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Music

Pop Montreal Grows A Real Moustache On Its Hip

Posted by Jer / September 26, 2011

Pop ThanksLocal dude-about-town Russ Cooper was one of the many folks out soaking up as much of the tenth anniversary of Pop Montreal as possible over the past week. He was, however, one of the few to kindly take time out of his day to send us some thoughts on the festival and how it's matured over the years (just like he did for Oysterfest a few weekends ago, but this time with less food porn and more talk of facial hair).

Shall we talk hipsters? I'll say it: The term is hackneyed. It's a cheap, diluted label. And thankfully, right now, it may be on the wane to some degree. I think Pop Montreal has something to do with this.

"Hipsterism fetishizes the authentic," Christian Lorentzen of Time Out New York wrote in 2007. Pop Montreal - almost by virtue of its name - could be simultaneously seen as a proprietor and the antithesis of such a statement.

But that was New York. This is Montreal. However much we ride those cotton coattails, we have our own wooly jackets to get us around.

The Pop Montreal organization and annual festival have done much to create the aura of the Montreal hipster that has rung out well beyond the icy confines of our dear island for a decade now. The festival has long arrived, but this year it really got comfortable. We witnessed it progress beyond being a fitful acute carnival for the privileged young. We watched it grow an adult moustache we could all admire; not because of its ambitious bristly girth, but because it was now natural.

I could give you a rundown of all the bands I saw, but I won't. You were probably there and you'd probably disagree with my opinions. (Bellybuttons and arseholes, man.) I could give a lamented swirl of all the bands I didn't see; after all, one of Pop's plights is that its seemingly unending smorgasbord of music makes it impossible to sample every dish.

As the tens of thousands who took a bite this September dig ourselves out of the five-day binge and settle into our hangovers, I sense everyone kept at least one memory. One day, we might collectively recall that big Arcade Fire show at Quartier des spectacles, how we connected with hometown superstars at the shimmering height of their young lives. We might tell our kids that for five days, the Main was our street, that it was just a matter of steps before we took a left and saw some amazing band that changed forever the way we heard music. That's kind of cool.

And 'cool' is the operative word here, isn't it? It's that ever-receding carrot that keeps many on the hunt. It is the modus operandi of the hip. Pop Montreal has never been strictly for hipsters, but it has been of hipsters since its inception. Any festival teeming with that breadth of music and culture will inevitably become such, if it wasn't already. And that's awesome! Keep pushing that carrot back. Whatever the motivation of its clientele, Pop is cool. Face it. It's wonderous to have that shit right out my front door. Everywhere I looked, there was that little pigeon logo furtively giving me the one eye ignore. A better fitting logo, I can't think of.

It has now surpassed its own watermark. Pop is less about sweeping synths that whisk us off to magical places or 4am beers or record fairs and greasy hairs or glittery wristbands or tight pants. (Though, if you wear glasses to look and not to see, maybe take them off? Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then.) There was an undertone of camaraderie this year I hadn't experienced any year previous -- one that told us it was about digging where and how we live, and that's enough.

For me, there was truth to it. And if there is magic music that continues to melt my mind, who cares? Kid Koala wears white socks with runner-hikers and shorts, and he's permanently cooler than all of us. Talk about authentic, huh?

Discussion

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