Adieu Fabbie

We played a gig last night at the DARE-DARE Gala. It was pretty sweet… not a lot of our usual audience of old friends there, but instead a bunch of drunk dancing kids. Almost like playing in another town in a way. Also, the venue (Studio Juste pour rire) was of a calibre we’re not used to. Big stage, good sound, proper dressing room, a loading bay and trollies to haul the gear… nice.

Before our set I had a cameo with Donzelle, performing our song. It’s always fun to play with Roxanne and her crew, but this time was a little bittersweet for me… the first time I’d played with the crew since the loss of one of its members, Fabbie Barthélémy.

In addition to performing with Donzelle, Fabbie was a journalist known for cultural reviews and criticism here in Montreal. She also hosted a feminist radio show on CISM with the hilarious name of “Les gynocrates attaquent.”

I was coming home from a family wedding this summer when I got a message about Fabbie’s death. I quickly called a friend who informed me that Fabbie had committed suicide.

Needless to say it was pretty shocking. She and I were never really close, but our paths intersected at different points: in my other life as a film critic, we’d see each other at press screenings, and then there was our connection through the Donzelle crew. We lived in the same neighbourhood, so we’d often share cabs back from Donzelle shows, chatting about films and life in general. In person as in her writings, she always just struck me as funny, smart and charming.

We certainly weren’t close enough for me to know what she was going through, but it’s upsetting to think that whatever it was, that this was her solution—that her life was so bad that she figured being dead would be better.

I remember Fabbie telling me about an impulsive decision to quit her job, even though she had no other work lined up. I’m a big fan of quitting jobs that you’re not happy with, so I enthusiastically supported her decision. Now of course, I can’t help but wonder if that was a warning sign, in the way that all past events get coloured by something like this.

I remember the last time I saw her, in the neighbourhood café. She came in as I was in the middle of doing a radio interview. She gave me a big smile and we made vague plans to call each other soon. Of course we never did, and now we never will.

At the video store where I do a few shifts a week (yes, I have a lot of day jobs), I felt a bizarre impulse to look up her file. There was a note saying she couldn’t rent any more movies until she paid up her late fees. An absurd thought popped into my head: Fabbie, if you come back I’ll give you free rentals for life.


One time after a WP show, years ago, a woman told me that my show had inspired her in her work—she was involved in some kind of suicide prevention initiative for teenagers. I often think of that after I get a shitty review or something—that if I could contribute, even indirectly, to some kid not killing themselves, that’s worth a million bad reviews. But in this case I couldn’t help.


As I’ve discussed with other friends, when something like this happens it’s important not to blame yourself or to get too caught up in what you could have or should have done. All I can really do is say, to anyone who’s having any kind of trouble big or small, is that I’m there if you want to talk.

RIP Fabbie, I miss you.

A Facebook group with links to a bunch of Fabbie’s writings and radio appearances can be found here (en français seulement).

Post-Pop ponderings

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!


Uptown – new WP single!

Listen here:
[audio: of Pain_MP3/1_Uptown.mp3]

Or download it here!

Enjoy this new tune from The World Provider’s upcoming album, co-written (and featuring a shred-tastic solo) by longtime collaborator Steve Raegele!

History of Pain – the new WP album!

We are pleased to announce the completion of History of Pain, the latest and greatest WP album. Produced by Murray Lightburn of The Dears and featuring longtime contributors Stacey DeWolfe and Steve Raegele, the album (mostly) leaves behind our casio roots to embrace rock riffage and the pursuit of pop perfection! Enjoy a couple of tunes streaming below, and stay tuned for news about the release!