The M pour Montréal festival always makes you drunk with revelations

For its 17th edition scheduled from November 16 to 19, the event which brings together hundreds of music industry professionals each fall in Quebec’s largest metropolis has once again offered the ideal showcase for emerging Canadian artists. are. Enough to immerse yourself with this report in the local indie scenes and be surprised by the vitality of certain interconnected artists.

The electric blind in the hotel room lets glimpses of white snowflakes in suspension. Below, two police cars parked on the roadway in Downtown Montreal try to manage the traffic caught in the bad weather, while the voice of a journalist from a local news channel escapes from the television on affirms that the city does not hasn’t seen snowfall for 210 days.

One wonders which is more surprising: being taken aback by the first snowfalls, a month of November in the province of Quebec, or feeling the onset of a headache when dinner the night before, prepared with little onions when we arrived on Canadian soil, was there enough to neutralize the effects of a few drinks down in a sports bar in Little Italy? One thing is certain. On this Wednesday, November 16, the opening day of the 17e edition of M for Montreal, everything remains to be discovered, and the impressive line-up with almost unknown names also seems to portend beautiful unexpected things.

Like South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, and other similar French events such as the Trans Musicales de Rennes or the MaMA, the Quebec festival created in 2006 aims to highlight a multitude of artists from the four corners of Canada, to help in their development and allow their influence beyond the borders. To do this, M for Montreal brings together more than 300 local and international delegates from the music industry (labels, bookers, journalists) and aligns both showcases reserved for players in the sector and concerts open to the public, spread over various venues. of the city between the entertainment district and Mile End, an essential breeding ground for the independent artistic scene in Montreal.

First snows, first chills

8:30 p.m. Night has long since fallen and the snow has stopped when we head towards the imposing columns of the Ministry, this former bank converted into a concert hall that sits enthroned on Saint-Laurent Boulevard. Bibi-Club is one of the first groups to start the festivities. Luckily, it is also one of the few identifiable names in the selection for having already seen it share the poster for the Inrocks Super Club in Paris, last May. What to take its marks illico and apprehend the course of the showcases for the next three days.

Like the majority of the musicians invited to perform this week, Adèle Trottier-Rivard and Nicolas Basque, duo on stage / couple in the city, have about twenty minutes watch in hand to ensure their set. Very quickly, their dream pop with lo-fi accents took on a whole new dynamic. The guitar patterns coupled with the grain of the chords plated on a Prophet-6 are more rowdy than on disc, and as the rhythm machine gets carried away, Bibi Club is moving towards a rise in power for an exhilarating finale.

For the rest, we are already preparing to see one of the artists tumble “most fucked-ups” of the official selection of the festival, to use the words of Mathieu Aubre, coordinator of the M programming. active figure in the Montreal underground, came to present his personal project N NAO, a kind of folk driven by a very clear appetite for experimentation. Between voice harmonies under auto-tune, electro-acoustic loops and ethereal atmospheres behind the sound of the machines, the musician walks in the footsteps of Jenny Hval, while ensuring the junction between Bon Iver, Portishead and the Drukqs from Aphex Twin. The silence of the audience, which seems as dazzled as it is circumspect, calls out. The performance impresses.

Solidarity microcosm

N NAO then Valence, hailing from Quebec City that we find in stride for a concert of relaxed vintage pop, offer the first revealing examples of the connectedness inherent in the Quebec indie scene. If we recognize Samuel Gougoux, drummer of the group VICTIME and member of Corridor, these notorious Montreal cracks, seated behind the drums alongside Noémie de Laurimier, we are no longer surprised to see that the saxophonist from Valence is no longer other than Antoine Bourque alias Mystério, multitasking musician and traveling companion of Hubert Lenoir, recently spotted in Paris during the latter’s two incendiary shows at La Maroquinerie.

Over the course of the four days of the festival, the faces of familiar musicians will meet, meet again, from band to band, on stage and in the bars of the various halls of the city. There are many collaborations. Mutual aid and support between artists are noticeable. It is therefore no coincidence that the most Quebecois of Californians patrick watsonrevealed in part to M for Montreal like Grimes or Mac DeMarco, also came by surprise to share the stage on Wednesday evening with the queer soul artist Fernie.

The Wonders of Candy

Second day. Fatigue begins to set in when the mirror ball of the Quai des Fomes, another harbor located not far from the Plateau-Mont-Royal, completes its lull in front of the velvet performance signed by the prolific musician. Cedric Noel. We have to wait for the knocks of 10:30 p.m. for the quickdraw show off and the gleaming rock ofA.K.Asignature in red and black of the Simone Records stable, does not come to put an end to a persistent jet-lag.

But it is especially by taking the direction of the Sala Rossa, where the evening organized by Bonbonbon takes place, that the magic will operate. Alexandre Archambault, co-founder of this little rising label, in roster affirmed in the defense of French-speaking psychedelic music and heiress of the great yéyé era in Quebec, had warned us. “We are the shroom-prone sunshine pop kids.”

Under subdued chandeliers, autoharp, flute, tambourines and hushed drums quietly wait for the twelve-string guitars to be tuned. All the paraphernalia of baroque pop is reunited and for good reason, Vanilla, surrounded by six musicians, has everything to take the audience on the other side of the mirror. Behind her blue flower alias, Rachel Leblanc builds bridges between the Atlantic, Louise Forestier and Weyes Blood on one side, Françoise Hardy and Melody’s Echo Chamber on the other. On stage, the pieces like the enchanter See you soontaken from a second album scheduled for next February, are gaining momentum.

Then make way for the great rock’n’roll circus of the bandHello Ghost, a solo project led by young Montrealer Samuel Gendron. Flamboyant stage outfits, rigorous make-up and a glass of red placed on an electric piano overlooking the audience… It’s time for a 70’s party in the wake of Foxygen and The Lemon Twigs when suddenly, a baby face surmounted by a chapka of the most identifiable bursts into the middle of the public.

Passing through Montreal for professional media obligations, he tells us, Quebec superstar Hubert Lenoir seems well and truly inclined to take advantage of the joyful mess offered by Allô Fantôme. Twelve days after robbing the Gala de l’Adisq, the Quebec equivalent of the Victoires de la Musique, leaving with seven awards including the prize for artist of the year, here he is jumping into the front row of a boiling pit on the rhythm of the driving On tip-toes. Enough to end this Thursday evening in style, with one of the most fun evenings of the festival.

Dark kids and DIY

On Friday, we go back to the Quai des Mists where a resumption of the Little Dark Age of MGMT makes the public wait before the equally spectral performance of Lydia Kepinski, one of the most anticipated local female artists in the selection. If we knew the advance of Quebecers on issues of gender equality, we might as well point out that the programmers of M for Montreal made it a point of honor to put together an equal poster, something far too rare in the industry to emphasize it. It’s barely 5 p.m. and despite everything, it’s like being immersed under the strobe lights of the Batcave in the middle of the night. Lydia Képinski, eyeliner à la Siouxsie Sioux, masterfully leads a most striking set, where synth pop is combined with dance to better pervert a caustic lyricism.

Later, while the hip-hop evening is going well in the entertainment district, we return to Mile-End and the Sala Rossa to find Philippe Larocque, Jean-Philippe Bourgeois and Maxime Hebert aka the mothess”. Part of the small Mothland team, which became a label along the way under the impact of the pandemic, is celebrating five years since the start of its adventures this evening. For the occasion, she installed two stages under the same roof where several signature groups such as Grim Streaker and their postpunk imported from Brooklyn, as well as other formations with which it shares the same philosophy.

synthetic romantics Crash until Prioritiesthe last garage punch of the evening before continuing the festivities in the Mothland offices located at the gates of Rosemont, all maintain a DIY community with creative freedom, united by a certain idea of ​​resourcefulness and the short cycle, a love unconditional for the decibels of the margins and more for the black clothes.

Last minute winners

On Saturday, the final day marked by the victory of the Montreal Canadiens at home against the Philadelphia ice hockey team in a shootout, you have to go to Club Soda, in the entertainment district, where young Montrealers microdosing of psilocybes have made an appointment. It is here that we find Étienne Côté, recently crossed on the roads of France in the first part of Clara Luciani, with his pop-folk project LIGHT (again, Noémie de Laurimier seen in the choirs). As a final show of force, the blond also seizes the drums of the supergroup Good Child for a colorful high mass, with a lot of wah-wah pedals and psychedelic groove under Khruangbin influence.

To say goodbye to the Mile-End, we decide afterwards to push back the door of the Ministry for a last salvo of guitars with Ducks Ltd. Given the propensity of the Toronto group to knit jungle pop sounds, it is not surprising to see once again Jonathan Robert/Person and the rest of Corridor, almost in full force, taking a night break in the ranks . The band has just started recording their 4e album in a nearby studio.

The next day, as the returning A-320 struggles to get moving on the tarmac at Montréal-Trudeau, we go over each other’s ears Sunday night by Hubert Lenoir, a piece of circumstance to already amplify the nostalgia of a groggy week. “Phenomena like Hubert, you only come across one every twenty years here”, told us the co-founder of the Bonbonbon label. Thinking back to the dozens of concerts over these four days, one wonders if one of the scheduled artists will in turn follow the same trajectory as the Quebec terrible child. At best, we can say that all this was not surprising. At worst, the 17e edition of M for Montreal was a nice surprise.


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