From this Wednesday until this Sunday, the city of Montréal will be "fire," as they say. The kids say that. Dozens of music's 'coolest' acts (Thurston Moore, for one, and Motörhead, for some reason) will take over the land of smoked meat sandies and cheap gross '40s for Pop Montreal. I wish I could go but alas. Luckily The Coast has Montréal correspondent, Josh Salter (Nap Eyes, Monomyth, Psychic Fair), on the beat. Yeah that's right. He's a Beatle now.
Anyway, if you're planning on hitting up Pop Montréal, you can discover tons of new bands or see old favourites, but mostly you should support all the Halifax-associated acts that are dominating the lineup, plus a few of my recommendations. For starters, I'd probably go see Montreal's First You Get The Sugar not because I like their music (I don't) but because that's a pretty blatant Simpsons reference and one of my favourite episodes of all time. Please enjoy this Simpsons clip.
In alphabetical order (very convenient), here are some of our Halifax music ambassadors:
AA WALLACE: A Toronto-lover since 2014, I guarantee he's still wearing a trucker cap with a fishing boat on it as he parties with those coneheads, Tupperwear Remix Party.
BA JOHNSTON: A Hamilton man whose aroma lingers long enough at Gus's that he's pretty much one of us. The Polaris Prize-nominated song and dance man will delight Montreal with jokes about Sherbrooke and fancy French-grade sparklers. His aroma, by the way, is 'donair.'
CROSSS: If a pack of nomadic but funky demons was the cast of That '70s Show — all of the trippy graphics and weed, none of the inane bullshit. A cross of death metal and synth-wave.
DAVID R. ELLIOTT: With The Novellas, Elliott is on tour in support of his new record, Sunshine, with hints of early Stones and Dartmouth's finest. Now that's a spicy meatball.
GIANNA LAUREN: The Ottawa-born Italian Stallion leads an orchestra of harmony and ambient sound explorers with one of the most delicate but strong voices we have in Halifax.
HAND CREAM: Halifax's Meghan Sivani-Merrigan takes this kick-ass Montréal band on galaxy quests that are too cool for me. Like, if NASA was repopulating Mars, they'd take Hand Cream to the new land and leave me behind. Probably.
HOMESHAKE: Okay, this one is a stretch. More Halifax-associated than a Halifax band, but Truro's Brad Loughead is the bass player so Homeshake makes the list. Also it's my goddamn list. Also it's a pretty amazing jazz-influenced rock band. It's got me home-shakin' all over.
MARDEEN: Good ol' Cape Breton bys. Mardeen are great classic songwriters with some Celtic offshoots. Sweet like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but with jam.
MOONSOCKET: The legend of Chris Thompson returns. 90s-era indie rock from way the hell out in Sambro now. Still Halifax, though. Isn't this whole province basically Halifax now?
MOON: A new lineup that includes Nathan Doucet (drums) and Scott Grundy, Moon's moving in different directions (for ex: they covered "Big Me" several times this summer).
OLD & WEIRD: Last year's cover feature in The Coast cemented this band as one of Halifax's best, even if not fully appreciated YET. We're going to lose them to the big leagues.
QUAKER PARENTS: Mark Grundy recently moved himself and his brand of math-inspired, lyrically smart and playful songs to Montréal, so best of luck but remember who you are.
REBECCA WEST: These '90s stars reunited at Pro Skates and are now playing Pop Montréal and the Halifax Pop Explosion. In 1995, Allison Outhit wrote the kind of music people want to write now: introspective, meaningful, punk influences, art-rock, dreamy, rad.
PARTNER: From Sackville, NB (close enough). Lucy Niles (The Mouthbreathers) and Josee Caron debuted at SappyFest and were the talk of the town. This is real rock & roll.
TASSEOMANCY: The Lightman twins lived here for awhile and Tasseomancy's performance at the OBEY Convention in May was like if Stevie Nicks and Game of Thrones met with instrumental wizards in an enchanted forest of lost love and despair. Beautiful and theatrical.
WALRUS: Walrus gave me a free t-shirt this summer, size XXL, so I cut off the arms and made it a crop-top. It's extra special since it's a picture of a dude who's not even in the band anymore. Talk about collector's item. They're putting out a new shirt soon. This band rips like an acid trip.
YEAR OF GLAD: Coast contributor Nick Laugher and his OG homies make some emotionally powerful stuff, like an NYC coffee house (Central Perk?) with the grime of a Mile End alleyway.
So after checking out ALL THAT, if you have time, here are some of my personal faves:
FREELOVE FENNER: a totally enchantingMontreal three-piece circa Fixture Records: witchy, dark and awesome. Someone please give Michael Brooks Wright a hug for me.
BABYSITTER: Full disclosure, these guys just crashed at my house last week and boy it was fun. I said something like "You guys are a mix between Lemmy and Ted Nugent." That's not totally right, but it ain't wrong either. I've never seen bass-playing like this before.
HAGFACE: Like Babysitter, this Calgary/BC/Montreal combo was face-ripping. Asymmetrical, double vocals, SO MUCH FUCKING POWER, bleach blonde everything. It was so good that I threw up in my own yard later that night. Not even an accident.
JEF BARBARA: Sometimes also plays in Hand Cream, and just released this cover of "A Perfect Day" by Rexy, totally sexy. The most captivating performer of OBEY Convention 2014.
There's also HUA LI, TELSTAR DRUGS, TOWANDA, LEE RANALDO and about 200 other amazing bands and if I was going to this festival, I'd hit all of the above and more. I almost puked on the Metro once and I hope — one of these days — I can make that dream come true.