In praise of Piknic Électronik

DJ Vilify gives props to our weekly summer dance party ahead of her set there this weekend, PLUS the essential Friday-night party you didn’t know about (thank us later).

shineWho doesn’t love a good Piknic? I’m not one to wink-and-elbow about “only in Montreal, eh, amiright?” like a tourist praising smoked meat or strippers. But there’s something to be said for living in a culture that doesn’t take the sun for granted to the degree that one of the best club experiences in town thrives on Sunday afternoons, from spring through late summer, under a freaky statue on an island that also boasts the burnt-out husk of a Buckminster Fuller design as a tourist attraction.

Piknic Électronik celebrates its seventh Sunday of the season this week with a hometown tribute that brings together headliner Jacques Greene, Deadbeat, Forrest and Vilify on the main stage, while PayzPlay’az Toast Dawg and Ephiks meet Figure8 and FunkyFallz — aka le Big Barbe Jojo Blues Band — on the second.

I caught up with first lady of the low end and Piknic multiple-offender Vilify by email from her current digs in Berlin, from whence she returns for a two-week Canadian tour stretch to catch her take on what makes the function sacred.

“My first time playing Piknic, I played alongside Construct as well as Living Stone & Vipond, opening for Bassnectar. So much sticks out about that day,” says Vilify. “Bass music was on the rise, people were crazy for Bassnectar, the weather was perfection and the place was packed from start to finish. It was certainly, at the time, the largest crowd I had played to, and as a newcomer to the city I felt so honoured that Piknic had given me this opportunity.

“After the past few years of travelling and playing some incredible outdoor venues, and quickly recognizing what a huge piece of the music culture Berlin’s summers open-air parties are, it makes me recognize how lucky Montreal is to have something like that, to show people an entirely unique way of enjoying music and each other.  Piknic is so different than being in a dark, sweaty, packed club all night. You get the experience — music, drinks, dancing — in an environment that creates such a different vibe and feeling.”

Vilify has played Piknic in a variety of offsite settings, from a boat on the Lachine canal to the legendarily debauched partner stage at Osheaga, and as scene builders go, the Bass Drive founder has always known how to make an entrance. I ask what making an exit has taught her.

“I have come to appreciate relaxed curfew, sound laws and cultural appreciation and acceptance in other places that just lets me thrive as an artist,” Vilify says. “We need good sound. We need good gear. We want a crowd who feels free to enjoy themselves and not constricted by strict curfews and sound restrictions. I think freedom encourages artistic expression and it feels really good to be somewhere that I can feel more free as an artist.”

And despite the context, Vilify has described a perfect Piknic, really. See you at Sunday school. Parc Jean Drapeau, 2–9 p.m., $13.50 all-in

But not before I see you tonight at Primo tonight.

Yeah, you heard me. Like, “Oh, hey, wanna go to Tokyo tonight? Cuz DEEJAY FUCKIN’ PREMIER IS SPINNING 7″ VINYL THERE? ALL! NIGHT!LONG!”

It’s $10 bucks at the door, and you can hi-five as many times as you like for telling you, because you honestly had no fucking idea. In lieu of asking me how you didn’t hear about it come Monday, please make a donation to the stupid jar. Oh and the “all night long” thing was just meant to be illustrative. DJ Pump, DJ Illo and Vinyl Ritchie pack 45s before the Gang Starr legend takes over your world. 3709 St-Laurent, 10 p.m., $10

Here’s what else is happening this week.

Friday: Dancehall don Beenie Man brings the Zagga Zow Band to the Telus Theatre. 1280 St-Denis, 8 p.m., $36 [Ed.’s note: It was announced after posting that this show has been cancelled.]

And Poirier visits the Francos at the Shag for some midnight fun. 1407 St-Dominique (Metropolis Shag room), 11:45 p.m., free

Tuesday: CJLO’s Lady Oracle takes a guest spot at a new Blizzarts weekly, Peanut Buttah Tuesdays. Bonne St. Jean et bon party! 3956 St-Laurent, 10 p.m.
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