Rock star-worthy drama was the plat du jour of this year’s Pop Montreal festival, which featured well over one hundred shows in venues around town. First, local up-and-comers Hot Springs broke up. Then came the vintage gay porn soundtrack (see No. 5 below). Yet Pop’s piece de resistance remains its feisty homegrown talent. So after a five-day blur of concerts, cabs, and directing drunken out-of-towners to bagel, smoked meat, and poutine joints, we picked our Top 5 contenders to sport the Arcade Fire crown. Oh, the drama. Can you handle it?
Grinding, bass-heavy, synthy electro-crunk only loosely describes this groundbreaking project of Wolf Parade’s Hadji Bakara and Robert “Speakerbruiser” Squire, who used to produce as Sixtoo. These sweaty musicians delivered a live “street-bass” PA set (using synth, laptop, and MPC pad) that got us down and dirty on Coda Club’s packed dance floor. Simply the festival’s best party.
These hockey-loving, Ontario-bred, power-pop indie rockers convinced Kids in the Hall actor Dave Foley to appear in their hilarious “Americanarama” video. They also packaged their self-released EPs in plastic baggies, hence the titles “Demo in a Bag 1 through 5.” Crazy-catchy melodies, raging hooks, and headbang-worthy guitar riffs seal the deal.
3. Lovely Feathers:
Fun, quirky, pretty pop hooks and jolly keyboard melodies with Ska rhythms and earnest vocal howls have made a local favorite of this Vampire Weekend-esque, geek-chic band of pals who met at McGill University. They’ve toured with the likes of Metric and have a album on the way — heck, they’re on the way!
4. Random Recipe:
With rapper Fabz beatboxing over live rhythms, piano, and guitar, and the gorgeous vocal melodies of Franster, this crew of local ladies was one of Pop’s most haunting surprises. Their downtempo track “Something on my Mind” showcases Random Recipe at their best.
Live in a porn theater and accompanied by a band that included Final Fantasy’s Owen Pallett on violin, klezmer-meets-hip-hop artist Josh Dolgin, a.k.a. Socalled, performed an original soundtrack to gay porn classic Cruisin’ 57. As the film screened, the full house of hipsters took in both music and sexy times, sans uncomfortable snickers. Schtick aside, the music was epic, and the Dolgin’s choirboy voice and clever raps reminded us why he’s earned a cult following.