Hop on pop at Pop Montreal

Whether you’re navigating the sea of fab sounds at POP Montreal with a festival pass or trying to choose which shows to shell out for, making sense of the program is tough as fake tits. The good kind of tough, then. So let Cult MTL throw you a compass, bro.
If you swing toward indie pop, art rock and electronic music, here’s what’s hot at Pop 2012:

Diamond Rings

Whether you’re navigating the sea of fab sounds at POP Montreal with a festival pass or trying to choose which shows to shell out for, making sense of the program is tough as fake tits. The good kind of tough, then. So let Cult MTL throw you a compass, bro.

You can see our rawk columnist Johnson Cummins’s picks here, and our hip hop columnist Darcy MacDonald’s picks here. But if you swing toward indie pop, art rock and electronic music, here’s what’s hot at POP 2012:

Wednesday, Sept. 19

Who: Laetitia Sadier, Cate le Bon, Orca Team
Where: Ukrainian Federation (5213 Hutchison)
Why: She’s the singer from Stereolab. Need more convincing? Laetitia Sadier recently released a new set of groovy tunes and meditative soundscapes about math and socialism, called Silencio. It’s rad. Welsh chanteuse Cate le Bon is no slouch, either. Like Sadier, she has a delicious voice, and the strange-folk flair heard on her 2009 debut Me Oh My got an exciting upgrade on Cyrk, released earlier this year. AND she’s a protégé of Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys. Rounding out the bill is Vancouver’s Orca Team, a ’60s pop beach party-meets-’70s post-punk wake. Think of them as the Drums’ lo-fi li’l bros. (Lorraine Carpenter)

Who: Stars, Diamond Rings, Eight and a Half
Where: La Tulipe (4530 Papineau)
Why: Stars are an obvious pick, but given the price point (ahem, free), there’s really no excuse not to reacquaint yourself with one of Montreal’s finest groups. Soon-to-be Letterman musical guest Diamond Rings is one man no more, as John O’Regan now has a full backing band, including Miracle Fortress/Think About Life’s Graham Van Pelt. Eight and a Half are also made up of a few familiar faces — former Stills members Dave Hamelin and Liam O’Neil — so expect no slacking from the openers. (Erik Leijon)

Thursday, Sept. 20


Who: Peaches DJ Extravaganza, Venus X, Philippe Blanchard, the World Provider
Where: Église Pop Little Burgundy (5035 St-Dominique)
Why: It’s hard to believe we’ve been sucking on Peaches’ titties for a full decade. Seeing this solo electro-trash phenom-turned-rock opera star in a church is exactly the kind of wild you want at Pop Montreal. Keep your ears open for an additional surprise performance by Peaches at this festival, which may or may not include members of her faithful posse, among them the World Provider, who open this gig. (Full disclosure: the frontman for the WP is our Screen editor!) (LC)

Who: CTZNSHP, PS I Love You, Parlovr, Pigeon Phat, Reversing Falls, Wake Island
Where: Divan Orange (4234 St-Laurent)
Why: Guitars, guitars and more guitars are on the docket for this mostly local showcase. Few can extract as much ferocity from their guitar as PS I Love You’s Paul Saulnier, and even fewer can play as sloppy as Parlovr yet sound so in control. Reversing Falls are peerless at hammering out economical epics over click tracks. Pigeon Phat’s debut EP is a laugh riot, and their WordPress equally so. CTZNSHP are simultaneously catchy and gazey, while Wake Island’s (formerly Intensive Care) songs are filled to the brim with unpredictable proggy, punkish goodness. (EL)

Friday, Sept. 21

David Byrne and St. Vincent

Who: David Byrne & St. Vincent
Where: Église St. Jean Baptiste (309 Rachel E.)
Why: Despite serious competition from Austra, Jef Barbara, Merchandise, Lil B and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, this is a no-fucking-brainer. Even if you’ve seen the iconic Talking Heads frontman and the fab art-pop chanteuse/guitarist separately, you haven’t seen them together. Their recently released record Love This Giant emits sparks, suggesting that they’ll trigger an inferno on stage. If I’m not running for the exit with a lung full of smoke by the end of this, I will demand my no-money back. (LC)

Who: Austra, Doldrums, Cosmetics, Dinosaur Bones
Where: Mission Santa Cruz (60 Rachel W.)
One word to describe Austra live? Enthralling. Combining Katie Stelmanis’s operatic vocals with the most sinister of electronic beats makes for an intoxicating elixir. Don’t be alarmed by local darling Doldrums and his skittish pop collages, because they’re actually fun to snap your fingers to. Locals Cosmetics also dabble in the darker side of synth pop, and TO’s Dinosaur Bones will provide an unexpected dose of raw, mature rocking. (EL)

Saturday, Sept. 22

Rich Aucoin, photo by Scott Munn

Who: Rich Aucoin, Stepdad, Goose Hut, Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt
Where: Divan Orange (4234 St-Laurent)
Why: How many times do I need to explain this to you, man? Forget Girl Talk. Halifax’s Rich Aucoin is a must-see one-man party, and he plays original tunes. If you’ve got one foot in the grave, write “see Rich Aucoin” on your bucket list. Maybe you’ll even live a little longer. I also recently said, publicly, that Montreal trio Goose Hut is the next Arcade Fire. No pressure, guys. (LC)

Who: ANGO, Black Atlass, Prison Garde, Tommy Kruise
Where: Le Belmont (4483 St-Laurent)
Why: Haligonian hotshot Ryan Hemsworth has been nixed from the line-up card, but I wholeheartedly recommend the revised bill all the same. Prison Garde is the latest and perhaps most straightforward incarnation of the multifaceted Vaughn Robert Squire (Sixtoo, Megasoid). Black Atlass is an 18-year-old former Montrealer (currently in London, Ontario) whose first eponymous EP could give the Weeknd a run for his money in the dark’n’B realm. Montrealer Andrew Gordon McPherson (ANGO) cleverly recasts familiar synth lines and beats as smooth electro R&B. Tommy Kruise is an ex-metal head who packs his trap productions with considerable punch. (EL)

Sunday, Sept. 23

Patrick Wolf

Who: Patrick Wolf, Woodpigeon
Where: L’Astral (305 Ste-Catherine W.)
Why: At 29, singer, songwriter and violinist Patrick Wolf is celebrating a decade of underground pop excellence. If you missed his headlining Pop set at Cabaret a few years back, this is your opportunity to catch up. He’s kind of like the U.K.’s Owen Pallett, if Pallett were more of a hot New Romantic whore. Also, Woodpigeon is primo neo-folk from the Prairies, a well of smart songs and orchestral arrangements crafted to raise goosebumps. (LC)

Who: Purity Ring, Evian Christ, Headaches
Where: La Tulipe (4530 Papineau)
Why: Purity Ring’s 808 dreamscapes have already caught the ears of most music fans, but their visually striking live show — which includes homemade illuminated lanterns that trigger notes when hit — is not to be missed, either. U.K. producer Evian Christ takes the most trite of trap lyrics and reduces them to ghostly loops. He also likes bass — mucho, mucho bass. Toronto’s Headaches will get the dancefloor going, but there’s something vaguely mysterious about his productions sure to get your noggin percolating as well. (EL) ■

For more details, see our music listings. For even more details, go to popmontreal.com.

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