Montreal is a mecca for arts and culture, European-style architecture, fantastic food like delicious bagels, plenty of street art, and friendly, helpful people. And its people are very dedicated to the arts.
I spent most of last week at the M For Montreal festival, where the music world converged to experience this beautiful city and their artists. Below are some highlights.
Montreal based trio Nancy Pants have been together for about a year. They have an interesting take on the industry as each member has played in other bands or worked as concert promoters or made poster art. The Montreal trio provided an energetic mix of power chords and lo-fi ’60s garage. The songs are catchy and fun and frontwoman Ohara Hale (a Los Angeles expat) has an effusive energy. I loved their “dirty pop” songs but “Happy” and “Borderline” are my faves. They are non-fussy pros that have already recorded their album debut, it’s available for free on Bandcamp. Go get it!
It was a treat to see Grimes in her homeland performing at one of the most beautiful venues (with great sound and visibility no matter where you sat or stood) I’ve ever been to. The house rumbled with her songs – athletic dancers, a massive light show and plenty of action. Before they began, the PAs blared beautiful classical music which flowed right into her first song “Circumambient.” It was interesting to see her wearing a cast which must have been a prop since she was able to prance on stage. Let me tell you that it’s liberating to see an unjaded audience dance along non-stop.
Charlotte Cardin is a well known fashion model turned musician who sits at the piano with her trio and seduces the audience with jazz vocals and smokey looks. She draws comparisons to Amy Winehouse and Charlotte Gainsbourg. She hasn’t written much music yet so she gravitates towards cover versions of songs by Elliott Smith, Beck and Madonna and others.
A buzzy artist on the Montreal music scene is APigeon an electronic producer and songwriter but truly a vocalist at heart that soars over an electronic landscape. Instead of staying on stage, part of her set had her on the floor among the audience to sing and dance throughout the room. She has a beautiful vocal range. Her songs are tribal yet poetic and captivating.
With a simple keys/synth setup, breakout artist Camille Poliquin aka Kroy created a mood that commanded our attention. She is also half of a duo that is building steam called Milk & Bone. Her first EP came out in 2014 and is currently working on a debut album while touring which I am looking forward to.