Whenever I travel to another city, I try to stay for at least a full week if I can. It’s nice to get this daily perspective and take the time to see what city life is really like. Of course, in Montreal, Tuesday has been the new Friday for about two years and a work night means going to sleep at 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. And that’s why I’m covering the whole week in this column now! Give in to the Montreal heat wave at one of many festivals – music, comedy, circus and more awaits all week long!
(comedy gold) The best of the North American comedy world might just be right here in Montreal right now – comedy festivals Just for Laughs and Zoofest run until the end of July with enough shows every night to cause a comedy overdose. From big-name shows like Louis C.K. (July 28) and Russell Peters (July 27) to locals like Joey Elias and up-and-coming comedians – check out Zoofest for the most surprising (and affordable) of these – and don’t miss JFL’s Best of the Fest in the intimate confines of Comedy Works, where any of the fest’s big stars drop in as the show’s surprise guest. Plus entertaining on-screen antics at the JFL film fest! Awesome times.
(worldly delights) One of my favourite festivals, Nuits d’Afrique, is also one of the most diverse – Africa is huge and complex! Get a taste of that gorgeous diversity this weekend: check out the new millennium’s voice of Guinean music in Les Espoirs de Coronthie, hear the fantastically warm voice of one of Mali’s leading figures in music, Oumou Sangaré, see Sénégalese-Quebecer and kora master Zal Sissokho with Montreal fave Fabrice Koffy, and maybe even learn some kick-ass Brazilian martial-arts-meets-dance moves in Capoeira workshops. And, of course, so much more (and there’s great food too!) The fest runs downtown at the Quartiers des Spectacles and at clubs around town until July 24.
(tumble for ya) The final weekend of Montreal’s own circus festival, Montreal Completement Cirque, is upon us – with free shows at the Old Port of Montreal (and a chance to try the trapeze out yourself!) and high-quality, death-defying circus shows from Cirque Carpe Diem, The 7 Fingers and more, plus a full weekend extravaganza for the whole family at Montreal’s circus centre, La Tohu – to July 24 at various locations, check out the full schedule at Montréal Complètement Cirque.
(cool off with art) Art lovers looking to pick up a piece of Montreal’s creative output should check out the Safewalls Pop-Up Shop this Saturday, July 23, in the Tapis Rouge tent next to the Cirque du Soleil’s Totem tent at the Quays of the Old Port, 8–11 p.m. See (and perhaps purchase!) prints from local and international artists and watch as art collective En Masse draws a gigantic mural before our eyes. Also: Osheaga Arts presents The Photography of Susan Moss, one of Montreal’s most well-known and loved photographers – she and her amazing shots of big-ticket rock shows and the city’s night life at Usine C (1345 Lalonde), to July 28.
(Haiti in the park) Hang out in one of Montreal’s best parks this weekend and take in the greatness of Montreal’s Haitian community, bringing on the best of Haitian traditional and contemporary music, dance, food and more at the fourth edition of Haiti en Folie at Parc LaFontaine, July 22–24.
(cinema lovin’) Escape the heatwave and enter the wild at the Fantasia film festival, Canada’s acclaimed fest of films that challenge the norm, inspire the imagination, and occasionally scare the crap out of even the most seasoned horror-movie lovers. At cool and calm (for the summer anyway) Concordia University, to August 7.
(musical meat) In another world of song, something that was bound to happen too: the story of Montreal’s most famous smoked-meat restaurant told in musical form. The success of Schwartz’s: The Musical proves that the world really did need more songs about the love of a mouth-watering sandwich. At Centaur Theatre (453 St-François-Xavier), to August 7 – with Schwartz’s sandwiches sold on-site every Wednesday!
(hard rockin’) There have been speculations in music news lately (and in the 70s, 80s and 90s) that rock n’ roll may, in fact, die – obviously this is rubbish, and one need only look to the insane popularity of outdoor rock show Heavy MTL – people come from all over for this one, at Parc Jean Drapeau this weekend (July 23–24). This year, bang your head to Kiss, Disturbed, Motörhead, Billy Talent, Godsmack and so many others. And brush up on your metal history before the fest at Cine-Metal’s outdoor screenings of Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey and Heavy Metal Parking Lot – at Place de la Paix (on St-Laurent Blvd. just south of Ste-Catherine), July 22, 8 p.m.
(get into the karaoke groove) If karaoke has gotten all same-old, same-old to you and the very idea of hearing a bar sing along to Sweet Caroline puts you one step closer to madness, get sane in the brain at Hip Hop Karaoke – the coolest karaoke in town, this Saturday (July 23) at Le Belmont (4483 St-Laurent). Speaking of “urban” music, it means all kinds of things in Montreal – The MEG Festival (July 28–31), a.k.a. the Montreal Electronic Groove fest, defines it as electronic, rock, pop and hip hop. On Thursday, see what that really means as local bands and DJs play shows around town (for cheap and for free!).
(rockin’ boats) If all that rock heaviness is just too much, the 16th edition of the Montreal International Dragon Boat Race Festival is also this weekend (July 22–24) at the Olympic Basin on Parc Jean-Drapeau – watch as teams of racers pick up their paddles to raise fun and have fun, plus see music, dance and other performances (and there’s all kinds of food too!)
(show time) Outside the festival sphere, shows must go on. Psych-indie-folk comes to Il Motore (179 Jean Talon W.) on July 22 with Cass McCombs and Lower Dens. On Saturday, July 23, local blue-folk outfit Bad Uncle plays Divan Orange and, whether he’s your cup of tea or not, the super popular Josh Groban will sing up a storm at the Bell Center. On Sunday, wacky ska-punkazoids Reel Big Fish play Metropolis and Paul McCartney shows he’s still got it goin’ on, at the Bell Center. And on July 27, Osheaga in the City gets that festival started early with The Glitch Mob at the SAT with Phantogram and Com Truise, followed by Gobble Gobble with Grimes and Pat Jordache on July 28 at La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent).