Concert Reviews Festival Review Music

Sophie Ogilvie with Bodywash at Tiny Fest 2023

Montreal musician and Concordia student hits the stage at Tiny Fest’s third edition.

Even with summer behind us, musical festivities in Montreal are far from taking a break. Tiny Fest, a local music festival featuring bands and artists, presented its third edition on Oct. 6–7. It was hosted and produced by Worst Dad Ever, an event organization that puts together independent shows, tours and gigs for touring bands. Among the same venues from last year, La Sala Rossa and La Sotterenea, the small but cherished venue Casa Del Popolo got added to the mix this year. 

I had the chance to attend the festival on its last day. Montreal singer and songwriter Sophie Ogilvie was the last act on the Saturday evening’s lineup. Bodywash—a local band with airy vocals and atmospheric sounds—played their respective show on the previous day and happened to be the backing band for Ogilvie’s gig. Concordia was also definitely in the house owing to the facts that Sophie Ogilvie herself is a current MA student, Bodywash’s Rosie Long Decter is a recent graduate and Concordia’s radio station CJLO 1690 AM was on the event sponsor list.

Before the final and main act of the night, I was able to catch a glimpse of the set from Toronto’s Westelaken. The “post-country” band set the mood for the rest of the evening, notably with their poignant and raw vocal delivery from frontman Jordan Seccareccia accompanied with sweet piano chords and handled rhythm with the drumset. Most of the songs were from their album I am Steaming Mushrooms released early this year. 

As for Sophie Ogilvie, her recent project Coming Up, Crocus was at the core of the live performance. Labelled as an indie rock artist on streaming services, Ogilvie has effectively merged jazz, R&B, and 90s alternative into her debut EP. Fellow friends of Ogilvie in the band Bodywash accompanied her with background vocals, bass, guitar and keys. Chris Steward from the band also worked on Coming Up, Crocus and as Sophie Ogilvie puts it, the album is “a labour of the two of us mostly.” 

Throughout the set, the singer promoted the delicate EP which, as stated in her Bandcamp bio, “chronicles how one season passes into the next and how a relationship resolves itself into something gone.” The single “Milk Glass” highlights exactly that, notably with my favourite lyrics—“And I don’t want to need anything I take from you, but I do.” The catchy harmonies of “I do” repeating only enhance the vulnerable message. 

The concept of change in motion is a prominent theme in the EP as well. The set went from featuring acoustic tracks like “New Friend,” putting forward Ogilvie’s soft vocals and guitar skills, to the most energetic track “Lash” which the Montreal artist asked the audience to dance to. 

Despite the unfortunate rain that weekend, attendees were definitely still present in showing their support for the young artists. Many fellow students, acquaintances, and friends of the starring musicians came together for the close of the tiny but mighty festival. 

Festival Review Music

POP Montréal International Music Festival is approaching

What to expect at the 22nd edition of the non-profit festival.

Who said music festivals were only for the summertime? Even if the weather isn’t as warm, the music scene in Montreal remains vibrant year-round. POP Montréal will be taking place from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1—the annual event has been encouraging artistic independence since 2002. 

As indicated on their website, POP MTL came to life from the collective eagerness of friends and colleagues to establish a major cultural event at the core of the city. Its 22nd year is kickstarting this week and represents “more than ever an essential event on the Montreal festival circuit and the international music scene,” as the organizers of the event state on the web. Over the last two decades, the event has amassed more than 400 artists and 60,000 festival attendees.

Since the festival is based in Montreal, putting forward local artists is a no-brainer, but the word “International” is in the title for a reason. The team offers a lineup from both emerging artists and renowned names from around the world. The festival’s initiative and impact on the overall art scene also lies in its extensive program, aiming to include diverse art forms as part of its activities, including art exhibitions, film screenings, a sale from local artisans, events for kids, and “long-lasting parties until the end of the night.” 

POP Symposium will be your time if you are into panel discussions, creative workshops, artist talks and networking events. Better yet, it will be free and open to all. 

The panels will tackle the “big questions around music, communities, and the forces that shape our cultural engagement, encouraging new connections between local and international artists, industry and fans” according to the POP Symposium page

Performing artists to check out ~

From its impressive lineup, here are my top picks for you to keep an eye out for. Previously seen at the Jazz Music Festival this summer, Annahstasia is back from California—get ready to get shivers from her powerful and stunning vocals. We can expect the upcoming performance of her folk-rooted album Revival to showcase her renewed love for music, which she shares was found “after a period of uncertainty, and facilitated a potent resurgence of self.” 

Next up is Montreal-born Gayance, who is now based in Amsterdam after spending her time growing up between Bruxelles, São Paulo and Montreal. If you’re into “jazzy-house with Brazilian spices” and you feel like journeying through Black history with flares of Afro-Latin jazz, Caribbean, West-African and electronic music, make sure to not miss this show! 

Interested? You can pick from three kinds of passes. But if you’re looking for a cheaper fare, check out their Student pass, which is available with a valid student ID to encourage student participation. Locals and students wanting to get involved are also welcome to volunteer! In tune with the Montreal music scene, this local event promises a fun and stimulating time.

Concert Reviews Festival Review Music

KAYTRAMINÉ extends the Summer with a heated Performance at OfF Piknic 

The high-energy rapper-producer duo composed of Aminé and KAYTRANADA kicked off their joint tour in Montreal on September 7.

On Sept. 7, famed producer KAYTRANADA and Aminé—known together as KAYTRAMINÉ—kicked off their sold-out joint tour for their album of the same name in KAYTRANADA’s hometown of Montreal. The performance was held in open air at Parc Jean-Drapeau as part of OfF Piknic, a series of concerts that follows the summer-long Piknic Électronik festival. The duo played joint and then individual sets for a crowd of 8,000 people, cycling through the entirety of their collaborative album as well as songs from their respective solo catalogues.

The show included three openers. Montreal hip-hop trio Planet Giza kicked things off with a DJ set consisting mostly of vintage hip-hop, with Aminé’s tour DJ Madison LST following up with a mix of current hip-hop hits such as Ice Spice’s “Deli” and Sexyy Red’s “SkeeYee,” which lit up the crowd. Lou Phelps’ set was the perfect tone-setter for KAYTRAMINÉ: his style is a perfect blend of laid-back, chill hip-hop akin to Aminé and occasional smooth bouncy production courtesy of KAYTRANADA himself—who happens to be Lou Phelps’ blood brother. 

Just off their first track “Who He Iz?,” it became immediately clear that KAYTRAMINÉ is a captivating duo. Aminé’s rapping style is filled with confidence and conviction, and his occasional shouting of his punchlines makes boastful lines like “we make heat shit, y’all make weak shit” resonate even stronger with the crowd. KAYTRANADA matched the Portland rapper’s energy with ease, bouncing along behind the ones and twos and ad-libbing in between Aminé’s lines. 

The duo not only fed off each other, but also the crowd: Aminé’s frequent use of call-and-response had the audience namely chanting the hooks of “letstalkaboutit,” “UGH UGH” and “Master P”  back to him, as well as getting hands to bounce and people to jump throughout the crowd. Chiara Strollo, a second-year TESL student who was in attendance, commends the duo for their lively and inviting stage presence: “I love when an artist makes you feel like their friend and like you’re all there to have a good time together.”

After a brief break, Aminé would re-emerge and start performing other hits from his catalogue. He performed cuts from his 2022 and 2020 projects TWOPOINTFIVE and Limbo like “Charmander” and “Shimmy,” even going as far back as his 2017 debut album to perform “Spice Girl.” The chorus to his 2018 hit “REEL IT IN” spread through the crowd like wildfire after being suddenly dropped and the slow-burning live version of “Caroline”—his biggest solo hit—proved effective. Fans sang along before the drums finally kicked in, releasing the crowd’s bubbling hype into jumps.

KAYTRANADA followed suit with an infectious DJ set that no concertgoer could resist dancing along to. His medley of songs included his remixes of Sam Gellaitry’s “Assumptions” and Teedra Moses’ “Be Your Girl,” “LITE SPOTS,” and a yet-unreleased remix of Beyoncé’s “CUFF IT.” 

Aminé joined him once again to perform their 2015 collaboration “LA DANSE,” after giving a shout out to the Montreal producer for reaching out and gifting him with free beats during that period. The pair closed the show with some of the biggest hits on KAYTRAMINÉ such as “Rebuke” and “Sossaup,” with the Pharrell Williams-assisted lead single “4EVA” rounding out the entire performance.

Before the crowd could fully spill out amid chants of “olé olé olé,” the swarm of fans that had begun leaving ran back towards the stage as the lights dimmed down again and KAYTRANADA’s hit single “Intimidated” began playing. Fans were treated to an encore and a second serving of “4EVA,” which upped the energy and wrapped up the show on an even more lively note. 

With both artists toting the flag of their respective ethnic background (Ethiopia and Haiti), the show truly felt like a celebration commemorating their heritage, their joining of forces and the pride KAYTRANADA has brought to his home city.

Parc Jean-Drapeau proved to be an ideal venue as the outdoor area perfectly complemented the bright, bouncy and summery instrumentals on their album. Given the club-ready and danceable qualities of KAYTRANADA’s production, the space augmented the party concept to a larger extent. With volleyball courts, ping-pong tables and an entire area dedicated to food and drink trucks and merchandise, the site entertained, served, and accommodated the crowd with ease, while also leaving enough room to keep everything spread out. “It wasn’t too crowded and the overall vibe of the people was great,” Strollo explains.

KAYTRAMINÉ showed and received overwhelming love to and from the people of Montreal, successfully starting off their tour with a bang. Attendee and fourth-year human relations student Alfred Umasao describes the abundance of local artists as “Seeing Montreal artists do what they do best.” Umasao has no regrets from attending the show: “I got my money’s worth for sure.”

Festival Review Music

My first experience at a Music Festival in Europe

After booking my escapade in Europe this summer to mainly visit family, I stumbled upon the lineup for the twentieth edition of Primavera Sound (PS) taking place in Barcelona, Spain. The music festival’s main weekend took place from June 1 until June 3 which perfectly fit at the start of my trip. 

I try to attend at least one big music event each year, especially during the summertime, hence I felt no hesitation before booking the three-day-long festival, being fully aware that I’d be going solo to an event starting only two days after landing in a country I had never stepped foot in. 

One of the decisive factors for me was the lineup. It included artists I had been listening to for years, and even the artists had become very fond of quite recently. The festival started at 4 p.m. and the last sets finished at 6 a.m., following the same schedule every day.  Being relatively sleep deprived is one thing, but standing up for the majority of those 14 hours while constantly hearing music through humongous speakers is another— and it’s not for the faint of heart. 

My most memorable performance was by NxWorries, the duo made out of record producer Knxwledge and recording artist Anderson .Paak.  I was near the barricades and got the chance to get on the stage during one of my favourite songs off their 2016 album Yes Lawd! titled “Link Up.” 

It was pretty surreal but for some reason I wasn’t nervous at all. I had an absolute blast dancing with everyone and singing whilst interacting with the crowd. The most unexpected interaction happened when I was in the food court at 3 a.m. on the third day, and a stranger came up to me because she had recognized me from the show. She then airdropped me footage from the performance… the world is too small sometimes. 

Definitive highlights from other performances I attended started with the musical duo Jockstrap’s energetic and experimental set. Georgia Ellery pulling out a violin to play on top of the track “Concrete Over Water” was too awesome of a sight before Taylor Skye pulled out a water blaster to the crowd. Moments after, a remix of the theme song from the show Succession played. Despite the song having nothing to do with the band, the crowd got ecstatic due to its extreme popularity. 

Kendrick Lamar — also a headliner at Osheaga — had everyone shouting his name and lyrics even before the large-scaled canvas unveiled behind him. This impressive painted backdrop accompanied Lamar throughout the coverage of his music catalogue from Section.80 up until Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. His cousin Baby Keem also hopped on stage to perform their infamous “Family Ties” and other tracks, making the energy even hotter than the actual fire rising up by the stage.

Singer and rapper Channel Tres’ performance was overflowing with grooviness, made even better with witty and calculated dance moves. Listening to his song “6am” almost at 6 a.m. was so much fun to say the least, and he couldn’t believe people were still out and about for his set at that time. JPEGMAFIA, an American artist that’s collaborated with Tres, made a similar comment about how ridiculous and awesome it was to play at 4 a.m. the next day. 

It isn’t surprising that American artists aren’t used to PS’s different schedule. Osheaga, for instance, ended around 10:30 p.m. — just about the time some folks at PS Barcelona would start showing up. The earlier curfew of cities in North America completely shifts the magnitude that a music festival could ever become, counting less artists to begin with. 

Seeing Rosalía perform her album Motomami in her hometown was also very special. She rallied a wide variety of fans (the Spanish ones being more than passionate and not letting anyone squeeze their way in any closer).

Talking about the audience, it seemed like the entirety of Europe came to Barcelona for this weekend. Locals as well as Canadians and Americans were in attendance so I heard an extensive range of languages when passing by foreigners. 

The Concordian’s Assistant Music Editor and fellow student, Stefano Rebuli, attended this year’s sixteenth edition of Osheaga and recalls there being a lot of traffic from stage to stage. Getting around between the two main stages was tricky due to clashing crowds entering and exiting between two consecutive performances. 

“It left everyone packed and nearly caused a crowd crush between Kim Petras and Kendrick Lamar’s sets on Sunday. Everyone tried to get forward, but nobody was allowed in for a good 30+ minutes,” Rebuli said. As for PS, the crowds seemed to always be mobile which made getting in and exiting smooth. Getting home after the shows is another story— whether it be Montréal or Barcelona, the metro is a hot spot for waiting and waiting behind a stagnant crowd.

The security at Osheaga could have been “much more rigorous” according to Rebuli. His friend had a glasses case which was left unchecked, which means he probably could’ve snuck anything inside. PS’s security also let me in quite easily, with a filled water bottle in my pocket which they didn’t check. 

Moving on to some numbers, PS in Barcelona held 16 stages whereas Osheaga counts 5 across its site. Both are near the water, but PS is impressive with its clear views of the sea. In terms of prices, however, it’s expected that the food or beverages aren’t affordable at any festival.

I brought some granola bars to keep my food purchases low but on my second night I had to have actual food so I ended up spending about $15 for a burger. Osheaga charged $13.75 for a poutine, tax included (taxes not being something to consider in Spain was pleasant at least). For beer however, I spent about $7 for a regular sized cup at PS, whereas Osheaga charged around $10.  

From an artist cancelling their set last minute to discovering a new favourite song at a random show you decided to check out, music festivals are a chance to fully immerse yourself with passionate people all day— or all night. Whether in my own city or overseas, music in a festival setting has proved itself to be a driving force for a boisterous time.

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