Call him Mankind. Call him Dude Love, Cactus Jack, the hardcore legend, even a bestselling author. Call him a standup comedian? Mick Foley would very much like you to.

“It’s been a real challenge,” the iconic wrestler said in a phone interview before his upcoming gig at Zoofest, “trying to get the same people who will gladly wait in line two hours for my autograph to try one of my comedy shows.”

For inspiration in trying to break his own mold and fans’ comfort zones, Foley looks to expected role models like The Rock but also some unanticipated ones like Justin Timberlake. While I never thought I’d hear the man all-too-comfortable with barbed wire and thumbtacks praise the former singer of N’Sync, it makes sense:

“I admire the fact that he has made fans out of people that absolutely cannot stand his music.”

The obstacle of fan expectations goes both ways, too. Success in the wrestling world could potentially alienate the people who populate comedy clubs on a regular basis.

“In wrestling, we call it negative heat,” he noted, “people might actually be more likely to go to a comedy club to see someone they’ve never heard of than someone they have heard of but from a different avenue.”

Now, the man who once drove two hours every day to get to the gym to train in hopes of breaking into the pro wrestling circuit is putting the same energy and drive into his new career goal. A career goal he has been working hard at achieving for two years.

“I think it’s a matter of time and perseverance,” Foley argued, “and that’s why I’m approaching my shows in Montreal and Edinburgh with such excitement.”

Montreal has always been a wrestling town and one with a checkered history which Foley knows well (he alluded to the infamous Montreal Screwjob when mentioning that he was going to talk with Bret Heart that night). It is equally, if not more, well-known as a comedy town.

“I’ve always enjoyed wrestling in Montreal,” he observed, “I understand the history of it…if you combine a town with such a great wrestling history and comedy history it should make for a very unique atmosphere.”

He won’t be alone when he enters that unique atmosphere tonight. Well-known comic Brendon Burns, a wrestling fan in his own right, was inspired by Foley’s writing and took the hardcore legend under his comedic wing.

“After hearing him do an entire hour,” Foley said about Burns, “I thought I really better raise my game just to be in the same building as this guy.”

Foley points to the joys in performing and the concept that every match has to be your best match as similarities between the wrestling and comedy business. But, has his wrestling experience prepared Foley for the comedy world?

“Wrestling has prepared me for anything, any and all challenges,” he said, “at a certain point I felt comfortable debating foreign policy with the head of the world bank Paul Wolfovitz. It’s been a great education and it certainly made me feel like anything is possible if I give it a shot.”

Good God Almighty with Brendon Burns and Mick Foley runs July 25th, 27th & 28th at 11:59pm @ Underworld as part of Zoofest. Tickets available online.

When asked if I’d be interested in covering a band called Best Coast, I immediately remembered Bethany Cosentino, the 25 year old lead singer who loved to smoke weed, hang out with her cat, Snacks and her boyfriend, Nathan Williams of Wavves. I also had some faint memories from a couple summers ago of baking in the sun and listening to the fuzzy, lo-fi surf pop songs from their first album, Crazy for You.

With lyrics about heartbreak and loneliness, there was always a brutally honest element to her simple songs that not only seemed real and endearing, but they would stick in your head for weeks. Even though “Boyfriend” basically consists of Bethany repetitively pining “I wish he was my boyfriend” and a grungy guitar solo by Bobb Bruno, the fact that it sounds like it was recorded in the 90s makes it ok.

So after a summer on regular rotation, I admittedly got over “Boyfriend” and lost track of the band. But when I heard they were coming to Montreal and I would even have a chance to talk to Bobb, the slightly stoic and multi-talented member of the band, it seemed like the perfect time and the perfect weather to revisit their old album and check out their new one, The Only Place.

After some quick research and listening to the album on repeat, it was clear that both the band and their sound had changed a bit. Bethany’s voice no longer sounds far away and buried under a haze of feedback and blurry guitars; the album is polished and the clarity of her voice is the focal point. I also learned that the band seems to be on route to becoming a full-fledged brand, complete with a clothing line at Urban Outfitters, which Bethany describes as “an extension of the band.”

I suppose it was inevitable that they would one day get sick of talking about Snacks the cat and their lo-fi vibe, but Bobb reassured me that they won’t forget their roots. One thing that will never change is their love for sunny California, which still infiltrates songs heavy with homesickness and self discovery.

“Our hometown is an amazing place,” Bobb longingly describes San Diego, “we still love playing in the same places we used to go as teenagers. Beth is always going to sing about what she’s going through and a lot has changed. She’s not recording in her bedroom anymore. When you’re on tour for a few years and missing home, it’s going to come out in our music. We love just being at home, having your own things around you, your own bed, watching our favourite shows. We’re also huge online shoppers so when we get home there’s always a pile of boxes waiting for us.”

But on the up side, the self-proclaimed foodies get to try all kinds of things on their travels. On the band’s Facebook page, they asked their Montreal fans to suggest some places to go for good poutine in exchange for free tickets to the show on Friday. As of today, they were still undecided so there’s still time to win!

In addition to some great comfort food, Bethany and Bobb have each other when they’re on the road and it sounds like they’ve bonded quite a bit over the years. They’ve seen other band members come and go, but they’ve stuck together ever since they discovered they had a mutual love for the Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac.

“We’ve been friends since we were involved with Pocahaunted – great band, but they were heading in a different direction and we really wanted to do our own thing.”

Bobb has worked with a wide array of talented musicians, like Fiona Apple and Jon Brion, who produced the soundtrack for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as well as Best Coast’s own latest album.

“Jon was so good for this album. Beth has such an amazing voice and he really helped bring that to the surface. He also added some keyboard overdubs to Up All Night, which ended up being one of my favourite songs on the record. That one and Do You Love Me Like You Used To are my favourites for sure.”

Bethany also just collaborated with Iggy Pop on a song that made its way onto an episode of True Blood called “Let’s Boot and Rally.” For Bobb, collaborating with Father John Misty of the Fleet Foxes is a long-time dream of his and he wouldn’t mind lending a song to Curb Your Enthusiasm.

“I would also love to work with Zola Jesus. She has such a cool sound.”

Best Coast has certainly proven to be ambitious and they’re not apologizing for it. They’ve had their share of criticism and the typical scrutiny from blogs like Hipster Runoff as they shed their stoner, beachbum image and evolve into a successful pop sensation. With lines like “You gotta keep me away from what they say about me,” it would be a lie to say that it doesn’t still affect them, but they’ve learned how to use it to their advantage. Bethany has always said that writing is like therapy for her and now she’s managed to channel all that negativity into a handful of hits.

Check out Best Coast and Those Darlins this Friday, July 20th at Le National. Doors at 7:30

You can do a lot of things in 60 seconds: make a cup of microwave cocoa, compose a haiku, fail embarrassingly to please a woman, the sky’s the limit. But now thanks to the fellows at the Montreal 60 Second Film Festival, you can watch a movie as well.

The festival’s been going on since 2008, with a relatively small crew of dedicated people keeping it running and a whole city’s worth of aspiring film makers supplying content, and maybe this year one of those talented people can be YOU.

No, not YOU, YOU! Behind – look, you with the blue shirt, you wanna shuffle over a bit? Thank you.

YOU!

Registration will open on the 19th, at Casa Del Popolo on Saint Laurent, where hopefuls will be able to sign up and learn the secret theme of this year’s fest. But bring your a-game, folks, because the competition is fierce if past entries are any indication.

Last year saw such excellent entries as The Secret of Zhentan, a simple but effective martial arts piece with some impressive choreography on display.

There have been plenty of excellent entries in previous years as well, like the creatively done 134 Frames in Time from 2009, or the spiteful human stop-motion of Valentine’s Deception from that same year.

Challenge festivals like these are where some of the real creative stuff can happen. As a general rule in any creative medium, artists working under specific restrictions tend to be far more creative than those given free-reign. Sort of like how I once composed a ten hour opera using only my bum and an etch-a-sketch.

The screenings will be from September 13 to 15th at the always lovely Cinema Exentris. Perhaps I’ll see you there!

Six years ago, he landed his first comedy gig at a corporate office Christmas party. No mic, no stage, and no one at the party expecting his comedic interruption, Dan Bingham wooed the stodgy crowd with enthusiastic zeal and jokes about Batman. Since then he’s been on the midnight train to success, moving at full momentum with no plans of slowing down.

His award-winning one man show Adopt This! is back by popular demand for a special night at this years Zoofest run on July 23rd at Theatre Ste-Catherine. Adopt This! has received great reviews across the country and has won several Comedy awards. Not bad for his first attempt at a one man show.

As the title subtly hints, Adopt This! is all about Dan’s experience growing up adopted. Surviving his childhood in suburban Montreal with a strict Irish Catholic mother and her hoarding, abusive boyfriend, he finally meets his biological family for the first time in adulthood. Luckily for his audience, Dan’s turbulent childhood has supplied him with plenty of material to produce a hilarious and reflective show about his experiences. In fact, Dan told me that after he’d completed the writing process, he had 60 pages of preliminary script to work with (a thesis-worth of comedic content) which was eventually cut down to a fourth of that size.

“Honestly,producing this show was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I think I just wanted to recreate it again” said Dan about bringing his show back. “I would love to tour this show worldwide. Already we’re applying it into the Sydney Comedy Festival, and I’d love to do the Canadian Fringe Tour next year.” And of course, Edinburgh is the aspired final destination because in what better place to end a long run, then at the world’s largest Fringe Fest?

Although it’s something he’s wanted to do since high school, Dan only got into comedy six years ago. The final push he needed was more of a kick-in-the-face, when at the Just For Laughs Festival he ran into an old classmate who was there as a comic, while he was there as a busboy. “It was just pure shame” he said. “I hadn’t seen her in almost ten years and I was so ashamed of this path I had taken that wasn’t anything, and she was there living her dreams kind-of-thing.”

“I’d done so many different things, so many other paths, you know. I went to Concordia, I graduated in communications, and then started down this PR kind of path. I was working at this events planning company and they’re like, well, sure, but we’ve gotta start you at the bottom as busboy’ which was tough even at the time for me, cause I was a waiter. But there was something about the fact that it was a Just For Laughs event, and full of comedians and agents and stuff, I just knew I had to be there for some reason. That was the last gig I ever worked for them and then two weeks later I started doing stand-up.”

Last year after the holidays, Dan decided to take a month off from his full-time day job as a writer for a web marketing company. “I was doing that full time for the last three years, and it’s really draining. You’ve been writing all day and you come home, and the last thing you want to do is start writing jokes, you get lazy.”

“And the whole time I had this nag inside me. All my jokes are a lot of fun, they’re very playful, but I’m not a dealing-with-the-issues comic. I’m also not a talking-about-my-life comic. You know, I tell stories and stuff, but I’ve never talked about being adopted. Ever. I’ve never talked about coming from parents who are divorced. I’ve never talked about meeting my biological family before. And these are all huge things, but I just never had time. So after the holidays I decided to go down to LA where my biological dad lives.”

After a month of routinely writing, Dan came back, quit his day job and began writing full time. After four or five months, Adopt This! was ready for rehearsals.

At the end of October, you can catch Dan on The Comedy Network’s Comedy Now. Out of 25 Montreal comics, he was one of three chosen to fly to Toronto and film a half hour TV special. He also started doing improv around the city, which he says gives him an adrenaline rush and the ability to just be in the moment and be natural. “When you’re relaxed and just feeling natural and joking around with the crowd, that’s when you’re yourself and you can make people laugh genuinely.”

“Even when I do stand up, let’s say when I’m hosting and I’m talking to the crowd, for some reason I feel better about a joke that I create on stage then one that I’ve written at home. It’s spontaneous and it’s you being you, and that’s the ultimate goal in comedy I think, just to become the person that you are that got you into comedy in the first place.”

If you missed it the first time, you can redeem yourself and see Adopt This! at Theatre Ste-Catherine (264 St-Catherine E) on July 23rd @ 10 pm

Tickets are $15 through the Zoofest website.

Photo creds: Darren Curtis (actaeonphoto.com)

This year, we’re covering Just For Laughs, arguably one of the larger festivals in town. So how does a site dedicated to all things indie and unknown (or sort of known) delve into the well-charted waters of an institution that have been flowing through the streets of Montreal and bringing some of the top comedic talent from around the world to our shores for three decades? Simple, we start with what we know.

We know the Blood Ballet Cabaret. We’ve been covering them since their early days, back when they were a ragtag group of sexy misfits strutting the stage of Le Belmont for the first time.

We followed them as they played on and played with various themes, teasing the genres to the point of excitement in a very creative way. From classic childhood tales, to high school stereotypes, to horror and even the realm of musical theatre, the BBC brought the goods.

Now, still a ragtag group of sexy misfits, but also an up-and-coming player on Montreal’s burlesque scene, they’re ready for JFL. But is JFL ready for them, and moreover what can you, as a festival goer, expect?

Well, from experience, I can say that there will be highly creative and incredibly sexy burlesque dances. There will also be wild contortionist feats and maybe a bit of aerial acrobatics if Petite Pandora has her way.

Blood ballet Musical
The Lady Josephine as Hedwig in the Musical show

There will be humour too (this is, after all, a comedy festival). The funny stuff will be found in the dance numbers themselves, as the BBC always mixes in a healthy dose of levity in their concepts and scenes. It will also come in the form of frequently inappropriate (under normal circumstances though fitting for this setting) jokes from emcee Sherwin.

If that sounds vague, well, it’s because you never really know what you’ll find at a BBC show until you go and find it yourself. You have a few chances this comedy fest, so there’s really no excuse.

The Blood Ballet Cabaret in the Just for Laughs Festival runs Sunday, July 15th to Monday, July 26th, 8pm and 9:30pm @ Club Comédie Air Canada, Esplanade de la Place des Arts. Tickets available via hahaha.com

* Photo by Chris Zacchia

The Montreal Infringement Festival is coming up on ten years of providing Montreal and International artists with a judgment-free venue for displaying their art to the throngs of public admirers and would-be admirers, and if the event and reception of last night’s program at the Fresh Paint Gallery (180 St. Catherine East) was any indication, the festival will be around for many years to come.

The festival, which is labeled as “a non-hierarchical artistic democracy” on their website, aims to emphasize both critical practice in the arts, and artistic practice in activism. It also aims to provide positive environment that encourages and nurtures critical art.

Art followers might be more familiar with the Fringe Art Festivals, which started in Scotland in 1947. However, the popularity and growth of the Infringement Festival has risen out of the corporate-sponsors of the Fringe Festivals dictating acceptable content and subject matter for their event – culminating in a dispute between sponsors and artists in Montreal in 2001 which effectively led to the permanent establishment of the Infringement Festival, which is still going strong.

With a mandate that no artist should be denied a space to display their art or art form and that no artist should be forced to pay entrance fees (up to $600 per appearance in some of the corporate-sponsored Fringe events) as a prerequisite to sharing their art with the public, last night’s program of Infringement events was a genuine example of what the Montreal Infringement Festival has to offer. Some would even argue that it represented what were the original intentions of the Fringe Festival itself.

The Fresh Paint Gallery itself is a successful work in progress, and it is only one of the many venues that have volunteered space and manpower for the Infringement Festival to continue.  A Montreal historical landmark building on the corner of St. Catherine and Hotel de Ville, reclaimed by a group of committed artists led by project instigator Sterling Downey, last night provided the atmosphere for a display of contemporary theatre, music and musings that showed what the Infringement Festival is all about.

A full evening of events began at 5pm yesterday with musical offerings that crossed boundaries and genres from DJ Skoal – which provided a mélange of different styles mixed together into one, for a truly all-inclusive brand of music that everyone could identify with. The two-hour music set accompanied the man-machine living sculpture presentation and display of Docteur Prout, a living artist who spoke to the meaninglessness of technology and machine through his tongue-in-cheek descriptions of his “perpetual motion device.”

At 8pm the show continued with Calm-Position, a tight theatrical dance and audio presentation from DMB, consisting of a display of modern contemporary dance choreography from Pascale Yensen set to the atmospheric sounds provided by Tristian Henry and his sound crew.

The main event of the evening program was the presentation of the Smoke n’ Mirrors show, which was a culmination of many artists speaking, singing and acting out against the many moral and institutional hypocrisies of today’s marketing and commercial driven societies, including our own.

Comedian and Festival organizer Jay Lemieux was the MC for the evening program, and took the opportunity to share some of his comedic insights and perspectives with the audience, in addition to introducing the acts as they came to the front.

Stefen Petersen came from Toronto to do a comedic set and pushed the boundaries of acceptable discourse with his presentation that left the crowd thinking, if not all members laughing, by the end of the evening.

Jacqueline Van de Greer, a local artist and Sonya, the Truther Girl from YouTube, also had interactive presentations that brought audience members directly into the performance and provided a unique mix between set pieces and improv, a surprisingly good metaphor for life.

Tatiana Koroleva had a very interesting piece in which she, while speaking to the audience members entirely in Russian, got interactive with the crowd through a foot-washing ceremony, which was so moving that it brought some present to tears before the end of the performance.

The most direct set of the evening was a performance from Evaly who sang a beautiful acoustic song on guitar and made clear references to the hypocrisy in a society that demands women shave their body hair, but accept body hair from men. The performance climaxed in a shocking display of the artist removing her pants to display her furry legs and then smashing a mirror with a hammer, to underscore the importance of breaking free from all false societal images that we are supposed to represent and are supposed to represent us.

The Infringement Festival of Montreal continues until Sunday, June 24 at a variety of venues across the city and if you are looking for a way to beat the summer heat and stay cool – there is nothing cooler then what the Infringement Festival artists have in store for you!

* photos by Chris Zacchia, see our Facebook page for all the pics

What do you do when your funding gets cut for purely political reasons? Simple. A few of your friends and supporters get together, put on a show and invite a few hundred of their friends to come and help you make some of that money back.

That’s exactly what several performers and friends of STELLA, the sex workers’ rights organization that recently had a large portion of their budget removed by Harper’s Conservatives, are doing tonight. And they’re doing it twice, back to back!

First up is Double Whammy, a multidisciplinary cabaret featuring some of the city’s hottest burlesque performers like Seska Lee, Cherry Typhoon, Frenchy Jones as well as the music of Annie Becker, a scandalous photo booth, a game show themed auction and more.

Hosted by Tom McGraw, the show’s tonight, June 16th and kicks off at 8:30pm sharp (doors at 8) at Theatre Ste Catherine (254 Ste-Catherine Est) and costs only $7 at the door. While this show runs until 11, the fun doesn’t stop then…far from it.

No Pants No Problem, POMPe, the aforementioned Tom McGraw and Glam Gam Productions are teaming up to present a no pants dance party that is also the official afterparty for Glam Gam’s Montreal Fringe run of If Looks Could Kill…They Will (wrapping up tonight at Cafe Cleopatre, btw). The venue’s the same and the fun starts (or rather starts again) at 11:30pm and goes till late, featuring DJ Like The Wolf and others.

Cover for this event is $10 or $5 with no pants. Don’t worry, though, if you don’t feel like traipsing around Montreal in your undies before you get to the event, there will be a pants check at the door.

There is even a combined ticket price if you plan on attending both events, so you can’t go wrong and you’ll be doing something to help out STELLA and help fight Harper’s cruel budget cuts.

The anticipated summer months have again arrived with us in the city, and with them come not only the park-lounging appropriate weather, but also a plethora of culturally based festivals and activities. Events such as Jazz Fest, Osheaga, and the Just For Laughs festival draw in massive crowds every year to experience summer on the island. For the audience craving something less produced, more artistic and without massive corporate sponsorships, the 2012 Infringement Festival is an alternative option to experience culture in Montreal.

For those who haven’t yet experienced what the Infringement festival is all about, it is an interdisciplinary festival that was created out of Montreal in 2004 and has since spread to both Canadian and American cities alike. The festival was founded upon the effort to reclaim artistic freedom for the community and avoid corporate branding affecting the work being created. A strict emphasis on inclusive practices is in place, making sure no type of artist is denied the ability to participate, charged a registration fee, or has their work censored.

Throughout the 10-day run of the festival, audiences are exposed to any and all types of artistic works with controversial and activism-based themes. Visual arts, spoken-word, theatre, music, and much more take many different forms at various expected and unexpected Montreal venues (such as “alleyway behind Biftek”). Just by browsing through this years list of artists shows how truly eclectic and unique this festival has become.

With the festival not operating under one notion or ideal, but the encouragement of difference of style and opinion itself, the audience has the opportunity to immerse themselves in a vast variety of expression. If you’re looking to experience uncensored and uncompromised artistic performance in combination with the already inspiring Montreal summer, the 2012 Infringement Festival is promised to be an eye opening adventure.

 The 9th annual Montreal Infringement Festival kicks off tonight with Chorale du Peuple & Mr. Parker Québec, Mille Rosado and Jeremiah Wall @ Barfly, 4062A St-Laurent (PWYC).

For the full schedule and more, check out the festival’s website and Facebook Page

Infringement Poster by Jean-Frédéric Noël
Picture courtesy Optative Theatrical Laboratories

Summer is always filled with dreams of finding new music or revisiting your favourites. It’s like musicians hide all winter, in their little or big spaces, working hard away at whipping up new music for the coming Spring and Summer seasons. And as Summer creeps towards us, so do all the music festivals that tag onto these hot, steamy months.

NXNE may have started Monday, June 11, but most of the bands aren’t hitting the outskirts of Toronto until today. So, we figured we’d wait for everyone to get in, get settled and strapped up…and ready to play.

So who are we going to see? Here’s some of who we have in mind:

FTB Kicks it Thursday

Dusted & Smith Westerns @ 5:30 @ Artscape Gibraltar Point
Tonight we’re heading to the VICE show, presented by JANSPORT. It’s an early show at 5:30pm, but the lineup looks stellar. We’ve got Smith Westerns and Dusted. Have you heard Dusted yet? Oh, and the catchline for this show: Bands and a Bonfire Under a Big Sky. Aren’t city bonfires illegal? Oh VICE.

Anyway, Dusted is Brian Borcherdt’s memorizing and haunting new project. Over the last decade Brian was performing as the frontman for Holy Fuck. Then I guess he woke up one morning and was like, “time for change, these pancakes aren’t doing it anymore.” I don’t know if that’s true, to be honest, I just made that up, but it’s very possible. Either way, Dusted sounds ear promising, and is the complete opposite to Holy Fuck.

To complement those ghostly haunting sounds we’ve got the Smith Westerns. These kids hail from Chicago, Illinois, and are more upbeat than Dusted, but still have a dreamy feeling to them. Which is good because too many ghosts and not enough dreams can lead you down a dark drunk path to sleeping on your porch. No, I’m not speaking from experience…heh.

Ain’t No Party Like a Friday Party
Friday’s going to be a bit different because most of the shows don’t start until 7pm. But here’s what we are thinking…

The Stogies @ The Hideout OR Writers’ Stike @ The Painted Lady – both @ 8pm
Hit up The Hideout at 8pm to check out The Stogies or Writers’ Strike at The Painted Lady. Both shows are 8pm, and I’m having a hard time picking between the two bands. Both come from Canada’s Ocean Playground (that’s what it says on the Nova Scotia license plate), but the two bands are very different. The Stogies are rockers, and Writers’ Strike are indie kings. So basically it’s going to come down to what we’re in the mood for. Options are my favourite.

Plants and Animals @ Dundas Square – FREE show @ 9:30pm
Then I’m going to pull a fast one and hit up Plants and Animals. Usually we don’t cover the big shows because we try to showcase the little guys, but…my heart aches for Plants and Animals. They’re one of my favourite bands of all time, and well, can you keep a secret? I’ve never seen them live. Breaks your heart, I know. BUT! That’s why I’m heading their way for a free show at Dundas Square at 9:30pm. You can follow along my Twitter (@doublecass) as I pour my heart as the play.

All Day and All Night Saturday
Saturday is going to be a gong show. The bands start playing as early as 1pm, and don’t stop until Toronto shuts down at 3am. Of course, we’re probably not going to be ready to hit the town at 1pm in the afternoon, so let’s start at 4pm.

Alphabot! @ Redpath Stage – Harbour Front @ 4:15pm
First up for All Day and All Night Saturday is Toronto’s own, Alphabot!. These guys are corky, fun and full of colour. They’ve got this 90s vibe, mixed with just the right amount of sugar and flat pop.

Harper Blynn @ Dakota Tavern @ 10pm
This foursome of boys, Harper Blynn, come New York, and are supposed to have expensive, catchy pop hooks. Seriously, this is what Time Out New York said about them: “If pop hooks were Monopoly money, this foursome would be buying hotels on Park Place by now.” That sounds like fun to me. I wonder what Monopoly would be like if music was its currency? Hmmm…

Twitter Gong Show @ LOT 100 @ 11pm
Sometimes you need to spice it up, and what’s better than a comedy act about Twitter? Maybe a comedy act about Facebook. But, I’m sure that’s been done. Anyway, Twitter Gong Show is suppose to be a comedy show featuring various comedians pulling jokes and picking fun from a live Twitter feed. It’s hosted by Mark Debonis, not sure who that is but here’s an image that comes up when you Google him…

This is his MySpace picture.

Well that’s just a little bit of who and what we’re going to be seeing. As always, you can expect random moments and newly found bands as we run around Toronto for NXNE. Check out the full NXNE schedule on their website, and make sure to follow us along on Twitter @forgetthebox for tweeting good times.

Here’s a not so secret confession for you: there’s nothing I love quite as much as planning out a busy festival schedule. The anticipation of looking through the program book for the first time, the excitement that builds when you find a show that catches your interest. Over the past few years I’ve casually seen some of the free shows in the festival, but this year I am thrilled to be full out Fringing for Forget the Box.

After seeing the secular gospel band Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir at the Edge of the City Live Podcast this spring, I was definitely excited when I noticed they were headliners for the opening night of Fringe Park on Thursday. I was even MORE excited when I discovered I’d get the chance to interview the lead singer from the band, aman simply known as The Profit. We talked about why he likes to be anoymous, why gospel is his favorite kind of music and where he sees his band headed in the future.

Stephanie Laughlin: You call yourself The Profit instead of giving your real name; why do you feel its important to separate yourself from your music?
The Profit: My alias is a satirical jab at the showmanship innate to all organized religion. The frock, the titles, the speechifying, the ceremony; it’s all just an elaborate show. In some cases, it can inspire awe and empower spiritual awakening. But in most cases, it merely extorts funds from well-meaning people. It’s big business! We thought we’d bring attention to that by emulating it. Getting people to recognize prophets for what they really are is no easy task. So we spell it out.
SL: I’ve read elsewhere you liked gospel because you felt it was the most most joyful kind of music.  What are your thoughts on the importance of music during a time of political unrest like we have now in Montreal?
TP: When done right, music can get one’s message across in a pacific and yet highly charged way. Montreal’s tintamarre [pots and pans protest] against Bill 78 is proof of that. And gospel music covers similar ground. The beat of it is a pulse, the melody and chords are the emotional core. But as with any music, the message, the rallying cry, those are things that can only come from words. That’s where our subversion of traditional songs comes into play. And it’s how any music will be either made relevant or insignificant. Take Billy Holiday’s Strange Fruit or Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? – the music may touch the soul, but it’s the lyrics that spur the revolution.
SL: Where did the idea to have the audience as “the choir” part of Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir come from?
TP: The Mississippi Delta. Nobody does interactive like old-school all-black Southern congregations. The pews don’t just listen, they are the show. Not merely in their singing along, but in their interjections, hallelujahs and amens. We wanted to find a way to engage our audience in a similarly inspiring fashion. There’s simply nothing like it. The Critical Mass Choir is in effect an attempt to force people out of their shells by planting keen participants among the greater audience and getting everyone in the room involved.
SL: You guys are getting some pretty high profile gigs these days; NXNE, Tedx Montreal, The Jazz Fest; how do you see yourself evolving as a band? More records? Dream venues?
TP: We have an EP in the works that we’ll be releasing before 2012 is up. Then a full-length album in 2013 and hopefully a quick swing down to the Bible Belt to kick at the hornet’s nest. Our dream venues? Any tiny, sweaty, packed room with a real upright piano and lots of avid folks to belt back the answers to our calls. That, and the Ed Sullivan Theater.
SL: Thoughts on the Fringe Festival? Have you guys played Fringe before, what kind of impact do you think The Fringe has on the Montreal arts scene?
TP: We are huge fans of the Fringe Festival and of thinking outside the box in general. Fringe offers a rallying point for all the disparate works that keep being conceived, built and produced under the radar. It’s a showcase for artistic expression in its purest form. The furthest thing from corporatism, theocracy and fascism. It’s messy, confused and gorgeous. This will be our first time participating and we consider it a privilege. We’re in some pretty outstanding company.
SL: Any other thoughts, things you’d like readers to know?

TP: Elvis Presley isn’t dead. He lives in Simi Valley, California and may very well be the Second Coming. Or so tells me the Internet.

Make sure to check out Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir when they headline the opening night Fringe Park Thursday, June 14th. Check out the full 2012 Fringe Schedule here

The Harvester

fringe for all

The 22nd Annual St Ambroise Fringe Fest kicked off last Monday night in the opening fun-filled event: Fringe for All!

In a light-hearted evening of persuasion, the players of Fringe had the chance to impress the audience in a succession of preview performances. Vying for the audience members’ attendance at their upcoming shows, each performance group was granted two-minutes of stage-time to entice, persuade and promote.

These condensed, preview versions give fest-goers the opportunity to praise and appraise and to start shortlisting their must-sees. As a new friend of the Fringe, overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the festival, I was very pleased at the chance to sample what is to come. Personally, the night functioned as a sort of test. In preparing for the upcoming weeks, I shortlisted a few shows, based mostly on hearsay and the flyer-filled press package.

But “Fringe for All” acted as a preliminary control for my previous purely “cover-judging” opinion. Perhaps not surprisingly, what brilliance cannot be contained a leaflet, can definitely be relayed in two minutes on stage – even if sandwiched between hours of other snippet long performances. In some respects, I was impressed with my gut but there was plenty of room for short-list revision.

Here are a few memorable moments that have warranted my attendance in their upcoming shows:

The Harvester
The Harvester at the Fringe

The Harvester

Silencing and holding the audience under a darkened stage, a figure dressed in radiation suit and nuclear mask slowly enters the scene. A grimly composed voice-over captivates with a tale of a post-apocalyptic world in which “time”, liquid and commodified, has cured illness, ended famine, and now, promises eternal life. But through this promise, liquid time has fallen into grave shortages. This is the story of those who hold the power of harvesting time. I later found out that this show is written and directed by the notable Paul van Dyck. But what is truly notable is that the preview was convincing independent of name-dropping.

Venue: Mission Santa Cruz – Performance dates: June 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23rd

 

Pitching Knife Fight

(Win free tickets through ForgetTheBox by guessing the film’s body count!)

Opening on the 15th, Walter J. Lyng puts on what will undoubtedly be a riotous good time. Centered around the movie franchise “Knife Fight”, the show will feature a series of promotional materials, as presented to potential investors. Well-known for his comedic ability, Walter is sure to deliver an energetic and contagious performance.

Venue: Théâtre MainLine Theatre – Performance dates: June 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24th

*** To win tickets to this show simply leave a comment below or on FB @forgetthebox or send us a tweet @forgetthebox guessing what the body count for the film #KNIFEFIGHT will be.

 

The GASSBAM Prize

Put on by the Montreal Improv duo Zoe Daniels and Carmen Rose, this “two-person, one PowerPoint play” centres around Dr. and Mrs. Doverman-Brack’s entry for the illustrious GASSBAM prize. Hard-hitting and hilarious, this preview earned a room full of laughs.

Venue: OFF A – Montreal Improv – Performance dates: June 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24th

 

The Little Prince as told by Machiavelli

A short-list revision: “The Little Prince as told by Machiavelli” takes a heartwarming favourite and turns hilariously grim. Giving a colourful and animated preview, the Capricornucopia group retakes a classic inspiring story and adds totalitarian ruling advice. In a convincing and keenly entertaining performance, The Little Prince is sure to delight.

Venue: Théâtre MainLine Theatre – Performance dates: 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23rd

Something’s not quite right over at Café Cleopatre, home of the rare winged unicorn of burlesque troupes, the one and only Glam Gam Productions. Since their emergence on the Montreal burlesque scene in 2009 with the Yuletide spectacle “Tits The Season”, they’ve gone on to produce a series of themed variety shows before venturing into a theatre-based structure. Glam Gam gained some recent notoriety when their murder mystery sensation “If Looks Can Kill… They Will” was named best play by the in the Montreal Mirror’s annual Best Of Montreal poll and it seems like it may be going to their heads.

The polyamorous triad of Michael J. McCarthy, Sarah Murphy-McCarthy and Julie Paquet McCarthy are celebrating the third anniversary of wedded bliss by getting the whole gang together for the sexiest reunion show ever featuring full frontal nudity, live music and Clue-inspired antics, all staged in the cabaret room of the only remaining strip club in the former red light district on the Main, Cafe Cleopatre.

If you missed the smash hit production last August, you’ll have a chance to see it again at the Montreal Fringe Festival… if the actors are able to make it to opening night without letting tension get the best of them.

“I don’t know how much more of these idiots I can take, honestly,” lamented bartender Cherie Charles as she vented her frustrations with the group at a recent practice. “They are the most pathetic group of dancers I’ve seen in my entire life. Everybody knows I’m the only real burlesque dancer in this whole troupe.” Rumour has it she recently split for Paris, possibly hoping to shake her tail feathers at the famed Moulin Rouge.

When asked for a comment on the mounting animosity between troupe members, Julie Paquet-McCarthy screamed, “I have no time for an interview right now! I have to practice my big tap solo!”

Some are starting to wonder if the production is befalling a showbiz curse worthy of that Scottish play. While investigating the scene, detective Sherlock Homo took a nasty spill down the steep backstairs at Cleo’s, throwing out his back in the process. An anonymous source revealed to me that this fall might not have been an accident, leading this reporter to wonder how far they would really take the old adage “the show must go on”.

Visit glamgam.com for video introductions to each of play’s main characters and watch for clues to help discover the killer. “If Looks Can Kill…. They Will” runs for six harrowing nights, with a different outcome each night to keep things interesting. You can buy your tickets online at http://montrealfringe.ca/en/show/if-looks-can-killthey-will, or at the Mainline Theatre box office, 3997 St. Laurent. Tickets will also be sold at the door, if available, at a cost of $12.

Doors will open an hour before the show. Showtimes are as follows:

Friday June 8th: 22h00
Saturday June 9th: 22h00
Wednesday June 13th: 20h00
Thursday June 14th: 20h00
Friday June 15th: 22h00
Saturday June 16th: 22h00

As if this wasn’t enough to entice you to come to show, I found an exclusive reel of footage marked “Opening Credits” while snooping around backstage at Cleo’s, which I present to you now.  Warning: as with all Glam Gam endeavors, there is nudity in the video.

 

Young Lungs

In anticipation of tonight’s show with Pinyin Pals and People Person at L’Alilizé, I decided that it was finally time I get to know up and coming band Young Lungs, whose name has been floating around my social networking circles incessantly as of late. Who the f*@$ are these guys? On Sunday, May 27th, I sat down with Young Lungs at Cagibi and got to talking with them about their musical influences, Marvel Comics, and their latest projects.

Young Lungs is a dynamic (and hilarious) trio made up of Justin Ross (Guitar, Vocals), Guillaume Carroll (Bass, Vocals) and Gervais Robinson (Drums, Vocals). They describe their sound as “all-over the place” and genre-defying: closest to a sort of indie-surf punk (with occasional screaming) and some noise rock elements. Justin, Guillaume, and Gervais have been playing music together for over nine years. They’ve played together in various incarnations and recently, they decided to rebaptize their project “Young Lungs” and take it as far as possible: “Kill or be killed …. from prey to predator to apex predator”. They recently released a 7” Vinyl of their track “Blood on the Streets” for which they also recently shot a music video with Montreal filmmaker and photographer Louis Lazaris.

When I sat down with these dudes, they had just come back from playing a show in New York and playing a couple shows out east in Matane and Rimouski. Their show in Rimouski was freezing and wild. “Anything goes in Rimouski” said Gervais, “seems like there are no laws in those towns.” Justin recounted being very surprised when a kid got “tea-bagged” during the show: “The guy barely even reacted, like ‘Awh, not again’.”

Songwriting for the band is “usually really collaborative. Most of the songs come out of jams or someone comes up with an idea and then we finish it together as a band” says Guillaume. Their musical influences are quite diverse, from the Pixies to Talking Heads all the way to the Foo Fighters.

Current obsessions include Vinyl for Justin and Guillaume, who is on an elusive quest to find The Fever. The quirkiest thing that has come out of Vinyl hunting for Justin so far is a 2$ Moog plays the Beatles Vinyl. The first ever recordings of Moog playing on the now famous synthesizers. As for Gervais, his current obsession is listening to Protest Hero: “Their new album is awesome and I’m getting pumped to see them in August.”

When asked which Avenger they would be, Guillaume gave props to the Hulk whom he felt stole the show although Justin felt the Hulk to be “an unpredictable cat”. Young Lungs  seemed way more enthused with the idea of being X-men, citing themselves as “X-men guys”. Guillaume chose Gambit without hesitation (and I gave him mental props for doing so, since Gambit is hands down the best). Gervais would be Wolverine because he feels he can pull of the look. As for Justin, he said that if he was to have powers he would want to have telekinetic powers “move shit with his mind” and “revolutionize everything”. I couldn’t help but imagine him as Jean Grey, it might be a good look.

Young Lungs

This question spawned a twenty minute discussion of the 90’s X-men cartoon and the extent of its epicness and character complexity. The conversation naturally moved on to Captain Planet and the Planeteers. “Don’t you think it’s kind of sick that Captain Planet just abducted all those kids though?” Justin brought up, “ ‘Come help me defend the environment!’, ‘Who are you?’, ‘I dunno but I’ve got blue skin and a green mullet, you can trust me. Here are these magical rings!’”  When I proposed the Young Lung album cover be the guys as the Planeteers, Gervais said he would be most probably Captain Planet, citing his mullet as proof. As for Justin, he said “alright, just as long as I’m not that kid with the Heart ring.”

So now we know a lot about Young Lungs, mostly that Ma-Ti was not their favourite planeteer (I mean, who really liked Heart anyways). One more bit of information about the guys for the road: Young Lungs’ favourite place for a beer in Montreal: “Brutopia. The Maple Cream. We go there for the trivia hosted by comedian Asaf Gerchak,” said Justin, “we take that shit seriously.”

Catch them tonight at L’Alizé (900 Ontario East). Doors at 8:00. $5 Cover.

The 22nd Annual St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival is fast approaching. As FTB’s newly appointed arts and culture writer, and newer still friend of the Fringe, I was assigned what seemed to be the daunting task of writing a Fringe Fest week #1 Preview.

From June 4th to 24th, the Plateau Mile-End area will be overrun with more than 500 local and international artists, performing an array of music, theater, comedy and dance. By determining the line-up through lottery and keeping ticket prices low, the festival presents itself in the pursuit of wholly autonomous, uncensored and accessible art. But this vast and unrestrained collection can leave someone newly-acquainted with with the festival with an overwhelming sense of beginner’s block.

Luckily, alongside their artistically liberating mission statement, comes some very welcomed words of encouragement: “At the Fringe, word of mouth is king. Ultimately, it’s the audience who decides which shows are good and which aren’t.” These words thereby suitably announce the debut of my entirely unjustified, and mostly unqualified word. And all in the open, egalitarian spirit of Fringe.

Fringe’s success hinges on audience participation and interaction. The unmediated festival is driven by the audience members’ ensuing reaction. And this opportunity leaves every Internet-accessing Fringe-goer the sense of being both pioneer and critique, which is a delightful dream come true in what has otherwise been deemed an overpowering world of inaccessible high art.

In light of this, the first week of Fringe should be approached with inquisition, interaction and a little DIY initiative. “Fringe is about discovery.” It demands fest-goers do some serious research and investigation. Be prepared to take some time working through the many pages of information and multiple links uncovering the vast selection of events. And be sure to keep an open-mind. Allow yourself to be captivated by the seemingly strange and outrageous. The festival invites goers to be shocked and scandalized, so test your intuition and take a risk.

Here are a few considerations…

As reviewed  last August, Glam Gam Productions is staging their roughly-burlesque murder mystery show If Looks Can KillThey Will. If their performance past is any indication of what is to come, the shameless and unabashed Glam Gam troupe is sure to charm audiences in an uproarious and outrageous good time. This is a definite not-to-miss.

Running Friday, June 8th-16th at Cafe Cleopatra.

As part of the Fringe Festival’s “After Dark Series”, Seska Lee presents ACME Burlesque. A risque cabaret of belly dancing, circus performers and a striptease, the show promises to thrill audiences in a “truly interactive experience”.

June 7th, 21h at MainLine Theatre.

As the name suggests, Fringe’s Edition of the Strip Spelling Bee is an adult bee inviting guests to test their spelling skills at the cost of clothing. Get in the Fringe Fest spirit with an interactive After Hours evening of whooping and heckling. Takes place Wednesday, June 6th at MainLine Theatre. Consider overdressing.

Also, for a taste of visual art be sure to check out the Galerie Fringe Vernissage, Friday, June 8th at Studio Beluga.

For information, visit Montreal Fringe Festival’s website.

It’s that time of the year again, America’s Memorial Day week-end. But don’t you worry; I’m not writing a patriotic article. For me this long week-end actually means a journey to the Mecca of techno: Detroit. It all started last year when a couple of Montreal electronic music enthusiast and I decided to make the long drive to Movement festival.

This year will be my second at the festival and I think we can all call it a tradition now. The festival runs for three days from May 26th to May 28th. It features the best electronic musicians out there on five stages running from noon to midnight. After midnight things get even more interesting; it’s after-party time. Just to give you an idea of what the after party scene is like; last year I had the “brilliant” idea to print the list of after parties and ended up stuck with 59 sheets of paper.

Here are some artists I’m definitely checking out this year:

Todd Terje – Inspector Norse:  A Norwegian artist who won my heart with both his remixes and his original tracks. 2012 seems to be his year with his crossover track that got played by both electro and indie DJs.

Lindstrom – I feel space: This guy blew my mind a couple of years ago at Watergate in Berlin. For me it will be a sort of reunion. Although he didn’t impress me that much with his latest release, it will be fun to dance to his beats when the sun sets on the red bull music academy stage.

Marcellus Pittman – You want me: Last year, we ended up seeing this guy in a small loft party with maximum 30 people. It was almost a religious experience. This year he’s invading the Made in Detroit stage where I’ll probably end up spending all my time because Detroit dj’s are the best.

Matias Aguayo – Minimal (dj koze remix): He’s always putting on a good show with his festive beats. If anybody can make the sun shine on a dark indoor stage it’s this Chilean guy!

Lil Louis – French Kiss: A Chicago house legend; I discovered him as pretty much every DJ who respects house music will sneak in some of his tracks during their set.

Hot natured – Forward Motion: When two talented guys join forces you can’t go wrong. Jamie Jones and Lee Foss are there to make you dance with their soulful house beats.

Public Enemy –Fight the Power : It’s quite a weird add to the festival. I mean…a hip-hop act in an electronic music festival?! But I tend to enjoy hip-hop during the summer time so why not give it a try?

You might be stuck in Montreal, unable to attend the festival but I’ll be providing reviews through out the weekend that will make you feel as though you are right in the thick of it. Expect some silly stories, interviews with artists and candy raver pictures.

A model poses for an Alternative Life Drawing class at the Wzrd Gng Gallery (photo Phyllis Papoulias)

Almost everyone who knows me in Montreal is aware of the loft space that I lived in for the 2010-2011 school year. The apartment was handed to me from my older brother’s friends and handed to them before that from friends, etc.

The reason for keeping the space in the hands of familiar faces each year is that the loft is truly one of the more unique places to live in Montreal. It started out as a recording studio in the 1960s and therefore featured a small stage and various windows in the walls for recording.

Since becoming a student apartment, the open space and amazing location deemed it the perfect place to throw a party and over the years tons of memorable events took place. When my roommates and I lived there, we held a Pop Montreal showcase, among other events that don’t usually mix with a living space.

At the end of the year, it was clear we could not continue living there; having been beaten down over the years, the apartment could not handle another year of student living and the landlord decided it was time to renovate. So we packed our things and left the magical place, wondering what would become of it, and more importantly, who would get to live there next.

After the summer I found out the apartment had been renovated beautifully, and my curiosity of who/what had taken over the space heightened. Luckily, the beloved 3772 St. Laurent had been found by a group of artists known as Wzrds Gng and they transformed it with love into a unique gallery and studio space.

The Wzrds Gng is a group of individuals who are predominantly working in the street/graffiti art movement. They were seeking a space where their art could be created, exhibited and be viewed as a merged collaboration between individuals working under the same stylistic goal. The gallery currently is showing the work of 10 artists, and is the permanent home to three of them.

The group explains that the space was perfect for what they had in mind, a wide-open “blank canvas” space that already possessed a gallery vibe. Next, they painted the walls with colourful murals and installed a pulley system for hanging paintings and installations. The gallery also features some friendly critters running around as the artists also foster animals.

Apart from using the space to showcase and sell their art (at affordable prices, might I add), these artists have begun to offer unique classes and events out of the apartment. Every other week, you can attend an “Alternative Life Drawing” class, which gives the public an opportunity to sketch unique models, contortionists and dancers wearing costumes made by the artists themselves. You can catch this class two Thursdays a month, 7-9 pm. Yoga classes are also offered on Wednesday and Sunday evenings (7-8:30 pm), as well as bboying on Wednesdays (9-11 pm) and an upcoming Friday art house movie night.

The artists living in and running the show of the Wzrds Gng Gallery describe themselves as all being a key part to the space: the heart, brains and spirit. Their philosophy shows through their work and the life put into the gallery. I am pleased to see the once run-down student loft has been transformed into a beautiful artistic space and I highly recommend anyone to go check out what they have to offer. Check out their Facebook group for more information on the artists, classes offered and upcoming art shows and events!