Pop Montreal takes over the city from September 29-October 3. For the 9th year in a row, Montreal gets all a-flutter with little pockets of big music tucked into all manner of venues. We’ll have more coverage coming up, but for now, let’s just get into some music you should consider seeing…
You may peruse the list of bands below and realize that you haven’t heard of many of them. That’s almost the point with Pop Montreal - while other fests deliver the ubiquitous big names, Pop brings the ones that you won’t hear anywhere else. The way to tackle this fest is to leave your options open. Start with a show you need to see then go where the wind (and beer) takes you- something their new $10 POP Hopper pass is all about.
1 – The XX : This UK trio have won the Mercury Prize and almost universal acclaim for their deliciously dark debut album. There are bits of Portishead mixed in with traces of Cocteau Twins or The Kills (depending on how old you are) and flourishes of R’n’B that add a little zazz to the near-gothic proceedings.
2 – Braids : Though famed indie group Xiu Xiu are the headliners and local outfit Valleys are always great, make sure to show up to see Braids, one of Montreal’s up-and-comingest bands. These transplanted Calgarians make meandering, rhythmic music that is totally pants-off charming, as you can see for yourself in the video below.
3 – Mary Margaret O’Hara is such an under-the-radar Canadian rock icon that you may not have even heard of her. Take a second to read up: her 1988 release, Miss America, is cited on practically every “Best Canadian albums of all-time” list.
4 – Diamond Rings
Diamond Rings, aka John O of the D’Urbervilles, is a showstopper and superstar in the making. The David Bowie allusions are not undeserved (though don’t tell the whole story) and his full-length debut, Special Affections, is going to be huuuuge.
5 – Hudson Mohawke : If you want to dance without having to leave your brain at the coat check, this is the night for you. Glasgow’s Hudson Mohawke and Brooklyn’s Machinedrum headline the night alongside some of the city’s most interesting beatsmiths.
6 – Naomi Shelton and The Gospel Queens : The Pop people always manage to bring some criminally forgotten legends to Montreal and this year Naomi Shelton and her Gospel Queens are at the top of that list. Though she’s been a gospel and soul singer since before you were born, her 2009 album, What Have You Done, My Brother?, shows she’s still got it.
7 – Priestess
Quebec loves its metal and Priestess can absolutely do it to it. But while you’re shredding away, don’t sleep on the fact that these dudes can write proper songs with melodies and whatnot. Guaranteed this night is going to be packed and heavy as heck.
8 – Radio Radio
You’d be right to be skeptical about Acadian rap music with lyrics in Franglais. But that would also mean you’d never actually seen the undeniable fun and funk that these guys bring to the stage.
9 – Shonen Knife
Pop punk that sounds like The Beach Boys got into it with The Ramones. Performed by three Japanese girls who’ve been at it for almost 3 decades. If you’re not intrigued by that, than you and I can’t be friends.
10 - Head up to Little Burgundy Pop Loft, which has shows starting at midnight for the duration of the Festival.