Culture & Conversation

Spray-time Playtime

If your head is spinning and your vision is filled with rainbows during the next few days, don’t be alarmed. This weekend, while the LGTB community shows their pride with a spectacular parade, another community will be spraying their colours across our city’s walls. It’s time for the sixteenth annual edition of the Under Pressure International Graffiti Convention. Word Up!

Born out of a mixture of love for a way of life and frustration towards its bad rap, the now well-matured fest serves to embrace a culture often frowned upon by media and municipal authorities — even in a city as open as our own. In response to all this, for nearly two decades now, Under Pressure invites graffiti writers and admirers to take part in a weekend of (sanctioned) spray-painting and skateboarding fun.

Daytime events will be ongoing from 11 am until 8 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Each day features both imported and homegrown talent, freely expressing themselves on walls down Ste. Catherine East between Ste. Dominique and Hotel De Ville, accompanied by the blasting beats of a variety of DJs.

Eager to celebrate all that is hip-hop culture, Under Pressure will be shaking up more than just paint cans.  Skateboarding battles, boasting prizes and cash rewards, will take place during the entire weekend, including free skate for those choosing not to compete, but still fancying a few grinds nonetheless. Sunday afternoon from 3 to 6 pm will feature the skilled breaks of Montreal’s bboys and bgirls during three hours of three-on-three battles, offering up rather impressive cash prizes – $700 for the first place winner, and $200 for second place.

The walls may still be wet, and your head may be heavy from paint fumes, but that’s no reason to stop the celebrations. On Saturday, Underworld Skateboard (1403 Ste. Elizabeth) will keep the party going til 3am with DJs Vilify, Risk and Cory K heating up the shop for five full hours of Pabst-driven Deep Under Pressure; open to anyone over 18, with five dollars to spare, and ready for a good time. Sunday’s free nighttime event at Foufounes Electriques will close the fest with headliner Masta Ace, along with Og Hindu Kush and Ottawa’s own Flight Distance.

Finally, if 16 consecutive years of the fest isn’t enough to prove Montreal hip-hop culture’s enduring presence, the festival organizers have created a space for graffiti art to thrive year-round. This year’s festival will also serve as the inauguration of Under Pressure’s pop-UP gallery, Fresh Paint, now inhabiting 180 Ste. Catherine East. An opening vernissage will take place at the gallery on Saturday from 7 to 10 pm.

So, festivalgoers, grab your favorite snapback – Montreal’s finest in graffiti are about to show their colors! Get ready for a weekend of good music, good friends and some really impressive tags and pieces: spread the word!


Under Pressure will take over Ste. Catherine East, between Ste. Dominique and Hotel de Ville, on August 13th and 14th, 2011. For more info visit

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