Gearing up for festival season

Electronic duo MODE SELEKTOR are part of MUTEK’S 2011 lineup. Photo by Birgit Kaulfuss
Electronic duo MODE SELEKTOR are part of MUTEK’S 2011 lineup. Photo by Birgit Kaulfuss

School’s out, and hopefully the sun will soon be, too. This is the time when we all disperse and live out our summer adventures, which for many people will consist of watching the clock tick at their boring summer office job or busting their ass at an internship. But whether you’ll be kickin’ it in Montreal, heading back home to Ma and Pa’s or planning a road trip across the country, we at the Concordian hope that you’ll find the time to squeeze in a music festival or two. While most people associate the summer holidays with working like crazy in order to earn enough money to carry their broke asses into second semester, we associate the summer holidays with festival season. Here’s a guide to some summer music festivals that will be happening in Montreal and the country-at-large.


Name: Steve Guimond

Festival: Suoni Per il Popolo

Founded: 2001

Takes place: June 5 – 25, 2011

More info:


Concordian: How did you get involved with Suoni and what is your role in the festival?

Steve Guimond: Booking [for] Casa, Sala, and il Motore, [and for] Suoni per il Popolo [I’m the] artistic director. I was asked to join team Casa del Popolo, Sala Rosa and Suoni per il Popolo by the founders, Mauro Pezzente and Kiva Stimac, in 2005 after I got to know them through my job as music director at CKUT. We shared a mutual love of weird music and I had always admired what they were doing from afar.


What is its purpose or goal?

To present mind-blowing and innovative music from across all genres that is under-represented within mainstream circles.


How has Suoni Per il Popolo evolved over the past 11 years?

The festival as a whole has grown on a number of fronts – financially, administratively, artistically. What started out as a labour of love has blossomed into a viable and successful festival, and has opened up a lot of folks’ ears over the years to an incredible array of artists from here and around the world.


What will be some highlights of this year’s edition?

Highlights include Bill Orcutt (ex-Harry Pussy), Charles Gayle, Keiji Haino, Borbetomagus, Junior Boys, Pierced Arrows, Omar Souleyman, Satoko Fujii, The Thing with Joe McPhee, Atomic, Parlovr, David S. Ware, Volcano The Bear, [and] The Strange Boys.

Will all of the concerts be taking place indoors?

Yup. This year we are using Casa del Popolo, Sala Rossa and il Motore.


How many people do you expect to attend this year?

We roughly anticipate around 10,000 people will walk through our doors during the month of June.


Name: Patti Schmidt

Festival: MUTEK

Founded: 2000

Takes place: June 1 – 5, 2011

More info:

Concordian: What’s your role in the festival?

Patti Schmidt: For the past couple of editions I’ve been one of the programmer curators, along with Vincent Lemieux and Alain Mongeau – who’s the creative director of the festival. We’re actually in a meeting right now, we’re pouring over our grid, trying to fill in a whole bunch of blanks in time for next week’s major announcement about the second wave of performers. Now that this is my second time through, the rhythm of panic is fun. And also, I edit the web magazine at […] Then I’ll be producing panels and doing all kinds of other stuff when the festival starts rolling.


What is its purpose or goal?

To turn as many people on to electronic and digital contemporary creation as possible. And that means anything from avant-garde and experimental works to immersive kinds of environments that are always changing as technology is changing, as well as exposing them to some of the more rarefied club experiences that can happen with various artists who really know how to work a big room. We really emphasize the live performance of it, so it’s not a DJ festival. From the very beginning, MUTEK has emphasized live performance with electronics and […] visuals as well as audio.


How many musicians do you expect will be performing?

One hundred or more. That’s been the average number in the past few years. It’s a lot.


How many people normally attend?

Last year, […] when you count up all of it, 70,000 entries is about what we’re at now. Which has come a long way from the first year when there was just under 2,000.


Fourtet (above) will be one of over 100 artists playing at MUTEK 2011. Photo courtesy of MUTEK

How has the festival evolved over the past 12 years?

We hope reputation, for being able to take a snapshot of what’s going on at a particular time, as well as to continue to pick things in advance of their connecting. To be a portal for discovery and to be understood and recognized for that – I think – has solidified over the years. One of the things that was a big surprise, and became evident in the first four or five years, was that now more than half of the festival’s audience comes from outside the city. Then there’s another percentage from that which comes from outside the […] country. That’s been a big evolution, and that’s something that we think about too: programming as much for local audiences as foreign audience[s].


What will be some highlights of this year’s edition?

That’s too hard. Obviously the Nocturnes, the headliners for the evenings shows I hope will be highlights. For example, the Amon Tobin show that we’re bringing here is going to be his world premiere that’s going to start a new tour for his new album and there’s a gigantic set and video mapping and multi-person team from San Francisco who are coming to do this. It’s going to be huge.


Check out to hear tracks by Pierced Arrows and Amon Tobin.


Local festivals

Montreal International Jazz Festival: June 25 – July 4, 2011. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard about this festival. Not into jazz? That’s okay — last year’s lineup included female hip-hop duo Random Recipe and folk singer Basia Bulat. Plus, a lot of the concerts are outdoors, and most of them are free. The 2011 lineup should be announced soon at:


Les FrancoFolies de Montréal: June 10 – 18, 2011. As you could have probably guessed, Les FrancoFolies is a week-long festival celebrating only the finest music to emerge out of la belle province, with events contained within the Place des Arts area. Bonus: if you spend $22.50 on tickets, you’ll get a free ticket for the concert of your choice. Here’s the catch: this only applies to tickets purchased from the Metropolis box office. Read more here:


HeavyMTL: July 23 – 24, 2011. Dear Metalheads, this ought to be the greatest weekend of your lives. Although this year’s full lineup has not yet been announced, KISS, Mötorhead, Disturbed, Billy Talent and Godsmack are already confirmed. What could be better than spending your weekend headbanging to the point of getting heatstroke at a giant outdoor concert  at Parc Jean-Drapeau? Tickets have already been on sale for a few weeks, but watch out: they’re a bit on the pricey side. To see prices and buy tickets, visit:


Osheaga: July 27 – 31, 2011. Everyone goes to Osheaga. And by everyone, I meant that 53,000 people did last year. So if you haven’t experienced it, you must. It’s a blast. The lineup should be announced soon, but it can already be guaranteed that it will be kickass. How do I know this? Last year saw the Arcade Fire, Snoop Dogg, Sonic Youth and Metric. ‘Nuff said. Stay tuned for updates and announcements about this year’s edition:

National festivals

What: SappyFest

Where: Sackville, N.B.

When: July 29 – 31, 2011

Why you should go: Sackville seems to be one of those charming small towns to which Canadian indie musicians are inexplicably drawn (think Dawson, Yukon). The festival is a bit of a spin-off project that was created in 2006 by the founders of Sappy Records — Julie Doiron, Jon Claytor and Paul Henderson. Although camping out at the festival site is not an option, Sackville can offer some small town hospitality in the form of bed and breakfasts, hotels and campgrounds. Did I mention that there will also be a zine and crafts fair? For more information go to:


What: North By Northeast

Where: Toronto, Ont.

When: June 13 – 19, 2011

Why you should go: Missed out on SXSW? That’s okay – the northern equivalent will barge in on Toronto’s club district during the second week of June. Last year, over 625 local, national and international bands rocked 50 stages. Because of this festival, the population of Toronto will rise by over 280,000 in five days. Obviously, NXNE is a big deal. Whether you’re looking to discover some hidden gems, check out some rising talents or bow down to the big shots, this is your chance. Read about NXNE here:


What: Dawson City Music Festival

Where: Dawson, Y.T.

When: July 15 – 17, 2011

Why you should go: Yes, it’s way up north and yes, you probably wouldn’t think of planning a road trip to the Yukon. But really, you should. Dawson is not only surrounded by stunning scenery (for you nature-appreciating types), but its annual music festival promises, in its own words, “unparalleled intimacy, grassroots spirit, fabulous Klondike hospitality, and the best concerts North of 60!” Don’t believe me? See for yourself:



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