“This used to be my office,” says Dax Dasilva with a laugh. The founder of Never Apart points to the enclosed glass room in front of us, decorated to look like an abandoned travel agency: unflattering dim light, gray carpet covered in airline logos, Hawaiian lei hanging off an open glass case like a guest that’s overstayed their welcome. There’s even a security gate on the door, making the room seem more like a dingy storefront than an installation in one of Montreal’s most revered venues. The installation, which comments on the nuances of cultural exchange and the commodification of cultural diaspora, is not meant to be pretty, but poignant. And while many of the other summer exhibits on display throughout the 12,000 square foot building represent physical beauty and badassery in many forms—like in the theatre below, displaying the photography of Sven Marquardt, the infamous bouncer of Berlin’s Berghainnightclub—it becomes increasingly clear that Dasilva’s goal for the space is not to simply bring in beautiful art, but art that aims to bring about social change and spiritual awareness.
Rachel Bussin leads us from room to room of the expansive, multi-levelled industrial space with her golden doodle, Bernie, following at her heels. Possessing an air of indisputable cool, Bussin, lead designer at Lambert & Fils,takes us through the studio’s various ecosystems; from the calm focus of the assembly room floor, decorated with lush green houseplants and colourful tools, to the stark white space tucked away in the basement, manned by three boisterous dudes blasting metal and yelling a warm “salut!”, it becomes increasingly clear that the award-winning, collaborative lighting design studio has found a way to promote individually while rejecting egocentricity: a rarity in the world of art and design.
Held at a converted warehouse space in the heart of Griffintown, Red Bull Music Academy's drone showcase yesterday evening (September 30) was an ominous and expertly curated onslaught of the senses. Consisting of a lineup of Quebec's most prized and subversive noise, metal, and ambient musicians, Drone Activity in Progress demonstrated just how doom-laden a concert can be.
While all benefit concerts — regardless of size — should be taken with a grain of salt, yesterday evening's (September 17) star-studded Bell Centre event proved to be an evening ripe with an emphatic sense of hope and a commendable, progressive feminist agenda. With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Bill Gates acting as the evening's special guests, the Concert to End AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria invited headliners Usher (with the Roots), Half Moon Run, Grimes, Metric, Charlotte Cardin, and last minute additions Sam Roberts and Bobby Bazini to spread the word.
Since the release of her debut LP Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Melbourne, Australia-based Courtney Barnett has been hailed as a refreshing anomaly; her extraordinary songs about ordinary life — panic attacks and house-hunting in gentrified neighbourhoods — has garnered the songwriter rave reviews from fans and critics alike.
With an idiosyncratic style influenced heavily by '60s garage psychedelia and '90s indie rock, Barnett's seemingly laid-back, but deceptively heavy, emotionally honest approach to her songwriting have undoubtedly set her apart from the rest. Still, Barnett is the first to warn "put me on a pedestal and I'll only disappoint you / tell me I'm exceptional and I'll promise to exploit you" in "Pedestrian at Best," clearly demonstrating that she's aware of the pitfalls of too much praise.
Few people can transfix a crowd quite like Mykki Blanco. Since the release of her mixtape Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss back in 2012, Blanco has managed to infiltrate the traditionally hyper-masculine world of rap with her own signature blend of punk performance art, her undeniable charisma, and high-octane performances placing her in a league of her own.
Refusing to let her style fall into the (at times) problematic category of "queer rap," Blanco's poetry nonetheless attracts those who have, at one point, been labelled as other, whose uphill battles mirror Blanco's own in various ways. Taking to the stage yesterday evening (May 27) in front of a small, gorgeous Fairmount Theatre crowd, Blanco proved just how powerful she could be.
Shrouded in long hair and weirdo boyish charm, the widely beloved and critically acclaimed Kurt Vile seemingly possesses the power of hypnotism; his understated confidence and undeniable skill draws crowds in with a magnetic pull. Touring in support of his latest LP b'lieve I'm goin down…, Vile took to the Corona Theatre stage yesterday evening (February 20) in front of a sold-out crowd, his backing band the Violators in tow.
Using their star power in the name of altruism, Régine Chassagne and Win Butler of Arcade Fire welcomed a sold-out crowd (and a few very special guests) to the Société des Arts Technologiques yesterday evening (February 19) in support of the KANPE Foundation. Co-founded by Chassagne, and with all proceeds of the evening going towards the establishment of financial autonomy in Haitian communities, KANAVAL KANPE was a taste of how fun a Haitian kanaval can be.
The formerly barren stretch of road known as Notre-Dame Street West has become a restaurant Mecca, seemingly overnight. Running straight from Montreal’s Old Port all the way to the bowels of the newly gentrified neighborhood of St. Henri, the street has become lined with some of the industry’s best and brightest establishments—the famous Joe Beef and its little sisters Liverpool House and Le Vin Papillon being the first to roll off the tongue. Praised for renewing interest in Little Burgundy (and Montreal as a whole), the quick rise of Joe Beef not only served as a signpost for the budding McMillan-Morin empire, but helped to define the path of an artist from Oakville, Ontario going by the name of ‘Mr. Sign.’
Few performers can transfix a crowd quite like Matt Berninger. After 20 years of touring as the lead singer/songwriter of indie rock mainstays the National, he's managed to channel his vulnerable, poet laureate persona into veritable rock star swagger. Ambling about the stage yesterday evening (November 16) as part of his new project EL VY, Berninger showed that he could live up to — and even reach beyond — the crowd's high expectations. Paired with multi-instrumentalist Brent Knopf's sharp production and steady, rippled beats, both musicians showed the sold-out crowd just how powerful a so-called "side-project" could be.
Very few bands can silence a room quite like Majical Cloudz. Since the release of their debut album Impersonator back in 2013, the Montreal duo have developed the reputation of having one of the most cathartic pop shows in recent memory. Armed with a microphone and his robust, powerhouse vocals, singer Devon Welsh transfixed the crowd yesterday evening (October 23) with little more than a stare and his intimate, direct lyrics. Paired with producer Matthew's Otto's minimal electronic loops, the artists managed to blanket the room in sound as the audience stared back into Welsh's eyes reverently, hanging off his every word.
Emerging from the shadow of Arcade Fire is no easy task, but last night Will Butler proved that his solo efforts carry their own distinct weight. Taking to the stage at the operatic Rialto Theatre dressed in black tie attire, Butler and his accompanying band moved through their set with ease, as the modestly sized crowd danced and swayed with abandon.
“I feel like we deserve to be here, for sure,” says Johnny Griffin as he squints at me from across the large picnic table, sun in his eyes, “I just didn’t expect us to play this year.” The rest of John Jacob Magistery laugh or nod in agreement, knowing full well that while they are labelled ‘up-and-coming,’ their sound and vision for the future is fully formed. As opposed to other young bands making their major festival debuts in 2015, John Jacob Magistery are a group of seasoned musicians who know exactly what they’re capable of, their performance at Osheaga serving as a testament to just how much can be accomplished in a year.
Outdoing itself once again, the 10th edition of Osheaga’s Music and Arts Festival went off without a hitch. Taking into consideration some pitfalls of past installations (like overcrowded stairways, limited access to water, no seating, etc.) the festival runners managed to turn the forest/island of Parc Jean-Drapeau into a magical fairground of massive proportions. With benches, water stations, a bevy of food trucks and an actual swing carousel at the ready for the thousands upon thousands of attendees storming the three-day festival, Osheaga 2015 made sure to up the comfort level.
Surprisingly minimalist yet ultimately affective, Seoul are a dream-pop band on the rise. Recently signed to Last Gang Records, the enigmatic Montreal-based trio are set to release their debut LP, I Become A Shade on June 9th. We had the chance to chat with Julian, Dexter, and Nigel—responding together as a unit—before the release.
“Everything we put out, whether it be words, songs, images, or videos, is an effort to share a perspective and a feeling.”
With five nonstop days of live performances, MUTEK pulled out all the stops for their 16th (and most impressive) edition yet. From the outdoor stage at the Quartier des spectacles, to the secretive rooms of the Musée d’art contemporain and the familiar, vast hall of the Métropolis , this year’s installation of the electronic arts festival boasted spectacular shows and attracted plenty of wildly diverse people in the process...
Yardlets have a partnership that would make most other musicians jealous. A power-duo of sorts and friends since forever ago, Sam Goldberg Jr. (of Broken Social Scene) and Jeff Edwards both live by the same set of principles: create what you want when you want to, and have fun doing it. While this may be a simplified version of who they actually are as distinct individuals, together they form an unstoppable band who understand each other on multiple levels; their opposite traits and shared experiences blending together to establish something greater than the sum of its parts.
Universally adored by critics and stoners alike, Australian outfit Tame Impala have become one of the most captivating bands to emerge in the last decade; their signature blend of introspective, psych-driven rock and revelatory live performances have set them apart from the rest of the indie rock pack. Led by the virtuosic Kevin Parker and his unmistakeable falsetto, the band took to the Métropolis stage yesterday evening (May 20) for the first of two sold-out Montreal tour dates. Armed with four new tracks off their upcoming (and highly anticipated) third album, Currents, Tame Impala's well paced, heavy hitting set demonstrated what a modern rock band is truly capable of.
Aside from moving into a new apartment and buying some clothes from his neighbourhood Renaissance, few things have changed in Airick Woodhead’s world since being signed to Sub Pop. “I feel a bit more sustainable now,” he tells me on the way to his studio at the Torn Curtain, “there’s definitely been a mentality shift. I can take my time a bit more these days and not have to scramble every month to get by, you know?” The man behind Doldrums —an electro outfit whose DIY sounds have been slowly edging their way into the mainstream since 2010— Woodhead is undeniably on the cusp of something big, his sophomore album The Air Conditioned Nightmare released today...