Pop’s pleasant predicaments

Man Man or Half Japanese? To most people this might seem like a confusing and absurd question, but to music fans contemplating this year’s Pop Montreal music festival from Oct. 3 to 7 it is one of the many difficult choices they will have to make.
Like Pop Montreal festivals of the past, this edition is packed with an unbelievable mix of living legends, established stars, and great new bands you’ve never heard of. Here are some tips to help you guide your way through these five days of musical indulgence.
The festival kicks off Wednesday October 3 with a cacophony of yelps and discordance with what may very well be the highlight of the festival, as Dave Thomas and his seminal art-punk group Pere Ubu play Le National Theatre. Those who witnessed Thomas’ performance with Rocket From the Tombs a few years ago need no convincing of his ability to still command a room after more than 30 years, with his wailing moans and Captain Ahab like stage persona.
For those who prefer pop of the rootsy, country rock variety, should go check out Magnolia Electric Co. at Sala Rossa, who will we be joined by the beautiful voices of the Watson Twins & Katie Moore.
Thursday, Oct. 4 is when things really start to get tricky as many tough decisions and win-win situations need to be faced such as the aforementioned Man Man or Half Japanese. Man Man, who has graced Montreal with their presence a number of times over the past couple of years, will bring their infectiously boisterous pop to Sala Rossa, with Shapes & Sizes getting things warmed up.
At the same time punk’s nerdy, experimental offspring, Half Japanese, who have inspired countless DIY indie bands since they formed in 1977, play at the Portuguese Association.
As opposed to Man Man, Half Japanese shows are a rare occurrence nowadays, their performance for Pop Montreal being one of the only shows they play all year, which makes it all the more necessary to catch these weirdo pop legends while you can.
Montreal Rock N’ Roll Gods, Bionic, also play at Petit Campus. They’ve just released their third album Black Blood, and are always a sure bet to rock your face off, with fellow locals Starvin Hungry helping to do so.
If you are looking for something a little more whimsical, head up to the Ukrainian Federation for the chamber pop ditties of Final Fantasy.
If all this seems excessively quirky and eccentric, and you just want to get hype and party, then check out Club Soda, where Montreal’s very own scratch master A-Trak, fresh off touring as Kanye West’s DJ, will spin a set, with DJ Mehdi, Kid Sister, and Kavinsky, also doing their thing.
Friday, Oct. 5 brings even more pleasant predicaments, with another day packed with great shows.
Two of Canada’s best rappers Buck 65 and Cadence Weapon are playing at La Tulipe with the always entertaining Skratch Bastid doing an opening set. Fortunately this is going to be a relatively early show (Cadence Weapon is scheduled for 8:45 p.m. Buck 65 for 9:30 p.m.), which will give you time to head down to Les Saints to catch the king of Houston Trill and member of hip-hop duo UGK (no I’m not talking about Ron Sexsmith), Bun B as he gets things crunk with fellow Houstonites DJ Chill and Rapid Ric.
If you are not interested in ridin’ dirty that night, but still want to get moderately funky, then go check out World Provider and Republic of Safety as they provide you with dance grooves of the noisier variety at Casa Del Popolo.
Drone metal duo Nadja, who are heavier than you could ever possibly imagine two people being, get things started at Sala Rossa as they are joined by local psych punks CPC Gangbangs, and the power prog trio of Qui.
Also playing that evening is Quebec rock veteran Michel Pagliaro who will show that dads can still rock pretty hard. He’ll have plenty of help as The Mongrels and Le Nombre open up this Club Soda show.
Another 70’s music legend and recent Rock N Roll hall of fame inductee (isn’t that the dream of every young folk punk poet?), Patti Smith, will be playing at l’Eglise St-Jean Baptiste.
Saturday, Oct. 6 promises what should be one of the most fun shows of the festival, as funk master Fred Wesley, formerly of the JB’s teams up with local klezmer hip-hop sensation Socalled, organ grinding pop stars Think About Life and NYC rapper C-Ray Walz, to throw a party at the Notman House (51 Sherbrooke O.).
Also Le Divan Orange will be putting on two great shows that day, first off starting at 2 p.m. with Drew Danburry, The Zoobombs, and Thunderheist playing, and then things start up again at 7 p.m. finishing the night with local freak rockers Aids Wolf and glitchy electro-synth dance duo Yip Yip.
If you’re just looking for a great can’t miss rock show that night, then check out Black Mountain and Sunset Rubdown at Le Theatre National. Indie darlings The Islands play at Cabaret also, with Harlem Shakes, and Supreeme.
Oh, and just in case you thought things weren’t eclectic enough, 80-year-old, Montreal born, Mort Sahl is going to be performing at Club Soda, joking, satirizing, and generally busting the chops of anything or anyone he sees fit.
By Sunday, Oct. 7 things settle down a bit, but there are still a few must see shows depending on who you ask, one of those being 90s Canadian indie psych rock heroes Eric’s Trip, who have reunited once again, and will be playing the Ukrainian Federation.
For those who were not teenagers in the 90s, current Canadian indie rock stars Hot Hot Heat play Club Soda. Also, Fans of Captain Beefheart and experimental surrealist cinema should go see Gary Lucas play freaky solo guitar soundtracks for various avant-garde films at the Portuguese Association.


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