The annual Pop Montreal festival is indeed upon us this week. Every year, I religiously tap out an introduction with a don of the ol’ cap to everything I love about the festival. Usually I’ll start greasing Pop’s wheels with some flowery phrases about how it adds to the culture of our fine city, sidesteps the overbearing corporate presence that mars other festivals, books an incredibly eclectic range of bands, maintains its grassroots appeal while operating like a well-oiled machine, brings in amazing volunteers to supplement the amazing staff and blah blah blah.
But this year there are just too many rad shows happening to be so verbose, even in this relatively versatile format, so I’ll refrain from the usual Pop reach-around and get to the point: Pop Montreal is the tits, jack! (Pop reps can reach me at the address below for permission to use that one.)
Here are my picks for Pop 2012:
7 p.m. At Quartiers Pop (3450 St-Urbain), famed local producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, godspeed you! black emperor) sits down for a chat with Guy Picciotto (Fugazi, Rites of Spring).
10 p.m. After having my face caved in watching duo Buke and Gase thrill a small but transfixed audience at Casa a year ago, I picked up their album Riposte (2010, Brassland) and instantly fell in love. They’re at Cabaret du Mile End.
11 p.m. If you don’t feel like dashing all over town, you can stay put to check out Deerhoof. Their afterhours set a couple of years ago remains one of my all-time Pop highlights.
9:30 p.m. Melbourne’s Dirty Three may just deliver one of this year’s standout sets when they electrify one of the city’s greatest venues, Ukrainian Federation. If any of you old bastards remember when this trio laid waste to the Just for Laughs venue over a decade ago, you know this is not to be missed. As good as violinist Warren Ellis is with Grinderman and as a Bad Seed, you have to catch him in his own element. Expect high kicks.
11 p.m. Thursday is your first chance to catch one of Toronto’s loudest bands, Metz, at Mission Santa Cruz. After seeing them liquify spines at Barfly and Casa, I’m telling you, this is a no-brainer.
12 a.m. If you’re already at Mission Santa Cruz for Metz, you’ll want to keep your feet planted for my personal pick of the festival: Hot Snakes. Just when you thought rock ’n’ roll was dead, these ex-Drive Like Jehu mates John Reis and Rick Froberg prove they can still have a good kick at the corpse. Angular guitars are back!!!
12:15 a.m. Cap your Thursday night with the tranquil, droney psych-folk of Maica Mia at Mile Ex swill-hole Brasserie Beaubien. This will definitely put the bubble in your bong.
3 p.m. Start your Friday with the prog sound of Mahogany Frog at Parc de la Petite Italie. Having already caught them at the ill-fated Bar St. Laurent II and at Cinéma l’Amour during last year’s Pop, I will definitely be there with coffee and Aspirin in hand.
8:30 p.m. Solar Year will tripping the light fantastic with their psyched-out soundscapes at Church of St. John the Evangelist. While you’re there, definitely scoop up their brilliant Waverly CD from their merch table.
10 p.m. Hike up to Breakglass Studios and catch local psych-popsters the Besnard Lakes on their home turf. Having heard their epic new record, I predict that 2013 will be the Lakers’ time for global conquest.
10 p.m. OR check out fellow psychsters Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, who currently have the blogosphere by the balls. You know the drill here, psychonauts: theatre, drone, prog, psych, all masterfully done. Easily one of Montreal’s finest right now.
10:30 p.m. If you’re already at Church of St. John the Evangelist for Solar Year, stay put to see one of Montreal’s greatest artists, Tim Hecker, explore the infinite range of frequencies as he rattles down the expressway to yr skull.
11 p.m. Proving that this year’s picks are not just all psych-outs is Teenanger, who will serve it up their self-styled punk rock snotty and loud at Il Motore.
1 a.m. If you missed the decibel blast of Metz on Thursday night, catch them at Il Motore on Friday night. Bring earplugs!
11 p.m. If you didn’t make it to Parc de la Petite Italie on Friday afternoon for Mahogany Frog, prog out to the Frog on Saturday at Il Motore.
11 p.m. The sassy lass that serves up the suds at Casa, Molly Sweeney, also has one of the richest voices in the city. Hear her croons in the cozy confines of Cagibi.
11:30 p.m. Canada’s twang kings, the Sadies, once again join forces with the whiskey-soaked potty mouth of Andre Williams at Cabaret du Mile End. Prepare to cut a rug to some top-shelf raw soul for this one.
12 a.m. One of my all-time favourite Canadian bands, Change of Heart, have reunited. But wait: They’re playing their last show ever here, at Pop Montreal. Show up and see why head honcho Ian Blurton is still the fuggin’ man.
1 a.m. It just wouldn’t be Pop if Japan’s Zoobombs didn’t play at least once during the festival. Easily one of the most energetic rock ’n’ roll shows I’ve ever seen. The only thing that could beat this show is if Toronto promoter Dan Burke gets up to his usual hijinx — love ya Dan!!!
7:30 p.m. Now that the crushing headaches are taking hold, you can start winding down with the sweet prog/psych sounds of local duo les Momies de Palerme at Cagibi.
9 p.m. After les Momies, stick around Cagibi for Kids on TV.
10 p.m. Go home and get some sleep dammit!!! ■
Current obsession: Earth, Hibernaculum