Montrealâ€™s Under The Snow Festival, running March 9 to 13, may not be the same large-scale kind of operation as high-budget festivals like Osheaga or POP Montreal, but as artistic director Jeff Rioux points out, â€œThe kind of budget we have is pretty tight, but weâ€™re trying to build [the festival] and do what we can do with the small budget.â€
Twenty-eight indie bands will play over the course of five nights, with shows taking place at Plateau venues Le Divan Orange, La Sala Rossa and Casa Del Popolo. While most artists are from the Montreal area, Rioux has invited two international acts, Danish sextet Alcoholic Faith Mission and Belgian group MLCD [My Little Cheap Dictaphone], to play play on March 10 at Casa Del Popolo and on March 11 at La Sala Rossa, respectively.
According to Rioux, itâ€™s important to throw some international showcases into the mix for two reasons. Firstly, for bands that have not previously played in Montreal, a slot at Under The Snow is a good opportunity to share their music with a wider audience. Secondly, â€œsome of the international bands are more popular than local bands, so itâ€™s a good way to bring attention [to the local bands],â€ said Rioux.
Highlights of this yearâ€™s festival include a performance by Vancouver-based two-piece Siskiyou, who will play at La Sala Rossa on March 10, and a musical history lesson by Monsieur le chien, taking place at Le Divan Orange on March 12. Also, for the second year in a row, Under The Snow will be hosting a record and art fair, happening during the afternoons of March 12 and 13 at 5075 Rivard St. Over 60 bands, labels, zine makers, designers and artists will be selling music and other goodies for cheap, so be sure to check it out.
Under The Snow is celebrating its seventh consecutive year, but Rioux admits that he didnâ€™t really think of it as a festival during the first few years that it ran. â€œIt wasnâ€™t really a festival in my mind, it was just three days of shows that I had planned,â€ he said. â€œThey were mostly bands from my label [Where Are My Records].â€ Many people urged him to make the event an annual one. So by drawing from the well of experience that he has accumulated over the past 15 years from playing in local bands, hosting radio shows and working in record stores, Rioux assures that the festival has been getting bigger every year. â€œThis year itâ€™s a little bit bigger,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s more serious; itâ€™s not a hobby like the first two or three festivals.â€
More information, including a full program, can be found at Under The Snowâ€™s website: www.underthesnow.ca/fr/