July is a month of non-stop entertainment in Montreal, and this week is no exception: the Montreal Jazz Fest fills the downtown core with music; the Montréal Complètement Cirque circus festival flies high and clowns around outdoors and in theatres; comedy festivals Just For Laughs and Zoofest kick off; and the parks are packed with live music, dance, film and great food…
(jazz & more) The 34th Montreal International Jazz Festival’s last weekend is simply packed with good sounds, culminating in a free outdoor festival-finale concert on July 7 by Malian duo Amadou & Mariam, with opening music from Fatoumata Diawara, starting at 8 p.m. On July 5, see Scottish indie-chamber-pop experts Belle & Sebastian, jazz guitar prodigy Lionel Loueke, saxophonist Tim Berne, Laïka, and more. On July 6, don’t miss the soaring vocals of the Soweto Gospel Choir, the multi-instrumental ways of Xavier Rudd, the electronic-meets-classic style of Champion with his G-Stringsor, and the full-on strength of the Orchestre National de Jazz de Montréal. July 7 sees UK ska icons The Specials come to town, while free shows keep on kicking with The Porn Flakes and many other great entertainers.
(circus fun) There’s nothing like going to the circus for indulging in seriously impressive levels of entertainment: international circus festival Montréal Complètement Cirque has it all, July 3-14. See UK troupe Gandini Juggling in the humour-filled Smashed, French jester Ludor Citrik, Spain’s eccentric Escarlata Circus, Music-Hall de la Baronne, a cabaret-like collaboration between Montréal Complètement Cirque and Cirque Éloize, Australian troupe Circa’s new sensual show S, and acrobatics perform with a 360-degree immersive film backdrop at Fabrique Métamorphosis, by Ironworkers – Local 777, at the SAT’s Satosphere dome. Plenty of outdoor events entertain as well: in the Quartier des Spectacles, see 40 acrobats climb a metal structure every night at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. in new show Babel, at Place Émilie-Gamelin, and there’s even more at circus centre La Tohu and in the Latin Quarter.
(comedy now) Two comedy festivals with international and local stars add extra humour to the week: Just for Laughs begins on July 10 and Zoofest on July 4. JFL kicks things off with eight nights of comedic showcase The Ethnic Show, hosted by This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ Shaun Majumder, at Club Soda, July 10-13. Zoofest’s English-language programming specialized in full-concept shows, like award-winning performer Cameryn Moore’s one-woman Slut (R)Evolution, Jon Bennett’s Pretending Things Are a Cock, U2 theatre and cover songs show All I Want Is U2, and neo-burlesque half-naked cabaret Bad Ladies and the Detective, but if you’re curious about how funny French-speaking comedians are, check out the Franglos Comedy Show, where comedians who usually perform in French make the switch to English. For showtimes, see Zoofest’s calendar.
(parks & entertainment) Montreal’s parks are a perfect place for relaxing, having a picnic, people watching, and throughout the summer months, taking in some entertainment with the family. Beginning July 7, Repercussion Theatre’s annual Shakespeare in the Park outdoor production is romantic, fantastical comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream — see it at the top of Mont Royal on July 11. Théâtre de Verdure in Parc Lafontaine is also a great place for free entertainment: on July 6 at 7:30 p.m., the Orchestre Métropolitain plays their De la Russie vers la Bohème program; on July 11, see Katya Montaignac et le Groupe O.D.N.I at 7:30 p.m. performing contemporary dance work Corps Anonymes, and later that night, at 9 p.m., see many talented Montrealers perform Danse Lhasa Dance, an homage in song and dance to musician Lhasa de Sela, Meanwhile, in Parc Jean-Drapeau, it’s food, fun and family-focused Weekends du Monde, July 6-7, where Montreal’s cultural diversity takes the stage with dance, music, culinary demonstrations (and tastings) and more. Over at the Olympic Stadium on July 5, there’s more food to be found at the First Fridays event, where several of the city’s gourmet food trucks station themselves from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m.
(food & film) Downtown, mere blocks away from Jazz Fest’s main outdoor stages, is the Society for Art and Technology, which, every summer, hosts films and barbeques in Parc de la Paix, right next door on Saint-Laurent, between Sainte-Catherine Street and René Lévesque Boulevard. Eat well and listen (maybe even dance) to electronic music spun by great Montreal DJs starting at 7 p.m., followed by films screenings at 9 p.m. – July 10-14, see off-the-beaten-track films hand-picked by Fantasia Film Festival programmers, including Hansel and Gretel and Pierrot Néron et Carnior’s series of bizarre film trailers. And inside, at the SAT’s Food Lab, there’s a whole menu to be found, this week dedicated to food of Southern Italy.
(art forms) In the lead-up to the music-filled Osheaga weekend (August 2-5), the arts part of the festival kicks off with the third edition of the Music on Paper exhibition, July 4-20 at Yves Laroche Gallery (6355 St-Laurent): see brilliant music poster art from Andrew Vastagh, Two Arms Inc., Patent Pending, and many more, done for musicians such as Mumford and Sons, Andrew Bird, Grimes, Of Monsters and Men, David Byrne, The National, and many others – all available for sale. In other art news, acclaimed (and wonderfully strange) Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin films 12 films in 13 days at the PHI Centre in Old Montreal – and he’s invited anyone to drop by to see what’s happening, July 4-20.
(live music) The weekend begins with two huge shows: The Black Keys on July 5, with openers The Joy Formidable, Kurt Vile and the Violators, CSS, IO Echo, followed on July 6 by a double-header show featuring Chicago and Creedence Clearwater Revisited– both shows take place outdoors at green space L’Espace Montmorency in nearby Montreal suburb Laval – for all the details and tickets, see evenko.ca. Another big show on July 5 sees soulful American singer-songerwriter-producer Bruno Mars on his Moonshine Jungle Tour at the Bell Centre, July 5. The Rialto Theatre goes back to the swingin’ 70s with their dinner-and-dancing Disco Inferno night on July 5 (dinner at 6:30, dancing after 9), with live music from the Gioventu Band and Alma Faye Brooks, hosted by Disco Montreal. Dance to the beat and celebrate Montreal’s vibrant Caribbean cultural community on Saturday starting at noon along Ste-Catherine Street (from Fort to Union): it’s the Carifiesta parade! And fantastic live music is guaranteed at Festival International Nuits d’Afrique de Montréal, July 9-21, with musicians from over 30 countries, playing indoor and outdoor venues – see Hasna el Becharia, Danikil, and Mamselle on July 9, Karim Diouf and Palo Cruza’o on July 10, and 3Ball Monterrey, Funky Falz and Just Wôan on July 11.