Monday, October 2nd, 2006

(Pop) Montreal Grand Prix

So I’m off to Pop Montreal this Thursday and am getting quite excited about it, if for no other reason than it means that one way or another the deadlines at work have passed and I am out of this burg for a few days at least. And though it’s just five hours away, I haven’t been to Montreal in about… 30 years. So that’s also exciting.

Besides the festival, I’ll be participating in this panel at the Future Of Music policy summit, which should be interesting and terrifying at the same time. But back to the festival. There’s obviously lots of talent in attendance, but no really big draws for me personally – at least no one that I’d have otherwise travelled five hours to see (and anyways, most of the will have played in Toronto immediately before or after their Montreal gig).

But ask me who I’m most excited to see and I’d tell you Denmark’s Under Byen. whom I wrote up a little while back. In conjunction with the first North American release of one of their records – Samme Stof Som Stof, out October 10 – they’re conducting a short tour of Canada that includes two Pop Montreal shows, one in Ottawa and one in Toronto on October 9 at the Horseshoe. The first Pop Montreal date is opening for Joanna Newsom so you know they’re going to have the opportunity to impress a packed house. The second, and the one I’m planning to attend, is with sometime-collaborator Howe Gelb who will be performing with Giant Sand. That’s the same bill that’ll be in T.O. on Thanksgiving, and if they blow me away and if I can muster the energy, there’s good chance I’ll be at that show as well.

Samme Stof Som Stof continues to engross me and all accounts are that the band are astonishing live. Both Chart and Exclaim! have interviews with the band.

MP3: Under Byen – “Af Samme Stof Som Stof”
MP3: Under Byen – “Den Her Sang Handler Om At Fa Det Bedste Ud Af Det”
Video: Under Byen – “Af Samme Stof Som Stof” (YouTube)
MySpace: Under Byen

As for the rest of the fest, because of how the Pop Montreal RSVP system worked for media folk I basically had to pick out my main shows for each night a week in advance. While there’s nothing that says I can’t change my mind and see something else, but percluding club-hopping these are the lineups that I’ve signed up for:

Thursday, October 5:
The Hot Springs, Tokyo Police Club, Portastatic and Snailhouse @ La Sala Rossa
Sloan, The Yoko Casionos and Flames! @ Theatre Nationale
Hexes & Ohs @ Preloved
The Diableros, Andre Ethier @ The Green Room
The Soft Disaster @ Casa Del Popolo
Dragonette @ L’Hemisphere Gauche
Basia Bulat @ L’Escogriffe
A Northern Chorus @ O Patro Vys.

– I’ll probably take the Hot Springs over Sloan. I haven’t seen Sloan in 12 years or so but also haven’t really cared about them in 4. The rest I will simply spin the bottle and see what comes up.

Friday, October 6:
Islands, The Big Sleep and Miracle Fortress @ Les Saints
Jessica Bailiff @ La Salla Rosa
The Dandybeards @ The Green Room
Henri Faberge & The Adorables @ L’Escogriffe.

– The Big Sleep is the big draw for me here. I will probably head out after them to give hometown kids Henri Faberge some long-delayed attention. But as you can see, I’ve got a pretty light sched for Friday so far. If you’re going to help me out with any night, make it this one.

Saturday, October 7:
Giant Sand, Under Byen and Mike O’Brien @ Cabaret du Musee Juste Pour Rire
Laura Barrett @ The Green Room
Dirty On Purpose @ Quai Des Brumes
Charlamagne @ Missy Bar
The Besnard Lakes @ Club Lambi

– Sort of a shame I’m dead set on the Giant Sand/Under Byen since there’s a fair bit of other interesting stuff going on at the same time. Alas, sacrifices must be made.

Sunday, October 8:
The Constantines and Favourite Sons @ The Mile End Cultural Centre
Regina Spektor, The Only Son @ Le National
Carolyn Mark, The Acorn and Schooner @ Casa Del Popolo.

– I didn’t actually manage to get an RSVP in for the Constantines, but am hoping to be able to see both the Acorn and the Constantines regardless. But if all else fails, I do have an RSVP for the Regina Spektor gig… of course, I won’t find out I can’t get into the Constantines until after Regina Spektor starts… right, we’ll play this by ear. But for the record, Schooner sounds VERY promising.

And that’s what my weekend looks like. Seems like a lot, but compared to my schedules for SxSW, this is a cakewalk (or a promenade de gateau, as they say in Quebec). Of course, recommendations on who else I should see in addition to (if not in lieu of) what I’ve already picked out are welcome. There are free downloads from many Pop Montreal artists available over at Puretracks – do yourself (and possibly me) a favour and check them out.

Naturally, the local media is all agog with festival features – The Montreal Gazette talks to festival organizer Dan Seligman and also chats with FMC keynote speaker David Byrne, the Montreal Mirror previews some of the performers and wonders where all the big names in this year’s lineup are.

And also, while a goodly amout of my time will be spent at the Future Of Music summit and Pop Montreal events, I will also (hopefully) have time to play tourist a bit. What should I make a point of seeing/doing? Remember – 30 years since I’ve been there.

Speaking of Howe Gelb, according to The Independent, he may be working with Isobel Campbell next. Okay, maybe this is a good time to mention I’ve never heard any of Howe Gelb’s music in any of his incarnations. Does this make me a bad person?

Toronto is going to Montreal… and a little bit of Montreal is coming to Toronto. Malajube will be at Lee’s Palace on November 25. Tickets $10.

Saturday night was the first-ever, Nuit Blanche city-wide art installation in Toronto, and while I didn’t do the all-night thing like some – I had to go in to work Sunday morning – I did hit a number of art installations in “Zone A”, aka the University of Toronto campus and Yorkville. I saw some really cool stuff (Fujiko Nakaya’s fog sculpture across Philosopher’s Walk – though really seemingly not more than some smoke machines – was amazing to experience) and some awful stuff (author Russell Smith, clad in leather pants, reading from his second-person, female-protagonist, pseudonym-published book of erotica? Not as bad as you might think – it’s worse) but the rain held off, the crowds were out and it was a very cool and un-Toronto vibe all around. Some photos at my Flickr and in the Flickr group. The Toronto Star reports back on the event.

np – My Morning Jacket / Okonokos

By : Frank Yang at 8:18 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Sarah says:

    My Montreal focus is food so that’s what I can recommend. Three key stops:

    Pastries (croissants, etc.) at Kouign Amman — 322, Mont-Royal est. Just west of St-Denis.

    Hot chocolate and truffles at Les Chocolats de Chloé — 375, rue Roy est. Also just west of St-Denis.

    Poutine au foie gras at Au pied du cochon — 536, ave Duluth. A few blocks east of St-Denis.

    It’s my first POP Montreal too. Should be great. Have fun.

  2. sam says:

    enjoy your stay in Montreal, Frank! :)
    will you have some time to walk around and visit a bit? make sure you do.

  3. Sean says:

    I have long heard about the poutine at Au Pied Du Cochon. But if you are looking for poutine in a less gourmet setting then Patati Patata is well regarded and is on St Laurent near several of the venues.

  4. Simon says:

    I would suggest that you make your mind about either the Constantines or Regina Spektor because the two venues are quite some ways away and parking around le National is a freaking pain in the ass.

    Arrive early for the Big Sleep concert and catch Miracle Fortress, you will be impressed by him live, I think.

    Don’t forget the after parties on Friday and Saturday at Fractal with shows and DJ on two floors. CUIZINIER!

    I probably won’t be at any of the shows you are going, well perhaps the Dragonnette (I will be found in the noiser shows) but if you want to grab a brew in one of the fine microbreweries in town this weekend, just let me know.

    As for poutine, Patati Patata is fine but a little lower on the street, Mondo Fritz has an awesome one and you can hop to la Banquise, on Rachel east of St-Denis, at any time of the night for a late night snack.

  5. MattR says:

    if you have time try to catch Professor Murder on the 6th @ Club Lambi

  6. mike says:

    I wouldn’t trade my experience of Pop Montreal 2004 – I was only there for 3 out of the 4 days(and saw a bunch of great bands such as Arcade Fire, Sloan, controller.controller, The Dears, The High Dials) – but there were things about the festival I didn’t like. The price of the pass was ridiculously high. Transportation was a major issue. My friends and I pretty much club-hopped(but only after planning our nights) and there was a fair bit of walking between venues. One venue(I think it was O Patro Vys) was far enough from where we were staying that we had to take the Metro. And then on the Saturday night, the Metro end at a ridiculously early time(if I recall around 1 am) so one of my friends and I ended up walking about half and hour…in the rain(at least I had a jacket with a hood)…to get back to our lodgings.

  7. Simon says:

    gee, half an hour walk. Musta been k-i-l-l-i-n-g your poor legs…..

  8. Robert says:

    Frank: You might want to reconsider Sloan, based on the new album. The past couple have been forgettable, but the new one is a return to form — as good as either of the first three records. It kind of reminds me of a Guided By Voices album, especially with the 30 songs….

  9. mike says:

    Simon, believe me, when you’re already standing up for the majority of the evening, walking half an hour between venues(or walking back home at the end of the evening) is the last thing you want to do. And I walked alot over the 3 nights of the festival I attended…not to mention the walking my friends and I did during the day checking out the city.

  10. craig says: