Like every year, the 2013 Pop Montréal festival is stuffed to the gills with five delicious nights of music. It’s easy to get overwhelmed around this time, as “checking out” who is playing is always a massive feat. Yet I took it on this year – for you, dear readers – sifting through the innumerable names to get a little listing together.
Pop starts on Wednesday, September 25th, gaining speed as we head towards the weekend. The Church of St. John the Evangelist is hosting an evening of mellow and ethereal music, including the bands Saltland and San Fermin. Both artists have a St. Vincent/Julia Caulder vibe, perhaps highlighting the vast and sombre interior of their church venue. For a completely different soundscape, the BCASA is playing at O Patro Vys the same night. I have seen these guys tear it up and their energy drives right into you like a ton o’ bricks. So if you’re looking for a stimulant, this show might be right up your alley.
Thursday the 26th, the choices may begin inducing panic attacks. If you are frightened by the increasingly diverse array of shows to choose from, you can always hit up some of the less frequent afternoon shows, such as Ari Swan at Divan Orange or Kid Koala’s free talk about music in film. If you’re willing to make some tough decisions, read on.
Charlotte Cornfield, one of my Montréal favourites, is playing at Il Motore with Folly and the Hunter. Her music tends to make me think of train rides through the mountains or canning pickles with my friends. Colin Stetson and Tim Hecker are playing another dynamite show at the Rialto theatre. I have seen this lineup before and it blew me away. With Stetson’s nuanced performance and Hecker’s creative compositions, these guys are sure to deliver.
Girl Arm, a local Montréal post-rock band, is performing at Quai des Brumes with Gulfer. Be sure to attend if you are nostalgic for 90s style, Shellac-inspired music. At the Cabaret du Mile End, a stellar female lineup might just have my vote for the night if you’re looking for one stable plan. Katie Moore, a Montréal songstress who has long pulled at my heartstrings, is opening for Dorothy Moore, a soul-singer extraordinaire with killer pipes.
Friday the 27th, here we come. First up on my list is the Tal National and AroarA show at Casa del Popolo. Tal National brings West African guitar influences to the stage, while AroarA sounds something like an experimental, operatic rendition of Tegan and Sara. Perhaps my vote for the evening is YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN at Breakglass studios. This band was recently nominated for a Polaris Prize, with thoughtful and artistic performance pieces centred on de-colonial music. If you’re looking for a heavy-steady rock and roll show, Wild Nothing and Local Natives are at Metropolis. How about an evening of sultry folk? Angel Olsen and Leif Vollebekk at the Ukrainian Federation are about as sexy as you can get tonight. And now, a guilty pleasure revealed: I cannot personally wait for the Wannabe Spice Girls band at Cabaret playhouse. This band dresses as and covers the unforgettable tunes of the fantastic five.
The musical buffet continues on Saturday the 28th. On the Ubisoft rooftop, an early evening show is featuring Thus:Owls, a band I recently discovered with an effervescent quality, unique and rhythmic. I am nostalgically anticipating the Dishwasher and Pigeon Phat performance at Breakglass. Formerly known for their work as Donkey Heart and Think About Life, this is some early 2000s Montréal throwback shit. Shuggie Otis is the highlight of this festival for many, the Burt Bacharach of 2013. He is playing at the Rialto theatre with openers Eachother, a band I have adored since their inception and before, when they were known as longlonglong. A K U A is one of my favourite new artists this year, having released her debut EP in early spring. Her music relies on the strength of her own powerful voice and spellbinding layering of harmonies. She will be playing with Michael Rault at Divan Orange.
And so we arrive at our final day, Sunday the 29th. Fred Eaglesmith, a Tom Waits-esque songwriter, plays at Petit Campus and brings his weird folk to Montréal. An evening of varied and extreme talent is happening at the Rialto theatre entitled Songs of Darkness. This evening features the talents of artists such as Little Scream, Patrick Watson and AroarA reflecting on the darkness inherent in music.
My money for the evening is on the Breakglass Studios show, featuring Les Soeurs Boulay and Michael Feuerstack. I only discovered recently Les Soeurs Boulay’s lovely vocal harmonies and folk tunes, but I have been a long-time fan of Michael Feuerstack (formerly Snailhouse). I can’t say enough good things about the song-writing talent of Feuerstack, but certainly his compositions are some of my all-time favourite songs. I recommend this show highly.
If you would prefer to throw my suggestions out the window, please feel free to have a gander at the exhaustive listings on the Pop Montreal site. Bonne Chance, everybody, and I’ll see you out there!
Pop Montréal runs from September 25-29 at venues across town. For full listings visit the festival website.