POP Montreal is an international music festival which takes place around the city, on an early fall backdrop. I’ve nostalgically been watching outdoor performances of the festival’s previous years, and the autumn colours had already been visible on the mountain. Nevertheless, a festival as bright and colourful as POP is the best way to clear the end-of-summer blues.
Montreal is a huge fan of POP, and with good reason. In addition to the incredible up and coming, local and international bands, the festival holds a much more elaborate program, including free events, such as the Puces POP Fair and the Record Fair, as well as free masterclasses and workshops for the soon-to-be-rockstar-in-you, such as All you Need to know About the Music Business, and Stop Being an Idiot and Make Every Show of Your Tour Count. See all Puces POP events here, and all POP Symposium events here.
Of course, the star and centre of the festival is the musical lineup. Here are our suggestions to help guide you through the 5 day event.
Wednesday, September 17th
The first day of the festival might be the most somber, or at least the most haunting. Here are our suggestions:
Salle St-Ambroise, 8PM
Sun Kil Moon + guests. Songwriter Mark Kozelec, aka Sun Kil Moon, is a recognized as a folk-rock genius. His 2014 album Benji was warmly received by critics. Be there if you are looking for catchy and comforting tunes, sung beautifully.
Divan Orange, 9PM
Kid Congo Powers & The Pink Monkey Birds + guests. Kid Congo Powers is a renown punk-blues artists, whose played with the likes of Nick Cave. The influence and style of his roots are very clear in this collaboration with The Pink Monkey Birds. Be there if you want to relive the surprising and fun Osheaga Saturday evening.
Thursday, September 18th
The second night of the festival has already got us jittery. Here are our suggestions:
Adam Cohen + guests. Adam Cohen being, of course, Montreal’s most beloved Leonard Cohen‘s son. Although trying to distance himself from his father’s body of work, his latest album is the most reminiscent of him in its sweet folk-pop. Be there if you want an on point, elegant show.
Against Me! + The Gaslight Anthem + TwoPointEight. While Against Me! and The Gaslight Anthem have established themselves in Montreal as solid live acts, TwoPointEight imparts an infused punk mentality that will surely be interesting live, with only 2 albums in all of 20 years. Be there for what will be an honest, exciting, and much needed punk-rock show.
** Our Pick – Late Night Little Burgundy, 10PM
TR/ST + Mozart’s Sister + Dreamboy. Anyone’s wet 80’s techno-pop-dream. TR/ST‘s haunting synth, Mozart’s Sister catchy electro pop, and relatively unknown duo Dreamboy‘s gothic-pop, should reveal themselves as the perfect combination for a show. Be there for the nostalgic and dreamy effect the night will surely bring.
Friday, September 19th
Friday night will probably be our busiest, therefore, most exciting night. Here are our suggestions:
** Discover – Cabaret du Mile-End, 9PM
The Rural Alberta Advantage + PS I Love You + Mozart’s Sister + Grey Lands. A very attractive line-up, and possibly one of the biggest crowd-drawers of the night. Be there for the headliners’ fascinating hillbilly-indie-rock, and to experience the buzz surrounding all of these artists.
Il Motore, 9PM
Solids + Whirr + Cloakroom + Kestrels. Another attractive line-up for the night, this time veering toward a garage-punk and screeching guitar kind of night. Be there for what will be another great discovery, in a slightly more intimate setting.
** Our Pick – Late Night Little Burgundy, 11PM
Twin Shadow + guests. Let’s face it, we’ll all be a little drunk by 11 on Friday night, but Montreal will welcome Twin Shadow with open arms after his show cancellation a little over a year ago. Be there if you love 80’s new wave type pop, from a unique and very swanky signer.
Saturday, September 20th
After the excitement of Friday night, we kind of already know what our Saturday will look like. Here are our suggestions:
Rialto Theatre, 8PM
Panda Bear + Blues Control + guests. That event will surely be an artistic experience to anyone who attends. Animal Collective‘s Noah Lennox is Panda Bear, so fans know to expect experimental pop, while Blues Control hold their own with an instrumental, almost psychedelic, blues. Be there for what will be an interesting and surely unforgettable night.
Divan Orange, 9PM
The Lovely Feathers + How Sad + Dishwasher + Pigeon Phat + Holy Data + guests. This line-up speaks for itself. Although some of these bands have fallen off our radar in past years, there is no doubt in their capabilities. Be there if you’re a fan of impeccable indie pop.
** Our Pick – Club Soda, 9PM
Ty Segall + La Luz + guests. From experience, Ty Segall puts on intense shows and prolific garage rock. La Luz‘s all-girl, alternative surf-rock music, will most certainly be the perfect opening act for the singer, as well as a band to discover. Be there for what might be the coolest show of the festival.
Sunday, September 21st
The last night of POP holds only a few showcases, that is, if you don’t count the fact that the festival will be hosting that afternoon’s Piknic Electronik. Head down to Parc Jean Drapeau if the weekend hasn’t exhausted you already. Otherwise:
** Our Pick – Métropolis, 8:30PM
The Unicorns + guests. Whether the band is reuniting or not, the Montreal trio will surely draw in the crowd with their early 2000, weird and fun indie rock. Be there to witness the excitement of the crowd, and to see whether the band still has it or not.
Enjoy your POP, support up and coming bands, and discover Montreal’s many incredible venues. Hope to see you soon!
About Isabelle Royer
Has only been in Montreal for a few years now, but has learned the few important lessons of never biking behind a delivery truck, never flashing loose change on a street corner, never thinking a pigeon will move for you, and never taking the metro while in a hurry. Writing is a great way to share deep and life-changing experiences like these.