June is here at last, the month we’ve been waiting for, when summer comes on strong and the festivals come on even stronger. It can be overwhelming at times – the Quartier des Spectacles fills with people, three or more festivals happen simultaneously with hundreds of events to choose from – but there’s something to suit every pace. This weekend, go dancing rave-style or nice and slow, take in some local independent theatre or the kind that tours the world, or lose yourself in operatic Italy or Latin love.
(digital dance) Well, I know what I’m doing on Saturday night: staying up late, really late, and dancing. I’m not going to say that that happens only once a year, but Mutek certainly does, and it’s going stronger than ever in its 12th year. Hit up afternoon shows at the SAT and in the park next door, outdoor dancing at Piknic Electronik, evening shows that challenge the definition of music itself and all-night parties, like Saturday night’s laser-light-spectacular Nocturne 4 at Metropolis.
(truth in theatre) Montreal’s festival of cutting-edge dance and theatre, Festival Transameriques, continues this weekend with shows that challenge and inspire. In Neutral Hero, New York City Players blend stories of archetypal heroes with daily life in an American midwestern town – humanity ensues… Japanese theatre troupe Chelfitsch reveals the dreams and anxieties of young office workers in Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and The Farewell Speech. And Toronto’s Susie Burpee and Linnea Swan dance out a tale of vehicular action in Road Trip (je ne regrette rien). See the FTA’s website for video and more info on all the shows.
(love in Paris) Voices and hearts soar – from harmonious highs to heart-rending lows – in Puccini’s masterpiece La Bohème. This Saturday afternoon marks the end of Opera de Montreal’s run of the Parisian tale of love and friendship between impoverished artists and poets. Learn more about Puccini and the performance before the show as musicologist Pierre Vachon delves into La Bohème’s place in the history of music. June 4 at Places des Arts, performance at 2 p.m., talk at 12:45 p.m.
(fringe on top) Cheap and cheerful theatre is something this town knows a lot about – and it’s here in full force right now in the form of the Montreal Fringe Festival, to June 19. With anything-goes shows that are (usually) short and (usually) entertaining in one way or another, every night is a new adventure in theatre – the schedule may seem overwhelming, but that’s part of the fun of Fringe. This weekend amps up that fun with Friday night’s Slowdance Party at Mainline Theatre (3997 St-Laurent) – get up close and somewhat personal with friends and strangers to tunes that may or may not remind you of prom – and Saturday night’s Hair Nation Party filled with air guitars and ‘80s glam metal at Petit Campus (57 Prince Arthur E.), 10 p.m.
(capitalism cuteness) If shopping is on the agenda this weekend, spend some of your hard-earned dollars on locally made goods at Puces Pop – there’s something new to be found in every seasonal incarnation of the fair, from screen-printed posters to hand-made party dresses. Meet the artists, designers and crafters behind the many, many affordable and adorable creations that simply scream (in a sweet way) “Montreal!”. June 4 and 5, from 11am to 6pm, at Église St-Enfant Jésus (5037 St-Dominique). And for the kids, at exactly the same time, POP Montreal’s Spring POP mini-fest has workshops and events on music and art making, plus regular old fun, at the Ukrainian Federation (5213 Hutchison), free!
(mood altering) Montreal’s Jewish community has a long, complicated and fascinating history that touches almost every corner of the city. But this weekend’s alternative Jewish festival Le Mood isn’t all about history lessons – the fest’s engaging activities put cultural influence in new perspective, with youth-centred, community-minded performances, workshops, talks and more with musicians, performers, business people and even a former Stanley Cup winning hockey coach. Get down to the roots of Jewish tradition all day on June 5 at Espace Reunion (6600a Hutchison).
(latin flavour) Though the focus of Festivalissimo is on film, the fest is ultimately about getting us all together to celebrate – and learn more about – the awesomeness of Latin American, Spanish and Portugese culture. And while film is one of the most accessible ways to do that (especially if the great weather we’ve been having doesn’t hold), so is hanging out in the park, eating food, listening to music and, well, learning how to dance. Festivalissimo’s Fiesta Latina goes on every day, all day June 3 to 5, with performances and dance classes in tango, flamenco, capoeira and more at Cabot Square (corner of Ste-Catherine W. and Atwater).
(music) While fans of all music electronic, from minimal to tech-house, are kept busy this weekend with Mutek, the envelope-pushing fest isn’t the only game in town. The weekend starts on thursday night with the guitar magic (and handsomeness) of The Barr Brothers at Cabaret Mile End. On Friday, Brendan Perry, who brought to life an eclectic mix of rock, ambient and world music as half of ‘80s duo Dead Can Dance, shows us his own sound, with Robin Guthrie (of Cocteau Twins), at Le National (1220 Ste-Catherine E.), while Montreal’s own purveyor of clever klezmer-hip-hop, Socalled is at the Ukrainian Federation (5213 Hutchison). On Saturday, soulful hip-hop artist Aloe Blacc is at Le Belmont and on both Saturday and Sunday at Parc Jean Drapeau, dance to the beat of Piknic Electronik, with surprise programming from Mutek artists on Sunday.