Festivals can’t just be festivals anymore in these event-saturated times; they must be all-singing, all-prancercising, immersive multi-disciplinary happenings. Welcome Pop Montreal, a latecomer in the Summer Fun Calendar, with a formidable schedule split into live gigs, art, conferences, a film festival, craft & record fairs, and events for kids.
Just for starters at the Canada festival, there’s a catwalk show of local designers, Kid Koala’s culinary bicycle tour, a talk by last year’s Turner Prize winner Elizabeth Price, a conference by sometime Sex and the City and The L Word director Allison Anders; even a writing competition judged by Sheila Heti.
Musically, the Pop Montreal festival mashes up genres and eras like it’s curated by Bill and Ted. Highlights include ageless Québécois disco diva Pierre Perpall; hipster AOR darlings DIANA; psych oddballs Portugal. The Man and SUUNS; Grimes collaborators Majical Dreamz and D’Eon; queer-pop icon SSION; “imps of perversion” Pop. 1280; and indie gods Metz and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. It’s a close call, but I think I’m most excited about seeing hip hop producer The-Dream. Without him, hip pop would be a bland, autotuned world. Artist in his own right, he also co-wrote Rihanna’s Umbrella (best song EVER) and Beyonce’s Single Ladies (as well as a more dubious involvement in the career of devil spawn Justin Bieber, but I’ll let him off). This is his Montreal debut- see you down the front!
“How you gonna be a tastemaker when mama bird chews the food for you?” It’s a snarky question posed by a symposium panel of people who really should know, including former Warhol Factory worker and American GQ’s ‘The Style Guy’ Glenn O’Brien. There’s also a rare screening of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Eden and After- I’ve been a fan ever since Blur cheekily plagiarised Last Year at Marienbad for their To the End video.
Other festival coups include a performance by Yellowman, the world’s only albino dancehall toaster, and a talk by Ian Svenonius, über-cool frontman of The Makeup and recent garage fuzzsters Chain & the Gang. Apparently, Svenonius was voted 1990’s ‘Sassiest Boy in America’ and I can well believe it. He’s launching his new book, one of the most fantastical and fun rock autobiographies/bibles for musicians ever, the tongue-deeply-in-cheek Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘n’ Roll Group, written following a séance with the 27 Club and other assorted dead rock stars. This will segue nicely into the retrospective of Croatian psych-horror filmmaker Dalibor Baric called, amazingly, Ghost Porn in Ectoplasm! Still on a morbid tip, I’m also seriously stoked about catching the first ever documentary about black proto-punks DEATH who preceded even the Ramones with their pared down, sped up rawk.
This really is a festival for all. Like its ‘Distrobotos’ – hacked cigarette vending machines that dish out art instead of cancer sticks – the Pop Montreal lineup is all about the healthy balance of partying and participation, with a standout schedule that gives cultural production (workshops, competitions, and opportunities to meet industry leaders) equal billing with consumption (unmissable gigs and screenings).
The full Pop Montreal schedule can be seen here www.popmontreal.com
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