More than any other festival, the headliner of M for Montreal is the city itself. Everything revolves around the city – from the spread out venues to the actual bus tour that doubles as a showcase. Granted, with a city as creative and vibrant as Montreal as it’s home, it’s little surprise that M for Montreal spends so much time lauding and showing off their city. The festival is spread over different neighborhoods of the city, taking time to show off everything it has to offer. One night you’ll spend in the downtown area’s big theaters, the next you’re in the Quartier des Spectacles never ending stretch of bars and then to Mile End’s quaint cafes for a quick acoustic session. The whole festival lives and breaths in these gorgeous rooms and dingy bars bursting with charm. It’s as much a tour of the city as it is a music festival.
The true magic, however, is not the poutine but the curation. In the era of festivals that tout over 500 acts in a few days, it’s wonderful to hear actually good emerging bands playing instead of a cacophonic, overwhelming mess that usually greets festival goers. It’s shocking to note that the vast majority of these bands are Canadian and many of them local. There’s a strong case to be made for Canada as the next indie hot bed – and M for Montreal is making it.
While there’s a ton of sweet voiced minimal pop stars coming up these days – KROY is something a little different. There’s a darkness that adds a touch of bitter to the candy coated synth pop that she’s peddling. Watch out for this one because she’s going to be huge and soon.
Though seeing him in a church moved this live experience go from ‘great’ to ‘one of the most memorable in a long while’ the plaintive folk of Leif Vollbekk has levels of transcendent loveliness that is immediately arresting.
Any band that features two different key set ups promises to be lush and loud, but Goenland doesn’t deliver noise – they deliver texture. I caught the band both opening for Martha Wainwright at the incredible Rialto as well as more stripped down at a cafe the next day and both shows were equally charming. Any band that can not just handle but thrive in such different environments is one to watch.