Pop Montreal may primarily be about music – it’s hard to deny that fact, what with huge bands like Arcade Fire playing this year alongside soon-to-be-huge bands and bands who (say they) don’t care if they’re ever huge – but what makes the festival like no other is how well-rounded it is, you know, like some unwholesome, scholarship-getting kid genius who also slays on the drums. I say this because of Art Pop, Pop Symposium, Fashion Pop, Puces Pop and Film Pop – and this year Sports Pop!
Well, that’s what I call it. Pop Montreal calls it Pop vs Jock and it’s a basketball fundraiser game, featuring none other than the Arcade Fire’s (very tall) Win Butler and his brother Will, (tall drummer) Chris Tomson of Vampire Weekend, playing along with fellow (possibly tall) musicians – and with (not so tall) Régine on organ and (average height) Kid Koala at half time! Team “Pop” will battle team “Jock,” actual basketball players, including and McGill and Concordia players and NBA veteran Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs. Sports are cool!
So are musicals! Apparently! Well, Montreal’s own favourite klezmer hip-hop puppet-making dude, Socalled, makes a convincing argument with his musical The Season, premiering September 25 in all its puppet-forest-animal glory. It’s kind of arty. And so is Art Pop, this year outdoing itself with an exclusive installation by renowned artist Marcel Dzama at Pop Quarters (3450 St-Urbain). New-media art takes precedence at the SAT with group show And No One Was Around while Did It Make a Sound sides with more traditional media. And The Raincoats, always artists in their own right, are in town not only to play music, but to show their art (at Pop Quarters) and talk about it (at La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse).
For those who love to learn and listen and talk, the festival-long, always-free Pop Symposium is the place to be. Musicians can get the low-down on music industry insider info, recording techniques and more, but while you’re there, why not pick up vocal techniques from tUnEyArDs’ Merrill Garbus, bounce with Big Freedia, sit in as Gary Lucas and friends share all things Captain Beefheart, hear what Tim Hecker and Grimes have to say to each other, and learn about the history of comics with none other than Art Spiegelman.
It’s a lot to take in, but no one said Pop Montreal was easy (and I haven’t even gotten to Film Pop – someone else will take care of that). Take some time out to shop at the Record Fair and the Puces Pop craft fair, see what’s hot in pop-fashion (September 21 at Eglise Pop Little Burgundy), and get some much-needed sustenance in ya at BBQs at Notman House (51 Sherbrooke W.) all afternoon Friday, Saturday and Sunday and at Cinequanon (4562 St-Dominique) on the afternoon of September 24. Oh yeah, and there’s a velodrome. For fixed-gear bikes. Sponsored by Red Bull. Welcome to Pop Montreal 2011.
Pop Montreal, September 21-25, 2011