It’s that time of year folks! As summer festivals start to dwindle to a close, leaving behind only flower crowns, overpriced beers, and what’s left of our dignity, festival’s like POP Montreal’s Sweet Sixteen edition start to pave the way for the days of sweater weather, hot chocolate, and some great fall music festivals. This year’s edition took place from September 13th to September 17th all around Montreal with an array of film, art, conferences and so much music.
About POP Montreal
POP Montreal is a not-for-profit international music festival that takes place every year in different venues around the city. Definitely a different vibe than large-scale outdoor festivals like Osheaga. POP Montreal provides a refreshing city-wide perspective on music festivals by giving the opportunity to genuinely explore the Montreal music scene. The shows take place all around the city in venues ranging from tiny bars to large concert halls, the majority being on the smaller more casual style that fittingly go with the indie and new acts that the festival is known for. Honestly I’d call POP Montreal one of the great underrated festivals of the city. It’s affordable, jam-packed with shows, and it encourages people check out Montreal venues as well as local and international acts. What’s not to love?
One of the best things about POP Montreal is hopping from venue to venue. It feels like a pub crawl, minus the incredibly annoying pub crawl chants, with some potentially amazing live music. Many of the venues are located in the Plateau area, making it easy to move back and forth from one venue to another in between sets. My festival night had a late Saturday start, and I decided to head over to L’Escogriffe to see its promising lineup.
On my way to the venue I walked past Quai des Brumes (one of the POP Montreal venues) and decided to take a quick peek before heading to L’Escogriffe. A peek turned into a pint and watching a full set from the Toronto Band, Wine Lips. Their garage rock vibes lured me in and kick started my evening. The band played to a modest crowd, but they had the attitude and the sound for a more packed bar venue. To end their set Wine Lips played a hard rock version of “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” which prompted some good ol’ dancing from the crowd.
A quick walk down the street, I made my way to L’Escogriffe to check out The Seams. The jangle-psyche supergroup is made up of four band members, each originally from different bands that decided to combine forces and create The Seams. The band, a mix of 80s and 90s rock, takes inspiration from bands like R.E.M. Throughout the show the guitarist channeled a Kurt Cobain-esque vibe and haircut that fittingly matched their style. The set went by quickly as I had arrived halfway through, but even though the music was good with some memorable riffs, the feeling just wasn’t there, making the show somewhat bland.
Out of all the acts in the evening, Fleece definitely wins best of the night by a long shot. These guys brought some great jazzy and indie rock tunes during their midnight set at L’Escogriffe. Besides the fact that I already knew a few of their songs, and that their new album “Voyager” is particularly kick-ass, their set was a lot of fun to watch. Fleece is clearly a band with skill and also personality. Lead singer Matthew Rogers, greeted the audience as he donned his black shades throughout the evening, making you wonder how little he could actually see throughout and how he managed to play with them on. The band is clearly composed of some serious goofballs. With one glance at the stage you could see guitarist Jameson Daniel, shirtless and shoeless, wearing a quirky sheep hat, and drummer Ethan Soil, rocking some daringly short red 80s track shorts à la Michael Cera in Juno. Besides their goofball ways, Fleece delivered a great show, with most of their songs coming from their newest album “Voyager’, and only a few from their debut album, “Scavenger”. Songs like “Fried Eggs”, declared by Rogers as a song “…about things that make you feel good…”, and “On My Mind”, were crowd favorites as the audience danced and sang along. This show is one that I can easily describe (and compliment) as wonderfully weird and sonically strong. Gotta love alliterations.
The evening was coming to a close and I left L’Escogriffe feeling all jazzed up and hyper, and decided to check out Pins and Needles at Quai des Brumes before I went home. I hadn’t heard the band before so I had no expectations, but I was instantly greeted by a great sound and atmosphere from the all-female indie-rock group. Their sound is a combination of indie-rock, pop, garage rock and a bit of 50s inspiration in it for good measure. The Toronto group totally brought it, and managed to the get the crowd moving and dancing to incredibly catchy songs like “Runaway and Hide”. Definitely an act worth checking out!
And with that, my Saturday night came to a close as I biked down St. Laurent at 3am swerving through the sea of drunk festival goers, already mentally preparing for the activity filled Sunday that lay ahead.
Check out the POP Montreal Promo Video Below:
Find out more:
Pins & Needles
*featured image taken from POP Montreal Press Photos