A brief guide to Montreal’s local live music scene

Here’s Where to find Montreal’s finest live music offerings

Sometimes, keeping up with show organizers is where it’s at

Good Shows

Ever since pandemic restrictions loosened up, Good Shows have proven to be one of the most exciting organizers in Montreal. With shows sprawling across town touching on genres like math rock and hardcore to dance-punk and everything in between, you’re always in for a rowdy and wild ride with Good Shows.

Expose Noir

For five years, Expose Noir has been throwing parties of the highest caliber, turning warehouses into full-fledged all night long rave frenzies. Their mainline multi-room events, or the smaller and more frequent single-room offshoot “volume x” always guarantee international DJ talent to the highest degree.

Blue Skies Turn Black

Blue Skies might be Montreal’s premier booker for the indie scene, frequently bringing some of the top rock and hip-hop talent that’s currently on the road to a great variety of venues, theatres, and halls throughout the city.

Greenland Productions

Greenland Productions is responsible for bringing some of the biggest shows to the largest clubs and venues across Montreal. Radiohead offshoot project The Smile, and drain gang predecessor Yung Lean are just a few of the heavyweight talents coming in the next few weeks — thanks to Greenland — and with multiple shows each week, there is something for everyone.

Five bars where you can hear live music on the reg

Bar Le Ritz PDB (179 Jean-Talon O)

Owned by the members of Montreal’s own Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Bar le Ritz is one of the best places to catch out-of-town up-and-comers. Shows span from various styles of rock and hip-hop, to hardcore and metal with plenty of exciting touring acts performing every week. 

Bar L’Hémisphère Gauche (221 Rue Beaubien E)

The beer is cheap, the staff is cool and the music is loud at Bar L’Hémisphère Gauche. Located in Little Italy, L’Hémisphère Gauche is where you can find local fresh new voices performing almost every night of the week to packed and rowdy crowds.

La Sala Rossa/La Sotterenea (4848 St Laurent Blvd)

Whether it’s the saloon atmosphere of the main room upstairs (Sala Rossa), or the smaller room devoid of a stage in the basement Sotterenea, you are bound to find an eclectic mix of bookings in this building.

Casa Del Popolo (4873 St Laurent Blvd)

The sister venue of La Sala Rossa, located just across the street, is a smaller room, darkly lit and decorated by beautiful moldings on the ceilings and chandeliers above the bar. Experimental shows spanning from harsh noise to power electronics happen frequently, and you can also catch a hardcore or indie show being put on by Good Shows or Blue Skies on a regular basis.

Collage by James fay @jamesfaydraws and Catherine Reynolds @catreynoldsphoto

Music Quickspins


CRASH lacks the cohesion and forward-thinking sonics of the work that has defined the recent years of Charli’s career. 

Charli XCX has had one of the most unexpected careers as a pop star in the last decade. Breaking out with a handful of large singles, and features on smash hits “I Love It” by Icona Pop and Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” Charli was shot into stardom. 

The first surprise in Charli’s career came in the form of 2016’s Vroom Vroom EP, enlisting bubblegum bass pioneer SOPHIE as executive producer, hot off the backend of her 2015 project Product. SOPHIE was becoming one of the most in-demand producers, known for her deconstructed club sound with heavy left field tendencies, which made this EP cut out for a dance floor in the loudest nightclub in town, and not the FM radio waves. 

After a pair of collaboration-oriented mixtapes, and two more studio albums, Charli has (intentionally or not) become the figurehead of what came to be the “hyperpop” scene, blazing the trail for numerous artists like 100 gecs and Dorian Electra. 

The 2017’s Pop 2 and 2019’s Charli became a harbour for this scene, with an all-star lineup of artists being featured across the tracklists, all while also maintaining the pop sensibility that made her a star. 

CRASH is the most radio-pop project we have received from Charli since 2014’s Sucker. The PC Music label sounds preceding hyperpop that Charli embraced in recent years have dissolved into a more conventional sound. 

CRASH comes loosely packaged with a plethora of pop and dance music influences through the decades. Whether it’s the ’80s synth pop tinted “Good Ones” and “Lightning” to 2000s trance leads and 2-step drums of “Beg For You,” the project lacks the clear cut direction of her last two records. 

Though going over well on Number 1 Angel, which like this project did not have a rock solid sonic identity, CRASH comes across as a bit of a jumbled mess. Disorientingly bouncing from funky guitar lines, to big ’90s gated drums and 2000s Ibiza synths, the variety of sounds on this project can at times mix like water and oil. 

Highlights like “Move Me” and “New Shapes” have immense vocal performances and spotless production, but these highpoints only crop up in the first half, leaving CRASH feeling front loaded. 

CRASH comes as a bitter end to her five album contract with Atlantic as Charli’s TikToks and tweets have not shied away from expressing her frustration towards PR and contractual commitments. 

If CRASH is Charli’s out from this contract, and she was simply trying to just dump a more conventional pop album on Atlantic to sell, then she has done what she sought out to do. Major labels are notorious for editing artists into creative oblivion and CRASH could be a record that’s content got lost in translation. Though she may not have made a product that fully expresses her artistic direction, given full creative control, I am sure future projects will result in a full realization of another pop opus Charli surely has within her. 


Trial Track: “Beg For You” feat. Rina Sawayama 

Rating: 5/10


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Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Luna Li – Duality

 Luna Li’s solid debut record shows a wider audience that she should certainly be on your radar

After hitting a stride of virality on the internet in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto-born and raised artist Hannah Bussiere Kim, also known as Luna Li, was launched into a much larger audience than she had ever reached before. This stride of internet clout brought Luna Li’s name into similar circles of artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, beabadoobee, and Japanese Breakfast; the latter of which went on to bring Luna Li on tour as support for a number of performances through America in the summer of 2021.  

Though Duality is only her first record, Luna Li’s auditory identity is very self-realized and fleshed out. This is largely in part from her academic background in classical music (specifically string performance), as well as working alongside and being a part of several performing and recording groups in the Toronto music scene for years. Though the moniker Luna Li is new to her, she is more than familiar with her field of work after being so heavily involved in Toronto’s indie rock sphere.

Lush harps, keys, and warm bass lines are found on every track of the record, providing a nice sonic cohesion and groundwork for the album. Kickoff track “Cherry Pit” smashes you in the face with a blast of distorted guitars and boomy drums before disappearing into a bedroom pop soundstage. The track does not waste any time displaying the range of textures you will find across the album’s 41-minute runtime.

Luna Li’s music videos and social media output on the surface exudes a bedroom pop princess-like energy, which is present in her music but in smaller doses than anticipated. Angular guitar solos littered with overdrive and distortion come through a number of tracks on this project, such as “Alone But Not Lonely.” The song kicks off with a sultry Portishead-like string section, contrasted by some sweet vintage casio style keys, capped off with a cute and simple drum machine that sounds like it could be run through the filters and effects section of a Roland SP-404. As she repeats the title of the song about a dozen times in not even two minutes, the song evolves through numerous colours of indie pop and arena rock that comes together in a delightful little package of surprises, without Luna Li biting off more than she can chew. 

“Silver into Rain” is yet again more glorious art pop, with a dreamy feature from beabadoobee who in her own right is a scene mainstay for the bedroom popheads. The cut is a recipe for a hit, much in line with the rest of the record keeping you on your toes, unsure of what might be around the next corner. 

Luna Li’s distinct palette and twist on the current pop sound, tied with her whimsical songwriting, make for an enjoyable full-length that will surely leave a lasting impression on those who listen. With tours to come and more music down the line, Luna Li has the potential to build a loyal following and garner plenty of excitement and fans. 


Score : 7.5/10

Trial track: “Silver Into Rain”


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Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Beach House — Once Twice Melody

18 years and eight studio albums into their career, indie darlings Beach House deliver yet another bulletproof batch of shoegaze inflected, dream pop galore 

Hailing from Baltimore, Beach House has been releasing some of the most consistent music in the “indie” sphere for nearly two decades at this point in their career. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have remained the only two members through the bands entire career, and they are back to flex their dream pop muscles with another set of blissful soundscapes. Once Twice Melody is the first double album the band has released. 

The duo has consistently shown listeners that they are masters of sequencing and editing themselves, with each studio album being very “all killer no filler,” and barely ever breaking a runtime over 60 minutes until Once Twice Melody. Released as four chapters across nearly four months, the album not only works as a double LP but also as a quartet of EPs that hold their own as standalone projects. Bookended by the most cinematic cuts in the tracklist, each EP feels like a different window to gaze out from within the Beach House. With a longer runtime, the band has created a project that fully displays the sum of all their parts. 

The sound palette Scally and Legrand have established until this point is here in full force. Emotive synths and organ chords, sunburnt guitars and vintage LinnDrum-esque drum machines are present here as to be expected with a Beach House release, but with the new emphasis on strings, many of these songs reach theatrical highs that Scally and Legrand have not yet achieved until now. From the soaring shoegaze-y opener and title track “Once Twice Melody,” we are immediately transported into the familiar sounds of a Beach House project, but with a haziness that we have not heard since albums like Devotion and Teen Dream. By self-producing for the first time, this project is a direct translation of the duo’s ideas, with nothing between them and the listener. 

The high-gloss big budget production that defined their last record 7 is now gone, and we are given a much less sterile sounding album. Once Twice Melody is padded out by beautifully warm tape echo and a very round low end, coming across soft on the ears, even in climactic moments. Evident on highlights like “Pink Funeral,” their ear for melody is as present as ever, with a lush arrangement of staccato strings over swelling harps building higher and higher before a soaring guitar line breaks the song down, over the sweet hi-hats and soft snares of programmed drums. 

Kicking off the second half of the record, “Sunset” is the true centerpiece of the album, and shows Legrand’s ear for harmony and vocal layers, with repeating phrases bouncing from channel to channel, being driven by an acoustic guitar, an instrument that they lean into much more on this record than they ever have before. The real beauty in this track lies in the screeching metallic synthesizers, drenched in reverb that top off the entire track; sounding like trains coming and going from a terminal straight out of a dream. 

Beach House have become a behemoth of the indie world, and continue to further solidify their cream of the crop status in the current landscape of music. Once Twice Melody is a full display of everything they have accomplished until now, on an unmatchable scale with some of the highest quality songwriting they have composed to this day. 


Score: 9/10

Trial track: “Once Twice Melody”


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