Here we are at the end of July – only one more month of summer, but what a glorious month it is. July finishes strong with three final days of great comedy at Just For Laughs and Zoofest, along with the long-awaited outdoor music festival Osheaga in Jean-Drapeau Park and The Montreal Electronic Groove Festival in town. August rides that happy wave with The Montreal First Peoples’ Festival, the Festival of Fashion and Design, and plenty of music and arty happenings in the parks and in venues around town…
(rock n’ roll island) Whether you like your concerts big and loud or small and sweet, Osheaga delivers. The weekend-long outdoor music festival turns the island paradise of Parc Jean-Drapeau into one big party with five stages of rock, pop, folk, hip-hop, electro and more (plus plenty of green space to chill out in). We’re talking Eminem, The Flaming Lips, Elvis Costello, Broken Social Scene, Janelle Monáe, The Tragically Hip, Cypress Hill, as well as lower-profile entities well-deserving of great hype, like The Mountain Goats, Twin Shadow and The Low Anthem, and some of the Montreal’s best bands and DJs.
(park life) Montreal’s many parks bustle with people, picnics and entertainment all summer. On July 28, at 7:30 p.m. see the Montreal Symphony Orchestra at Parc de l’Honorable-George-O’Reilly in Verdun. This weekend in Parc LaFontaine, see Le Choeur Éolien, a choir featuring singer Marc-André Fortin on July 31 at 8:30 p.m. and Misses Satchmo, playing the songs of Louis Armstrong on August 1 at 8:30 p.m. On August 4, at the park’s Théâtre de Verdure, see Montreal’s own Jewish hip-hop star Socalled live and on film in recently celebrated documentary. And for the hungry, stop by restaurant Espace La Fontaine, open all summer.
(rock n’ roll town) The Montreal Electronic Groove (MEG) Festival gets the night life rolling with hip hop, dubstep, house and more all weekend. On Friday, NYC’s Beatnuts are at Sala Rossa while San Francisco’s DJ Craze headlines Le Belmont. And on Saturday night, MEG pairs with Osheaga to bring LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and Pat Mahoney to the Olympia Theatre for a late-night dance party, with the two DJs spinning their electro-disco faves, while NYC’s Brown Bag Allstars make you sweat at Casa del Popolo. On Sunday, ride the St-Laurent river all day on the MEG boat as CKUT co-presents Designer Drugs, Toxic Avenger and more.
(laugh in) The final weekend of comedy festivals Just For Laughs and Zoofest has arrived, but there’s still plenty to enjoy in these three days. Guaranteed laughs abound at showcases like The Nasty Show (it really is nasty, believe me), A Tribute to Nerds (finally! Hosted by Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar from The Big Bang Theory), Craig Ferguson’s International House of Comedy, and Talk of the Fest. In the past few days of Zoofest, I’ve seen The Pajama Men, Hannibal Buress, DeAnne Smith, Adam Hills, Sara Quinn’s Other People’s Problems and Paul F. Thomkins – my aching, laughed-out cheeks and I heartily recommend them all, especially when you can buy a $40 Zoofest pass and see all of them and more! And, for the ultimate in spectacle, check out the Twins Parade on Saturday afternoon at Place des Festivals.
(home and native land) The Montreal First Peoples’ Festival (August 1–9) brings together a diversity of voices from First Nations artists and musicians from around the world to reaffirm messages of peace. Outdoors at Place des Festivals in the Quartier des Spectacles, a 100-foot-tall teepee will be set up, alongside a bonfire, restaurant spaces, arts and crafts tables, a longhouse screening festival films, and a variety of live music and dance shows, including hip hop by Anishnabe rapper Samian, work by Chilean composer Javier Farias and Atikamekw composer Pascal Koukouchi Sasseville. Down the street at the Grande Bibliothèque (National Library), see The Matshinanu/Nomades exhibition and, on August 2, hear poetry by Joséphine Bacon, Domingo Cisneros and Naomi Fontaine.
(take the high road) Head outside the city centre to witness 34 years of highlands tradition at the family-friendly Montreal Highland Games and Festival. Fiddler Ashley MacIsaac headlines the musical portion of the festival, with pipe bands, folk singers, highland dancers and more, alongside games of Gaelic football, rugby and hurling, plus arts and crafts and plenty of food and, of course, a beer tent. With shuttles running all day from Crescent street (below St-Catherine) to the site at George Springate Sports Centre in Pierrefonds (see the website for details), it’s easy to make a day of it.
(wine of the times) Switch Scotland up for Italy at Pointe-à-Callière, which proves that it’s not your average history museum with this summer’s exhibition To Your Health, Caesar! Wine and the Gauls. Learn all you ever wanted to know about history of wine throughout civilization – perfect cocktail party fodder – at the exhibition, featuring historical items from North American and French institutions, including the Louvre, and private collections. While there, enter to win a trip to Gaul – a week of wining and dining in the Rhône-Alpes region.
(fashion forward) Art, music and fashion align in cosmic style at the Montreal Fashion and Design Festival, August 3–6, along Avenue McGill-College at St-Catherine. Models strut the catwalk wearing the latest and greatest of Montreal-based fashion, musicians like Black Tiger Sex Machine bring the noise and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts presents Jean Paul Gaultier’s 2011-2012 Fall/Winter collection, a celebration of age and timeless beauty.
(talk it out) On August 2, at Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent) at 8 p.m, Drawn & Quarterly welcomes writers Sheila Heti and Misha Glouberman as they introduce their book The Chairs Are Where the People Go with something better than a simple book reading. The Trampoline Hall Lectures riffs on the premise of the book – people talk about subjects outside their personal or professional area of expertise – to amusing and even informative results. In Montreal, we’ll hear Marci Denesiuk talk on Evolution and Shadow Puppetry, Anthony Kinik stare down The Evil Eye, and Jesse Staniforth gets real about The Theory of Relativity.
(music and more) The weekend may be packed with festival musts, but there’s always more going on in the Montreal music world. If you can’t make it to Parc Jean-Drapeau, get a taste of Osheaga at the kickoff party on July 28 at Theatre Corona with Freedom or Death and Jokers of the Scene. See what the kids – the real kids – are up to these days at the amazing Rock Camp for Girls, a community initiative that proves the power of rock n’ roll. These 34 young ladies have honed their rock chops over the summer and are ready to rock out this Saturday (August 30) at the Ukranian Federation (5213 Hutchison), 5 p.m. On Monday, August 1, see California’s Gardens & Villa, just as pretty-sounding as their name, at Casa del Popolo, which is also home to the Woodshed Orchestra on Tuesday and JF Robitaille and Mike Bloom (of Rilo Kiley) on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, August 3, who’s back but Ace of Base, seeing the sign once again, at the Corona.