Welcome to POP Montreal, the Canadian Retort to CMJ


This week we’ll be reporting from the cold climes of the French-Canadian north, where the annual POP Montreal music festival is underway. Spread across five days and countless downtown venues, POP is the Canuck retort to CMJ: well-organized, unpretentious, and lovably D.I.Y. It’s also an excellent chance to remember that Montreal deserves its reputation as a creative mecca—cemented by reportage like this ’05 piece from the Times, which focused on the city’s thriving Anglophone music community. And while Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown and Arcade Fire may be absent from this year’s roster, we do get a set from the legendary Burt Bacharach—not to mention Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy helping to provide the live soundtrack to a gay porn flick. (Not, sadly, on the same bill.)

If anyone needed proof that POP is a kinder, gentler music festival, it’s in this year’s addition of dirt-cheap weekly bike rentals. (Keeping with the ramshackle, threadbare organizational style, no two cruisers look alike. Were they all stolen by dedicated festival volunteers? I’m not asking questions.)

In addition to the musical programming, the week also includes a film component—an All Tomorrow’s Parties doc by Vincent “Blogotheque” Moon, a master class with Jem Cohen—as well as ongoing gallery shows and a crowd-pleasing arts & crafts fair.

Throughout the weekend, we’ll be scouring the line-up for undiscovered gems and reporting back. And yes, it’s okay to be jealous.