Angel Bat Dawid Suoni per il Popolo 2022 festival Montreal

Angel Bat Dawid

The Suoni per il Popolo festival takes Montreal music fans for a sonic spin

See our highlights of the fantastic avant-garde/experimental music festival, hosting shows at seven venues from June 3 to 29.

Suoni per il Popolo may sound like a fancy pasta dish at an upper class Italian restaurant, but it’s actually a fantastic avant-garde/experimental music festival here in Montreal that’s been running in some shape or form for 21 years. The festival has brought world-renowned acts like Sunn O))), Orville Peck, Jay Reatard, Jonathan Richman and more in past years, and this year they are pulling out all the stops. 

It’s next to impossible to know every act at this festival — which runs from June 3 to 29 at seven venues — so I’ve made a little list of my Suoni per il Popolo highlights so your head isn’t completely spinning. 

Week 1: Angel Bat Dawid, Silvervest 3 + Joe McPhee, & Thus Owls

Angel Bat Dawid is a virtuosic jazz pianist, vocalist and clarinetist who has played with Sun Ra. She’s one of those people who is way too talented and rubbed shoulders with the jazz greats. She opens Suoni with a solo set that will be followed by the legendary free-jazz multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, playing with locals Silvervest 3 (aka bass player Nicolas Caloia and spoken word jazz vocalist Kim Zombik). I have no idea what to expect with Joe McPhee running around.

You will absolutely want to check out Thus Owls on June 4. The local husband and wife duo Erika and Simon Angell released their expansive double album Who Would You Hold If the Sky Betrayed Us back in March and it’s a near masterpiece, tip-toeing on post-rock, spoken word, free jazz and any other experimental genre you can think of. The album never got a proper launch show due to COVID-19 so the Suoni performance is a rare one. I knew of Thus Owls a bit before my sojourn to Montreal in late 2020, but after diving into their repertoire, I don’t understand how they aren’t a huge international act. 

Week 2: New Chance, Seulement, Crasher 

This show featuring Toronto electronic producer and vocalist New Chance, Montreal’s own experimental electro wizard SEULEMENT and dance punks Crasher is going to be insane. New Chance can be described as trancey dream electronica, with her 2021 album Real Time sending you in a kaleidoscopic haze. Even though it’s just Mathieu Arsenault in charge of SEULEMENT, his live show is bonkers. Make sure to not stare directly into the strobes as his one of a kind form of electronica percolates throughout the room. I saw Crasher during a sweaty night at l’Escogriffe (one of the first full-bar concerts I went to after lockdown) and I remember dancing my ass off. The 2021 album street cleaning machines of the world doesn’t really do the band justice. They are made to be a live band and frontman Ash (bka Airick Asher Woodhead, formerly of Doldrums) does not accept swaying bodies when they play. He will get you moving to his infectious mix of punk, dance and tomfoolery. 

Week 2 continued’: S.H.I.T., HOME FRONT, Total Nada

I guess you could call this Suoni’s hardcore punk night? We have a new group, local DIY punks Total Nada, who play buzzing distorted music to angry Spanish vocals. Their debut EP sounds like it was recorded in a shoe. Edmonton disco new wave dance punks HOME FRONT are then ready for their Montreal debut. This band is close to my heart because they’re from my hometown and also made up of members of Shout Out Out Out Out, Wet Secrets and No Problem. Their debut album Think of the Lie is outstanding, mixing a bit of the Cure, Suicide and Echo & the Bunnymen. Then we’ve got S.H.I.T., not the bodily excrement, but the Toronto punks who have been crushing it in the crust/hardocre punk scene since the early mid-aughts. They had a recent two-song release called Hidden in Eternity, which is heavy as well… shit. 

Week 3: JOYFULTALK, Yoo Doo Right + Anna Arrobas, Kee Avil, the Besnard Lakes, Cola, Blessed

JOYFULTALK Suoni per il Popolo 2022 festival Montreal
JOYFULTALK, performing at Suoni per il Popolo 2022

I recently checked out JOYFULTALK’s latest album Familiar Science while I ran around and got lost in Westmount City Hall. The album is a bunch of freakish jazz and sounds a bit like elevator music on speed. It’s maddening, in a way that will make you feel like you’re losing your mind as drum fills, piano breaks, saxophone and synths continually oscillate and repeat. I thought the album was skipping at one point, but that’s just how it’s mixed. It’s a bit BADBADNOTGOOD, but really dives into the mania you can experience through improvised and random music. 

Next to probably Godspeed You! Black Emperor, local post-rock stooges Yoo Doo Right are probably the loudest band in Montreal. Their sound reverberates through bodies and takes the mind on a dark and wonderful ride. Their second LP, A Murmur Boundless to the East, will be a week old at the Suoni show. Bring the ear plugs for this one and get your mind melted within the inexplicable boundaries of sound. Setting off the night will be the dreamy, ethereal sounds of local Anna Arrobas. 

Kee Avil is one of the weirdest and most singular projects coming out of Montreal right now. Her debut LP Crease is terrifying, with gothic vocal whispers, down techno production and dark ambient/post-punk guitar. It’s the kind of music you play loud if you want to scare your neighbours, kind of a more sinister Fiona Apple mixed with Björk and later Radiohead. I haven’t witnessed her live so I’m excited for her performance at Suoni. Local visual artist Myriam Bleau will accompany the performance with interpreted visuals. Jessica Moss will also perform her experimental violin soundscapes alongside Vancouver’s Meredith Bates and cellist/composer Mark Molnar. 

There’s a triple header show with psych rock influencers the Besnard Lakes, post-Ought project Cola and Vancouver art rocker Blessed. The Besnard Lakes are not to be missed with their latest album The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings being a contender for one of their best in years. Cola just released their debut album Deep In View (visit for our interview with them) and it’s full of that post-punky goodness. Blessed are fantastic at building atmosphere during their songs, which take you to art rock worlds and the unlimited wonders of experimental music.  

Week 4: Mas Aya, Rap Ferreira, Magella 

Mas Aya’s release last year, Máscaras, sounds like an airy expressionist painting. It’s a calming but at times violent album that deals with a real-life revolution, specifically the Nicaraguan revolution in the ’70s. It’s a bit Brian Eno and Boards of Canada, featuring traditional flutes, drips and off-kilter drums. Again, I have no idea what to expect for the live iteration of Mas Aya, but I anticipate being surprised. 

Finishing off Suoni is a hip hop soul night led by R.A.P. Ferreira, Strange Froots and soul songstress Magella. R.A.P. Ferreira’s latest release, The Light Emitting Diamond Cutter Scriptures, brings to mind Earl Sweatshirt and Cadence Weapon. It’s jazzy hip hop at its finest. Strange Froots is a kabal of female hip hop wordsmiths à la Missy Elliot with a penchant for fun remixes and appealing vocal hooks. Magella is full of soul (just check out her Checkmate album), but what separates her style from many is her operatic vocal refrains that scream someone like Nina Simone. 

This article was originally published in the June issue of Cult MTL.

For the complete Suoni per il Popolo program, please visit the festival’s website.

For more Montreal music coverage, please visit the Music section.