Suoni per il Popolo 2024 festival montreal laura krieg erika angell backxwash

Photos by Daniel Takacs, Tim Georgeson, Chachi Revah

Highlights of the 2024 edition of Suoni per il Popolo, Montreal’s experimental music festival

Laura Krieg, Erika Angell and Backxwash are among the many acts showcasing their musical weirdness at Suoni between June 12 and 23.

It’s no secret that you moved here — or choose to keep living here — because of the vast amount of shows that happen in Montreal every week. But maybe you’re craving more curation, a showcase if you will, or maybe you just like being told what to do. And boy howdy do we music journalists love telling people what to do. Worry not, dear live music fans, for we are nearing the perennial eclectic music festival that owns most of Montreal’s nightlife in June. I’m speaking, of course, about Suoni per il Popolo, the only music festival where you will witness scenes like an experimental paint night with a backdrop of dark avant-garde jazz shows played with a printer, synths and live strings. 

Suoni is a bit smaller this year, running from June 12 to 23 instead of the whole month, but based on some of the artists’ names alone — like How to Survive a Highrise Hotel Fire — there will be some musical weirdness for you to chew on like it’s an everlasting sour key-candy. So here are some of my top picks for Suoni. I know you won’t be able to check out all of them unless you clone yourself, but hey, with the world the way it is, maybe anything’s possible?

Suoni per il Popolo 2024, week 1

If you’ve paid attention to the post-rock/experimental scene in Montreal over the last 10 years, or followed any of my writing — doubt it, but a man can dream — you’ll know why I’m a stan for Yoo Doo Right. The krautrock-laced, high-decibel monolithic soundscapes by this three-piece always crush it, and a little birdy told me we might hear about a third album soon, so this show could feature one or two new tunes. The opening acts are Shunk, a newer post-punk group that feels like Blondie on methadone, and Aspirateur, who had better incorporate a vacuum cleaner into the mix. (At la Sotterenea, 4848 St-Laurent, basement, Wednesday, June 12, doors 8 p.m., show 9 p.m., $20/$25.)

Next up is No Hay Banda, who put on regular experimental noise/classical shows, presenting a 65-minute piece entitled “Three Unisons for Four Voices” with Sarah Davachi, an electroacoustic composer. The piece will feature violin, cello, bass clarinet, trombone, ondes Martenot (the theremin’s ugly cousin), and percussion. Opening that show will be Nadah El Shazly, a sound artist/vocalist who incorporates Egyptian soundscapes with electronics. The latest album, Pollution Opera, gave me night terrors. (At la Sala Rossa, 4848 St-Laurent, upstairs, Thursday, June 13, doors 8 p.m., show 8:30 p.m., $20.)

Rounding out the week will be the frenetic Montreal punk legends Priors, probably presenting lots of the newest album Daffodil, while serving a high-octane show caked in sweat on a dirty chipped platter. Lead vocalist Chance Hutchison always gives it his all, looking like he’s in a fight with some unruly ghosts. Get ready for the mosh. But starting that night off is Johny Couteau, a darkened art punk who usually plays with darkwave brutalist pop artist Laura Krieg (but more on her later), and then Born At Midnite, who has never played a live show. Instead, they’ve released weirdo dance-pop tracks every few years and remixed other bands’ work, like la Sécurité’s “Anyway.” So basically, go to this show if you want to move. (At la Sala Rossa, 4848 St-Laurent, upstairs, on Friday, June 15)

Suoni per il Popolo 2024, week 2

Kicking off the last extra exploratory week of Suoni is Erika Angell, and her new project The Obsession With Her Voice. One-half of Thus Owls, Angell has a new minimalist electro album that focuses on the whispers and cadence of her voice. Seeing it live will most likely become your new obsession. I’ll call Ishi Tishi experimental noise surf pop, based on checking out their only track on Soundcloud “Natures Pill Bottle,” but they have a whole new show called “An Evening With The Animals” which promises three-part harmonies and a profound, ridiculous experience.  

Next up is Mustafa Rafiq, an Albertan soundscape artist who uses the saxophone, hollow-body guitar, percussion, and his voice to create an ambient jazz/Indian classical performance. I’ve personally seen Rafiq play in different trios and quintets a few times and always had my mind blown. 

Continuing, if you don’t at least know the name BACKXWASH, you might be living underground. The Montreal horror-core hip-hop artist has been taking names ever since their spirited Lightning-in-a-bottle release, God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It. They just released a new single “WAKE UP,” which is a pure angered and frustrated banger.      

Magella is opening that show and her performance will be a lighter, more warming affair of bluesy art pop, and soul, but still stemming from anger. It’s good stuff, trust me. 

We also have the motorik cold wave tracks of Laura Krieg, who always puts on a brilliant show, rocking a synth and flying V guitar. Her music feels like the kind you’d hear in a crepuscular German nightclub. I know she’s working on the follow-up to Vie magique, so maybe we will hear some new songs? 

Ending this Suoni must-see list is, yup, you guessed it How To Survive A Highrise Hotel Fire, which is competing with the best band name I’ve heard in awhile—next to another Suoni band from last year’s fest, The New York Review of Cocksucking. How To Survive… is a duo featuring bass and oboe, and sometimes a drummer, improvising in a free jazz noisescape that will make you question everything. You win again, Suoni. ■

Highlights of the 2024 edition of Suoni per il Popolo, Montreal’s experimental music festival

For tickets and more on Suoni per il Popolo 2024, please visit the festival’s website.

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