Pop goes Montreal



There’s a good reason my patented Morning memos have been more like bleary-eyed early-afternoon memos over the past couple of days: I’ve been spending some (staggeringly late) nights checking out all things weird and wonderful at Pop Montreal.  For those who don’t know about Montreal’s little-music-fest-that-could, it’s one of the city’s best showcases for outsider/underground artists, with a handful of well-known acts sprinkled in for good measure.

After watching the French-language debate over at Marty’s pad on Wednesday night, I cut across town to catch local mock-rockers Quatro who were playing on a bill with Georgia’s Dark Meat (more on them later) at the Vice party. I don’t usually have much time for the self-aware rock n’ roll theatrics of bands whose shows are described as an “experience,” but Quatro’s the apparent brainchild of Les Georges Leningrad’s Mingo l’indien and that was all I needed to know to check it out. I’m happy I did, too: Who knew big, crunchy guitar riffs layered over Scarface-style synths could be so much fun?

I wasn’t quite as taken by the Dark Meat show, however. With a dozen or so members on stage and a full-on Manson Family aesthetic, I expected them to indulge in some sort of “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord”-inspired freakout. But, as it turns out, the whole affair is more straight-ahead jukebox rock than a decadent hymn to the heavens.

I really, really wanted to go to last night’s Nick Cave show. But alas, Irma Thomas‘s show at the Ukrainian Federation was too good a gig to pass up. She delivered, too. Her aptly-named backing band, The Professionals, gave the show a brilliant cabaret atmosphere, and the exceptionally warm and elegant Thomas was in top form. The video above is one of my favourite scenes in American cinema; the song, of course, is Thomas’s sublime rendition of “It’s rainin'”.

Yesterday’s other notable gig was the decidedly weird Silver Apples. The stage show involves the 70-year-old Simeon playing a self-designed, primitive machine (The Simeon) that distorts and changes the pitch of basic tones. I’d only just heard of them (him, actually) from a friend in Toronto who told me it was essential that I check it out. Although it was occasionally a little too proggy for my tastes, the more pulsating, krautrock-style material gave the show an oddly compelling, almost hypnotic ambience.

Here’s my schedule (so far) for tonight: Burt Bacharach, Japanther, Socalled (in a porn theater!), and Akron/Family. If there are any music geeks out there, throw some recommendations in the comments. (I don’t have much planned for tomorrow night.) Here’s a link to the festival schedule: http://popmontreal.com/en/popsched

Also, if you think you recognize me at a show, come up and say “buy me a beer, you damn anglo”, and I’ll do just that. Keep in mind that you’ll probably get punched in the face if you’re wrong. (Or if you try it with Marty.)


Pop goes Montreal

  1. You might want to track down ‘The Relays’ and ‘One Night Band’. They’re both ska bands, playing on the same bill I believe.

  2. for saturday:

    of the non-headliners: have seen both andrew vincent and mother mother within the last year (perhaps a bit longer for AV) and both were quite good shows.

    of the headliners, perhaps obvious, hilotrons, spiral beach and les hand claps would be competing for my attendance (which is worth nothing)

    k-os is a smart and creative dude… so his solo think is intriguing.

    once again, I wish I lived in Mtl.

    ps the last line is fantastically funny (’cause it is true).

  3. Let’s see…tonight: Contrived (members of Wintersleep and Holy F*ck) at 8, Charlotte Cornfield (think of a folkier, less obnoxious version of Feist) at 9, and The Unsettlers (Tom Waits-y folk-rock) at 11:30…beyond those three, I’m still trying to figure out my own schedule…

    Saturday: Bruce Peninsula at 9 at Portuguese Association. It doesn’t matter who else you see (though The Magic at midnight at Esco should be good), see Bruce Peninsula. At the very least, they’re going to be up for the Polaris next year. Their new album (which is currently being shopped around to labels, and that they were kind enough to send me a stream of) is incredible…they have 12 members and they’re from Toronto, but they’re not BSS-y in the least. They might fit into the “decadent hymn to the heavens” category, but whatever…they’re amazing.

  4. what did you see?

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