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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DJ HOSH: Soundcloud | Spotify | Facebook

DJ Groj: Soundcloud | Spotify | Facebook

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

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

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

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

Watch the full summer 2019 line-up below:

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

Take your pick of these shows this week!

FRIDAY, AUGUST 29

Fattal Fest 2014 @ Fattal

Nothing marks the end of summer like the outdoor barbecue crusty blowout party that is Fattal Fest. Now in its fifth year, the festival started as a block party of sorts for the residents of the Fattal lofts in St-Henri, a nice little community-oriented get-together with cheap food, beer and punk bands. As the neighbourhood has gentrified in the last few years, the party has become more popular and has grown to include non-St-Henri residents as well. This goes over pretty well with the people I have spoken to in the past who live there as it serves to raise awareness about the socio-political situation at Fattal.

Over the past couple of years, the residents of the Fattal lofts have been battling the city and their landlord, the notorious Sam Fattal – owner of many squalid, derelict buildings and shoddy new condo developments on the island – for their right to live there and not be forced out as the neighbourhood becomes more and more desirable to condo developers.

As the event description is quick to point out, the organizers of the party (mainly Fattal residents and others in the St-Henri punk scene) do not have permission from the city to host this event so they ask everyone to keep to the parking lot, not mill around in the streets, be respectful and pick up after themselves.

Event starts tonight at 7 p.m. and continues Saturday and possibly Sunday, free.

Rae Spoon + Elena Stoodley + Lady Sin Trayda @ La Sala Rossa

Dragonroot Media and The Centre for Gender Advocacy are presenting this show tonight featuring transgender musician and author Rae Spoon. All proceeds will go to fund Dragonroot, a fairly new feminist collective that supports anti-oppressive practices in the media. They have a weekly show on CKUT 90.3 FM Tuesdays from 8:30 to 9 a.m. Shoutout to fellow FTBers Hannah Besseau and Pamela Fillion, who are also behind Dragonroot.

Doors open at 8 p.m., $8 or PWYC.

Wings of Metal Festival: feat. The Skull + Blood Ceremony + Holocaust + ADX & more @ Katacombes

Wings of Metal is an underground metal festival put on by three promoters looking to emulate the style of underground metal festivals that take place in Europe. That means lots of quality bands for a fair price, many of whom are from out of town like Toronto’s Blood Ceremony, Bölzer from Zurich, Edinburgh’s Holocaust and Brooklyn’s Natur, just to name a very few. Many of these bands, even the ones from North America, have a huge following in Europe and rarely come play here so getting to see them all under one roof is pretty special.

Bands play Friday and Saturday and to close off the festival, on Sunday there’s a metal record market followed by a barbecue and a secret show.

Doors open at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, $45 per day; Metal record market and BBQ Sunday from 2 p.m. followed by a secret show at 6 p.m., $5 entry for the market, $15 for the show.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 30

Piknic Électronik triple edition feat. Jamie XX + Misstress Barbara + Surfing Leons & more @ Parc Jean-Drapeau

The good people behind Piknic are hoping you’ll take advantage of the long weekend to check out at least one of the three editions of Montreal’s favourite summertime electronic party series. Saturday’s edition is a short one (it ends at 8:45 p.m.) with only one stage due to the Arcade Fire show that takes place that night ($10 entry to Piknic upon presentation of an Arcade Fire ticket). Their regular full programming continues on Sunday and Monday.

Shows start Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 2 p.m., $15 at the door.

Eddie Paul @ BBAM! Gallery

Show starts at 3 p.m., free (PWYC).

The 222s + Paddle to the Sea + Arbor Glades @ Piccolo Rialto

Show starts at 9 p.m., $14 at the door.

Elephant Stone + UUBBUURRUU @ l’Escogriffe

Montreal psych rockers Elephant Stone will be launching their third full-length album, The Three Poisons, which is available for streaming in full on their Soundcloud. Then they’re off on tour again (man, do these guys work hard).

Show starts at 9 p.m., $?.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 31

Golden Tombs + Slight + Old Haunt @ Divan Orange

Show starts at 9:30 p.m., $6.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2

Future Islands + Operators + DJ Disco Phantom @ Metropolis

This show will mark the first time Dan Boeckner’s (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs) new project Operators perform in Montreal. Go see what all the fuss is about and in the meantime, check out this review by Nameless Ponytail of their first release, EP1.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m., $18 in advance via Blue Skies Turn Black or $20 at the door.

Atsuko Chiba + Set and Setting + Christ @ Casa del Popolo

Doors open at 8:30 p.m.; $8 before the end of the first band’s set, $10 after (I can get behind this; support opening bands!).

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.

The creators behind Piknic Électronik never imagined their winter offshoot, Igloofest, would achieve the level of success that it has. According to general director and co-founder Nicolas Cournoyer, the idea of Igloofest came about as a joke during a post-Piknic meeting over eight years ago. The team were brainstorming ways in which they could take the concept of the weekly, outdoor, summer event further.

“Someone said ‘why don’t we do one in the winter?’ We started laughing,” Cournoyer said, “but then we said ‘hey, why not?’ That would be interesting, that would be original, that would be a good way to help people rediscover winter and tame it and stop complaining.”

It’s hard to believe that something that started out as a joke is now one of the biggest events of the year and has validated Montreal’s contribution to the electronic music scene on the world stage.

Just as in the early days of Piknic, the organizers saw Igloofest as a chance to showcase Montreal talent within the still-underground genre of electronic music. When electronic music broke into the mainstream several years ago, Piknic and Igloofest were primed for a surge in popularity as well and faced enormous opportunity to expand beyond the Montreal scene.

The current flood of musicians operating within the genre is a challenge for anyone to navigate but Cournoyer is happy with the balance the team has achieved in booking acts for Igloofest.

A focus on Montreal is still very much a priority for them. It’s one of the reasons they decided to expand the capacity of the smaller stage from around 200 to 700 people.

Igloofest © Bianca Lecompte

They also recognize that international acts can really draw in the crowds but they are very careful about avoiding a certain level of commercialization.

“Because the electronic music scene exploded in the last few years, there’s a lot more commercial stuff. We’re trying to target artists that are not in that class,” Cournoyer said, “first of all, because that’s not the kind of music we like. On the other side, it’s impossible for us to afford it.”

The popularity of electronic music has made it so that some of the most recognizable names in the genre are notoriously expensive to book. Artists like David Guetta and Deadmau5 can charge upwards of $50 000 to $200 000 for a single performance.

“When you go see those artists, tickets are $50 to $60. We’re not interested in that. For Igloofest, you pay $20 at the door,” he said, “it’s a question of philosophy as well. [The commercialization of electronic music] is something strange about what’s happening and it’s too expensive. That’s not how we created the event and how we wanted it to evolve.”

Keeping the price of entry as low as possible is important to Cournoyer since many Igloofest attendees are more interested in the overall experience than who’s providing the beats. It’s the experience that has captured the attention of fans and artists alike across the globe.

“The word of mouth travels fast,” Cournoyer said, “one artist from a label goes and tells everyone else and they all want to experience it. It blows their mind.”

Cournoyer said he’s met people from all over at Igloofest, describing one memorable fan who traveled to Montreal from Argentina for the sole purpose of attending the festival.

While Igloofest’s reputation transcends the borders of Quebec, what outsiders may not realize is that the event has changed the way many Montrealers feel about winter.

In a 2011 TEDx talk for HEC Montreal, Cournoyer described how most Montrealers view winter as a sickness:

As soon as the cold weather hits, many shut themselves indoors and hardly venture out beyond daily necessities like work and school. The cold seems to consume all of one’s being, turning even the most good-natured of us into crabby, incessant complainers. We all know: winters in Montreal are long, dark and horrible.

The key to enjoying yourself is to dress warm and find fun things to do outside that keep you moving, something that is exemplified in Igloofest.

Cournoyer refers to the growing trend of outdoor activities in the city, signifying the population’s willingness to change their feelings towards winter.

“We were thinking let’s make people love winter,” he said, “and that’s something that we’re really proud of, that now people are looking forward to winter.”

Igloofest closing weekend from February 6 to 8, Old Port of Montreal.   

Photos by Bianca Lecompte. See our Facebook album for more.