Lux Magna is the independent music festival Montreal needs. It’s a local festival that primarily showcases women and non-binary artists from different disciplines, but it’s also a fest that’s put together by women and non-binary curators behind the scenes. That’s important – you know the artist selections are legit and you can feel the passion with every show they assemble.
The third annual edition of the five-day festival goes down this Jan. 22–26. It’s an all-ages shindig, too.
Not sure where to start? There’s plenty more to catch at Lux Magna, but here are five acts to catch.
1. Sydanie, Mini Massive, Sarahmée
A Canadian rap showcase kicks things off. If you caught Sydanie’s Polaris Prize long-listed 999 mixtape, you got a double-serving of lo-fi raving and rapping calisthenics, but it’s the Toronto rapper’s assured live act that’s received even more accolades. More recent single “I Want U 2 See This” ups the production values without sacrificing the grit.
Mini Massive is beloved Montreal troupe Nomadic Massive with a few less members, while Sarahmée is definitely in the conversation when it comes to Montreal rappers ready break out. Her 2019 was already pretty stellar with the release of album Irréversible — including a duet with fellow rising local, Tizzo — but her 2020 is already off to a fast start with a cameo on Poirier’s “Rien n’est impossible.” La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent), Jan 22, 9 p.m., $12/$15
2. Big ‡ Brave, Secondsight
Intense local act Big Brave takes the long route on their extended heavy jams. They dropped fourth album A Gaze Among Them last year, which goes as hard as anything they’ve done, but there’s a welcome directness to it that reinforces the urgency of what they do, even if their powerful tracks tend to not worry about pace. Expect a layered, punishing live show with moments of true beauty. La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent), Jan 23, 9 p.m., $12/$15
3. Ayibobo™ QT Dollhouse Factory II : Retour en quatre actes
Something a little different from local artist Ellise Barbara. This one’s not a concert, but rather a four-act performance about voodoo spirituality and the social media age with Barbara in the director’s chair. It stars Christopher Marlot, Chivengi, Puremulato and Jupiter Brown, and after the show the RaRa JaZz de Montréal troupe will be there to get the procession going. La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent), Jan 24, 8 p.m., $12/$15
4. Backxwash, BiG SiSSY, blackberryjam
Montreal rapper Backxwash capped off a busy 2019 with “Black Magic” in November, a no-nonsense self-produced rap and guitar salvo over the bow of complacency, which came off the heels of the equally forthright album Deviancy. Backxwash goes head-banging hard over jarring beats, including what I can only assume is an impeccably mangled 311 sample (“Devil in a Moshpit”). One can only hope for more supernatural-themed raps, relentless flows and knowing 90s references to come. Casa del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent), Jan 25, 8 p.m., $10/$12
5. YlangYlang, Così e Così, Desert Bloom
Experimental artist YlangYlang has been a fixture in the Montreal scene for years, and has the extensive Bandcamp discography to prove it, but even longtime devotees should brace themselves for Interplay, the liberating and engulfing new release set to drop Jan. 31. Interplay is an electroacoustic journey with vocals that’s effective in feeling claustrophobic and symphonic when it wants to be. An impressive merging of synths and field recordings with live strings and brass. Last year, YlangYlang got to work at National Music Centre in Calgary alongside master-in-residence Suzanne Ciani. La Vitrola (4602 St-Laurent), Jan 25, 8 p.m., $10/$12
For the complete Lux Magna program, consult their website.
For more coverage of festivals, bands and concerts, see our Music section.