Saturday is the highlight day for Montréal en Lumière with the annual Nuit Blanche taking place. For those new to the city, this event takes place all day and night (and overnight) in a variety of locations with more events and activities than I care to count.

For people interested in the music part, there’s no way to preview even a fraction of the stuff going on so it’s best you check out the music schedule for yourself and pick out whatever you like. What we’ve done for this preview is to highlight three shows going on Friday night when there’s a little less action. All fit well into the local arts community vibe of Nuit Blanche, featuring local artists playing shows for reasonable prices.

A word of advice, regardless of your interests, the real key to a successful night is getting around in a timely manner. Get yourself a night pass from the STM since metros will be running all night or take advantage of the shuttle service offered.

Sean Nicholas Savage + Cafe Lanai

Our first suggestion for a pre-Nuit Blanche party is over at La Vitrola where local singer / songwriter / Indie Idol Sean Nicholas Savage and Cafe Lanai will be playing as part of a Blue Skies Turn Black showcase. Both acts are unique and original in their songwriting and should be on your list for this weekend if you’re looking for something a little more fresh and different.

Savage has released ten studio albums on Montreal-based Arbutus records (Grimes’ label), the latest being  The Magnificent First. He is also known as a bit of an unorthodox philosopher, something that comes out in his songs.

Sean Nicholas Savage and Cafe Lanai play La Vitrola, 4602 Boulevard St. Laurent, Friday, March 3rd, 10:00pm (Doors at 9:00pm), $8 in advance through the box office or $10 at the door.

Rust Eden + Krief + Tendre

Divan Orange is also hosting a show on Friday night in conjunction with Indie Montréal and Montréal en Lumière that’s perfect for setting off your busy weekend. The three acts set to hit the stage are Rust Eden, Krief  and Tendre, all local Indie performers who represent our city’s musicians quite well.

Rust Eden released their first album Apartment Green in 2016. Their indie rock sound in punctuated by elements of psychedelia and space rock, creating a very Montreal sound.

Rust Eden, Krief  and Tendre play Divan Orange, 4234 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Friday, March 3rd, 9:30pm.

Ouijatrash + Street Sleeper + Calomine

For those who prefer something a little more, ummm… loud, you can head over to Crobar for a self described “Night of Mischief” presented by the good people over at Grimey Mtl and featuring Ouijatrash, Street Sleeper and Calomine. I’m not fully sold on the “mischief” part, this might be a little more like mayhem with a lineup that hardly takes it easy with their tunes.

Cover is only five bucks so it’s well worth stopping in if you’re downtown on Friday night.

Ouijatrash, Street Sleeper and Calomine play Crobar, 1221 Crescent, Friday, March 3rd, 9:00pm (Doors at 8:00), $5 (only 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 We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

We’re nearing the yearly gastronomical frenzy at the venerable Montréal en Lumière festival (Feb. 19-Mar. 1), purveyors of Nuit Blanche (Feb. 28).

This years’ offerings are more luxuriant than ever, and while the free outdoor site will be on hand for cheaper (corporately-sponsored) thrills, the real delights are to be found in dining rooms at the four corners of town as hundreds of global guest chefs descend upon our city.

In its first year as a UNESCO-recognized gathering, Montréal en Lumière doses up the usual geographical mashup to guide the culinary program: Switzerland, Washington DC and Lanaudière. I’m not going to pretend to find some throughline for these three places, so let’s jump into particulars.

Old Swiss food conjures up images of chocolate and cheese. Of course, things have long since changed and Montréal en Lumière is helping to smash stereotypes with a barrage of Michelin stars. From my count, we’re looking at a total 9 Michelin stars, if you tend to count that kind of thing.

Guest chef menus are vague, yet styles range from classic French to tapas, crossing kitchens from La Chronique to Maison Boulud. Prices vary wildly yet tend on the pricier side. For example, the “World’s Best Sommelier,” Paulo Basso, will pair wines at overfluffed Europea with Paul-André Ayer’s dishes for a smooth $300.


For choco-cheese addicts, however, the rich nation’s iconic delights are on show across a flurry of fondue dinnerschocolate-inspired menus and all-you-can-eat raclette evenings. These tend to be more moderately priced.

Personally, however, I’m more interested in the focus on Lanaudière and Washington: two more “emerging” culinary scenes. Despite its general eminence in all things political, DC has never really found the same culinary footing as NYC, Chicago or even San Francisco.

Yet its culinary riches are developing: ethnically varied, innovative and well-financed chefs have recently brought some amazing ventures to the forefront. Big names such such as Equinox‘s Todd Gray and uber-competitive TV wonder Mike Isabella of Kapnos fill the program and are likely worth the tab.

However, from past experience, I’ve found the wine evenings can sometimes be the most revelatory—with dishes more odd & exciting than the headline dinners. In this spirit, check out Marjorie Meek-Bradley at the always-pleasurable Pullman wine bar.


As for Lanaudière—that Nor’Easterly region right next to Montréal—well, what do we really know about its chefs and traditions? Top pick (and likely to sell out first) is Nancy Hinton’s guest spot at Les 400 Coups. Her rural joint Les Jardins Sauvages was the subject of great fanfare & controversy last year as duelling critics Lesley Chesterman and M-C Lortie disputed its merits. For a more low-key introduction to our neighbouring region, however, check out the Jean-Talon Market for local products and demos by Lanaudière cooks.

For amateurs of the peculiar world that is Québec culinary TV, you can brush elbows (and determine the financial fate) of four favourite Les Chefs! contestants in a $100 a head 12-course competition dinner.

In the series known as “Planète Montréal” you can have so many profound questions answered. Questions such as: “What would (Habs GM) Marc Bergevin make for dinner?” or “What kind of meal would (hipster band) Mister Valaire curate if they had a captive audience?”

Last and not least, the always-educational UQÀM agro-gastro talks come to the festival this year with a séance on olive oil. Tastings included.

The real wacky & budget friendly food thrills, however, are often found on Nuit Blanche. As we did last year, we’ll be providing a list of cheap (or free) thrills just prior to Feb. 28.

Follow us on Twitter for more updates: @Forgetthebox / @JoshDavidson

If you weren’t willing to brave the treacherous sidewalks on Nuit Blanche, you were likely viewing art below the streets. Navigating the underground city was trying, given its immensity, but well worth it to avoid the cold and the drunken ruckus up above. Art Souterrain had on hand cultural guides, and the sometimes even the artists themselves on hand to have a chat. Foundations is the theme for Art Souterrain 2014, calling for reflection on how we build connections, identities and places, whether they be in the digital or physical realm.

Touche-o-maton by Hannah Palmer and Aude Guivarc’h at the Eaton Center. Photo by Julia Gunst.Tucked away in the Eaton Centre, Touchbooth, provides an antidote to our selfie-saturated world with an interactive photobooth created by Hannah Palmer and Aude Guivarc’hOne artist who embraced the selfie in video format was Owen Eric Wood. Many of us have snapped a photo ourselves while traveling, in lieu of asking someone to do it for us. Owen Eric Wood had the idea to create a video self-portrait in selfie-style, titled Return. While traveling, he used the camera to film himself he expresses continual self-evaluation and transformation in unfamiliar lands.

“I had this idea- does traveling make you feel either alienated or disembodied or disconnected…because you have nostalgia from the place that you are from and when you come back you have nostalgia for where you were?” he told me in the Place Victoria food court.

“It’s not just about these places, but this character in these places…it is about self-reflection… now that I’m displaced and I don’t feel like I belong there, who am I?” he added. He juxtaposes images from Mexico to Italy with narration in several languages, as he swirls in and out of the frame. Wood, who obtained a B.F.A. from Concordia University and an M.F.A. from the University of Windsor, explores identity in the context of specific themes in his work, and is certainly a video artist to watch.

Next door at Place de la Cité, photographer Meagan Moore was present at her piece Maison. The piece used photography and video to Megan Moore's Maison. Screenshot courtesy of Megan Moore.recreate the experience of her Grandmother’s home. “It was kind of like a sanctuary when I was young and I wanted to preserve the calm feeling of the house,” explained Moore.

That house is presently up for sale, and a connection to this place ever more important. Moore used both photography and video in a patchwork fashion to reconstruct the house, while leaving a living and open feel. “I didn’t want it to become a memento mori,” she added. The soft sound of a ticking clock loops to accompany the images, and you can easily begin to feel at home.

Later on, I caught a performance of Taktiligne by Geneviève Le Guerrier-Aubry in Place Bonaventure. Using an infrared camera and programming code, Geneviève drew as her body moved with the goal of saturating the screen with geometric shapes.“My performance consists of creating a design, and my body is integrated into the design. I’m using a wireless mouse with which I’m drawing,” explained Geneviève, “I find there is an interesting effect with the costume. There is a visual effect and this is what I research. How do we integrate the image into the body and make it fluid?”

The design disappears after the performance, making it truly a live drawing. If you missed the Nuit Blanche performance, you may get another chance to see her perform. “I really want to continue to do more in the future,” added Geneviève.  She is currently completing a Masters in Communication and Media at UQAM.

Margo Majewska's Plato’s Tectonics. Photo by Julia Gunst.

I ended my underground adventure at Plato’s Techtonics by Margo Majewska in Place de la Cité. Seeing the shadows of passersby float onto the folded paper structures,  I was reminded that things aren’t always as they seem and certainly that was the message of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. The exhibits I saw questioned identity, time, place and how we perceive them. Until March 16th, you can come make your own conclusions and explore these exhibits, along with the many more present throughout the underground.


I like the idea of the Nuit Blanche celebration. While the common view of the art space is that of a white, occasionally esoteric one, Nuit Blanche is fueled by the desire to turn that view around. The event has something to share with everyone. It truly encourages the celebration of culture, in an way that you can easily get amped up about. It promotes the arts – local and beyond, and encourages people to get outdoors and spend an evening on the town as pedestrians.

It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz of the night. The noise, excitement and energy vibrates around you and makes it hard keep focused. I got swallowed  by the bright lights, video projections and dance music. While I only managed to make it to three of the sites on my already very narrowed down list, the night was a success.

First Stop: Turn On a Dime hosted at Citizen Vintage.

Collectif Beaux Enfants at Citizen Vintage

The performance was put on by the ten members of Collectif Beaux Enfants. The group sat in formal wear at the dinner table eating, chatting and watching the audience watch them through the window front. The group of ten seemed quite relaxed with one man lying on a bench as the others poked at their food on the table. The audience had access to headphones that fed through the microphones stationed inside the store.

I find the act of watching mundane actions somewhat fascinating. By turning a usual ritual into a spectacle, the viewer is allowed a brief moment into another persons behaviors. This aspect of performance is one that I enjoy watching being pushed and prodded. I found it slightly more enjoyable as I have my own neurotic tendencies when eating in public, so kudos to them!

Second Stop: The Postcard Project hosted by Gallery Co

Postcard Project at Gallery Co

This was Sarah Nesbitt’s second year of The Postcard Project. Last Saturday at Gallery Co people gathered around the benches and tables to chat and craft as a group. The stations were outfitted with glitter, glue, gems, magazines and all sorts of collaging material. The goal of the piece is to engage participants in social media “the old fashion way”.

There were also pre-designed postcards to be sent to Stephen Harper. In hopes of encouraging activism and taking a role in change. Others made cute mementos to share with friends for the sake of crafting. Sarah introduced me to one woman who was making and addressing a postcard for the very first time, definitely a curious moment to share.

Third Stop: Montreal En Lumiere

After having been running for two weeks, I finally made my way down to the site of Montreal En Lumiere. The site was busy and bright as expected. The line ups were too long to get into any of the art installations, but I enjoyed seeing people young and old celebrating. With a roller coaster, ice slide, live music, and installations it would be hard not to. I stayed for a bit of music and took take advantage of the opportunity to roast a sausage downtown.Slides at Montreal en Lumiere

After a long search and a failed attempt to get to my next event, I called it a night.My biggest complaint about Montreal’s Nuit Blanche is the early close. At the end of it all, I got to check out a few sites, enjoy projections and music with good people. Not much to complain about there. Despite a cold winter, this city never looks as fantastic as it does when it’s lit up and in a light snowfall.

nuit-blanche-festival-montreal-lumiereYet another winter festival is upon us! This week kicks off the 14th edition of Montréal En Lumière. From February 21st to March 3rd the city will be filled with theatre, music, dancing, and visual art programming, both indoor and outdoor! While many of the events are hosted indoors have ticket prices, the central outdoor site is free. Throughout Quartier des Spectacles there will be live performances, interactive art  installations, food and drink vendors and of course beautiful lights. In addition to the live entertainment and arts, Place des Festivales has a ferris wheel. There is also a cinematic dome that will screen films, as well as for performances by VJs and DJs providing eye and ear candy. The festivities run until eleven each evening (excluding Sunday).

The event ends with Montreal’s Nuit Blanche on March 2nd. This year will mark the tenth celebration of the all night art festival for Montreal. The downtown site of Montréal En Lumière will remain open until 3 a.m., but there is no lack of things to see. Programming for the event is city wide and has designated spots through quartiers de spectacle, old Montreal, the olympic park, the plateau and mile end, as well as art through the metro stations. There are shuttle buses  provided to get you to and from each happening. Do your best to plan the night accordingly as there’s lots of ground and lots of hours to cover! I’ve experienced Nuit Blanche in several major cities now and am looking forward to seeing how Montreal differs from the rest.

Watch for our complete Nuit Blance preview coming out soon!