In the middle of June, we run into a problem here in Montreal: there’s just too much to do. Choices must be made – and the broader your tastes, the tougher the choices. For me, I’m torn between what’s bound to be a crazy French hip-hop show and just relaxing at the Montreal Folk Festival. Or going to see a hilarious one-man play about trying to find a job (universal topics: always a winner) or seeing a bunch of super talented and enthusiastic dancers show off their stuff in an empty pool. Weird choices to have to make, but I wouldn’t have it any other way…
(hip-hop nation) On this final weekend of international French music festival FrancoFolies, rap meets folk and pop meets metal. On June 17, prolific and highly entertaining Quebec rapper, Sir Pathétik gets the crowd going at Club Soda (1225 St-Laurent). The next night, also at Club Soda, hip-hop collective HHQC entertain with a message about community and collaboration– and some of the biggest names in Quebec rap. On the other end of the Franco spectrum, Montreal group Canailles plays bluegrass-zydeco-country outdoors on June 17, while the next day, heartthrob crooner Damien Robitaille engages the crowd with his retro R&B tunes and Dance Laury Dance put on the tightest of leather pants and rock out hair-metal style.
(main madness) Not only is this weekend the first big St-Laurent Street Fair weekend, but it’s also the final weekend of the Montreal Fringe Festival. Creative, comedic, dramatic, weird and sometimes pretty crazy shows can be seen for less than $10. And (free!) outdoors in Parc des Amériques (corner of St-Laurent and Rachel), Pop Montreal hosts local music makers from Thursday afternoon to Sunday night – Krista Mur, Pop Winds, Adam and the Amethysts, Sean Nicholas Savage and many others entertain in the midst of mayhem. And, for a little personal-is-political perspective, the nearby, feminist art gallery La Centrale hosts a different kind of street sale: Boom-Chix-A-Boom.
(pop goes film art) Big-shot Hollywood director Brian De Palma goes (or, rather, went) art-house psychedelic with his documentary The Responsive Eye and Other Op-Art Oddities, a journey through New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s 1965 exhibition of op-art, the first of its kind – screening June 18 at Blue Sunshine Psychotronic Film Centre (3660 St-Laurent, 3rd floor), 8 p.m. Art film also features at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal where the lights are dimmed for video work by Louis Philippe Eno.
(fine folk) In my experience, folk festivals are one of the most chilled-out festivals in the vast realm of fests. The Montreal Folk Festival, happening this weekend in the neighbourhood of St-Henri, doesn’t deviate from that laid-back vibe. John Sebastian, founder of The Lovin’ Spoonful (whose hit Do You Believe In Magic? will forever play the classic and/or soft rock stations) opens the festival with Emilie Clepper on June 16 at Georges Vanier Cultural Centre (2450 Workman), 8 p.m. On Friday, the festival hosts a free folk jam in partnership with Parks’ Canada’s Urban Camping event along the Lachine Canal. And all day Saturday and Sunday, folks get their folk on at Terrasse St-Ambroise, with non-stop music from Tricot Machine, Marc Berube and the Patriotic Few, David Francey and many more.
(pool dancing) For seven years, local choreographers have jumped into the deep end for Piss in the Pool, a one-of-a-kind, site-specific experimental dance event held in an empty indoor pool in the Mile End neighbourhood (nearby friendly restaurants/bars such as Sparrow, Magpie, Lawrence and Bu). See new, hip, gorgeous and strange, always engaging work by Nicolas Cantin, Manu Roque, Andrew Tay, The Choreographers, Sasha Kleinplatz with Radwan Moumneh, Leanne Dyer, Shannon Gillen and Annie Gagnon – happening at Bain St. Michel (5300 St.Dominique), June 16–18.
(audio-visual action) Montreal artist Gabriel Coutu-Dumont, who has produced video work for the Mutek festival, electronic musician Akufen and, as a co-owner of multimedia company Geodezik, developed multi-million-dollar stage shows for the likes of Cher and Tina Turner, opens his first solo exhibition this week. In Living in Different Worlds, he uses installation, photography, sculpture and video to make the visible audible and vice-versa, creating a science-fiction-like world by bending reality – opening June 16 at Galerie Donald Browne (#528–372 Ste-Catherine W.). Coutu-Dumont also unveils new video work at upcoming Jazz Festival show GRUBB: Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats.
(Yiddish showtime) The Montreal International Yiddish Theatre Festival, is a great reason to mosey over to the neighborhood of Côte-des-Neiges, where the Segal Centre for Performing Arts plays main host to the fest. All theatre performances and film screenings will be subtitled, so no knowledge of Yiddish is necessary – the festival guide even points out that lots of people who couldn’t speak Yiddish used to go to Yiddish theatre, because they knew they would see something exciting. There’s no doubt of that with over 150 artists and scholars from around the world, including Romania’s State Jewish Theatre of Bucharest, France’s Troim Teater, Poland’s Esther Rokhl and Ida Kaminska Jewish Theatre, plus Sunday’s Zumerfest in Mackenzie-King Park, with music, dancing and circus acts from the Jewish community as well as from the Chinese, Haitian and Filipino communities.
(summer music) Brian Wilson has changed a lot since his Beach Boy days – for one, he’s currently on a Gershwin kick – he’ll play those old tunes and classic Beach Boys at Place des Arts on June 17. The Suoni per Il Popolo festival keeps going strong on Friday with Colin Stetson blows his horns and our minds at La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent). On Saturday, Berlin’s Art Brut make outsider art-rock, ironically, popular, at Il Motore (179 Jean-Talon West). And on Sunday, Keith Morris of Black Flag brings back the old punk spirit – okay, it never really went away – to Foufones.