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McGill 101: Music mania in Montreal

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There’s no denying that Montreal is one of the top pop culture hubs in Canada. One look at the summer festival line-up and anyone would find themselves in shock from musical overload. While it’s true that summer is the best time for outdoor concerts, and big festivals tend to attract even bigger stars, there are plenty of venues rocking all year round, producing killer sounds and presenting great artists. These are the top five need-to-visit venues for all incoming McGill students. All near campus, all reasonably priced, and all certain to have amazing line-ups.

1) Divan Orange

If you’re looking for live music every night of the week, a flurry of Quebecois artists, or the occasional slam poetry competition, then you’re looking for Divan Orange. French is the language of choice, so those not familiar with the language may want to bring a buddy to help them order drinks, but have no fear—the vibrant atmosphere and pulsing music welcome patrons of all languages.

2) Katacombes 

At some point, everyone should go to a metal concert, if only for the stories they can tell later. Katacombes is the punk/metal/hardcore venue of Montreal. The venue is huge and features a great variety of performers, though metal bands do reign supreme. Beyond concerts, Katacombes is committed to promoting artists throughout Montreal, hosting a whole range of events from art auctions to short film showings.

3) Korova Bar 

Disclaimer: Korova doesn’t have live music, and really is more of a dive bar with a dance floor than a music venue; however, nothing can compete with the sheer excitement and hip-hop paradise that is “Sucka Free Monday." Every Monday, Korova plays hip-hop music all night for no cover. It attracts people from all over the city, but in particular, it draws the McGill crowd on a weekly basis. The bar is fairly small and Sucka Free tends to draw a huge crowd, so if unrelenting human contact isn’t your thing, go another night to enjoy beer and a local DJ.

4) Hip-Hop Karaoke @ Le Belmont 

Hip-Hop Karaoke is an event like no other, and having it take place in Le Belmont—a borderline dive bar open just two days a week—makes it so much better. Hip-Hop Karaoke is just what it sounds like—people singing along to hip-hop songs—the twist being that there are no lyrics provided, just performers getting up on stage and doing their thing. What this makes for is an amazing mix of people giving out amazing covers of famous songs, often with choreographed dancing and personalized bridges melded into the lyrics.

This article is a part of our McGill 101 issue, which aims to ease your transition and answer questions you have about McGill and Montreal.

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