Best free shows & parties at FrancoFolies

Our recommendations for shows by Montreal artists at the festival of French music that’s taking over the Quartier des Spectacles from June 11–20.

beat-sexu (640x640)
Beat Sexü
As much as we Montrealers like to think of ourselves as sophisticated, cosmopolitan and open-minded, it’s clear that plenty of us live with blinders on, completely ignoring major cultural forces in our midst. I’m not even talking about native cultures, or of the many ethnic groups that hold annual cultural festivals (not to mention year-round events). It’s even sadder that many of us are oblivious to the francophone majority in this city, and that many of us haven’t taken the time to explore and embrace music made by francophones, especially when it’s in French — and especially considering that same can’t be said of francophones, who generally grew up on anglo music.

The FrancoFolies festival isn’t going to bridge this gap, and its programming is hardly flawless (Eric Lapointe is playing this edition, for example), but it’s still a great place to get to know some fine francophone artists. And like the Jazz Fest (produced by the same company, Spectra), a lot of the best shows are freebies in the Quartier des Spectacles (see the site map here).

Here are some FrancoFolies highlights, with a focus on Montreal acts and free shows:

Alfa Rococo by Valerie Jodoin Keaton
Alfa Rococo. Photo by Valerie Jodoin Keaton

The opening concert features Acadian rap duo Radio Radio, who’ve been residing in Montreal for quite a few years now, along with Cult MTL’s Oct. 2014 cover dude Pierre Kwenders, French rasta man Pierpoljak and electro-pop duo Alfa Rococo. (June 11, Ford stage, 6 p.m.)

Eight-piece ensemble Canailles blend “folk trash,” Cajun and country/blues, a must-see for fans of stomping roots music. (June 13, 8 p.m. Ford stage)

Radio Radio returns on Saturday, this time as part of Alex Nevsky’s big ensemble show, also featuring with Fanny Bloom and Marie-Pierre Arthur. (June 13, Bell stage, 9 p.m.)

Check out rap duo Eman & Vlooper — the former a rapper with massif hip hop act Alaclair Ensemble, the latter a figure from the piu piu scene. (June 13, La Presse stage, 11 p.m.) (See all of Alaclair Ensemble on the same stage on June 17, 11 p.m.)

Another duo, Ponctuation, holds it down for post-punk fans. (June 13, Ford stage, 11 p.m.)

Four-piece band Beat Sexü have a pretty self-explanatory sound (it’s exactly what it almost sounds like), giving this show some pick-up potential. (La Presse stage, June 15, 9 p.m.)

Whether or not “controversial” (with idiots) bilingual rappers Dead Obies elicit any “en français SVPs,” even standing amid 100 PKP clones would be worthwhile for a chance to see these guys gratis. (June 15, La Presse stage, 11 p.m.)

See street artist and rapper Monk.e flex his music muscle. (La Presse stage, June 16, 9 p.m.)

Cinematic, emotive indie rock is the specialty of new band Bernhari, playing two shows (With Philémon Cimon at Pub Rickard’s on June 16, 5 p.m. and at the Loto-Québec stage on June 20, 10 p.m., both free.)

Latino-Quebecer Boogat brings together rap, dancehall, cumbia and dubstep. (La Presse stage, June 16, 11 p.m.)

Lisbonne Telegramme
Lisbonne Telegramme

Local electro-pop act le Couleur play a pair of shows at FrancoFolies, on the la Presse stage (June 17, 9 p.m.) and with les Marinellis at Pub Rickard’s (June 18, 5 p.m.).

Check out fresh dream-folk four-piece Lisbonne Telegramme, featuring François Dufault of the Blue Seeds. (June 20, SiriusXM stage, 7 p.m.)

Five-piece psych-rock act Chocolat are coming off a six-year hiatus (band member Jimmy Hunt launched a successful solo career in the interim), so consider this show a rare treat. (June 20, Ford stage, 11 p.m.)

And finally, throughout the festival, a pack of producer/DJs light up Shag room at Metropolis (aka the Savoy) as of 11:59 p.m., among them Pierre Kwenders (June 12), Toast Dawg (launching h’s new record, Brazivilain Vol. 2., June 13), Shash’U (June 18) and Poirier (June 19). ■
See the complete FrancoFolies program here.