Montreal music festival Pop Montreal knows what’s going on in music today and has been sharing its insights for over a decade now. The festival returns for its 12th edition, September 25–29, with hundreds of shows from indie-rock to hip hop, along with art, film, chances to chat with festival musicians, and plenty of time to party…
Perhaps the biggest name in massively popular music at this year’s Pop Montreal is American R&B producer and singer-songwriter The-Dream, who, having written songs for Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Rihanna and Justin Bieber, has gained notoriety as a crooner in his own right, with smooth beats to match. Meanwhile, singer-guitarist Shuggie Otis looms large in his own right, gracing Pop Montreal with a catalogue of his soulful, jazz-inflected psychedelic music, from the ‘70s right up to today, proving why he’s still being compared to Jimi Hendrix and lauded by B.B. King. And even more sweet old-school sounds are back in the form of funk with original Parliament members Fred Wesley and Bernie Worrell.
Get ready for melodic indie-rock good times with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, L.A. band Local Natives and San Francisco’s The Dodos, brand-new music from Broken Social Scene co-founder Brendan Canning, Montreal’s much-loved Patrick Watson in a live radio broadcast on CBC radio’s Q, The Dears’ Murray A. Lightburn debuting his electronic opera Mass: Light, and much more.
Since Pop Montreal keeps its finger on the pulse of what’s new in pop, it’s always a good idea to check out lesser-known names, such as seven-member Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, blends catchy indie-rock with political and social commentary; Nigerian rock band Tal National, and Northern Quebec’s Atikamekw Nation pow wow drum group Black Bear, and DIANA, featuring members of Hidden Cameras and Destroyer, wows with their lush, updated electro-80s sound. And don’t miss the return of the Ubisoft Rooftop concerts this year, featuring not only Montreal pop-folk band Thus:Owls, but incredible views of the city.
As always, Pop Montreal extends beyond its moniker to include genres that feed into pop and each other, from experimental noise to hip hop. This year, the latter includes artists such as Chicago rapper and former Jurassic 5 members Chali 2na, New York City’s Cakes da Killa, sure to get Pop crowds hopping with his raunchy, rebellious rap, and Houston, Texas’s Fat Tony, known for his collaborations with Tom Cruz, in town to play songs from his album Smart Ass Black Boy and share the stage with local “post-rigodon,” electro-infused hip-hop group Alaclair Ensemble.
Stretching into the realms of experimental and art-oriented music, Pop presents the Ensemble d’Ondes de Montréal, a trio skilled in the strange early-electronic musical instrument ondes Marteno, performing new and traditional pieces from the Ondes Martenot repertoire and joined by Patrick Watson, Marie-Jo Thério and Radwan Ghazi Moumneh. This year also sees the return of prolific British-Dutch experimental rock band Legendary Pink Dots, the dark multi-layered sounds of electronic music Tim Hecker, and highlights new music by saxophonist Colin Stetson and local psych-rock experimental duo Maica Mia.
Artist and composer Cory Arcangel, whose multimedia solo exhibition Power Points currently has colourful, comedic reign at DHC/ART, takes to his piano to perform new compositions in a show with Montreal electronic musician, d’Eon. Montreal band Suuns collaborates with Jerusalem in My Heart’s Radwan Ghazi Moumneh on a multimedia installation-performance at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and Kansas City-based artist collective Whoop Dee Doo gets local artists and the public involved in its all-ages show at festival headquarters.
On top of Pop Montreal’s musical programming comes Film PoP – this year welcoming Allison Anders (Border Radio, Gas Food Lodging) with her new film Strutter, and screening Bayou Maharajah, Lily Keber‘s portrait of New Orleans pianist James Booker, Good Ol’ Freda, a documentary on The Beatles’ secretary Freda Kelly, and Filmage: The Story of the Descendants. As well, all week the Pop Symposium hosts talks with musicians on their creative processes, workshops, and Q&A sessions, Art Pop features gallery art shows, installations and performances and special talks by 2012 Turner Prize winner Elizabeth Price and American visual artist Dan Graham, and arts and crafts fair Puces Pop and family-friendly Kids Pop chime in to make Pop Montreal a city-wide, inclusive and fun-filled affair once again.
Pop Montreal, September 25-29, 2013