Some people count down to New Years or Christmas or for rocket launches. I count down for POP Montreal. Perhaps I count down a little more quietly since the sprawling festival keeps the magic alive year round with seasonal Puces POPs (Spring Puces POP), Marche des Possibiles (here) all summer, pop up stores at Espace POP, and plenty of POP sponsored music performances (like Fringe POP). Still, its big moment are the five days in September when Montreal lays it down for all to see what makes this a music town. Scores of never-heard-of-em bands, an equal number of local scene-setters, and a handful of big names make this festival a chance to get to know where the music scene is at right now.
As always, the list of acts to catch is just mind bending. If you could master the art of superposition greater than atomic level, you probably could make it to every show you’d want to see as well as a few you don’t. For the rest of us, here’s a list of local bands we at Montreal Rampage have seen perform and can vouch for, depending on your musical tastes.
Montreal Bands We Can Vouch For
APigeon (Club Lambi, Sept 16, 22:30; Divan Orange, Sept 20, 2 p.m.)
When I hear APigeon, I think ’80s. There’s a lot of music in the ’80s, so to be more specific late 80s new wave music. There’s an elegance and a beauty to APigeon, and the sound can go from introverted and distant to exuberant.
Our Book and the Authors (Club Lambi, Sept 16, 21:30 p.m.)
I never tire of this band that plays infrequently in Montreal. It’s gone through many incarnations, but the sound and the music continue to astound. You can judge this book by its cover too! They’re a pretty dishy bunch. Interview HERE.
NOKO (Quai des Brumes, Sept 16, 22 p.m.)
Noko is an alt-band that creates a peaceful, soothing sound. We loved their album and are pretty excited to check them out live at POP. Read our review HERE.
DJ Touski (Piccolo Little Burgundy, Sept 16, 23 p.m.)
If you’ve never been to the Balkan Gypsy Party, your life is missing something. DJ Touski is the brains and heart behind this Eastern Europe meets West in the best party of your life. Touski is all heart, all fun, an just a super DJ. Read our interview HERE.
Lakes of Canada (Club Lambi, Sept 16, 23:30 p.m.)
We’ve been praising these folky outsiders for ages now. I think of “Keep Portland Weird” whenever I see them, but they’re local. So, um, keep Montreal weird? Read our interview HERE.
Syzzors (Divan Orange, Sept 16, 23:30)
Don’t you like seeing photos of people sweat? That could be some kind of fetish. We have some gorgeous pictures of Syzzors showing just how much they can put into a performance HERE. P.S. They’re awesome.
Corinna Rose (L’Hemisphere Gauche, Sept 17, 20:30 p.m.)
I first came across the beautiful songstress Corinna Rose when I borrowed her EP from CHMA in Sackville. I think it was a home press. It was amazing. I’ve been following her career ever since. We interviewed her HERE.
The Barr Brothers (L’Eglise St. Jean Baptiste, Sept 17, 21 p.m.)
Like you need us to tell you The Barr Brothers are good. Well, we did at least once HERE.
Po Lazarus (L’Hemisphere Gauche, Sept 17 22:30 p.m.)
We chatted with this local band that straddles the land between folk and rock. They’re known for rocking up a sweat and giving a good time. Check out our interview HERE.
The Muscadettes (Divan Orange, Sept 17, 23 p.m.; Quartiers Pop, Sept 19, 17 p.m.)
We’ve been eager to write something up on these gals ever since they launched their EP. Twins, you know… playing garage rock… sounds fucking awesome. We made an announcement HERE about their EP, and are hoping to report back more fully.
Homeshake (La Vitrola, Sept 17, midnight)
Peter Sagar steps out from Mac Demarco’s shadow with this side project. There’s no connection between the two and this one is a pretty wild journey into electronics and voice. Expect to shake, of course, with your dance moves. Our review is HERE.
Shash’U (Blue Dog Motel, Sept 17, 12:15 a.m.)
Shash’U is all about his own style. He has been killing it on the Montreal scene and further abroad with this former b-boy turned music god. Read Part I of our interview HERE and II HERE.
Flist! (Divan Orange, Sept 17, 1 a.m.)
We’ve never reviewed Flist!, if only because I can’t figure out how to do an upside down exclamation point on our server, but that doesn’t mean they’ve gone unnoticed. This dynamic and edgy band manages to be everything I’ve ever liked about art music. Creative, weird, and still good music.
Braids (Piccolo Little Burgundy, Sept 17, 2 a.m.).
I’ve been loving Braids since I first saw them play POP Montreal years ago. They have a new album and a more mature sound, but it’s still fucking amazing. Last time I wrote them up was here.
Heartstreets (Quartiers POP, Sept 18, 17:00 p.m.)
We caught Emma Beko and Gabrielle Godon giving their R&B electronic all at jazz fest this year. They know how to get a crowd dancing and bring the fun, the love, and all the joy. Check out our review HERE.
Will Butler (Theatre Rialto, Sept 18, 21:40 p.m.)
Any member of Arcade Fire gone rogue (or solo) has loving fans with open arms ready to embrace their endeavors. Gifted as a multi-instrumentalist, young Butler is an easy pleasure. We reviewed his album Policy here.
Un Blonde (La Sala Rossa, Sept 18, 22 p.m.)
We’re pretty new to Un Blonde, but after catching them at the BSTB Freak Heat Waves this summer, we’re hooked. Read our review HERE.
CTZNSHP (l’Esco, Sept 18, 22:30 p.m.)
Loud, fuzzy, and good at songcraft. Expect great lyrics and a proper edgy sound. We spoke to lead singer Jesse LeGallais about being outsiders and we love ’em for it.
Saxsyndrum (La Vitrola, Sept 18, 1 a.m.)
Stay up as late as you can to catch saxsyndrum. We talked to them about releasing a remix album HERE. We never tire of their looping madnesses.
L’il Andy (L’Esco, SEpt 19, 20:30 p.m.)
Long and not so little, Andy is country good, country cool, country the way it is out on the prairies. He isn’t quite that down-to-earth country guy you expect. He’s more reserved. We’ve talked to him about his last album HERE.
Bud Rice (Quai des Brumes, Sept 19, 21 p.m.)
We keep crossing paths with this local singer-songwriter. His music is soul-searching rock, not in an emo way, but a convivial one. We’ve reviewed his show and album.
Salivation Army (Piccolo Little Burgundy, Sept 19, 23 p.m.)
Hahahha, so funny to go back in the Rampage archive to when we were on wordpress and find one of our earliest plugs for Poirier and Salivation Army. Just sayin’. We liked her then. We like her reggae dance-hall now.
Dear Denizen (Quai des Brumes, Sept 19, midnight)
Ok, Ok, Chris Ngabonziza has been around for awhile and I’ve never seen him perform as Dear Denizen. I have seen him perform as Judas Iscariot in the annual Jesus Christ Superband show at Theatre St. Catherine and if he has one quarter the amount of energy, this is a spectacle not to miss.
AroarA (Theatre Rialto, Sept 20, 8 p.m.)
Andrew Whiteman can do no wrong in my musical playbook. What I thought would be a passing project for him has turned into a far more long-running thing with his partner in crime Ariel Engel. I’ve caught AroarA a few times now up at PDB Ritz (or whatever it used to be called) and always feel like I can leave happy after sating myself on their random goodness.
POP Montreal takes place from September 16-20. All details are on their website HERE.