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Must-see shows at the Francos de Montréal music festival 2024

The festival runs from June 14 to 22.

It’s June and that means it’s time for the Francos de Montréal festival, an insane celebration of the music the fair province of Quebec has to offer. Francos takes over the Place des Festivals space in mid-June, and in the same way that the Quebec music scene is its own interesting, mystifying entity, it can be tough to decide what to check out during Francos. You could just wander aimlessly without a clue, and you’d still have a good time. But for those who like a bit of structure, worry not, we’ve got a quick rundown for you. And most of these shows are free, so that’s a bonus. 

Philippe Brach

First, we’ve got the weirdo orchestral chamber pop of Philippe Brach, born Philippe Bouchard. Philippe has been making music since 2012 and has won many awards for his catchy brand of off-kilter pop-rock. His latest album Les gens qu’on aime sometimes feels like staring at a surrealist painting and was a favourite of 2023 and began to launch him slowly but surely through the French-music ceiling. (At the Bell Stage on Wednesday, June 19, free)


Once called the Québécois Radiohead, Karkwa has been around Montreal since the late ‘90s and kind of went into hibernation around 2012, only to remerge with their OK Computer-esque opus Dans la seconde. It might not do Karkwa justice to compare the spirited indie five-piece to Radiohead, but once you see them live, you’ll understand that compliment. (At the Bell Stage on Thursday, June 20, free)

Pierre Kwenders

If you’ve been living in Quebec for the last 10 years and haven’t heard the name Pierre Kwenders … I don’t know … you’ve been living in some kind of cave. Kwenders’ one-of-a-kind mix of Congolese, French and English under the umbrella of electro and hip hop is a marvel to witness. And this guy’s dance moves are out of this world. Trust me, go to this show and be converted with songs from Jose Louis and The Paradox of Love, which took home the Polaris Prize back in 2022. (At the Loto-Québec stage on Saturday, June 15, free)

Must-see shows at the Francos de Montréal music festival 2024

Population II

You know that strange arcane energy that a band gets when it seems like their shows are getting bigger and bigger and their reach stretches beyond the borders, almost becoming an anomaly and hero story? Population II, the frenzied progressive rock n’ roll three piece, is in the middle of that right now. With their 2023 album Electrons libres du québec, and their recent follow-up EP Serpent Echelle, Population II has been growing their influence and is set to explode. The same thing happened in the late ‘70s with Rush, so check them out before they start selling out stadiums and it becomes harder and harder to witness their psychedelic escapades live. (At the Spotify stage on Saturday, June 15, free)

Le Roy, La Rose, Le Lou[p]

It’s gotta be said that Quebec loves its supergroups, and le Roy, la Rose et le Lou[p] is one of the latest to grace the airwaves. A dynamic three-piece made up of Ariane Roy, Lou-Adriane Cassidy and Thierry Larose, this all-star cast just released a jazzy chamber pop album, mixed with some red-eyed soul and blues, and damn is it good. Move over, Boygenius. (At MTELUS, 59 Ste-Catherine E., Saturday, June 15, $40)

Les Breastfeeders

If you’re a true head in the Quebec punk scene, les Breastfeeders (who might take the cake for one of the weirder names in rock) is a name you should have heard before. They’re kind of like the Zombies, mixed with some U.K. garage and European new wave. The comeback single (though les Breastfeeders always come back) “Les pieds chez toi” sounds like it could be the backdrop to a French Tarantino gangster film. If you like the sounds of that, head to Foufs next Saturday. (At Foufounes Électriques, 87 Ste-Catherine W., Saturday, June 22, $40)

Gab Bouchard 

If you haven’t clued in, I’m not a Montreal native but because of my job, I’ve been able to experience the French music scenes through a Montrealer’s lens. That little tidbit of information brings me to Gab Bouchard. I’ve been hearing his music since moving to Montreal quite frequently in clubs, bars, deps and the grocery store and had no idea who he was. Until one day, in a drunken stupor, I asked a friend who made that really catchy almost proto-disco rock song with the amazing harmonies that I was hearing everywhere. Within a few seconds, he said the name Gab Bouchard. That song is “Depotoir” from the album Grafignes. So do yourself a favour and go to that show — maybe you’ll have a similar experience. (Loto-Québec stage, Saturday, June 22, free)

For more on Francos de Montréal 2024, please visit the festival’s website.

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