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A (Pop)Montreal Travelogue – Part 2

Posted by Jer / October 13, 2007


This is the second post in a series contributed by Ben Kim, a visitor to this year’s Pop Montreal Festival from Austin, Texas. We join him on a Friday night already in progress. The views expressed here are solely those of the author, and of course, anyone else who agrees with said author.

Things got weird again when I went for a taxi at Fairmount and Parc. As I was getting in, the car was suddenly rushed by a group of shouting people. One of them put his face right up to my window and wailed “Are you CRAZY?” I quickly gathered that they thought I’d stolen “their” taxi from them, which was ridiculous, since they were coming from the other side of the street. I thought to myself, What the fuck is wrong with people here?

My goal was to reach Hemisphere Gauche in time for Montreal’s own Creature. (It was between them and Chocolat. And if everything ran on time, over to L’Escogriffe for Hot Springs at 1.) They were running behind, which was actually good, because I saw the last third of (Patrick) Krief (pictured right). Now I don’t know anything about the Dears or what he sounds like with them. I didn’t know what to expect, but good lord was he heavy. My hair grew an inch in a half hour – that kind of heavy. Heavier than Black Mountain the next night – yeah, you read it right. Lots of bands sport sideburns, but few live up to them like Krief. (The album is quite mellow, go figure.)

20071013creature.jpgCreature (pictured right) was an absolute riot. The foxiest and most energetic band I’d seen here. Prince meets the B-52s with rapping. Fun, and funny. They did an America-baiting song so good that – how can I put this diplomatically? – I wanted to defect and seek political asylum in CowBella’s pants.

Yet my night was not over. Outside who should I meet but the other members of the Unbearables. The only fan and the only band who came up from Austin were destined to hang out. (Turns out they also flew into Manchester and drove up. I told them how when my bus passed through downtown Manchester I saw Barack Obama and John Edwards staggering out of the Hilton with two lobbyists for trangendered sex workers. That joke is for our American readers, if there are any.) We ended up downtown at some after party, filling up on free beer and cold pad thai.

20071013oakley.jpgSaturday I was hurting bad. My night started at eight with Wood Pigeon (Calgary) at the Ukrainian. They were pretty good, if not “the prairie’s answer to Arcade Fire.” Due to some schedule problems, I decided to play it conservatively and finish out the night at the National. I got there in time for Oakley Hall (pictured right), who are not only American but who I’ve seen twice before, which doubly contradicted my overall festival strategy. I’m not sorry, because they were reliably great. I enjoyed their set so much that Sunset Rubdown (Montreal) and Black Mountain (Vancouver) – who, granted, each do different things – suffered a little by comparison.

Now here’s more weirdness. At the little lobby bar I thought I recognized some people standing right next to me. I struck up a conversation with one, eased into their circle. And then I said: I got that taxi fair and square last night.

It was the people who had swarmed my taxi! Their jaws dropped open. Then they began apologizing profusely for what they’d done. We all laughed and laughed, and they pledged to buy my drinks the rest of the night. They all turned out to be cool. They were up from New York playing in a band called Spider. So rest easy, habitants, that taxi-swarming hooliganism was 100 percent imported American aggro, New York style.

The New York taxi-swarmers and I staggered over to Club Lambi but it was all over.

stay tuned for the end of Ben's festival antics and some of his concluding thoughts on the festival.



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