This year, POP Montreal International Music Festival turned 18. Born in the Mile End, the festival had humble beginnings showcasing then-unknown acts Broken Social Scene and Stars. Now, the festival has grown to include over 300 acts, extending its commitment to championing independent arts across the seas: This year saw Congolese collective KOKOKO! and French experimental artist Felicia Atkinson gracing its stages. Yet, POP Montreal is still devoted to promoting local artists; The McGill Tribune reports our best findings this year.
Ada Lea, Theatre Rialto
Sophie Brzozowski, Managing Editor
Accompanied only by an acoustic guitar and a sampler, Ada Lea’s performance style is enchanting in its sparseness. Opening for Tiny Ruins and Aldous Harding on Sept. 28 at the Rialto Theatre, Alexandra Levy performed songs from her debut album what we say in private, which she released under the moniker of Ada Lea on July 19. The album is intensely personal, such that it feels intrusive to sit amongst an audience of hundreds and watch Lea bare her soul onstage. With her silvery voice and delicate instrumentals, however, she effortlessly brought the packed auditorium to a hush.
Trapped in Elon’s Mansion, Cinema L’Amour
Kevin Vogel, Arts & Entertainment Editor
When Elon Musk got into a Twitter spat by insulting public transportation advocate Jarret Walker, Montreal writer Joe Bagel decided to clap back. With the billionaire’s wealth of completely bonkers legal fiascos, Bagel had no shortage of source material for Trapped in Elon’s Mansion. Bagel’s new Shakespearean comedy dramatizes some of these celebrity feuds—in verse. Written entirely in iambic pentameter, the surrealist play brings Azaelia Banks, Grimes, Jay-Z, Musk himself, and even the human incarnation of Siri together in an acid-fueled marathon of pop-culture lambastement. Despite its dated poetic style, Trapped in Elon’s Mansion gives a hilarious spin to Shakespearean tradition.
Hildegard, Theatre Rialto
Katia Innes, Arts & Entertainment Editor
It would be remiss not to mention the stage debut of Hildegard, an electronic music duo composed of two of Montreal’s most exciting artists, Ouri and Helena Deland. A joint project between the DJ-producer-multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, respectively, Hildegard performed an informal medley of new mixes, and bandcamp favourites. On Sept. 26, the two found their respective places behind twin synths, launching into a mesmerizing performance shrouded in fog. Mixing their way through heavy bass and atmospheric dream pop, Hildegard kept things light, interspersing their set with goofier soundbites such as sirens and cartoony vocals.
Markus Floats, Theatre Rialto
By his own description, Markus Floats makes “very serious bleeps and bloops.” The ambient electronic artist delivered this material, as promised, to Theatre Rialto on Sept. 27, seated comfortably behind a MacBook Pro. In contrast to the testosterone filled, over-hyped bro DJs of Piknic Electronique-lore, Markus Floats was fittingly at-ease, focused and attentive, moving through otherworldly mixes. Shifting from calm and atmospheric to dissonant and industrial, it was a delight to bask in Markus Floats’ sonic landscape.
Yves Jarvis, Theatre Rialto
Playing Rialto Hall on Sept. 28, under the name Yves Jarvis, lo-fi singer-songwriter Jean-Sebastian Audet delivered a fittingly relaxed set to a patient crowd of onlookers. Audet drew from his full-length solo debut, The Same but by Different Means, which dropped earlier this year, as well as unreleased material. Blending funk sensibilities with gauzy ballads, Audet moved through his set alone onstage. Audet is about to embark on a European tour with fellow POP Montreal performer Aldous Harding, so seeing him in such an intimate setting was a delight.