Pop Montreal Preview – September 25th & 26th
Pop Montreal is back. This Wednesday, Montreal will open itself up to the venue-spanning, week long festival marking the true start of the fall season.
At a glance, this year’s lineup does not contain a multitude of heavy hitters or big names; however, like fellow local fest Mile Ex End, this year’s Pop has been carefully curated, and features a massive lineup of diverse international talent and up and comers that are sure to surprise and make a mark. With dozens of shows set all across Montreal’s many excellent venues, you might be at a loss over what’s worth your time. Don’t sweat it; we did the hard work for you. Here’s our list of must see shows for the first two days of Pop Montreal!
La Fièvre + Glockabelle + Favourite Daughter + Housepanther @ O Patro Vys
Kicking off the massive run of shows that is Pop Montreal is a powerhouse, female-led lineup taking over O Patro Vys on Wednesday. Montreal natives La Fièvre are spearheading the show, and if their latest release la marge survivant is any indication, their show will neither be to be forgotten or missed. The duo have been carefully and selectively releasing a tight, cohesive collection of their dark, experimental synth pop tracks over the past few years, and they just keep getting better. La Fièvre’s sound reaches across hip-hop, noise, pop, new wave and house music to form their experimental, wholly original brand of self-described “dark art-pop.” The duo’s sound is relentless and abrasive, constantly warping and folding over itself; the band drops in stuttering, prickly and popping percussion layered overtop post-punk inspired monotone vocals and grimy synths, making for a sound that hits hard and seems designed to be experienced live. The group is joined by the chaotic, noisy synth musings of New York’s Glockabelle, fellow Montrealers Favourite Daughter (formerlyHildeguard), and the cool, guitar-based indie rock of Winnipeg’s Housepanther. With such a diverse, genre-spanning lineup, La Fièvre and company truly exemplify what Pop Montreal stands for, and their show is sure to make for a challenging and rewarding sonic experience.
For Fans Of: Grimes, Crystal Castles, Sleigh Bells
Doors at 8 / Show at 9 / $10 at doors
The Flamingos Pink Kustom Kreme Album Release @ Turbo Haus
Montreal natives Julien Corrado and Sacha Gubnay, also known as The Flamingos Pink, will be bringing their bright, poppy rock and roll show to Turbo Haus for a night of garage pop not to be missed. The band makes cool, slick, head bobbing garage rock tunes with a light, catchy pop sensibility and laid back attitude. But armed with a slew of new tunes to premiere, don’t expect a laissez-faire affair. The duo will be launching their debut full length record Kuston Kreme, and if the band’s new songs are anywhere as breezy and fun as their recent run of singles including College Crush, Shake and Rocksteady, show-goers can expect blissful harmonies, rockabilly-inspired charred guitars, and an old-school greaser attitude and swagger we desperately need in rock and roll. TFP’s foot-stomping tunes are sure to get the crowd moving; get on your feet and get on down to the rock show. You won’t regret it.
For Fans Of: The Orwells, Bass Drum of Death, Together Pangea
Kokoko! + Mabika-KL + Doomsquad @ Rialto Theatre
Chances are, you probably haven’t heard of Kokoko. That’s about to change. The collective hails from the DIY music scene of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The band’s sound can be more easily characterized by what it isn’t than what it is; the group’s music is never static, predictable, or willing to adhere to any constricting demands of traditional genre or structure. Instead, the band and their debut full length Fongola are brimming with life. Vocals are shouted, proclaiming on top of the powerful percussion that drives each song and ranges from complex polyrhythmic beats to pounding four-on-the-floor house beats punctured by odd, organic textures. Synths and affected guitars wail and stutter, skipping across each track with immediacy and intensity. The group beautifully melds together traditional African tonality with a strong influence in house music and electronica, making for a sound rich in detail, exuberantly energetic and intensely primal and powerful. Everything about Kokoko’s sound is immediate and designed for maximum impact; this is not music for the background, this is music that demands to be not just heard, but experienced live.
For Fans Of: Amanaz, Viagra Boys, Fontaines D.C.
Doors at 10:30 / Show at 11 / $17 advance / $20 at doors
Hot Garbage + Legal Vertigo + Abrdeen + JayWood @ L’Escogriffe
With the technicality and trippy energy of Pink Floyd, the cool swagger of The Doors, and the diversity and low-fi psychedelic texture of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Hot Garbage is sure to bring a must see live performance to the stage at L’Escogriffe this month. The Toronto-bred psychedelic mainstays have quickly made a name for themselves, navigating through their memorable nimble, slow-burning, detailed psych rock over the course of two EPs, and are showing no signs of slowing down. The band exemplifies everything great about the best psych rock from the past and present. Hazy vocals weave through the songs, adding depth and melodic flourishes while knowing when to sit back and allow the instrumentation to develop organically. The songs take their time to develop, and the washed out low-fi sound adds texture to the swirling keys and strong foundation of the driving rhythm section. Each track defies typical structure, choosing instead to lead the listener on a journey that moves naturally and never feels rushed or forced. The band’s sound also draws on the intensity of garage rock in intense bursts of energy, a sure sign that the band’s live show will be as captivating as their recordings. The band is backed by a strong lineup of support including Abrdeen’s cool, dreamy synth-pop, the eccentric, worldly psych-funk of Winnipeg’s Jaywood, and Montreal-via-PEI indie rockers Legal Vertigo. If there’s a not-to-be-missed night of psych rock greatness, it’s this one. Be there to tell the tale.
For Fans Of: Kikagaku Moyo, Pottery, Sugar Candy Mountain
Doors at 8 / Show at 8:30 / $12 advance / $15 at doors
Tirzah + Jon Bap + Hildegard @ Rialto Theatre
Riding high off of her excellent debut full length Devotion, English singer Tirzah is prepped and ready to knock down the house at the Rialto Theatre, the perfect venue to house and showcase the grandeur and spectacle of her grand, offbeat and infectious indie pop sound. Tirzah has been making waves for the past few years thanks to her clever, experimental and always groovy electro-pop compositions. Her sound rides the line between traditional pop and experimental, off-kilter electronic music, with clear influence in house, dub, RnB and hip-hop setting her apart from her contemporaries and allowing her music to cover a wide berth of sonic landscapes. However, despite the wide-ranging nature of her music, Tirzah never gets lost in experimentation and always manages to reign in her sound thanks to her distinctive voice and melodic sensibilities. Joining Tirzah is the equally experimental Jon Bap, who’s warped, bipolar sound runs all over the map, and is sure to be a perfect counterpoint to fellow opener Hildeguard’s more accessible and poppy sound. Tirzah won’t be up and coming for long; her charming, crowd-pleasing sound is sure to make her a household name. Get in on the hype early, while you still can.
For Fans Of: Empress Of, Vérité, Braids
Doors at 7 / Show at 8 / $25 advance / $30 at doors
Shonen Knife + Nobro + Pony + Zinnia @ La Ministère
To say Shonen Knife has been around the block a few times would be a gross understatement. To say the band is highly influential and still going strong after more than three decades together would be too. The Japanese band has taken their sugary, infectious power-pop sound all over the globe, and their latest outing lands them right smack in Montreal. Fans of the band can expect an energetic performance, headed by veteran singer, guitarist and bandleader Naoko Yamano, who’s dedication and passion for her band is impressive and nearly unrivaled. The band has always been shamelessly fun, quirky and poppy, and their latest offering, this year’s Sweet Candy Power, makes it clear that the band is leaning into what has made their sound so loveable, memorable and persistant. The band is joined by Nobro, one of the best punk bands the city has to offer, as well as Toronto garage rocker Pony. On top of all this, make sure to keep an eye out for synth-pop newcomer Zinnia; the Toronto singer’s three excellent singles are diverse, layered and full of life with a strong sense of identity and personality. Don’t be surprised if her performance is a standout and breakout from the festival.
For Fans Of: Guitar Wolf, PUP, The Beaches
Doors at 8 / Show at 8:30 / $18 advance / $20 at doors
Hollerado + Ellis + Bad Waitress @ Sala Rossa
Hollerado are calling it quits. But anyone who knows anything about the local Ontario legends knows they’ll be going out with a bang. The Canadian quartet has never been one to fade into the background; the band’s storied career has included dozens of tours, spanned over a decade and includes a rock-solid discography full of rousing rock and roll records; this including the infamous 111 Songs, in which the band recorded that many songs, each dedicated to it’s own dedicated fan. After such a long and exciting career, the band is poised to go out on a high note belted over pounding drums and screaming guitars. The band will be taking over Sala Rossa for their final Montreal performance. They will be joined Hamilton singer Ellis and punk rockers Bad Waitress; the band’s 2017 record Party Bangers: Volume 1 is aptly named, and probably tells you everything you need to know. Expected roaring guitars, moshing, and a massive, hard hitting, world-shaking final statement from one of Canada’s best and most important modern rock and roll bands.
For Fans Of: Arkells, Yukon Blonde, The Dirty Nil
Doors at 8:30 / Show at 9 / $16 advance / $20 at doors
Check out Pop Montreal’s official pre-festival playlist for music by these artists and more!
Look out for our coverage of the 27th to the 29th coming later this week. Happy poppin’!!!