POP Montreal 2023 highlights

10 highlights of POP Montreal 2023, bringing 5 days of festival fun Sept. 27 to Oct. 1

“Boasting one of the festival’s more diverse lineups in recent memory, POP — a staple of Montreal’s festival landscape since 2002 — will once again take over the city’s esteemed music venues next week.”

POP Montreal always makes the transition from summer to fall in this town that much easier — and later this month, it’ll be back with a vengeance.

Boasting one of the festival’s more diverse lineups in recent memory, POP — a staple of Montreal’s festival landscape since 2002 — will once again take over the city’s esteemed music venues, mostly in the Mile End area, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1. As usual, it’ll also offer a host of visual art exhibitions, film screenings, community initiatives, keynote talks, an event featuring famed philosopher/activist Dr. Cornel West and more.

Of course, the music is always what brings people out to the fest every September, whether it’s at the iconic Rialto Theatre or the still relatively new outdoor space l’Entrepôt77. POP consistently boasts a mix of emerging young talent (both homegrown and exported) and veterans of the music industry. There are some truly can’t-miss shows on this year’s bill, and ones spanning the musical and cultural spectrum. Here are some of our highlights from this year’s POP Montreal lineup.


Islands, playing POP Montreal 2023

One of Montreal indie rock’s pioneering acts, Nick Thorburn and co last played POP with a festival-closing set at the Rialto in 2021. This year, they’re flipping the script with a festival-opening set in a much, much smaller room: la Sotterenea, aka the comfortingly home-style basement of Sala Rossa, as part of the lead-up to their forthcoming ninth LP, And That’s Why Dolphins Lost Their Legs

With Burry and Dresser at la Sotterenea (4848 St-Laurent), Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m., $15/$20

Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul

Effortlessly cool Belgian duo Charlotte Adigéry and Boris Pupul have gotten quite familiar with Quebec this year, having performed at le Festif! in the 7,000-population town of Baie-Saint-Paul back in July. Using groovy, pulsating house beats as the backdrop to lyrical content tackling racism, post-colonialism and cultural appropriation among other things, the duo execute this stark contrast tastefully in bringing that messaging onto the dancefloor. With Martyn Bootyspoon and Xela Edna & Eius Echo, Sept. 27, Rialto Theatre (5723 Parc), 9 p.m., $30/$35

Charlotte Cornfield

This Toronto indie singer-songwriter (and former Montreal resident/Concordia alum) truly is “Canada’s best kept secret,” as Rolling Stone once described her. Five albums into her career, Cornfield and her rich, earnest lyricism have been getting her greater attention and acclaim, furthered by her most recent LP, May’s Could Have Done Anything. Fans of Big Thief, Kurt Vile and Waxahatchee will enjoy. Rialto rooftop (5719 Parc), Sept. 28, 6:30 p.m., sold out


A team-up of two Anishinaabe singer-songwriters with praise and recognition in their own right (Status/Non-Status and Zoon), OMBIIGIZI will be playing POP while they continue working on the follow-up to their Polaris-shortlisted debut album Sewn Back Together. Turning heavy topics into breezy, inviting indie rock tunes, they’ll certainly be a treat in an environment as small as la Sotterenea. With Pony Girl, blackwinterwells, Magella at la Sotterenea (4848 St-Laurent), Sept. 28, 8:30 p.m., $15/$20

Men I Trust

Men I Trust, playing POP Montreal 2023

These local-kids-done-good have gone from playing small showcases at Divan Orange years ago all the way to MTELUS, which is where they’ll be teaming up with veteran new-wavey auteur Twin Shadow. With newer material adding a more post-punk edge to their typically feathery dream-pop, their show at POP will come before they slow things down in the new year to focus on completing the follow-up to 2021’s Untourable Album. With Twin Shadow at MTELUS (59 Ste-Catherine E.), Sept. 28, 8:30 p.m., $43–$59.50

La Sécurité

A local five-piece — and Queb indie supergroup including Laurence-Anne and members of Choses Sauvages — whom POP are hyping up as “Montreal’s hottest new band” have certainly made a strong case for that title as of late. They’re ferocious, they’re kicking ass and taking names, and they’ve got the tunes to show for it, as evidenced on their June debut, Stay Safe!. With Pypy, Barber for the Queen, Love Language, Worry, Thunder Queens and Doctor Mother Father at l’Entrepôt77 (77 Bernard), Sept. 30, 3 p.m., $15/$20


This L.A. songstress specializes in ethereal, mesmerizing soundscapes while making sure her rich, decadent voice remains the standout element of the entire recipe — in other words, exactly the kind of mood you want at a venue like the Rialto. Fresh off the April release of her six-track EP Revival, Annahstasia is the kind of artist whose singing and performance style is bound to stop you in your tracks. POP-goers may also recognize her from when she performed on COLORS last year. With M.I.BLUE at Rialto Hall (5719 Parc), Sept. 29, 10 p.m., $20/$25


Gayance, playing POP Montreal 2023

Fresh off securing a Polaris shortlist nod for her stellar debut album Mascarade, the Amsterdam-based Aïsha Vertus returns home for what’s sure to be a vibrant and stirring performance at l’Entrepôt77. Gayance also makes a whole lot of sense for a show where she’ll likely be on as the sun is setting, as that environment perfectly encapsulates her eclectic, nocturnal, Latin-fuelled jazz-house sound.

With El Mega S.P.R.M. and Balaklava Blues, l’Entrepôt77 (77 Bernard), Oct. 1, 4 p.m., $15/$20

Bonnie “Prince” Billy

Will Oldham is a true blue indie music veteran, and someone whose enrapturing, enigmatic body of work should fit an environment like the Rialto Theatre seamlessly. The Kentucky folk/alt-country troubadour just released his 24th album (and first in four years), Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You, and his tunes sound as poignant and mesmeric as they ever have. With Beyries, Rialto Theatre (5723 Parc), Oct. 1, 8 p.m., $40/$55 Golden Circle

Tangerine Dream

POP Montreal is known for booking legendary musical elder statesmen — Mavis Staples, Giorgio Moroder and the late Ronnie Spector all come to mind. This year, legendary German electronic group Tangerine Dream takes up one of the biggest legacy slots at the festival, carrying on without founding member Edgar Froese after his 2015 passing. With a discography boasting over 100 albums, there’ll be no shortage of musical offerings, nor of atmosphere or pure entrancement for those watching. Oct. 1, l’Olympia (1004 Ste-Catherine E.), 8 p.m., $56

For more on POP Montreal, please visit their website.

This article was originally published in the Sept. 2023 issue of Cult MTL.

For our latest in music, please visit the Music section.