POP Montreal 2016 came and went with a blast of exquisite music, a frenzy of new friends and old faces, and a pleasant haze. Here is a highlight reel gleaned from the morass of sights, sounds, and smells that descended upon Montreal this past weekend.
Nothing was left up to the imagination with Seth Bogart. This underground LA pop diva sensation blew the minds off everyone in the room, with his unabashed physicality, wry satirical lyricism, and explosive performativity. The hilarious video content was nearly as captivating as his outfits, which he changed three times!
John Cale performed in a very fitting venue: the aged and mysterious Rialto Hall. You can feel the passage of time sitting in the upper portion of the theatre, just as you can feel the passage of time in Cale’s mysterious calmness.
Perhaps surprisingly, what was most striking about his performance was its contemporary relevance. A mixture of live and electronic drums provided the basis for exquisite synthesizer tones and a guitarist who played more sounds than notes.
Holy Fuck came to party, and they took us all with them. Never before has an instrumental band been as captivating as this quartet of feisty Torontonians, excited to share a new LP with the world after a six-year hiatus. Nothing was lost in the interim – in fact, the group has only sharpened their tones even more; made those arpeggiated grooves even smoother; those lengthy breakdowns even tighter. Check them in your city if you can, for undoubtedly you will dance.
Back at the Rialto Theatre, I witnessed the transformed sound of Angel Olsen, a fairy-folkster turned rock’n’roller. Her band looked cute in their 50’s style suits, but the real catch is Angel’s voice, which carries a worldliness that belies her young years no matter what band arrangement she performs with. She put aside the guitar for a couple of keyboard ballads, sending the crowd away into the night with catchy melodies reverberating in our ears.
Drawing from the darker shades of new-wave, these brothers brought a captivatingly sinister energy to the tiny L’esco stage. One cannot help but be fixated by the singer Thomas, who manages to convey the brooding skepticism of a Nick Cave figure in all his glory. Every phrase was spat out with the vigour and charm of a street urchin turned art student, or visa-versa.
If you don’t know Peggy Hogan (aka Hua Li) yet, then get with the program. This dynamic local hip-hop artist and rapper is one-of-a-kind excellent. Performing with collaborator Gloze on programmed drums, Peggy slid smoothly through a healthy batch of heavy hip-hop with consummate ease, delivering her verses’ lines with dexterity and force. It’s always a pleasure to see someone act out their confidence and skill in a physical way, and Peggy sure knows how to get down with her beats.