample sweetness and a touch of sass. At this show, the songs she played by other writers took her away from the country feel a little bit and more into rock and pop styles, which she seemed at ease with. Her voice is as strong as ever; she has a clear and strong tone that sounds a lot like Emmylou Harris. Her song ‘I’ll Always Be’ was recorded live on the Mike Bullard show a while back, and highlights the pure tone in her voice, as well as the control she maintains throughout her wide vocal range. It also reveals that sass I mentioned earlier.

Photos by Stephanie Beatson.

dinner belles

Dinner Belles are a country folk group based in the Hamilton area. Performing as a six-piece band for their CMW set (guitars, bass, drums, mandolin and keyboards), they ended up playing a more electric set than usual due to technical difficulties with the pick-up in one of the acoustic guitars. It worked well, since it was Saturday night and the crowd was pretty revved up already.

Everyone was loving the music. A dance floor started up in front of the stage, led by a couple really drunk dudes who were literally falling over each other while trying feverishly to dance (it was amusing… for a while).  It was incredible that they managed to fit six musicians on the small stage, especially considering the drum kit took up about a third of the available space.

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Each band member brings something different and important to the mix and each is a proficient musician in their own right. Combined, their power increases ten-fold, like when the Power Rangers combine and make Megazord, an unstoppable force. Being a pianist myself, I was especially enamoured with the work of Greg Brisco, who danced across the keys like nobody’s business and is one of the most talented and FAST keyboardists I’ve seen in a long time.

The main vocals and harmonies are often shared between Brad Germain and Terra Lightfoot, though the others often assist as well (especially Scott Bell). Lightfoot is able to explore her higher (falsetto) range in this group compared with the lower range she tends towards in her solo music. Their voices complement each other like peanut butter and chocolate.

The sense of community fostered by this group is absolutely contagious. People in the audience, once strangers, began dancing together. Boys were twirling girls, girls were twirling girls, boys were twirling boys, and everyone was singing along to the choruses. We begged for an encore, but the schedule was too tight to allow any additions. I’ll post one here for you instead. My favourite song of the night was this sing-along ditty, ‘Til The Dawn’, performed in the barn they rehearse in. The lovely Kennedy Sharon Bell, young daughter of bassist/singer/songwriter Scott Bell, makes a guest appearance.

Photos by Stephanie Beatson.

the tallest tree

The Tallest Tree are an indie group from Dundas, Ontario and it took me most of their set before I realized that the two young ladies are actually Dawn and Marra, who have performed around the GTA for the past few years including at the Hamilton Music Awards. Joined by a rhythm section in The Tallest Tree, the group is led by the talented Dawn and Marra, whose artsy and creative songwriting is heightened by their sweet voices often singing in harmony. They incorporate interesting instruments into their music, often switching between them when playing live, Barenaked Ladies-style.

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For their CMW set at Cherry Cola’s –which was part of the Sonic Unyon showcase — they used an accordion, ukelele, guitars, bass, drums and tambourine. They also did a song using body percussion (see photo below) and another with fake trumpet where the bassist imitated the trumpet sound with his mouth.  Quite an inventive group!

They certainly don’t use variety as a crutch; their music is well written, interesting and has a delightful playfulness about it. This might be a strange connection, but at times it reminds me of the movie Juno. It has a certain childhood innocence mixed with quirkiness that just makes me smile.

This video of Dawn and Marra with some friends for ‘Not on Top’ was shot as part of the Southern Souls collection of videos.

Photos by Stephanie Beatson.

Julian Taylor Band

Julian Taylor wrote and toured for years with Staggered Crossing, and yet found that despite working hard and constantly touring, there was just not enough profit in that side of the business. [I will resist the urge to go on a tirade about how almost no one wants to pay for original music anymore, and so musicians trying to pave their way using their own voice often end up living on welfare or worse… playing in cover bands so you can afford rent (jokes, well not really…)].

After the band broke up in 2007, Taylor spent time playing top-40 hits. He began writing and performing under his own name while continuing to play cover songs, eventually forming the Julian Taylor Band. Persistence and hard work definitely do pay off, though his immense talent certainly helps! Julian Taylor Band has released seven albums to date. Taylor has also had ten top-40 hits and has shared the stage with some big names including Blue Rodeo, Jeff Healey, Nickelback, Collective Soul and many others. He was also invited to perform at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and in Vancouver. Not too shabby!

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The band played at the Shangri La Hotel on Wednesday night for the second of their CMW performances, following a show at the Hideout on Tuesday. They began with a set of strictly original tunes, introducing covers as the night progressed, playing four sets to not only CMW attendees but also the hotel guests. His music is sexy. There’s no better way to put it. You can dance to it, you can sing to it, and you can do lots of other things to it too, wink wink!

His voice reminds me of Stevie Wonder, both in the tone and delivery, though his style ranges from soul to R&B, from funk to rock, and touches other genres like pop in between. The band also emits great energy and it’s absolutely impossible to not groove along when they’re playing. Check out what I mean here with ‘This is Zero to Eleven,’ the second single of their 2013 EP.

The band recently released a full length album called Tech Noir which is available on iTunes as well.

Photos by Stephanie Beatson.

julian taylor band

Greetings from Toronto! Canadian Music Week, moved to May this year (no doubt due to weather…), is upon us! Here are a few recommendations for bands that are part of the festivities this week.

The festival begins Tuesday night, and though it’s not as busy as the rest of the week, it does feature Low Hanging Lights, an electric folk/rock band with definite punk influence. They capitalize on raw, “live show” sounding music, so you know they’re going to sound just as good — if not better — live. They play at Baltic Avenue at 11 p.m.

On Wednesday, Julian Taylor Band is playing a free show in The Lobby Lounge at the Shangri La Hotel at 8 p.m. Julian Taylor is an accomplished artist and frankly, I’m surprised he isn’t more well known. He has released seven albums, has ten top-40 hits and has played over 2000 live shows in the last decade. He and his band put on electrifying live shows that kick it on all levels. He can sing, man can he sing, and is backed by a group of stellar musicians. He also writes hooky songs with great riffs, and did I mention he’s a total babe?

Meredith Shaw is playing at midnight on Wednesday at C’est What. Her song “Hardest Goodbye” was chosen as CBC’s song of the week in March and she’s had a couple tunes from her latest release (also Hardest Goodbye) featured on CBC Radio 2 over the last several months. She’s creating some serious buzz, so come check out what she’s all about.

There are several interesting acts featured on Thursday. Megafauna, a group from Austin, Texas, are playing at 9 p.m. at the Bovine Sex Club. They’re here promoting their recent release, Maximalist, an album that aims to unabashedly bring their supercharged music to the greatest heights. They’re hella hooky songs also boast rhythmic shifts, syncopation and fuse musical styles into something unique that could fall somewhere under the category of rock. They’re innovative and in a sea of hundreds of bands and acts this week, we need that.

Flash Lightnin’ is also playing Thursday, at The Dakota Tavern at 11 p.m. Their brand of gritty rock is just awesome. Recently back from touring with ZZ Top, they just released their album For the Sinners, so grab a beer and check them out. Seriously. They know how to rock.

Le Trouble are playing twice this week, once on Thursday at 11 p.m. at The Hideout, and again on Friday at Handlebar at midnight. Their music is a blast of punk energy with power-pop melodies and danceability. The pianist in me grins delightfully that they have keyboards. They’ll also be playing in Montreal at Osheaga (August 1-3).

Also on Friday, Robyn Dell’Unto and Donovan Woods are both playing at The Vault at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., respectively. Dell’Unto has released two records of sweet and touching pop songs, and is backed by some truly amazing musicians. Juno nominee Donovan Woods is a character. His songs are not only catchy, but also clever and often hilarious. He has this awkwardness on stage that is irresistibly charming. If you enjoy acoustic music and singer-songwriters, you won’t want to miss this night.

Papillon, out of Montreal, plays three times this week; at midnight on Thursday at Cherry Cola’s, at 2 a.m. Friday at the Dakota Tavern and at 10 p.m. on Saturday at the Bovine Sex Club. They’re a fun, energetic rock band and I’m glad they’re bringing some Montreal flare this week.

Also on Saturday, Oh Susanna and the Dinner Belles are playing at 11 p.m. and midnight as part of the Sonic Unyon showcase at Cherry Cola’s. Oh Susanna is a narrative songwriter whose expressive voice carries you into a dreamworld created within her songs. She has been touring regularly since releasing her sixth album Soon the Birds in 2011, and most recently headed to the Yukon with Justin Rutledge and Kim Beggs. She has a lovely voice and is an enchanting performer. The Dinner Belles are an endearing group of acoustic musicians with a southern sound and beautiful harmonies. With roots, country and folk influences, it’s no surprise that the band typically rehearse, write and even perform in a barn filled with antiques and other unusual items. I dare you not to tap your toes along with their music.

Yes, indeed! There is much to keep busy with this week. Look out for show reviews coming soon.