June comes in with a bang as Montreal’s festival season truly begins: the Montreal Bike Fest gets us rolling, along with electro fest Mutek and the experimental performance of Festival Transamériques – even Pop Montreal gets in on the act this weekend with Kids Pop and Puces Pop events. As always, there’s plenty of live music, and even John Malkovich gets swept up in the energy, playing Casanova on stage…
(body & mind) See the city this weekend and stay active during the Montreal Bike Fest. On the evening of May 31, the Tour la Nuit lets riders gather by the thousands, in wild costume or not, to experience 25 kilometres of Montreal by night – kids under 12 ride for free! On the bright-and-early side, the famed Tour de l’Île on June 3 sees families and casual riders on a loop of of either 25 km or 50 km, ending at a new finish site this year, Olympic Park’s Esplanade, complete with ferris wheel, activities and more. Bring your own bike or rent from one of Montreal’s tour companies. Also this weekend is the second annual Montreal Yoga Festival, a community-driven event featuring over 30 styles of yoga and 50 hours of classes, workshops, performances, discussions and panels, guided by carefully selected Montreal teachers.
(electric atmosphere) Dance, take in cutting-edge audiovisual performance, and even get outside for a few hours at Montreal’s premier electronic music and arts festival, Mutek, to June 2. Stay up late on Friday with music from Ryoichi Kurokawa, Emptyset, Jon Hopkins, Boundary and more playing creative electro dance tunes at Metropolis and the SAT, and on Saturday stay up even later with Laurel Halo, John Talabot, Efdemin, Emika, Tokimonsta, Nosaj Thing and more. Sunday’s Piknic Electronik, outdoors at Parc Jean-Drapeau, features Axel Boman, Dewalta, San Proper and surprise guests. Or sit down and relax at the Maison Symphonique de Montréal on Sunday for performances by piano virtuoso Bugge Wesseltoft and producer Henrik Schwarz, along with Pantha du Prince and The Bell Laboratory. Immersive multimedia performance Dromos, made specifically for Montreal’s 360-degree Satosphère dome, plays throughout the fest. There’s even a series of free audiovisual performances called Play, every night, by talented local and international artists.
(quality lager) Beer drinkers with a palate for the new and different will be at the 20th edition of Mondial de la biere, May 29-June 2, tasting quality brews from Quebec, Canada and around the world. Classic recipes compete with trendy new tastes at the classy event, welcoming everyone and anyone who loves beer and the food that accompanies it.
(cutting-edge performance) Inspirational and socially engaged theatre and dance keep Festival Transamériques one of the most vibrant spring festivals in the city. Until June 8, see shows from Canada and around the world, such as Canadian choreographer Ame Henderson’s What We Are Saying, an outdoor procession of 13 personas ringing bells in Robin Poitras’ Bells 13, Back to Back Theatre’s Ganesh Versus The Third Reich, wherein a Hindu deity walks through Nazi Germany, Canadian choreographer Ame Henderson’s politically-motivating What We Are Saying, French New Wave dancer-choreographer Boris Charmatz’s Levée Des Conflits, dancer-choreograper Louise Lecavalier’s So Blue, and more. Complimenting the festival is alternative underground fest OFFTA, a forum for younger artists to show their stuff at great venues like Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui, Théâtre La Chapelle and Théâtre La Licorne. When it comes to what’s new in performing arts, both festivals are in the know.
(music fun for kids) Pop Montreal teams up with local musicians for this spring’s all-new Kids Pop events, taking place June 1 and 2 at Place de la gare Jean-Talon (corner of Jean-Talon and Parc). Hang out in the sun and listen to the kid-friendly music of Domlebo, Ira Lee, Lil Andy, Noni Wo and more, from 2-6pm, visit the Tent City, hosted by artist Alexis O’Hara, and visit the Piano Monster at Espace Pop (5587 Parc). For those looking to do a little shopping on the weekend, there’s also Puces Pop, May 31 to June 2, at Saint-Michel Church (105 St-Viateur) in the neighbourhood of Mile End. The craft fair features lovely, decorative and even practical creations from more than 80 artists, designers, and crafters, with a night of free musical performances by Carl Spidla, Philémon Chante, and Lederhosen Lucil on Friday.
(dramatic states) Actor John Malkovich embodies seductive, manipulative Casanova in the Canadian premier of The Giacomo Variations, a story of the Italian adventurer’s life, featuring gorgeous sets, costumes and a 35-musician orchestra, June 4-5 at Place des Arts. As part of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s summer season, Simon Leclerc conducts popular Quebecois group Mes Aïeux and singer-songwriter Plume Latraverse at the Maison Symphonic, May 5-6. And the Montreal Chamber Music Festival concludes with latin jazz guitar duo The Assad Brothers and Grammy-winning clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera on May 31 and an “Everybody Loves Tchaikovsky” concert on June 1, featuring his String Quartet, Piano Trio, Souvenir de Florence, the Scherzo from his 6th Symphony and his Serenade for Strings.
(more live music) On Friday night, legendary Chilean reggae group Gondwana turn Club Soda into a chill party for reggae rebels on their Gondwanar-Love-Ucion Tour. The Decibel Magazine tour brings iconic death metal to town in the form of Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death and Immolation, at Club Soda June 1. On June 2, get a little more metal as a full-on Queensryche show comes to town, starring Geoff Tate performing the 25th Anniversary Operation: Mindcrime, at Théâtre Corona. Sunday night sees American singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata crooning her way into hearts with pop, rock and soul at La Sala Rossa (4848 Saint-Laurent). On Monday, June 4, Pitbull and Ke$Ha at the Bell Centre, and 90s indie-rockers The Dandy Warhols return from bohemia to play Club Soda. On Wednesday, the Suoni per il Popolo festival gets underway with shows from Grouper and guitarist Glenn Jones. On Thursday, June 6, scream with joy like a 12-year-old girl as boy band New Kids On The Block sings old faves and even some new ones on tour with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men, at the Bell Centre. Eclectic singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart makes a night of it at Théâtre Corona. And get sweaty, dance-y and happy as Bloc Party brings their summertime indie-pop-punk joy to Metropolis.