Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Career Girls Guide to POP Montreal

Originally published in the CJLO Magazine on September 20, 2016

Contrary to popular misconception, many of us "older" ladies out there who work full time Monday through Friday love music too. In fact, we can rock out harder than most of you slackers, and there's absolutely no way we're going to miss POP Montreal just because we have to wake up at 6:00 AM so we can be alert at our desks by 9:00.

Now of course we're gonna let our hair down come Friday, but we all know POP starts Wednesday, September 21. What's a career girl to do? The career girl is smart! The career girl is savvy! The career girl is, above all, discerning. She knows time is limited on week nights, and that the trick to a successful POP experience is to choose wisely and schedule fiercely. POP Montreal is masterfully curated and loaded with acts that are not to be missed and we've pored over the program to select the best in bedtime-friendly shows, and a few things that are worth staying up late for.


Wednesday is a heart breaker with great shows all over town: Allah-Las will be uptown at La Tulipe serving up beachy, tambourine-rattling California pop, while the Jerusalem In My Heart show downtown at the Musée d'Art Contemporain promises dramatic and sombre takes on traditional and popular Arabic music. We'll be stage side at Metropolis for L.A. Witch, an all-lady three-piece from, you guessed it, California. L.A. Witch play rock n' roll conjured from the '60s, reverb-heavy and a little ominous, a product of the California sun, but more bleached out than sun-kissed. The band was here just a few months ago steaming up TRH-Bar with The Coathangers, that they're back so soon is a testament to both their work ethic and their growing popularity. L.A. Witch will take the stage at a very reasonable 8:00 PM. If the spirit is willing, why not stick around for headliners The Kills? You can still be in bed by midnight.


The secret to juggling work and POP Montreal is to stay hydrated and well-fed, so why not sneak out of the office on Thursday for an "executive" lunch and head on over to Quarters POP at 2:00 PM for the CJLO BBQ? The boss will never know. Heck, you can even invite her along! There, problem solved. Reggae lovers are sure to enjoy the sweet sounds of Montreal AfroBlueHop artist Joyce N'Sana, whose powerful message of love will replenish your soul with peace and good vibes as you fill up that belly with yummy veggie dogs. Stick around a little longer to catch No Aloha before dashing off to your afternoon meeting. Their brand of surf-inspired power pop is a welcomed reminder that, even though it's September, summer is forever in our hearts.

Food glorious food! We all need it, but some folks out there really need it, and this year's Art POP has two exhibitions that explore life, sustenance, and our secret desires about food and eating. On the menu is Figuratively Full, a group photo exhibition (curated by Toronto photographer Maya Fuhr) featuring images of 21st century life juxtaposed with fast-food meals and snacks, as if to capture our most base animal urges for future anthropologists to examine. Art POP also gets a little freaky this year with Chris & Adam Levett's Appetite for Distraction, a multi-media installation involving Internet fetish-eating videos and plush toy sculptures with genitals made from perishable food. You'll be glad you made it to that BBQ earlier! These, and other fine exhibitions, are available for viewing at Quarters POP September 21-25 until 8:00 PM, so even if you work you can still take in some Art POP culture late in the day. Plus, Quickie Art Tours are back! Art POP curator Robb Jamieson and a team of guest art experts will be on site at POP Box (Quarters POP) every day of the fest starting at 5:30 PM to provide walk-throughs of the exhibitions this year. It's the perfect time to meet people and share some recipes, and your dirty little secrets.

After a wild and whacky supper with those strangers you met at Quarters POP, be sure to catch the piano-driven music of the legendary Velvet Underground founder John Cale at the Rialto Theatre. Lucky for all us working gals, his performance starts at 9:00 PM and is scheduled to last an hour. With that whopping 40$ price tag, POP understands that some of us tax-paying folk might not be able to afford John Cale. Rest assured, there are other inexpensive and equally awesome POP shows Thursday night, all within walking distance from each other, and you certainly can't go wrong with 10$ a show. The Submissives, an all-girl theatrical performance group fronted by Montrealer Deb Edison, bring their lovelorn alt-pop creations to Casa del Popolo at 9:30 PM for a 40-minute set, giving you just enough time to scurry down to Le Divan Orange for 11:00 PM to catch Birds of Paradise, a duo comprised of Roy Vucino and Hannah Lewis from Red Mass. Hearing the lovely Hannah Lewis sing those hauntingly-beautiful songs is certainly worth missing an hour or so of shut eye for your ears to behold. Wait! There's another show late on Thursday that we must tell you about...

POP Montreal knows full well that booking bands that matter is the only way to convince us working gals with discerning music tastes to stay out much later than we should, and this year the fest really delivers. Gone are the filler acts that loop pre-programmed blips and bloops from their laptops, we know that's so yesterday—circuit bending is what's NOW. Toronto's Holy Fuck is just one of those tragically underrated bands that everyone should go above and beyond to see live. We're not going to put an asterisk on their name man, because holy FUCK this band is awesome. Brian, Graham, Punchy, and Matt are plugged in to each other's minds, playing off one another as they manipulate unconventional items, including 35mm film editing devices and children's toys. Together they create unique electronic beats and melodies that you can party and dance to—using battery-powered phaser guns, man! CJLO is co-presenting this show with POP Montreal so drop by our table at Théâtre Fairmount and say, "Hi!" The lineup features Fake Palms, New Fries, and psych electronic darlings Technical Kidman. Doors open at 8:30 PM, the show starts at 9:00, and Holy Fuck goes on at midnight.


Friday has heaps of great shows: the legendary Psychic TV play the Fairmount, Century Palm and The Famines headline the Pentagon Black showcase at Turbo Haus if you're keeping it Sud-Ouest. We get it, Thursday night was a late one. Friday morning may be a "pour coffee directly onto the eyeballs" situation. If all that sounds too ambitious, a solid Friday can be had in the early evening. If you missed John Cale on Thursday or if you simply want some more, he'll be giving a talk at the Musée des Beaux-Arts at 5:00 PM. POP Symposium interviews with rock greats are always a highlight of the festival, this promises to be no different. You likely know John Cale as the quieter, madder force that kept the Velvet Underground in the avant-garde. After his split from VU, Cale released scores of solo and collaborative records, but it's through his work as a producer in the late '60s and '70s that we recognize Cale as a crucial influencer of the era. He was behind the console and the keyboard for The Stooges' debut album, as well as first records by The Modern Lovers and Patti Smith. He famously recorded his own version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", a song that made few waves upon release, distilling it into the condensed version that is incessantly covered to this day. John Cale's legacy as a tastemaker is undeniable, and there's no doubt he'll have stories that no rock nerd will want to miss. From there, boot up to the Rialto rooftop and catch a sunset set by Montreal folkster Leif Vollebekk. The picturesque, intimate setting paired with Vollebekk's deeply personal songs and compelling voice is a stellar way to cap an early night, or perhaps it will urge you on to soak up more of the festival? Be bold, it's Friday night.


Saturday morning you'd be well advised to rise and shine because the Record Fair starts at 11:00 AM at Église Saint-Michel and you probably want first dig through the crates. There's no need to worry if you can't make the Record Fair on that particular day, because Sunday will be even better with CJLO radio deejays on hand to spin the finest underground music and all the rare classics you can handle.

Film buffs will be excited to know that Film POP and Panorama-cinema are screening the elusive John Waters cult-classic Multiple Maniacs (1970) at Cinema du Parc on Saturday at 3:15 PM. Unavailable for decades, this is a newly-restored version of the film from Waters' very own 16mm negatives, so you'll get to see the late-great Divine and the Dreamlanders crew at their filthiest in sharp Criterion-o-vision! POP Montreal has a special treat for John Waters fans at 8:00 PM, because Mr. Waters himself will be live and in-person at the Rialto to perform his one-man show, This Filthy World. Here we will learn all about his influences and experiences in filmmaking, and hear stories about the Dreamlanders and his life in Baltimore, Maryland. Doors open at 7:00 PM, but get there early! There will most certainly be a lineup outside longer than Waters' 52-year career.

Saturday night we'll head to the Fairmount where The Sadies are headlining a night of shadowy country in honour of Will McClelland's newly-released novel, The Minted, an acerbic swipe at Canadiana set in a dystopian near future. McClelland will start the night by reading excerpts of his book starting at 9:30 PM, followed by sets from the folky Charlotte Cornfield and Montreal's favourite cowboy poet, Li'l Andy. The Sadies and Li'l Andy joined up for a "shoulder-to-shoulder, the walls are sweating" kinda packed house this past January, so we'd advise picking up tickets in advance.


We're going to take it easy on Sunday, sleep in a bit, then grab some brunch before heading over to Puces POP at Église Saint-Denis. Puces POP is an awesome way to discover local artists, designers, and crafts people and it's also your chance to buy their wares at great prices. From handcrafted jewellery, to eco-friendly skin-care products and beautiful handmade silkscreen prints, you can always find the perfect gift for family, or for yourself! Go on, you deserve it.

Sunday at 5:00 PM, Image+Nation and Film POP presents the Quebec premiere of KIKI (2016) at Cinema du Parc. Directed by Sara Jordenö and Twiggy Pucci Garcon, this film documents the trials and triumphs of seven LGBTQ teens from the New York City Kiki Scene, a thriving off-shoot of the '80s Ballroom subculture originally introduced to mainstream audiences with the film Paris is Burning (1990) and Madonna's music video for the song "Vogue".

Grab a nap if you must, because there's one more show worth staying up for. On a Sunday? Yes. It'll be worth it. Head over to Divan Orange for an 11:00 PM set by Joe Grass who is launching his new album, The Rest Will Disappear. Joe Grass is a familiar sight on Montreal stages, playing alongside just about everyone from Patrick Watson to Leif Vollebekk, The Barr Brothers to Li'l Andy, just to name just a few. This project places Grass centre stage on pedal steel guitar with Jason Sharp on baritone sax and Josh Zubot on violin. Expect sweet melodies veering sharply and often into experimental territory. This is an all-star lineup, and Joe Grass is one of those magical musical unicorns who shits genius without breaking pace. Let's close the festival off with a big ol' party, okay?

The 15th edition of POP Montreal runs from Wednesday, September 21 to Sunday, September 25. Event and ticket information is available on the POP Montreal website. Be sure to search for our hashtag #CJLOgoesPOP and follow @CJLO1690AM on Twitter and Instagram for up-to-minute coverage of the festival.


--Sue Snyder is the tall chick in the front row blocking your view of the band. She's also a belly dancer making unusual dances with her cosmic twin under the name Cult of Yes. Find her on the Twitter @Susie_Qc.

--Stephanie Dee is a writer living in Montreal and she likes to participate in having fun. This is her fifth time covering POP Montreal for CJLO. Follow Steph @tweegirl on Twitter and Instagram.

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