Concert Reviews Music

Montreal spills their excitement for Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS tour. 

Fans left an outstanding impression on the singer during her first ever shows in Montreal.

When Olivia Rodrigo released her debut single “drivers license” in 2021, it skyrocketed to number one on the charts and became a heartbreak anthem for an entire generation. Her debut album SOUR doubled down on that success, receiving a small-scale tour that same year. With her sophomore album GUTS out, she recently embarked on a worldwide arena tour, notably stopping in Montreal for the first time. She packed out the Bell Centre, playing two sold-out nights on March 26 and 27.

Fans of Rodrigo were treated to quite literally every song they could possibly love: every song, with the exception of two, in her solo discography was featured on her setlist. As a result, the night was a well-rounded and balanced mix of pop-punk anthems, heartfelt ballads and everything in between. Rodrigo did not miss a beat, and the crowd was right on par with her.

The show began with “bad idea right?” and “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” kicking things into high gear right from the jump. She then moved into some slower tempo songs like “Vampire” and SOUR cuts “drivers license” and “traitor.” These tracks put her fans’ dedication on full display, for every song was sung perfectly and each lyric was crystal-clear, even with twenty thousand voices singing in unison. The melodic runs on tracks like “favorite crime” proved that the crowd was capable of hitting all sorts of notes, with the starlet even giving them props for having the chops to keep up with her.

Her performance of “teenage dream” was a standout from the entire night. Rodrigo began with a monologue while playing the piano, in which she expressed her gratitude growing up and getting older, and being excited to see the girl she will become. A montage of home videos from her childhood played in the background, adding a degree of wholesomeness. The cherry on top was the end of the performance, where a clip of her childhood self speaking with her mother played. Rodrigo’s mom was asking her daughter about her upcoming first performance, to which the crowd responded eagerly with all sorts of cheers—a poignant, emotional moment perfectly executed by breaking the fourth wall.

Halfway through the show, Rodrigo embarked on a moon prop which would make its way around the arena. She waved to fans as they cheered raucously below her, performing her ballads “logical” and “enough for you” as she floated above them. 

Rodrigo maintained a solid stage presence throughout the entire night. Her stage featured a central platform which extended down the left and right side with two catwalks, by which she took advantage to visit each side of the stage periodically. She jumped around and rocked out to her more energetic songs, whereas she laid down and sat down to perform introspective, piano and guitar-driven tracks like “making the bed” and “happier.” 

She took time to hype up the crowd, acknowledge her fans, and even share anecdotes about the different songs, truly creating a connection with the crowd members. Her dancers were another key addition to the show: they were perfectly in sync and made their way across all parts of the stage, further utilizing the setup and adding to the overall stage presence.

Heading into the last leg, Rodrigo had fans belting out to more rock-leaning cuts like “all-american bitch” and the newly released “obsessed.” Once the song was over and she was offstage, the crowd gave a standing ovation in total obscurity—roaring for nearly a minute and a half straight. The pop star returned with “good 4 u” and closed out the show with “get him back!,” saluting fans in the crowd and those along the barricade as confetti poured down from above.

Concert Reviews Music

Travis Scott takes Montreal by storm

The Houston rapper put on an explosive spectacle at the Bell Centre for his Circus Maximus Tour.

On Jan. 9, Travis Scott made his grand return to Montreal with his Circus Maximus Tour, in support of his latest album UTOPIA. His last visit to the city was in March 2019 for the Astroworld Tour, almost five years ago. From the stage design to the setlist, Scott designed an exhilarating, explosive and energetic experience filled with tons of surprises and eye candy.

Following a brief DJ set from Chase B, fans eagerly started to open mosh pits as the intro to “HYAENA” began playing. Scott suddenly popped out from beneath the stage, accompanied by fireworks and flames. He jumped and dashed around to every area of the stage, sending the crowd into a frenzy. He continued with UTOPIA tracks “THANK GOD” and “MODERN JAM,” the latter of which was complemented by a stunning sequence of neon lights, both onstage and onscreen. This high energy was maintained throughout the night as the rapper performed a variety of bangers spanning his entire catalogue. 

He took fans back to the Rodeo days with fan favourites “3500,” “Nightcrawler,” and “Maria I’m Drunk,” as well as earlier hits “Upper Echelon” and “Mamacita.” Songs like “Aye!” by Lil Uzi Vert proved to be absolute starters, igniting the entire crowd into jumping in sync, from general admission to the seats. Scott also brought a more mellow tone to the show with slower, sung tracks like “90210” and “MY EYES.” His melodic auto-crooning sounded just as good as it does on record, and felt complete with the crowd’s cheers backing him. The Houston MC also let his vocal chops shine throughout the night, singing acapella on several occasions. He most notably kept The Weeknd’s “CIRCUS MAXIMUS” refrain going for an additional minute, launching into an extended vocal solo.

After a brief interlude, the intensity picked up as Scott pulled out more hits. The crowd belted ASTROWORLD favourites like “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” and “CAN’T SAY” word-for-word, showcasing just as much excitement for recent hits like “MELTDOWN” and “TOPIA TWINS.” These tracks were met with no shortage of smoke, fire, and fireworks either. “I KNOW?” made for a standout moment, with the crowd anthemically roaring the chorus after being asked to sing it.

The show’s pinnacle arrived near the end with Scott’s massive mosh pit anthem “FE!N.” Fans received no shortage of the hotly-anticipated song: it was played 11 times. Between each take he gestured to a section of the crowd, proclaiming that they were “feening for more” and upping the ante in the process. The mosh pits kept on coming, and the tension kept on rising. There was even a moment where Scott paused to call security (for unclear reasons) to no avail, prompting him to go through the crowd himself to handle it. Yet, even after stopping a fan from being ejected by security and returning a good three minutes later, he got right back into playing “FE!N.” He closed out the show by rapidly running through his classics “SICKO MODE,” “Antidote,” and “goosebumps,” before walking out to the ambient fan favourite “TELEKINESIS.”

The show’s biggest takeaway was its stage design. Spread across the floor, Scott’s stage resembles a mountain and is complete with different sections, altitudes, and platforms. He sang his slower tracks atop of a rising platform, bringing him closer together with the seated crowd. The entire thing was characterized by a realistic, rocky texture, as well as carvings and statues of archaic heads. The most notable of them was a floating, moving platform called the “parasail” (referring to the UTOPIA track of the same name). 

Scott selected a handful of fans to embark on the platform throughout the night, all of whom jumped and danced ecstatically while soaring above the crowd. One lucky fan was even joined by Scott himself during “I KNOW?.” Fans in the pit got the best view of the stage, but those in the nosebleeds were given an equally compelling view thanks to the videoboard looming above. This jumbotron wrapped around the entire arena, granting everyone a view and projecting bright colours, effects, and overlays over footage of Scott and the crowd.

Whereas the video experience varied based on one’s placement in the arena, the sound quality made for a seemingly unanimous experience. With subwoofers lined alongside the outskirts of the floor, the bass was extremely powerful, borderline overwhelming. Many of the lyrics were inaudible to those in general admission. Fans recall feeling their entire body rumbling, while others on the floor could be seen occasionally covering their ears.

Noise aside, the experience was clearly unforgettable for all. From the pits to the nosebleeds, practically every fan could be seen giving it their all. Marwa Lakehal, a communications student, got a first-hand experience of this: “Everyone was screaming the lyrics as loud as they could while dancing and jumping. It felt like I was a part of one big community.” Scott gave a speech only three songs in about how he loved Montreal for its energy, and what followed throughout the night was more than enough proof. Montreal truly gave Scott the rage that he fiends for when putting on his live shows.

Concert Reviews Music

Giddy-up for country sensation Morgan Wallen’s electric Montreal performance

Morgan Wallen’s performance in Montreal on Saturday, Sept. 23 opened with Bailey Zimmerman and Ernest giving the fans a show to remember. 

Montreal’s Bell Centre came alive on Saturday night as Morgan Wallen took the stage to perform the 34th show of his 2023 One Night At A Time World Tour. Decked out in cowboy hats, boots, and flannel shirts, the electric crowd was in for a treat with opening acts Bailey Zimmerman and Ernest. Wallen, riding the high of his latest album, One Thing At A Time, made history with all 36 tracks simultaneously charting on Billboard’s Hot 100, surpassing Drake’s record. 

Bailey Zimmerman, the 23-year-old American singer and songwriter from Illinois was energetic and passionate as he bounced around the stage, high-fived fans on the floor, and flipped his hair back and forth. He sang his hit singles “Fall In Love” and “Rock and A Hard Place” and ended his performance referencing bible verse Mark 9:23: “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” 

“If you take anything away from my show tonight, it’s that there’s gonna be people telling you what you’re doing is crazy, but if I didn’t follow my dreams, I would not be here in Montreal opening for the Morgan Wallen One Night At A Time tour!” he exclaimed enthusiastically.  

Up next was Ernest, American country music singer and songwriter who beamed on stage with his personalized leather guitar strap and his “Gallagher #11” Montreal Canadians jersey. He launched an “olé, olé olé” chant and the crowd went wild. He sang some of his songwriting marvels  “Did It With You,” “Son of a Sinner,” and “Somebody’s Problem”, the latter being a song he wrote for Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album in 2021.  

As he strummed the opening chords of his hit song “Flower Shops,” he revealed that this song “validated what [he] thought was true. Country music is still alive and well,” Ernest added.

The audience illuminated the Bell Centre with a sea of cellphone flashlights, swaying in harmony with the music. As the song drew to a close, Montreal Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield made a surprise appearance, joining Ernest on stage to toss red roses into the crowd.  

As Ernest concluded his performance at 8:25 p.m., the anticipation in the air heightened. Wallen emerged from his dressing room strutting to his duet with Lil Durk “Broadway Girls” at 9:20 p.m. He sported a white long-sleeved shirt, beige jeans, and a green duck hat that matched his duck necklace. Wallen took centre stage atop a riser to kickstart the night with his crowd-pleaser, “Up Down”. Smoke bombs and fireworks sparked as he shouted, “What’s going on Montreal, how we doing tonight?!”  

He thanked the fans for their dedication and introduced his crew on stage with him—Mark “Taco” Annino on drums, Luke Cowboy Rice on bass and guitar, Tyler Tomlinson on guitar, Chris Gladden on keys, Tony Aichele on guitar and Dominic Frost on guitar and lead vocals.

Following “I Wrote The Book,” “One Thing At A Time,” and “Everything I Love” was “’98 Braves” with a story about his love for baseball. He shared that baseball taught him a lot about life and is the reason why he has persevered in the music industry and has created the Morgan Wallen Foundation. The Foundation’s goal is to support programs for youth in sports and music because Wallen believes that “all children deserve a chance to thrive, play, and create.” For every concert ticket sold, $3 goes to support the foundation’s work.  

His next songs were “You Proof,” “Ain’t That Some,” “Sunrise,” and “Cover Me Up”—one of the first songs he wrote. “This song gave me a lot of faith, hope, and encouragement that maybe I wasn’t crazy about moving away from home and being a country singer. Maybe I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Thank you for letting me sing about stuff that means a lot to me,” Wallen said during his emotional speech.  

He then segued into “Chasing You” and “Thought You Should Know”, a touching tribute to his mother, accompanied by his guitarist Dominic. Wallen invited Zimmerman back on stage to perform a spirited rendition of “I Deserve A Drink”. The latter wore an Expos baseball jersey and bright red jeans. 

Ernest later re-joined Wallen to perform “Cowgirls” together. After returning from a brief break, Wallen emerged sporting a “#7 Wallen HABS” jersey, eliciting roars of excitement from the crowd. The highlight of the night was “Last Night,” which had become the year’s biggest country song across North America in all genres, marking a significant milestone for Wallen.  

His last song of the night was “Whiskey Glasses” and the concert concluded with fireworks, leaving fans thrilled with the experience. “That was officially one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to,” proclaimed Sam Tanner, a fourth-year JMSB student at Concordia. “I went with my mom, and it was definitely worth the money.” 

After the concert, fans flocked to merchandise stands and sang Wallen’s hit songs all the way to the Lucien-L’Allier metro station, concluding a memorable evening of country music in Montreal. 

Concert Reviews Music

 Concert review: Stromae makes his grand return to Montreal 

 The Bell Centre was filled with 14 thousand people on Friday as Belgian artist Stromae gave a stunning performance accompanied by futuristic stage effects.

Stromae stopped in Montreal last weekend for the first of his four concerts in the city. The shows are part of his North American tour to promote his latest album Multitude. The album was long awaited by the fans after the francophone singer’s eight-year hiatus.

South African artist Sho Madjozi opened the show with a dynamic performance, riling up the crowd. Thirty minutes later, the concert officially started and the wait was more than worth it. A sci-fi short film played on stage, featuring an animated Stromae in a futuristic world. The crowd went wild as the artist himself appeared with his band to start the show with “Invaincu,” the first song on Multitude. 

Montreal welcomed back the 37-year-old singer with intense enthusiasm, which was also noted by Stromae. “We were at Madison Square Garden, and they weren’t making as much noise as you,” he told the fans. 

There was no dull moment during the concert. Beyond the wonderful vocals, there were amazing stage effects: colourful animations, robotic arms in constant movement and vibrant lights, all of which helped make the experience captivating for the audience. Stromae filled the stage with his signature gawky moves as the packed arena sang along.

The pop singer craftily balanced performing his new songs alongside some of his classics, like “Formidable” and “Papaoutai.” With almost a billion views on YouTube, the latter is his most popular song and helped expand the Belgian artist’s fame beyond the French-speaking world.

Even in the seated areas, fans were up and dancing as Stromae sang his more upbeat tracks, like “Bonne journée.” He calmed things down intermittently with softer songs like “Riez.” 

During the concert, the pop artist didn’t shy away from performing his more socially-conscious songs with heavy subjects like misogyny, mental health, and prostitution. “Quand c’est?”, a play on words for cancer, was one of the highlights of the night, the performance made eerie by the moving screens filled with black goo.

The singer took the time to name and thank everyone on his team, from the band to his marketing team, and also his wife who was present in the audience. As the show ended, he teased his fans by leaving the stage but another short film appeared on screen, where an animated Stromae from 2009 could be seen playing music. The crowd went crazy at the implication. Indeed, the singer came back on stage to close the show with his breakout song “Alors on danse.”

After receiving a five-minute-long standing ovation, Stromae — who was visibly touched — performed an encore to the delight of the crowd. The artist asked for complete silence as he sang an ethereal acapella version of “Mon Amour” accompanied by his band, concluding the amazing night.

Photo by Tatiana Mulowayi-Pelletier

Concert Reviews Music

Concert Review: Gorillaz at the Bell Centre

Gorillaz delivered an incredibly colourful performance

One of the world’s most acclaimed virtual bands, Gorillaz, gave an exceptional show at the Bell Centre on Oct. 8 for fans of all ages. With the band having been around for more than 20 years, they had two decades worth of hits to share with Montrealers as a part of their North American 2022 tour.

Fans had to wait a bit before seeing Gorillaz hit the stage after an opening act from the Atlanta hip-hop duo EARTHGANG. Despite EARTHGANG’s music being very different from Gorillaz’s, they still brought the heat and delivered an incredibly fun set. 

They performed tracks from their 2022 album GHETTO GODS, as well as some classics from older releases and songs they have with their record label Dreamville. Sadly, the duo couldn’t perform some of their biggest hits like “Meditated” and “Sacrifices” with Dreamville, and the set fell shorter than the typical 45 minutes expected.

After their set, fans were ecstatic for the main event as people were doing the wave and cheering for a solid five minutes while waiting for Gorillaz to appear.

For a virtual band, Gorillaz sure had a lot of people on stage, with at least 12 musicians, including three drummers and four backup singers, who all came ready to play to a very warmed up crowd. The English band truly gave a spectacular performance, playing most of the songs off their 2005 cult-classic Demon Days to a crowd singing every word back. 

Lead singer Damon Albarn didn’t look like your typical 54-year-old. He was highly energetic and was really enjoying himself, even going into the crowd.  Albarn was really feeding off of the crowd’s cheers and gave an incredible show in exchange, playing multiple instruments during the set.

The band also had stunning visuals, often similar to videoclips of their animated personas that fans have come to know and love throughout the years. Each video had a different story attached to the songs and it was definitely entertaining to witness the animations and the members behind them on stage at the same time.

The band also invited a lot of different guest features to play their part. These included names such as the opening act EARTHGANG, and some lesser known rappers such as Bootie Brown, who most notably has a verse on “Dirty Harry” and their latest single “New Gold.”

Overall, Gorillaz gave a stellar performance to their loyal fans who definitely had an amazing time witnessing one of the most quintessential bands of the 2000s.

Photo by Charlie Brousseau @charliebrphotos


COVID measures update: Entertainment venues can operate at full capacity as of Oct. 8

Among other larger venues, the Bell Centre is now open at full capacity. Many smaller venues have shared their disappointments

On Sept. 30 the Quebec officials announced that entertainment venues such as cinemas, theatres, arenas and stadiums can return to full-capacity seating beginning on Oct. 8. This marks a big step in Quebec’s gradual return to normalcy. However, there are no changes for bars and other local music venues which offer largely standing room only. They will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

In the announcement, Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s national director of public health, explained his reasoning for easing the measures because of the importance of sports culture.

“There is always a logic when we do things. We are treating sports as culture in the same perspectives,” Arruda said.

Just like any other venue, larger venues must follow the following criteria: assigned seatings, vaccine passports and masks at all times, except when eating or drinking. The one significant difference is where bars require social distancing and smaller capacity, a larger venue like the Bell Centre won’t.

“[It’s] good news for hockey fans, it’s good news for the economy, it’s good news for culture, I think it’s good news for everybody,” encouraged Christian Dubé, minister of health and social services.

Among the many businesses affected by the pandemic, the bar industry has faced tremendous struggles to keep its business flowing. Many owners of local bars have shared their opinion on the double standard.

Austin Wrich, the owner of the Diving Bell Social Club, a multimedia performance venue located in the heart of Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood, believes the government’s decision is to benefit the economy.

“It shows a lack of understanding of what culture actually is. I’m personally not much of a hockey fan,” said Wrich. “I’m sure a lot of people are excited to go to the Bell Centre to go watch hockey, but not to be too cynical, it definitely seems like it’s very much a case of ‘that’s where the money is at.’”

“I just don’t see how 21,000 people at the Bell Centre is more safe than people all vaccinated at the Diving Bell. It doesn’t really make sense. It just seems like it’s more of a political move,” Wrich explained.

Jean-François Beaudoin, manager at Café Campus, a bar, concert venue and nightclub located in Montreal, shared the same frustrations as Wrich.

Beaudoin agreed the closing of bars and clubs was necessary at the beginning of the pandemic, but he doesn’t understand why Café Campus and other nightclubs can’t currently operate fully.

“We’re starting to get angry. Not because we’re still closed, [but] because they are not talking about us. They’re not telling us why we’re still closed. Where are the facts right now? I don’t see facts. I see politics,” said Beaudoin.

Health Minister Christian Dubé says that he will ease restrictions for bars and restaurants in a few weeks if the province sees a reduction in the number of COVID-19 infections.


Photograph by Lou Neveux-Pardijon


The Chainsmokers know how to get lit

Flames, fireworks, motor bikes, lasers and suspended metal fixtures — this and more were part of The Chainsmokers’ show at the Bell Centre on Oct. 9. But before all that, Lennon Stella and 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) performed their sets.

Visually, Stella’s stage production was underwhelming. There was no décor or props of her own. All we got was Stella, her guitarist, and drummer. Unfortunately, she was often overtaken by backing tracks or aggressive, auto-tuned-sounding vocoder harmonies. The crowd was only able to hear Stella’s true voice during an acoustic version of “Like Everybody Else.” This was the highlight of her 30-minute set along with her performance of “La Di Da.”

After an excruciating near-20 minute wait, four-man band 5SOS hit the stage – Luke Hemmings, lead vocals; Calum Hood, bassist; Michael Clifford, lead guitarist; and Ashton Irwin, drums. They started with their 2014 hit-single “She Looks So Perfect,” the perfect tune to kick-start the show, both for nostalgic 5SOS fans and anyone prone to tapping their feet to a catchy beat.

There was a well-balanced assortment of tracks off their newest album Youngblood like “Want You Back” and “Ghost of You,” current singles “Teeth” and “Easier,” and hits from the past like “Amnesia” and “Jet Black Heart.” The 17-song set, which lasted a little over an hour, was enjoyable and it looked like they were having as much fun performing as we were watching.

Each member took the time to say a few words. Like many artists that visit Montreal, they seemed to unashamedly proclaim their affinity for the city. Hemmings jokingly tried his hand at French while Clifford, on behalf of the band, expressed their unique connection with the city and its creatives. While Hood most notably expressed his enthusiasm through the use of several profanities, Irwin’s comments caused quite a stir. He excitedly let fans know how happy they were about playing in Montreal after a five year absence. However, dedicated fans let him know that they had, in fact, visited July 13, 2016.

After ending their set with “Youngblood,” the band walked off stage and there was another nearly 20-minute wait for the duo everyone was waiting for.

With metal structures falling into place over the stage, the DJ duo of The ChainsmokersAlex Pall and Drew Taggart – along with drummer Matt McGuire, walked on stage holding up a flaming stick each (Olympics style). The crowd went wild when they started their set with insane visuals of smoke, steam bursts, and lasers.

The Chainsmokers performed the next two hours with such intensity and energy that resonated with and through the crowd. Without expectations of how their set would pan out (we mostly went for 5SOS), there was a certain shock value with everything the DJs did on stage.

After “Sick Boy,” which Taggart performed in a metal sphere suspended in the air, 5SOS came back on stage to perform a rigorous rendition of “Who Do You Love” halfway through The Chainsmokers’s 15-song set. Taggart asked the crowd who was ready to dance and picked a young woman out of the crowd. As soon as the bass dropped, she did the floss, kicked up her leg, did a cartwheel and landed in the splits.

Throughout the rest of the show, there were more flames, lasers, steam bursts and a light show happening all at once. By the last song, Taggart was standing at the top of the metal structure on stage, maybe 50 feet up, looking like he was living his best life.

All in all, The Chainsmokers put on an impressive performance. It might have been because we had no idea of what to expect, but it was definitely a show to remember.


Photo by Jesse Di Meo


The Chili Peppers were hot as habaneros

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The Red Hot Chili Peppers rolled into town on Wednesday for the first time since 2006, playing in front of roughly 17,000 fans at the Bell Centre for the tour of their latest album, I’m With You.

The Peppers opened the show with “Monarchy of Roses,” the first track off their 2011 release, and played a total of 18 songs, including a three-song encore.

They mixed the old with the new, playing four songs off I’m With You, and several from their previous albums–By The Way, Californication and Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Most notable were hits “Can’t Stop,” “Scar Tissue” and “Californication.”

The show was fantastic, and the band played with an incredible amount of energy, considering how frontman Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith will soon be half a century old.

If the music, for some inexplicable reason, left you bored, the visuals surely had you entertained. Strobe lights and several moving screens displayed the band, audience and graphics, including pill bottles and unicorns.

The crowd lit up for fast-paced songs like “Dani California” and “Around the World,” but a highlight of the show was during slower jam “Under the Bridge,” where the audience could be heard singing along to every lyric.

Right before the encore, the band played their 2002 chart-topping hit “By The Way,” and the crowd went wild.

No one was in their seat by the time the Peppers–newly appointed rock and roll hall-of-famers– closed the show with “Give It Away.”

The band played for almost two hours, but it seemed like the crowd would have been happy with a show that lasted all night.

Set list:

1. “Monarchy of Roses”
2. “Around the World”
3. “Scar Tissue”
4. “Dani California”
5. “Charlie”
6. “Look Around”
7. “Throw Away Your Television”
8. “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”
9. “Can’t Stop”
10. “Emit Remmus”
11. “Under the Bridge”
12. “Goodbye Hooray”
13. “Californication”
14. “Higher Ground” (Stevie Wonder cover)
15. “By the Way”

16. (Instrumental jam)
17. “Suck My Kiss”
18. “I Could Have Lied”
19. “Give It Away”

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