Jeunesse Cosmique is one of the most interesting labels in Montreal, representing a truly eclectic collection of artists that have one thing in common: their music can be described as experimental or just plain weird. This event will feature live painting by local artist Chang E Ling.
My favourite weirdo/jazz/punk band will be playing two sets throughout the evening. According to the event description, there will be a real live grand piano! That eats children! Kids Eat Crayons have also just released their first ever music video for a song called ‘Winston Eats Shit’. Check it out!
Montreal Psych Fest’s main organizer Tasha Class put on a three-day festival this year by dishing out a lot of money from her own pocket. If you feel so inclined, help her out by going to this show and dropping some cash in the bucket.
NOÏSUNDAÉÈ is an afternoon concert series that takes place every Sunday at La Plante. It seeks to showcase artists whose work may not otherwise see the light of day because it may be too weird, non-traditional or fun for mainstream ears. At the end of the show, attendees can enjoy a meal prepared by the Plant Community Kitchen for a small donation.
This week features Jamie Dunkle and his “projet de drone pesant pour orgue électrique”; Rochester, NY ensemble Gay Angel; Orian; and Portable Cosmoshrine, the solo project of Shota from Wreckage with Stick.
King Tuff’s third full-length Black Moon Spell is out now. “Los Angeles, full of its screaming coyotes and creeping helicopters, surely slathered its sexy, twisted, hairy, polluted spirit all over Black Moon Spell. The Sunset Strip shat itself when it heard all these guitar solos.” — Black Moon Spell bio page on Sub Pop Records.
A constantly revolving lineup and a mix of so many genres it’ll make your head spin (including surf rock, death metal and traditional Middle Eastern folk influences), Secret Chiefs 3 is really unlike anything else.
Nothing marks the end of summer like the outdoor barbecue crusty blowout party that is Fattal Fest. Now in its fifth year, the festival started as a block party of sorts for the residents of the Fattal lofts in St-Henri, a nice little community-oriented get-together with cheap food, beer and punk bands. As the neighbourhood has gentrified in the last few years, the party has become more popular and has grown to include non-St-Henri residents as well. This goes over pretty well with the people I have spoken to in the past who live there as it serves to raise awareness about the socio-political situation at Fattal.
Over the past couple of years, the residents of the Fattal lofts have been battling the city and their landlord, the notorious Sam Fattal – owner of many squalid, derelict buildings and shoddy new condo developments on the island – for their right to live there and not be forced out as the neighbourhood becomes more and more desirable to condo developers.
As the event description is quick to point out, the organizers of the party (mainly Fattal residents and others in the St-Henri punk scene) do not have permission from the city to host this event so they ask everyone to keep to the parking lot, not mill around in the streets, be respectful and pick up after themselves.
Event starts tonight at 7 p.m. and continues Saturday and possibly Sunday, free.
Dragonroot Media and The Centre for Gender Advocacy are presenting this show tonight featuring transgender musician and author Rae Spoon. All proceeds will go to fund Dragonroot, a fairly new feminist collective that supports anti-oppressive practices in the media. They have a weekly show on CKUT 90.3 FM Tuesdays from 8:30 to 9 a.m. Shoutout to fellow FTBers Hannah Besseau and Pamela Fillion, who are also behind Dragonroot.
Wings of Metal is an underground metal festival put on by three promoters looking to emulate the style of underground metal festivals that take place in Europe. That means lots of quality bands for a fair price, many of whom are from out of town like Toronto’s Blood Ceremony, Bölzer from Zurich, Edinburgh’s Holocaust and Brooklyn’s Natur, just to name a very few. Many of these bands, even the ones from North America, have a huge following in Europe and rarely come play here so getting to see them all under one roof is pretty special.
Bands play Friday and Saturday and to close off the festival, on Sunday there’s a metal record market followed by a barbecue and a secret show.
Doors open at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, $45 per day; Metal record market and BBQ Sunday from 2 p.m. followed by a secret show at 6 p.m., $5 entry for the market, $15 for the show.
The good people behind Piknic are hoping you’ll take advantage of the long weekend to check out at least one of the three editions of Montreal’s favourite summertime electronic party series. Saturday’s edition is a short one (it ends at 8:45 p.m.) with only one stage due to the Arcade Fire show that takes place that night ($10 entry to Piknic upon presentation of an Arcade Fire ticket). Their regular full programming continues on Sunday and Monday.
Shows start Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 2 p.m., $15 at the door.
Montreal psych rockers Elephant Stone will be launching their third full-length album, The Three Poisons, which is available for streaming in full on their Soundcloud. Then they’re off on tour again (man, do these guys work hard).
This show will mark the first time Dan Boeckner’s (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs) new project Operators perform in Montreal. Go see what all the fuss is about and in the meantime, check out this review by Nameless Ponytail of their first release, EP1.
It is the one year anniversary of the monthly audio/visual performance series known as the Secret Museum of Sound and Nature. The series brings together people who share a common interest in new, innovative and experimental music. Read our interview with Jim Demos, founder and main organizer of the series.
HOWL, a Montreal collective promoting social justice through the arts, organized this event in collaboration with Missing Justice, a grassroots campaign, to draw attention to the large number of missing and murdered indigenous women. The event features performances by aboriginal artists Odaya and Beatrice Deer, as well as experimental harpist Sarah Pagé (The Barr Brothers) and Montreal duo AroarA.
Montreal psychedelic powerhouse Elephant Stone are kicking off a summer of touring here in Montreal by performing all the tracks off their new album, the self-titled follow-up to their 2009 success The Seven Seas.
The Secret Museum of Sound and Nature is a monthly concert series dedicated to bringing together artists and audiences who are interested in the stuff that tends to fall outside of conventional music genres–experimental, stoner, shoegaze, and more.
The 6th edition of Rock Against Racism will benefit Montreal’s Immigrant Workers Centre. Part of the IWC’s mandate is to provide education about workers’ rights in a safe environment, to improve living and working conditions for immigrant workers, and to help defend the rights of immigrants in their places of work.
A new monthly event comes to us from the collective known as Witching Hour Events. To be held every new moon cycle, events feature short works by local filmmakers, performances by local bands of every genre, multimedia activities and visual arts. The event’s creators say it’s all in the spirit of exchanging ideas and information and sharing creative experiences to inspire change.
This version will feature performances by NooM, Light Bulb Alley, Bearmace, and Hoax. Attendees are even encouraged to bring a small instrument or other sound-making device to use during a short jam to honour the new moon.
Dressing like an alien for this edition is also encouraged.
If you haven’t heard Atsuko Chiba’s new album yet (released last week), you should probably not waste any time and do it now. They are one of the most exciting new bands in Montreal’s experimental heavy music scene. Their live shows are completely entrancing and offer that little extra something that can’t be experienced just listening to the recording.
Indian Handcrafts’ latest album Civil Disobedience For Losers is my favourite new discovery of the year. Seeing them play to an almost empty room last time they came to Montreal was a special experience. This time, they get to be part of a truly solid lineup, including fellow Sargent House label mates Red Fang and heavy-hitting musical veterans Cancer Bats.
This show has your weekly dose of psychedelia. The Artsy Chicks are a brand new Montreal band (they started this past spring) but they’ve already recorded a full-length album. They also come with an elaborate back-story that includes the theft of something called the Power Stone and an oncoming war.
Listening to Montreal band Atsuko Chiba can most accurately be described as an Experience. I say accurately described because in reality, there are few words that can properly capture what happens to one’s brain and emotions when Kevin McDonald, Karim Lakhdar, David Palumbo, Eric Schafhauser, and Anthony Piazza all get together and play music.
This is mostly due to the fact that Atsuko Chiba is much more than five people playing music together. It’s a force all its own, almost an autonomous being with its own energy, life, and purpose.
Without getting too carried away, it’s safe to say that these five very talented people have managed to combine their ideas and abilities to create something so seamless, it acts as one unit. According to them, their music would not exist were it not built on a solid foundation of teamwork and trust.
“It’s like a freight train now,” guitarist Karim Lakhdar said. “Everyone has the same purpose, no one’s second guessing, no one has one foot in the water, everyone’s all in. We’re five guys with a drive, it creates a good energy. If you’re not feeling it that day, you have someone else to help you out.”
Bassist David Palumbo agrees.
“It’s really comforting to have four other people share that same vision,” he said.
A last-minute show put on by students in Concordia’s electroacoustics program – where guitarist Kevin McDonald and Lakhdar studied – brought the five of them together on a stage for the first time almost two years ago. Since then, they’ve managed to put together a full-length album and are very close to finishing their second full-length, which has been in the works for a year.
Their signature sound, which falls under the umbrella of experimental but includes elements of psychedelic, punk, post-rock, metal, and prog-rock, is the result of an organic writing process whereby everyone pulls their own weight and feeds off the others.
When it comes to writing music for Atsuko Chiba, McDonald says there is no real formula.
“Most of the time, one of us comes up with a cool idea and that becomes a springboard,” he said.
“We try to set a certain mood,” Lakhdar added. “We want it to feel like a certain place or thing, that we might even invent; it only makes sense to us.”
He compares the writing process to a relay: one person brings an idea forward and someone else picks it up and brings it further.
“[For this album], we had bits and pieces, song ideas and transitions in mind already,” said Palumbo. “But besides that, we had a whole concept for the album, kind of like a story that we referred to every time we were working on a song. The music is very visual so we almost invented this whole world where these characters live.”
Although these concept ideas that the guys are referring to are very abstract, the listener is definitely left with the impression that their album is a work that needs to be listened to almost completely from start to finish.
“There are some songs that you can listen to individually for sure, but on some level we’re imposing a long listening experience on the listener,” McDonald said.
A somewhat bold move in our internet age of short attention spans, downloading and listening to songs on shuffle. However, Atsuko Chiba are not opposed to people listening to their music for free and definitely see the internet as a strong ally for a local DIY band.
“It’s almost like a business card,” Palumbo said. “Listen to my album for free and if you like us, come see us at a show or help us out any way you can.”
“At the end of the day, I’m happier knowing that people are listening to our music than anything else,” McDonald added. “But I also want to keep playing music, so where do you draw that line?”
“You have to trust people, that’s what it is,” Lakhdar said.
The band emphasizes that they have a lot of support from friends inside and out of the music scene, something that is crucial to Atsuko Chiba’s survival. Whether it’s for the album art for their first release, Animalia: Several States of Being, done by artist and musician Gianni Berretta; or mixing and sound work by “6th unofficial band member” Matthew Cerantola, the band benefits from collaborations with others in the music community.
“A lot of the work people do for us right now is free, so it feels good to have people that believe in our stuff enough to do that,” Lakhdar said.
Ultimately, it all stems from the band’s own confidence in their work.
“If we didn’t have that conviction, I feel like people wouldn’t really give a fuck about us,” Palumbo said.
It’s a delicate balance: on the one hand, it’s important to stand by your music. But on the other, there’s the acknowledgement that you can always do better. They are constantly aware of this impulse to challenge and improve previous work.
“You can never be completely satisfied. If you’re satisfied, there’s a problem,” Lakhdar said. “You can be happy with something for a bit, like when we finish an album. But as soon as that’s done, we want to move on to the next thing, make it different, make it better. It’s just about continuing and continuing because you can’t stop.”
It’s a universal sentiment felt by artists of any medium. But they admit that it’s important to practice restraint. One way they achieve this is by really listening to the music and paying attention to what a particular song or section calls for.
“You have to be willing to throw stuff away ‘cause you can’t fit more than you have to into a song,” Palumbo explained. “That’s the song at its most pure state and that’s what it should be.”
“Sometimes, it takes doing nothing to achieve that,” McDonald said. “It’s perfect the way it is, I don’t have to add anything.”
It all goes back to the confidence that each member of Atsuko Chiba has in the others to do what’s best for their work. That can sometimes mean putting egos aside and being critical of one another in a way that is positive and constructive.
“If I play something that I’m one hundred percent sold on but everyone else says is not right, I have to understand that these guys are not telling me that I suck; they’re telling me that right now, it’s not what has to be played,” Palumbo said.
“If we talk about it in a way that it has its own life, it’s because it does,” Lakhdar said. “When we play together, there’s an energy and it wouldn’t be the same if it was someone else.”
“There’s a lot of sacrifice involved in doing this. You’re putting all your time into something, you’re wearing your heart on your sleeve,” McDonald said. “When you’re constantly sharing this super personal thing, there’s no veil.”
This year, Montreal further solidified its reputation as one of the most important music cities in the world. Our position as one of the great music capitals has never been in dispute, but we were missing something that other cities with major music scenes had: a psychedelic music festival.
Montreal Psych Fest founders John W. Stuart and David Lines were thinking along these lines when they decided to put together a festival that celebrates psychedelic music in all its forms. However, it seems somebody else had beat them to it.
“I got an email from Tasha Class, who had put on a festival last year, and was like ‘Hey, what are you doing? I thought I was doing Psych Fest?’ So we all teamed up and moved forward with it,” said Stuart.
This year’s festival was built upon Class’ one-night event last year and has grown to include over 20 local acts over a span of four days. The team already has plans to expand for next year’s edition by organizing psych-themed events throughout the year. Like Psych & Draw, an event that encourages participants to trip out their sketchbooks while listening to a selection of psychedelic music.
With the current resurgence of psychedelic music, the festival can only get bigger.
“[Psychedelic music] has always been present in the scene here but it sort of morphed and changed over the years,” Stuart said. “There is a really big resurgence with all the bands playing the festival, but also on a higher level with bands like The Besnard Lakes, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan and Elephant Stone. All these bands are doing quite well and they all have an element of psychedelia in their music.”
The key word here is element. In accordance with the traditionally open nature of the psychedelic movement, Stuart says that you don’t have to sound like The 13th Floor Elevators to be included in Montreal Psych Fest. This is clear when you look at this year’s lineup, which includes bands that incorporate an array of genres, sounds and instruments in their music.
One thing you can expect from every band is a far-out sensory experience. The best way to approach this is to give your mind up to the music and enjoy the trip. In the immortal words of Timothy Leary: Turn on, tune in and drop out.
Here’s a small selection of bands playing the Montreal Psych Fest:
This experimental 5-piece instrumental band blends elements of psychedelic, post-rock, metal and post-punk to create an otherworldly sound reminiscent of bands like Russian Circles, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion (watch this space for an upcoming interview with the band!).