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Pop Montreal Day 4: Yellowman and Josey Wales, Brendan Canning, Pat Jordache, Secret Sun, Shuggie Otis & more

by Dominick Mastrangelo

Shuggie Otis / Pat Jordache / Brendan Canning
Pop Montreal Day 4
Pop Montreal Day 4
Pop Montreal Day 4

Back before Montreal was in NYC for CMJ, NYC was in Montreal for the annual Pop Montreal festival which we began by seeing DIANA and Empress Of followed by The Dodos, Braids, Suuns, Patrick Watson & more. After that came How Sad, Valleys, Angel Olsen, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Leif Vollebekk & more. Day four went like this…

The penultimate day of Pop Montreal started a bit slower as the late nights started bleeding into early mornings and getting out of bed became harder and harder. The goal was to be at Little Italy Park for Pat Jordache and I made it just in time for them to take the stage. I enjoyed their set (you can catch them in NYC courtesy of M For Montreal at Arlene’s Grocery). The BBQ and kids fair going on at the back end of the park, supplied a festive atmosphere as kids ran about in front of the stage covered in face paint.

I’d heard good things about Jessy Lanza – whose debut record, Pull My Hair Back, will certainly find her being compared to fellow electronic, synthpop countrywoman, Grimes – so I headed to Divan Orange to catch her set. I was pleasantly surprised in that her sound moves in warmer synth textures, providing a nice backdrop for breathy voice.

The goal was to head back to the hotel to regroup for the night but I tagged along to the Ubisoft rooftop performance featuring Swedish-Canadian band, Thus:Owls, and Montreal’s Secret Sun. What started as a lark turned into two of the most pleasant surprises of my Pop.

Backed by a spectacular view of Montreal – and the full-swing, fall foliage of Mont Royal – Secret Sun, the duo of Anne-Marie Campbell and Simon Landry, crafted lush and languid alternative pop songs that were simply spellbinding. Campbell has one of those beguiling, siren-like voices that effortlessly moves from high to low and back again. (Check out the song “Stay Still” from their excellent Cold Coast EP.) The sold-out, rooftop audience was rapt as the sun set and out in the distance, Mont Royal slipped into darkness.

Thus:Owls, a full, five-piece band wrapped around core husband and wife duo Erika and Simon Angell, were every bit as impressive, spinning experimental chamber pop through a cinemascope. The song “White Night” from their new sophomore LP, Harbours, was stuck in my head the rest of the weekend.

After that it was on to the Rialto to see 70’s R&B, blues legend Shuggie Otis, who sounded great though it would have been nicer to have done away with the cabaret tables and let the crowd right up to the stage to watch his guitar playing at closer proximity.

I made a quick stop at Rhodo’s to catch Montreal band, Seoul, who someone tipped to me as the next big thing. I was told that nobody would be there because, “nobody knows about them,” yet I arrived to a packed house that went “one in one out” right after I walked through the door. Their brand of dream-pop instantly evoked Wild Nothing, Soft Black and Washed Out. The girls up close were swooning all over the young four-piece in that way teenage girls with rock star crushes do. Their song “Stay With Us” is woozy and warm enough to soundtrack your autumn.

From there it was on to Casa Del Popolo to see Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning. I’ve been a fan of most of the BSS satellites, both group and solo-related, and enjoyed Canning’s Something for All of Us. His new record, You Gots 2 Chill, is decidedly low-key and his set was reflective of that as many of the songs lingered in with instrumental intros, quietly sung lyrics, followed by a meandering jam session on the back end with many of the songs just fizzing out altogether.

Canning’s set was stark contrast to the bombast and good-time dance party that ended my Saturday as Dancehall legends, Yellowman and Josey Wales, teamed up to pass the mic for nearly three hours. Even though I’d been anticipating this show since I saw it on the schedule – being a big Yellowman fan – the length of their set was a little ambitious as the duo outlasted many of the people at the after party. (Wales returned by himself to the stage and went on ‘riding riddims’ deep into the night.)
With a day full of great music in my head and a hint of daylight in the sky, there was only one thing left to do – go get a bagel. A warm, sesame, Fairmount bagel in hand (sorry St-Viateur), I hopped a cab back to the hotel for some much-needed sleep.

More pictures below…

Pat Jordache

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Jessy Lanza

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Secret Sun

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Thus Owls

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Shuggie Otis

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Seoul

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Brendan Canning

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Yellowman Josey Wales

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