The meaning of “pop” music these days is pretty broad, and this year’s Pop Montreal festival, while leaning towards the indie camp, does a good job of proving it. Pop Montreal 2012, September 19-23, meets many a personal pop predilection, but those of us who like synthesizer-drenched dance-core as much as we like conscious hip hop have some tough choices to make. Thankfully, because Pop Montreal shows are usually punctual, the fest pocket guide is fairly accurate, and the all-new Pop app updates on the fly, show hopping is easy! Really! Maybe! Out of the hundreds of shows going on, here are 10 to catch…
David Byrne and St. Vincent: Pop Montreal is always good at recognizing the more offbeat side of classic rock, and this year they bring us David Byrne, whose Talking Heads irrefutably changed the weird-rock landscape. Byrne also takes the stage with St. Vincent to play songs from their collaborative new album. September 21 at Église St-Jean Baptiste.
Antibalas and K’Naan with Nomadic Massive: This show, on the fest’s opening night, truly gets the party started with the high-energy Afrobeat sound of NYC’s Antibalas, “Ethio-jazz” hip hop of Toronto’s K’Naan and Montreal’s own, always-fun, community-minded Nomadic Massive. September 19 at Corona Theatre.
Grizzly Bear and Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Grizzly Bear has been getting nothing but hype this year with their new album, Shields, just out and getting rave reviews. Unknown Mortal Orchestra opens with an intriguing, spacey sound all their own. September 23 at Olympia.
Laetitia Sadier: More sounds that from the turn of the millennium become new again as former Stereolab member Laetitia Sadier plays pretty, thoughtful songs from her recent repertoire. September 19 at the Ukrainian Culture Centre.
Dirty Three: Long-time makers of melodic noise-pop and violin-drenched drone, Australia’s Dirty Three return in full form to this year’s festival. September 20 at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre.
Tim Hecker: A visceral experience for ears, mind and body, a show from Montreal’s Tim Hecker is perfectly suited to a church setting, organ music (suitably warped) and all, with openers Julia Holter and Solar Year. September 21 at Church of St-John the Evangelist.
Chilly Gonzales: Take the rock down a few notches with Chilly Gonzales, who plays what’s sure to be a lovely, musically impressive show entitled Piano Vision, with talented multi-instrumentalist and singer Kyrie Kristmanson opening. September 22 at L’Olympia.
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan: Montreal’s rock rising stars Yamantaka // Sonic Titan turn their operatic ways with noise-rock into a full-on show called Opera 33, sure to be a dramatic sonic adventure. September 21 at the Rialto Theatre.
Label showcases: Cheap and packed with as much tried-and-true as up-and-coming talent, record label showcases are always a good bet when it comes to show hopping. Check out Fixture Records, Arbutus (also home to Grimes, who plays a sold-out show on Thursday), Arts & Crafts, Passovah Productions, and dance the night away at The Sofa King Raw Pop showcase, featuring Ango, Black Atlass and more.
Free shows: Pop Montreal likes to give good stuff away sometimes, and we love them for it. Last year it was Arcade Fire and this year it’s Stars and Diamond Rings on September 19, along with free shows (and BBQs!) in the afternoon and early evening in Parc de la Petite-Italie, featuring Mozart’s Sister and many more on September 20 and 21, at store Citizen Vintage and at Mission Santa Cruz (60 Rachel W.) September 19-21.
Pop Montreal, September 19-23, 2012
Photo Credit: Bryan Murray- David Byrne & St. Vincent at rehearsal.