On the home stretch of a 16-hour work day, suddenly the wisdom of staying out past 3am seems questionable. I don’t have the stamina of my younger days. But it was worth it all the same, just to see Big Freedia rapping “Ass everywhere, ass ass everywhere” as hordes of kids literally swung from the rafters, popping their booties as best a white Canadian can.
It was the climax of Pop Montreal. Other highlights for me included the Dears (who never cease to amaze me with the contrast between their “mopey pop” image and the raw, guns-blazing, shredding intensity of their live shows), Deerhoof (who I saw twice, at an official show and an afterparty, and who I like more than ever after realizing they’re basically nerdier than Rush), a windy rooftop set by chilled-out pop ensemble Ensemble (no, that wasn’t a typo, I’m just being lazy), and of course the mighty Corpusse at Barfly, working his usual magic (backed up by ever-demure keyboardist Lorenz Peter) on the crowd of old-timers and puzzled young hipsters who were there for the bill of noise-punk upstarts.
This is the first Pop in many years that I didn’t actually play at, but the fest did start out with the premiere of my Corpusse documentary at Blue Sunshine. I’ll say no more since this is the site for the WP, not my filmmaking alter ego, except that I had a great time.
I hesitate to say any discouraging words about Pop after they provided such pleasures, but I feel that not offering constructive criticism is as bad as the reflexive Pop-bashing that was so popular a couple of years ago. Dan and his ever-rotating crew have helped put the city on the map, brought some amazing shows to town, and made a lot of really bold programming choices, and they deserve credit for that. They’re also notorious for their disorganization and terrible communication. They seem to get away with this as “part of the laid-back Montreal charm,” but this year everyone I spoke to—artists, venue reps, technicians—had some kind of fairly major complaint. So all I have to say to Pop is: when your organization and communication rises to the level of your programming, you’ll have truly accomplished an amazing festival. Just sayin’.
Speaking of excellence, we are playing a show this Friday at Studio Juste pour rire—a benefit show for Galerie DARE-DARE with a hot lineup. Details here. Stay tuned for more news soon!