This is the hip hop Grand Prix

These GP-branded events have been carefully selected either to truly entertain you, show a little love to local businesses and artists who deserve it, or maybe even do all three. One way or the other, these parties should get you well away from the fake tits and grey dicks.

Does anyone else remember when Grand Prix weekend included a free concert series on the steps outside Place des Arts, around the end of the ’90s?

Sure, it was a little B-list-y. Sinéad O’Connor, the Presidents of the United States of America, a reformed Blues Brothers Band and a decrepit if still-pretty-awesome Little Richard come to mind as mediocre highlights of these sidebar GP attractions.

However, without these self-serving promotional endeavours of old-stock beer and tobacco fortunes, I never would have had the chance to see the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

My friends and I got there so early on that Saturday that by the time attendance had peaked to a reported 50,000 people, we were pissing in our empties and staving off heat stroke, with varying degrees of the munchies adding to the discomfort.

If we hadn’t just grinned and borne our white teen problems, we wouldn’t have witnessed James quietly perform his own soundcheck to a crowd of pretty much no one but us, around 4 p.m., well before show time.

Our barrage of heckles and attention-seeking gestures elicited mild attention and finally an enthusiastic, broadly grinning acknowledgment — a personal “Heh!” from the Godfather himself, a moment of my life that seems more surreal every time I’ve considered it since.

And without the sudden impulse of my good friend Pete, we perhaps wouldn’t have realized our key position to start the wave. If you’ve never had a chance to throw your arms in the air and watch an ocean of people follow suit, from the front of a crowd to the horizon and back, I highly recommend it.

And even if we had to stand through insufferably long opening sets from Queb hot-doggers Alex Messe and Nanette Workman, the lightning-hot spectacle of fireworks, dance numbers, musicians, costumes orchestrated by the Hardest Working Man in Show Business will forever impress a Grand Prix soft spot on me.

I’m not lamenting the removal of this extraneous limb from the bloated body of GP weekend in Montreal so much as taking the opportunity to share a fond memory, a kinda footnote to local history that I’m glad to have been part of despite its dubiously oriented benefactors.

And that said, the GP-branded events I’m about to plug have been carefully selected either to truly entertain you, show a little love to local businesses and artists who deserve it, or maybe even do all three.

One way or the other, their parties should get you well away from the fake tits and grey dicks.

Thursday – Normally, if you Googled “Grand Prix Weekend Classified Crescent St.,” you’d likely end up at a brothel, but today you’ll also find the prolific Halifax hip hopper being pimped out by LG at 9:30 p.m.

This next shit is a little more fast-lane on the surface, but if you would otherwise spend $70 eating and boozing tonight, why not do it as new-to-the-Main “hip hop” pub and eatery SuWu open up their terrasse in style with a pre-meal cocktail party, a generous and delicious sounding full-course meal, more drinks and the soothing sounds of Simahlak on the sound system, all engines gunning.

Okay, alright: you wanna be extra-extra not Grand Prix? Then Get These Bums to Toronto. Vincent Pryce, Tronald Trump, Pro-V and mic checkers Markings and Loe Pesci ask you simply to leave five notes at the door of En Cachette to be entertained at a fundraiser helping get them to NXNE, where they will also be joined by Guilty, Shogun and other loveable mooks. Get your bum there to show love.

Friday – Greenlight Gallery shows Sole Power, launching a unique display of local illustrators wreckin’ up Vans shoes. Tunes and refreshments are promised, and the works of Chris Dyer, Rupert Bottenberg, Earthcrusher, Lateef and way more step into a realm decidedly more skill than motor.

Back in the fast lane, Grand Prix excess could do a lot worse than welcome Wyclef to Arena Nightclub.

Tix are only $25 in advance, which makes me wonder if this fairly last-minute announcement will be a true performance or “celebrity appearance.” My gut tells me that it will probably end up being split down the middle. ‘Clef usually comes equipped with a live band and three-hour-plus set, and something tells me this will not be the case here.

Then again, “when you’re walking through the carnival, anything can happen.” DJ Ace and Kwite Sane keep your pistons oiled.

[UPDATE: The following event has officially been rescheduled — it’s now happening  Sunday instead of Saturday.]

Sunday – Tokyo knows Montreal is a far cry from the land of the rising sun, so for their annual afternoon rooftop BBQ jam Formula Fun, good weather is a must if it is to go down as planned.

FFUN does its damndest every year to officially welcome summer, so if beats, beer buckets, Bofinger and bountiful batches of pro-shucked oysters (or any combo thereof) put a little extra bounce in your pounce, RSVP Tokyo’s Facebook event page to be a guest. ■


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