There’s officially too much to do this week in Montreal. That’s my professional opinion as a go-er and a do-er. Summer may have its multitude of festivals and picnic-in-the-park ways, but autumn packs a bounty of sights and sounds: over 400 bands and artists fill the city for Pop Montreal, jazz and classical musicians join in the music scene too (not to mention Kanye and Jay-Z), stages come alive with new theatre, dance and circus arts, and fashion, visual art and film bring in creative work from around the world…
(pop overload) It’s all just so much, really. As a fan of live music, I’m in my happy place during Pop Montreal – and since the fest takes over many venues, that happy place seems to be everywhere. Whether you’re into folk-pop, indie-metal or country-electro, check out at least one show at this music fest. There’s also a great film program, stellar art exhibitions, free afternoon BBQs and music at Notman House (51 Sherbrooke W.), a talk by Maus creator and comic book icon Art Spiegelman (September 24, 4 p.m., 1455 de Maisonneuve West), and more. Shoppers can check out Puces Pop, an art, craft, jewellery and fashion fair, September 24–25 at St-Michael Church and the Record Fair at the Ukrainian Federation (5213 Hutchison). Lest we forget the children, Kids Pop offers sing-alongs, yoga, a dress-up photo booth and art workshops on the afternoon of September 25, at the Chinese Presbyterian Church.
(artistic leanings) The stunning Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is only on until October 2 – it seriously deserves at least one viewing, and I know several people who’ve made repeat visits. The Museum also unveils on Monday a monumental public artwork by internationally renowned Montreal artist David Altmejd in front of the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion of Quebec and Canadian Art (1339 Sherbrooke West). The wonderful city-wide photography festival Mois de la Photo as well as the World Press Photo exhibition continue until the end of the month, as does Workspace Unlimited’s immersive multi-media work RealTime UnReal at the Musée d’art Contemporain.
(it’s not all pop) Pop Montreal may be drawing crowds young and old and rock n’ roll will never die, but neither will jazz and classical music, if Montreal can help it anyway. Jazz legends Oliver Jones and Michel Donato along with The Doxas Brothers play the Segal Centre, September 25, and the Montreal Jazz Festival’s autumn show series at the Bistro Le Balmoral heats up every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. Meanwhile, the 13th Orgue et couleurs Fall Festival of classical organ music runs September 23 to October 2, with free lunch-time concerts and reasonably priced evening concerts at churches, music venues, cultural centres around town. And the Montreal Symphony Orchestra settles into its new Concert Hall with conductor Michel Plasson, cellist Gautier Capuçon and works by Ravel, Roussel, Gounod and more, September 29 to October 2.
(Indian rhythms) This Sunday’s La Bal du Dimanche Danse Indienne not only gives us a performance by dancer Deepali Lindblom along with 6 other dancers skilled in various forms of Indian dance, such as folkloric theatrical dance and the classical Karthak, but also a free class on Bollywood dance, open to everyone! September 25, 2 p.m. at Places des Arts’ Espace Culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme – free!
(far-east acrobatics) Montreal’s own circus centre, La Tohu, stretches the definition of circus once again with Chi of Shaolin: Tale of the Dragon, a high-energy, family-friendly show that blends martial arts, dance, sabre work, hand balancing, contortion, foot-juggling and Chinese diabolo to tell tell the story of a monk who takes a failed young thief under his wing. See the feats of studied technique, strength and pure entertainment as Chi of Shaolin’s Chinese acrobats push their own limits in a surprising show, at La Tohu, September 27 to October 6.
(fresh air) There’s still time to spend outside while the warm-ish weather lasts! Popular Sunday-afternoon electro-dance-party Piknic Electronik invites everyone out to Parc Jean Drapeau for the grand finale piknic of the year with French trio dOP and local favourites. Meanwhile, downtown on Ste-Catherine Street W., as part of In Town Without My Car, Cease Collective presents the vision of five artists who will create a 20′ x 8′ billboard using paper, glue, and scissors to be complete on September 22, at Square Phillips (Ste-Catherine at Union).
(high drama) Make a dramatic, thought-provoking night of it with Peter Shaffer’s play Equus – the performance, directed with creative panache by Domy Reiter-Soffer, left me, and the rest of the theatre, with plenty to ponder and talk about – at the Segal Centre, to October 2. Over at Places des Arts, the Opéra de Montréal goes grand and pulls out all the stops with Mozart’s classic Le nozze di Figaro, featuring soprano Nicole Cabell, to September 24.
(new dance) One of Montreal’s avant-garde dance institutions, Agora de la danse, produces two challenging shows this week: Jocelyne Montpetit’s butoh work Avril est le mois le plus cruel inspired by the poetry of T.S. Eliot, September 22–23, and Danse à 10, an unconventional approach to dance from young, hip, experimental dance troupe La 2e Porte à Gauche, known for performing in strange locales – eight choreographers take over a strip bar this time, Kingdom Gentleman’s Club of Montreal (1417 St-Laurent), September 25–27 and October 2–3, 7 p.m., $10. And on September 29, Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui returns to Montreal with Babel- 18 dancers and musicians representing elements of 13 countries and 7 religions, at Places des Arts.
(audio hackers) Montreal, ever the creative land, becomes a part of a relatively new phenomenon that blends music, technology and rebellion: Music Hack Day Montreal. Though it seems that musicians have been altering their instruments to get the sounds they want forever (hey, what are pedals for), new technologies in software and hardware have expanded the realm of music making exponentially in the last 50 years. Music Hack Day brings together programmers, musicians, designers and anyone with a bent for making music in any way shape or form – September 24–25 at Eastern Bloc (7240 Clark).
(film forum) The Montreal International Black Film Festival introduces a great variety of films from around the world that tackle everything from day-to-day existence to historical issues of slavery to racism in the suburbs of Paris. The opening film is French comedy Case Départ (Back to Square One), and closing the festival is Gabriel Range’s I Am Slave, based on the life of Mende Nazer. In between are over 125 more films as well as a September 24 conference on African-Americans in the film industry. The fest runs September 22 to October 2, at Cinéma Impérial, Cinéma ONF and Cinéma du Parc.
(music and more) While Pop Montreal would seem to be taking over the city’s music scene September 22–25, there’s still more music to be had. Like the full-on force of team Kanye West and Jay-Z – together the hip-hop royals make The Throne, at the Bell Centre, September 25. The music of Sigur Ros comes in film form in the North American Premiere of INNI, by amazing Montreal filmmaker Vincent Morisset – 75 minutes of footage from their last live shows at London’s Alexandra, playing September 27 at Le National (1220 Ste-Catherine E.), 8 p.m. Also that night, not only do indie-pop forerunners and always a good time, Mates of State play Il Motore (179 Jean Talon West), but Who-frontman Roger Daltry performs The Who at Place des Arts! And on September 29, long-time heavy new wavers Trans Am returns to play the entirety of their album Futureworld, at Il Motore.