I saw Lesbian Speed Date from Hell this past Sunday and having experienced the emotional rollercoaster of the piece, I was curious as to how it all came about. I had the opportunity to email back and forth with the show’s producer Christina Saliba and she gave me some fascinating insights.

The show was originally submitted to be part of Festival De La Bête Noire, Montreal’s first ever horror-themed festival. One of their writers had an idea for a piece about speed dating.

Saliba’s own experiences with lesbian speed dating events at the popular queer hangout Notre Dame des Quilles and the interesting date encounters she had at them really helped the story come together.

Saliba explains that when she saw the call for submissions for Festival De La Bête Noire, she jumped at the opportunity not only to present something queer-centric, as many working on the production identify as queer, but also to present horror comedy.

“Horror-comedy is a genre that is not commonly seen on stage. The horror aspects of the show are boundary pushing, not only for the audience but for the artists involved. Horror allows you to sit within your fears and anxieties and face them in a safe and controlled environment. There certainly may be some triggering moments for some audience goers as it is a show that tests limitations. However, the comedy aspect to it provides that relief and comfort. It’s a fantastic juxtaposition of genres and a fun medium to work in.”

Many people primarily associate horror comedy with The Evil Dead movies starring Bruce Campbell, so I was intrigued as to what it meant to someone putting on a show of that genre.

“I would say it is more outlandish, over the top, and hysterical rather than gore, terror, and horror. The comedy takes you out of the horror fantasy.”

The cast of Lesbian Speed Dating came from diverse backgrounds including comedy, sketch, improv, TV, and film. For Saliba, this diversity of perspectives elevates the show. While auditions were held, some of the show’s talent were deliberately sought out because of their unique talents.

“The structure and the script are there, but they are all so talented that they bring in the occasional ad-libbing and improv. Half of the team falls under the queer umbrella, as authenticity, particularly with our leads, was essential for me.”

Though the show only ran for two nights during Festival De La Bête Noire, Saliba couldn’t let it die. She had her sights set on it being part of Just for Laughs and a cast member suggested it be part of Pride’s programming. Saliba hopes to eventually take the show on tour internationally.

Lesbian Speed Date from Hell is a true horror comedy. Following a successful run at the Mainline Theatre as part of Off- JFL/Zoofest, it’s back as part of Montreal Pride’s official programming. Presented by Pride along with Christina Saliba, the show is funny and scary, and for abuse survivors, it can be triggering.

The play revolves around Jackie (Katharine King So), a young lesbian who is grudgingly attending a speed dating event hosted by her friend and neighbor Regina (Kathy Slamen). Regina is your typical lesbian cougar. In case you had any doubts, Slamen’s costumes consist of mostly of leopard print, and her portrayal is a hilarious mix of sassy, maternal, and raunchy.

At the event, Jackie meets Amy (Martha Graham), an awkward blonde, Natalie (Alexandra Laferriere), a beautiful black lesbian jonesing for Regina, Kyle (Jeroem Lindeman), a stereotypical dudebro and Ashley (Kate Hammer), a former one-night stand of Jackie’s with a big grudge.

What follows is a display of awkward conversations, hilarious facial expressions, and uncomfortable torture scenes.

Hammer’s portrayal of Ashley is at once horrific and riveting. All the time she’s on stage you never doubt her anger, her malice, or her psychosis. Her madness is believable yet just over the top enough to keep the play from being too real.

King So’s Jackie is a perfect foil for Ashley’s crazy. Her screams are bone-chillingly realistic and her fear and outrage appropriate.

Survivors of abuse will likely find the interaction between Jackie and Ashley uncomfortably triggering as there is blood and violence and accurate portrayals of pain. But there is enough humour in the play to balance it out.

The fight choreography is hilariously done in slow motion and with more courtesy than one would expect in a struggle between a psychotic murderer and a desperate victim. There are murder mystery clichés like the strategic use of on and off lighting, and Jeroen Lindeman’s Kyle is amusingly obnoxious and a reminder of why our culture needs more feminist entertainment like this.

That said, if you’re an abuse survivor go in prepared to be a little uncomfortable and reassure yourself that with the horror comes plenty to laugh about. For everyone else, be prepared to laugh, cry, and gasp in horror.

It’s an emotional rollercoaster of a show, but it’s worth it.

Lesbian Speed Date From Hell runs until August 16, tickets available through Montreal Pride

I spent the first half hour after arriving to Parc Jean-Drapeau looking for a poncho vendor so as to avoid the unpredictable showers, but by the time that I found one I was too late as they had already sold out. Fortunately the rain had, at this point, died down for the most part. I spent a few minutes after that lying in one of the dryer Eno hammocks (a god-send, #île-hammock?) that had been set up in the trees trying to figure out my game plan for the day and cursing the gods for letting me wear white shoes. 

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The first show I caught after the rain simmered down a bit was Underher, an act which on Île-Soniq’s handy app with all of the artists and set times seemed to feature producer, Kalden Bess and singer, Jessica Abruzzese. However according to Underher’s Spotify, Facebook, Instagram etc., it seems as if Bess is now the solo sound behind Underher. While this was an unfortunate toll on île-Soniq’s already low count of female artists, Bess still put on a great show; sipping his drink and leisurely taking puffs of a joint as he DJ’s.

The stage was set perfectly amidst the trees and water, and the sun finally peaked out from behind the clouds. As the audience thickened, many eager to try out their dancing shoes and groove to his alluring rhythmic sound, the energy shifted from dance to something slightly more ethereal and sensual, if not almost eerie at times (think: someone breathing slightly on the back of your neck. Though perhaps this was just the airy breeze).  

The next show I caught was Whipped Cream–one of the four featured female artists–and hands down one of the most bad-ass performers I saw at the festival. Her fans were already screaming for her when she walked out onto the stage, decked out completely in a green and blue Pleasures tracksuit with her iconic long blonde hair draped over her shoulder.

There was an evident symbiosis between the untamed energy of the crowd and her own fiery enthusiasm as she bounced with them, even jumping down onto the lower stage during a song to dance along. Her bass sound is clearly inspired by hip-hop, but the range of her musical style is evident as she skilfully churns out head-banging bliss with every song, including Beethoven’s Fur Elise. Stage presence? 10. Outfit? 10. Set? 10. Adjective that I can’t think of which could describe a coalescence of bad-assery and being adorable? 10!

Next up for me? KSHMR, an American musician and DJ from California, and his performance did not disappoint. I however opted to take a break from being elbow-ed and shoulder-ed by every guy clad in a tank top in the crowd and watched this one from afar, atop (what once was) a grassy hill in the back. Though I admittedly had previously had little exposure to KSHMR’s music, during day two of the festival I’d overhead many of the other festival-goers raving about him, and decided to check him out.

When the crystal clear and calm sound of classical piano pierced through the various festival noises I was immediately hooked. KSHMR’s music is perhaps universally captivating, including sounds from seemingly all corners and genres of the world that build to epic stomach-dropping climaxes. The show ends with fireworks and a shout-out to the fact that apparently Canada has some of the most beautiful women. A cheesy sentiment, but loveable all the same. 

When I got to Claptone’s show back at the stage where I had started, the sun was setting behind us against the water. Claptone, a German DJ with a secret identity, was clad in their usual beaked mask and white gloves, which greatly added to the energetic but mysterious ambience of their tech house sound. The music is hypnotic, though its rhythm is diverse and energetic–a sort of melancholy still seeps through.

Nicole Moudaber

The final performance I saw on the last day of the festival was the iconic Nicole Moudaber, taking over the stage from Claptone, an immediate change in tempo, but the air of mystery remained. Her dark glasses and captivating curly fro give her an enigmatic air of je ne sais quoi, as she lead her audience through the valleys and troughs of her ambient house sounds that resonate in my ear drums long after I left the island (my brain still waits for the drop that never comes in the metro car home). 

Day two went quick, and while some of it was a blur, much of it also remains to be incredibly salient in my mind. Each of the performances that I managed to see left me intrigued and hungry for more, from the soft hypnotic rhythms to the head-banging bass drops, to the surprising but appreciated classical music references; each exemplifying the all-encompassing nature of electronic music. Thanks for an unforgettable weekend Île-Soniq! 

Photos courtesy of the lovely Celeste Bonnier.

The theatre is dark, the rules are announced, and the band breaks into America the Beautiful as a solitary figure in a blonde wig and cape approaches the stage. Waiting is the band and a drag king in leather jacket, denim, and do-rag, with the sad-downcast eyes of a domestic abuse victim. The figure approaches the mic and in a reveal reminiscent of FranknFurter in the Rocky Horror Show, the cloak is opened to reveal a facsimile of the Berlin wall, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s title character breaks into the show’s first song Tear Me Down.

Following a successful run in November 2018, In the Wings’ Promotions’ production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch was invited to be part of Montreal Pride’s official programming. As director and the show’s Yitzhak Noelle Hannibal put it:

“The show is so iconic in the community, that it’s the perfect fit for Pride.”

The venue has changed from Cabaret Mado to Café Cléopatre, but aside from a few enhancements, the show is every bit as riveting as during its first run.

For those of you unfamiliar with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, it is the brainchild of actor John Cameron Mitchell and musician Stephen Trask, who developed the off-Broadway show which then became a cult film and from there a Broadway show starring Neil Patrick Harris. The show is about a slip of a girly boy from communist East Berlin and is a blend of glam and punk rock, politics, and gender bending, with tunes so catchy even the biggest curmudgeon will be dancing in their seat.

Trask was a major part of the first Montreal run, sitting on dress rehearsals and answering Hannibal’s texts as needed. The result is a show that’s more than just pretty makeup, gender-reversals, and catchy tunes.

In my review of the show’s first run, I noted that the relationship between Hedwig – played by New York based actor Andrew Morrissey, and Noelle Hannibal’s Yitzhak was interpreted as one of domestic abuse. In this rendition that portrayal is enhanced with more passive aggression by Yitzhak – there are muttered curses, and spitting, and Yitzhak’s eyes seethe with the hatred of the powerless for their oppressor.

Morrissey’s Hedwig contains more deference for Yitzhak’s talent, as if the abuse comes from the recognition that her talent is no match for Yitzhak’s and she can only shine by putting him down. It provided more nuance to the characters from a script that by Hannibal’s own admission, had very little to guide them.

Morrissey’s Hedwig is much improved from the November run. Though his German accent is on and off and his voice is occasionally pitchy, you see more madness behind the makeup, more sincerity behind the line:

“I’ll laugh because I’ll cry if I don’t.”

With this more nuanced portrayal is all the sass and sex the part requires, and Morrissey pulls that off beautifully.

As important to the production as its stars are the band and costumes. Hedwig undergoes multiple costume changes during the show and designer Sig Moser clearly understood what the show is all about.

“He was very familiar with the show and the film version and brought in some fantastic ideas that would work with our extremely tight, indie budget. He can whip up a dress in an hour,” said Hannibal, whose own costumes were tweaked to work better for this run.

The outfits are an amazing mix of showmanship, denim, leather, lace, and sequins, a true nod to music genres you’ll live during the show.

The band, made up of Ian Baird, Kevin Bourne, Stephen Menold, and Sebastian Balk-Forcione, are not passive background musicians, but people who must actively interact with Hedwig and Yitzhak on stage. Though I wished the tempo of Tear Me Down was a bit quicker, the band did not disappoint. Decked out in punk rock pieces and colored hair, they are an amazing accompaniment to a show that features glam and punk rock in all its glory.

That said, the show is iconic for a reason, so come with an open mind. You won’t be disappointed!

The current run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch finishes tonight. Tickets available through HedwigMontreal.com

Day one of Île Soniq  had some rainy moments, but even the turbulent weather wasn’t enough to keep anyone from enjoying the festival!

The day started out with its usual Montréal-style festival festivities: a full metro car echoing with excited singing and chanting from eager festival goers, almost like an energy pre if you will.

When we arrived at Parc Jean-Drapeau we were greeted by the warm sun and I got my first look at the newly renovated festival grounds, that have recently been relocated to its previous spot on île Sainte-Hélène. The layout of the festival is spacious, even for vast crowd of festival goers and the view of the city and the glistening water just makes the experience all the more ethereal. 

The first show I catch is Sydanie, a Toronto-based rapper (and self-described “bad rap mom” on her Soundcloud). She’s glimmering angelically in a sparkling jumpsuit and doesn’t hesitate to bust a move in it as she raps some realness.

We definitely felt her energy when she performed her newest song I want u 2 see this and even debuted an unreleased track Abby. Sydanie doesn’t just speak truth in her music though, and midway through her performance she reminds us of the sadly minimal effort by Île-Soniq to hire any female performers by shouting out to “the fact that I’m the only live performing female for the day.”

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While I wait to catch MurdaBeatz’ show, I head over to the superman ride that île-Soniq has set up for its festival goers. As I’m strapped into the ride I hear the crowd screaming as he hits the stage, but by the time it’s over the rain has taken over the festival and stopped the show. At first the crowd screams for MurdaBeatz, but as it starts to get pretty wet it begins to dissipate in large pieces as everyone seeks out shelter. 

By the time it stops I’m just in time to catch Nora En Pure, a South African-Swiss DJ known for her deep house and indie dance music. Her music is light and euphoric even amidst all the clouds and intermittent rain, an almost perfect foil for the next show I saw: 1000volts. 

South African-Swiss DJ, Nora En Pure

The story of 1000volts’ conception reads like a love story to me, and I can’t unsee it. Hip-hop ace Redman and trap and bass producer Jayceeoh joined forces after working together on a song in 2015, and have been bridging the gap between hip hop and electronic music ever since. Their name didn’t disappoint either with the electrifying performance they gave, perfectly set under an actual stormy sky.

While I was waiting to catch Lil Pump on his first trip to Quebec, I also managed to catch Oliver Helden’s performance — a sea of beautiful people swaying back and forth to the uplifting but poppy sound — as well as the end of Smokepurpp’s show from afar which had perhaps one of the most energetic crowds I saw, singing along to all of his songs and bouncing rhythmically together with shots of the mosh pit hitting the big screen every few minutes.

Festival-goers enjoying Sheck Wes’ performance

I made sure to catch Mo Bamba at Sheck Wes’ show, took a few minutes to get some poutine in me and then trekked back to the Mirage Stage with the masses to catch a glimpse of Soundcloud sensation Lil Pump, who was unsurprisingly 20 minutes late to his own show. Though I do enjoy a few of his most popular songs, (Gucci Gang will always be a bop), his overall performance felt to be a bit of a disappointment, but that can probably be blamed more on his tech guys as the cameraman was visibly struggling to follow him across the stage and his DJ/hype-man’s mic seemed to be louder than his own, obscuring the sound of his voice and lyrics punctuating everything Pump said with the perhaps overly frequent and loud “yuh”s and “okay”s. Once it started to rain, it was a sign for me to leave. 

Overall the first day was absolutely jam-packed with exciting and energetic performances for every sub-category of electronic music, even including a metal EDM performance by Sullivan King, as well as the various hiphop/electronic music fusions, (although almost completely lacking in female performers). See you all at Day two for what will hopefully be better weather! 

Photos courtesy of the lovely Celeste Bonnier (featured image of Sydanie and her backup dancers)

Île Soniq concludes today, tickets available through IleSoniq.com

Friday and Saturday this upcoming weekend (August 9th & 10th) will mark the sixth annual Île Soniq festival, which will be returning to its original site at Parc Jean-Drapeau. So grab your sunscreen, don’t forget to #stayhydrated, and get ready to dance like its your last chance, because this one might just knock you into September.

Now, if you’re anything like me, the hardest part of almost any festival is simply figuring out how to divvy up your precious time. But fret not, because I’m gonna fill you in on all the shows you’re not gonna want to miss this year (and you can find the full lineup below)!

Montreal’s Own

This year’s Île Soniq lineup is choc-full international talent, sure, but for those of you that are interested in finding out what Montreal–a city that has been home to some of the world’s most promising artists–is bringing to the table this year (besides the festival itself, of course), look no further.

Adventure Club

If you don’t know them already, Christian Srigley and Leighton James started off as a pop-punk band and are now an electronic dance music duo based out of Montreal.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 7:05PM-8:05PM

Relaxjosh

Relaxjosh is a local Montreal DJ with a unique but evolving sound. Though he’s been DJing since 11, he released his first single, Famous, only last year.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 1:00PM-1:45PM

Underher

Underher is a sensual electronica/techno act created by Kalden Bess. Genre? Music to have sex to.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 2:30PM-3:30PM

Sam Lamar

Sam Lamar has been rapidly rising through the ranks of the bass music scene, and has shown no signs of stopping yet!

Playing on Friday, August 9th from 2:45PM-3:40PM

DJ Bolarinho

Image result for dj bolarinho

DJ and producer from the collective ‘Drôle d’oiseaux’, best known for his groovy funkytrap and of course his mystical beard!

Playing Friday, August 9th 1:00PM-1:45PM
#groovy🧔🤙

Bad-ass Babes

Île Soniq didn’t book many female performers this year 😒 … But here are a couple baddies you should check out.

Sydanie

Sydanie is a Jamaican-Trinidadian Toronto-based queer rapper and supermom and she’s changing the game in the Toronto hip-hop scene.

Playing Friday, August 9th from 1:15PM to 2:00PM

Whipped Cream

Whipped Cream, aka Caroline Cecil, goes hard with her limitless and versatile bad-ass bass sound.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 4:05PM-5:05PM

Nicole Moudaber

Nicole Moudaber is a Lebanese/British radio personality and techno DJ and producer. She’s also behind MOOD, her own record label and global party brand. She gets pretty wild on the dance floor, and doesn’t hold back when she’s turning tunes either.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 8:50PM-10:50PM

Nora en Pure

Nora en Pure is a South-African/Swiss DJ known for her deep house and indie dance music. She’s also a core member of the Helvetic Nerds.

Playing on August 9th from 2:55PM-3:55PM

Some other personal faves…

1000volts

Superduo Redman & Jayceeoh team up to zap you with 1000 volts of their own bass and hiphop fusion, bridging the gap between rap and electronic music.

Playing Friday, August 9th from 4:00PM-5:00PM

Lick (the DJ)

Lick the DJ (ha-ha) is from San Francisco, specialising in fine techno, deep house, and tech house. His music is vivid and electrifying.

Playing Friday, August 9th from 1:00PM-1:55PM

Ronin

Ronin is a DJ, producer, and avocado-enthusiast. If you’re somehow not already amped when you show up to Ile Soniq, you will be after his set.

Playing Saturday, August 10th from 2:00PM-3:00PM

Dabin

Dabin Lee grew up surrounded by music and it shows. The Toronto musician’s melodic electronic music will make you feel like you’re living the emotional climax of the movie of your life, wind in your hair and all.

Full Lineup & Tickets

2019 LINEIP

Check out the rest of the lineup.To get your tickets if you haven’t already, or for more information check out the Île Soniq website, and I’ll see you all there!

The third and last day of the festival started with the talented Toronto DJ Kirsten Azan, aka Bambii, at scène de I’île. Bambii is no stranger to the Montreal scene and gathered a decent crowd of fans who danced to the rhythms of dancehall and electronic music.

Bambii (photo ©2019 Benoit Rousseau, courtesy Osheaga)

For our second show, we saw Alex Anyaegbunam, better known by his stage name Rejjie Snow, Irish rapper. After a few technical issues on stage, Rejjie Snow started at 5:20 and put on a decent show. He also presented part of his new material which will be in his upcoming album: Baba Black Sheep which he recently finished and will be dropping soon.

Rejjie Snow (photo by Bianca Lecompte)

The number of attendees doubled and we headed to the main stage to see major acts such as Hozier, Team Impala and last but not least, our personal favourite Daniel Glover aka Childish Gambino to wrap up the festivities.

Childish Gambino (photo by lamyazpixels)

As people were chanting his name Gambino appeared on an elevated platform in the middle of the crowd and made his way to the blue stage to put on a show. He connected with the audience while taking selfies and high fiving as many as possible, the crowd sang along to his hits Summertime Magic, Sober and This is America.

Childish Gambino brought out a full band and chorus to the stage and it was a magical experience.

Featured image by Bianca Lecompte

Osheaga was a great three days of hardy drinking and music and all I can say about this year’s festival is that there were so many pleasant surprises.

Let’s get right to it: Sunday night was the big night because of its two headliners: Tame Impala and Childish Gambino.

Tame Impala put on a near perfect show. The crowd was transfixed with the neat light beams coming from the stage that seemed to put everyone in a trance. They played most of their songs from their latest LP but did a few good oldies like Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and Elephant.

Childish Gambino then brought the crowd to complete ecstasy by hitting it home and closed out the night with some spectacular fireworks right after the crowd sang along to This is America.

Photo by lamyazpixels

Earlier in the day Metric got the crowd going. At times Hains started speaking what seemed to be poetry about getting shit done in your life.

Mac DeMarco was acting all goofy all day. It culminated in him doing a funny cover of Metallica’s enter Sandman.

Saturday night’s romp with chemical Brothers was one for the bucket list. These superstar DJs were definitely one of the highlights of my festival experience.

Honourable Mentions:

Teke:: Teke, Fisher and Vladamir Cauchmar to name drop a few, were as entertaining as ever. And Kurt VIle put on one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen him do.

Strangest Act:

Black Tiger Sex Magic was definitely the strangest act of the festival with helmets that light up and the oddest crowd mix of electronic dance music bros, pretty ladies and weirdos.

Coolest Performance:

The coolest performance trophy goes to Reignwolf to for their use of the space to play their guitars and bass and the final meshing of the guitar and bass together to end the set.

Side note: As for the venue the park new old location was definitely noticed by people for being more spacious and with a lot more amenities.

The only one negative thing I noticed with the amount of dust I was at this year’s festival maybe it was caused by the amount of construction in Montreal or on site or perhaps it was the sand that was laid out at the base of the mountain but whatever reason a lot of people were covering their face as because of it. Hopefully next year it won’t be as dusty.

Featured image by lamyazpixels

Day Two is now in the books, let’s try to recap the blur that just happened, shall we. Like with any festival you’re always experiencing something while missing out on something else. It’s the nature of events like this so someone else’s snapshot of the day might be completely different.

Vladamir Cachmar (photo Jerry Gabriel)

We at FTB went into the Saturday with a plan that we wouldn’t at any point make a plan. Just follow a friend to what they’re going to, ask a stranger for a suggestion or wander aimlessly. Here’s a few of the places our wanderings took us to.

Photo by Jerry Gabriel

We happened in on King Princess who a friend told us was the next big thing waiting to blow up. She didn’t disappoint, we’ll have to remember to check her out again.

We decided to hang in the back for Janelle Monáe, see the big picture of the festival.

It can’t all be high energy, met up with some old friends and made some new ones hanging out on the hammocks

The crowd for Black Tiger Sex Machine was a drum of gasoline waiting to go up and the Montreal based trio didn’t waste any time lighting the match that set the whole thing off.

The best hidden gem for the day (and strong candidate for highlight of the festival) were garage rockers Reignwolf who used every possible inch of the stage and every ounce of energy they had during their performance.

Frontman Jordan Cook seemd hell bent on climbing to the top of every structure he could find while playing his guitar solos. Amps were swaying, patch cords were being pulled tight around beams, security was having a panic attack. You know, standard rock and roll stuff.

He even jumped into the crowd for a little bit one on one time with everyone. All this while singing the chorus “Are you Satisfied?” Yes Jared, very much so.

The Chemical Brothers capped the day off with an immersive performance combining their music with a multimedia light and video show complete with confetti, giant robots and beach balls. Probably the most complete top to bottom performance we’ve ever seen and a masterclass on how to combine music with other medium.

Featured image courtesy of lamyazpixels

Osheaga 2019 finishes today (Sunday). Tickets at the gate or through Osheaga.com

Day one of Osheaga 2019 is now in the books and it set a pretty high bar for the rest of the weekend. Here’s a quick recap of some of the highlights, awards ceremony style.

The best improvement award goes to the venue itself. Last year renovations pushed Osheaga out of its normal spot on Île Sainte-Hélène and most, myself included found it to be a bit of a headache. This time around they’re back in their usual spot and it seems to have been very well received by most concertgoers.

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Checking out this ferris wheel #osheaga fun

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The best stage presence award goes to Mitski who brought a table and chair on stage with her and played lovingly with them all set. What at first looked like a one or two song gimmick turned into a set long love affair with inanimate objects.

Interpol

The coolest dude at the party award goes to Interpol’s Daniel Kessler who decided to attire himself in suit and shades. Despite temperatures soaring in the afternoon he kept the full coat and tie on the whole time! That’s some serious commitment to looking like a rockstar there Daniel.

The best surf rock goes to Teke Teke, because we love them and love surf rock and we wanted to give them a shout out.

The most touching moment award goes to the Lumineers for deciding to ignore standard procedure by reserving the encore for one of their big hits and instead chose to pay homage to Montreal legend Leonard Cohen by covering has classic Democracy.

The Lumineers

Their low key version, dropping the classic drum beat and musical hook till the very end, made the song something a little bit Cohen and a little bit themselves while still capturing the important part of all Cohen songs, the lyrics. Maybe the crowd didn’t know all the words to this one but the overall message, which like most Cohen songs is still relevant today, was quite clear.

Kurt Vile and the Violators

Photos by Jerry Gabriel (except featured image by Joseph McLean)

Osheaga continues through Sunday, tickets at Osheaga.com

Osheaga‘s back this weekend for 3 full days of music, art, food and fun in what is likely to be very hot sun. The lineup this year is as impressive as ever with some very big names sure to draw big crowds.

Here at FTB though we try not to focus on any of those big names. It just seems a little silly to preview what you already know.

Instead we’ll be talking about the hidden gems playing earlier in the day when you might be more inclined to wander aimlessly and get to know a new artist. Here’s who I’m most looking forward to getting to know, feel free to check out their full lineup and form your own opinion.

Stay hydrated my friends!

Disclaimer: This list is totally biased to what I’m into at the moment so don’t tell me I missed someone or it’s in some way wrong.

Teke::Teke

I’ve always had a soft spot for surf rock bands, especially when they list Takeshi Terauchi as their biggest influence. If you don’t know who he is I advise you to do a quick little google search.

It also doesn’t hurt that Teke::Teke are from good ol’Montreal and what would Osheaga be like without a little hometown bias in the preview.

Give them a listen and you’ll see they’ve got the old surf rock vibe but with some twists. There’s a lot of modern elements as well as some traditional Japanese instruments mixed in for good measure.

grandson

While I’m not super familiar with grandson, his track Apologize keeps showing up everywhere and I’m curious to get to know a little more about him. He’s a relatively young artist and starting to get chart-level success so this might be a “I remember when” situation where you get to catch someone before they really blow up.

Mallrat

I’ve always found it funny that “fashionably late” even applies to concerts in Montreal. If you’re like me and actually make it to places at the correct time you can check out Mallrat bright and early at the crack of 1 pm on Sunday.

I know, what an ungodly hour to be awake, and on a Sunday no less! But it will be well worth it. At just 20 years old, this Australia singer/rapper is already starting to make waves, best to get on the boat early.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

The elevator pitch for why St.Paul & The Broken Bones is on this list, the dude can sing like it’s nobody’s business. A whole lot of soul, a little bit of funk and a superb horn section have me curious to see what the live version of the tracks I’ve heard will sound like.

Mitski

Ok so Mitski is definitely not a lesser known artist but she’s on in the afternoon so it might still count. Besides, this is my list and I’ll do what I want!

She’s the winner of the “Osheaga Artist I’ve Been Listening to Most Lately Award” and as the winner of this completely arbitrary prize she wins a spot on this list.

Mac DeMarco

In this case I have no excuse, it’s super duper duper breaking the rules to put Mac DeMarco on the list. So he’ll go at the bottom and I won’t dwell on it for long but I had to since the “hipster Jimmy Buffet” is absolutely nuts live, don’t forget to go see him, who knows what craziness he’ll get up to.

You might even get to hear his tone deaf drummer sing classic rock songs like he did last summer at Lollapalooza. Like who does that?!?

While this year’s line-up at Osheaga is heavy on the electronic and hip hop acts, there are still plenty of bands for those of you who want to rock out. And personally, while it’s nice to have the mix, sometimes you just want to rock out.

Here my picks for the best indie rock performers playing Osheaga this year:

Real Estate

Indie pop sensations Real Estate have found themselves at a crossroads with their last LP, with longtime lead guitarist Matt Mondanile leaving the band, but still have the chops to take it all the way.

In Mind (2017), their fourth studio album and one recorded in the absence of Mondanile, shows the band is still very viable. With this album taking them in new directions, the future looks for Real Estate.

Sunday, August 4, 4:30pm @ National Bank Stage

Mac Demarco

I was supposed to avoid writing about the headliners, and let’s face it Mac Demarco is a headliner even if he isn’t the top bill. He has played shows in front of tens of thousands, spawned a resurgence in semi-psychedelic lo-fi sound (and many have tired to copy his trademark sound), and he smokes the king of all cigarettes, Viceroy.

His lo-fi sound started in Mile End but has now reached the four quadrants of the world. And boy has it been one long strange trip.

He’s known for being an oddball and goofing around on stage, so expect to see some serious antics! But his unique sound gives him the tight niche of laid back slacker rock that is just very compelling and very good.

Sunday, August 5, 5:15pm @ Bell Alt TV River Stage

Teke:: Teke

The eclectic coming together of musicians from well-known Montreal bands (Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra, Boogat, Pawa) created Japanese-influenced post-punk psychorockers Teke:: Teke.

If you yen for some traditional Japaneese  surf rock infusion then this might be the band for you.

Friday, August 2 3:45 @ Perrier Tree Stage

Braids

Montreal Art rock band Braids will take the stage a year after winning the Juno for Best Alternative Rock group.

They got me with their 80s electronic beats over Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s vocals, which can be pretty haunting at times especially when infused with some pretty interesting vocal effects.

Sunday, August 4th, 1pm @ Honda Valley Stage

Kurt Vile and the Violators

I’ve been a fan of Kurt Vile ever since the first time I saw him play at Casa del Popolo. He was alone at the time playing his guitar with crazy pedal effects and his sweet nasal voice. Sufficed to say, I was pretty impressed.

His lo-fi sound and voice fills the psychedelia of his songs with wry, sardonic lyrics. His last album Lotta Sea Lice, co-written with Courtney Barnette, was truly inspiring and now he’ll be on stage with the Violators, a band that adds overall emphasis to his unique style.

Friday August 2, 8:15pm @ Honda Valley Stage

We Are Monroe

If you really need to rock out at Osheaga this year then check out Montreal’s own We Are Monroe. They are part classic rock with a new twist Their singer brings a great voice in the singing style of The Black Keys complimented by some terrific backup guitar.

Friday August 2, 2:20pm @ Perrier Tree Stage

Reignwolf

Part metal, part rock, this band knows how to riff out an amazingly catchy song. They flew under the radar for a long time until Rolling Stone magazine called them one of the top 10 artists you need to know.

Now, with their new album out Hear Me Out (2019), they are set to go on tour with The Who later this year. Catch them while you can.

Saturday, August 3, 8:40pm @ Perier Stage

Osheaga runs Friday August 2nd to Sunday August 4th at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Tickets available through Osheaga.com

Featured Image Courtesy of Laura Fedele/WFUV

Following my interview with Shaun Majumder, I had the chance to see HATE. The almost sold-out audience happily shared in Majumder’s frustration and confusion to the continued hate that surrounds the Trump presidency, and its effect even up in the Great White North.

Majumder opened with the acknowledgment that yes, it has been a year since he left This Hour has 22 Minutes, and no, he is not bitter about it. In fact, so much so, that he seamlessly features a one-on-one interview mano-a-mano with himself. Incredibly, he makes no mistake, and has the audience alive with his self-inflicted argument.

The Majumder v. Majumder Skype call set the tone for the rest of the show, exploring how hate can grow inside of us, and covers his departure from CBC quickly, not deviating from the jokes.

The multimedia aspects were flawless and really complemented his comedy, seeing as it revolved around bigoted tweets, racially charged videos and a sprinkling of memes. When he broke into his self-written song Rainbow Infection near the end of his set, it was perfectly lit in bright green.

The show centered around the reaction he received when he wrote a satirical song for This Hour has 22 Minutes in 2016. Beige Power approaches the idea of blending cultures through “genetic criss-crossin'”which was taken much too seriously by a few alt-right twitter users, who took to the platform to berate Majumder to such an extent that the best ones made their way into his comedy special.

The racist tweets are a treat to behold and are featured in their full glory on a giant screen behind him. Some are difficult to fathom, but Majumder takes the piss out of them, breaking them down, joking about nonsensical concepts like “racist brown mother fucker”, which Majumder says is just a bigot’s oxymoron.

Majumder included some of his well-known impersonations: the charming, rural newfie accent, his east Indian father, and a pretty good aloof Trudeau. These were crowd-favourites, and anytime a Canadian-ism made its way into a joke, it left many of us in stiches. In the end, we all just enjoy laughing at ourselves.

His attempt to not just attack the white supremacy and the inevitable connection to Trump but to bring it back home was better than expected. With a show titled HATE, there is an expectation that it will be dark, mean or angry, but Majumder kept it light, yet uncharacteristically unapologetic.

“This hour has 60 minutes,” he joked, harkening back to his 15 years with CBC, “but if you came here looking for Rick Mercer, you’re in the wrong fucking place.”

Majumder continues his HATE tour in November in Alberta and Saskatchewan

Have you ever had one of those 3am conversations with a fellow music aficionado, sitting on the floor with vinyl records strewn about, debating the merits of certain genres of music in a kind of stream-of-consciousness free-flow of observations and criticisms? If not, Fred Armisen can give you the full experience.

Saturday night at the Olympia, the former Saturday Night Live star, co-creator of Portlandia and band leader for Late Night with Seth Meyers took to the stage for his one-man show and immediately began asking questions he’s clearly been pondering for years now: how can you tell when a jazz solo for upright bass has ended? Why don’t violinists cue up the orchestra? Why do horn players always talk about money?

The evening is a journey into the mind of a man who has spent the past several decades observing the oddities of both music and comedy. He calls the show “Comedy For Musicians… but everyone is welcome“. There really couldn’t be a more apt title. The audience ate it up, but those with a musical background clearly got more out of the show.

It helped that the crowd was well­­ warmed-up by local comedian Francois Bellefeuille, who gave a Nasty Show-worthy anecdote about his internship as a veterinarian, where he found himself having to masturbate a horse to completion and get graded for it.

Armisen, perhaps not having heard his set, awkwardly brought the subject back to horses at one point in his own act, noting that they always seem to look through you with little interest. To the audience‘s relief, the subject promptly swung back to music.

Like the best kind of high school teacher, Armisen exudes a casual warmth that immediately puts you at ease, while also piquing your interest. True, there were moments where his delivery almost recalled that of Nicholas Fehn, his SNL character who was famously unable to complete a single sentence without starting another.

Nevertheless, much of the pleasure in the show came from his ability to hop, skip and jump around. He even copped to the unorthodox nature of his comedy, saying “When I first came up with that – I guess I’ll call it a joke”. In a festival overflowing with punchlines, his approach to humour was a breath of fresh air.

Armisen took us through the percussive evolution of Punk Rock and vented on the following: needlessly long pieces of classical music, guitar players who sing along to their own solos, singers who pretend they can‘t reach their notes when they clearly can, and guitarists who make feedback a large part of their act.

In his best bit, he reenacted what he believed must have been the inner narrative of the studio drummer performing the opening to Diana Ross’ hit “I’m Coming Out”.

At one point, Armisen even lead the audience in an improvised sing-along reminiscent of his hilarious Garth and Kat SNL sketches, where he and costar Kristen Wiig would have to keep up with each other’s spur-of-the-moment lyrics.

The audience was able to follow along, and for their efforts were rewarded with a few short songs by some of Armisen’s fictional bands, Test Pattern and Blue Jean. They left with only one complaint: that the musician left without returning for an encore, which the crowd eagerly demanded. Here’s hoping the next time Armisen returns to Montreal, he is ready and willing to give them more of what they came for.

Tickets for other Just For Laughs shows are available at hahaha.com.