Calling all Queers: Pop Montréal puts a (diamond) ring on it
It’s still one week away, but queers need time to plan for the onslaught of homophile acts converging on the city for Pop Montréal. Featuring shows by Solar Year, Nicky Da B and an opera by Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, and culminating in the Queer Pop! extravaganza Sept 23 (Rae Spoon, Kids on TV), the 5-day festival kicks off Sept 19 with Diamond Rings!
- What he’s made of: Diamond Rings @ Sala Rossa Dec. 6
- Two Boys, One (Flesh) Garden
- Kids on TV’s “Pantheon”: Making queer saints
DIAMOND RINGS @ La Tulipe Wed. Sept 19, 8pm
Like a walking David Bowie homage, John O (aka Diamond Rings) is the beautiful 27 yr-old elfish figure of Toronto’s robust synth-pop scene (Austra, Parallels, Kids on TV). O’Regan collaborated with KoTV on the band’s track “Poison” and kaleidoscopic video for the remix by Siquemu. On the menu for his Tulipe show is likely an up-beat sampling from his forthcoming album Free Dimensional, a follow-up to 2010′s Special Affections, which earned him a deal with Secret City Records (and EMI worldwide), along with a spot opening for Swedish superstar Robyn on the North American wing of her Body Talk tour. Although he’s definitely put the art-school image behind him in embracing worldwide fame, in August he told The Globe and Mail that he’d “rather have kids listen to me and feel like they can write their own songs,” than see tribute videos to Diamond Rings on Youtube. With a voice reminiscent of Bowie (plus a little Lou Reed and Brit-pop headiness thrown in), Diamond Rings is probably one of the most visually queer artists to make it big in Canada since the last wave of Hidden Cameras, Owen Pallett (yeah, he’s done a track with him too) and stand-by collaborator John Caffery of KoTV. John O’s references are supremely glam, making him a welcome splash of glitter in the indie-world palette of denim and black.
SOLAR YEAR @ Red Roof Church (137 President Kennedy) Fri. Sept 21, 8:30pm
We’ve yet to figure out why David Ertel and Ben Borden’s Los Angeles-based anti-pop project is so very dour, but we get a feeling there’s something interesting behind it. Longtime buddies with Grimes (aka Claire Boucher), the half-gay duo collaborated with the nymphette on the track “Brotherhood” featured in their first video – before she became all world-famous and stuff. Known for their basement-psychedelic party performances and DJ sets in Montréal’s (literal) underground (swimming pools, cellars), the Solar Year boys have decamped to LA where they turned their Gregorian-chant inflected track into an atmospheric work of video art with an unexpected construction worker/miner theme. Why not? As with the music, we have no idea what it all means, but we can dig it, so to speak.
YAMANTAKA//SONIC TITAN @ the Rialto (5723 ave du Parc), Fri. Sept 21, 9pm
The dark horse of the Polaris Prize shortlist, this Montréal-Toronto mega-project of mixed-race and Asian-Canadian performance and visual artists is headlined by the brilliant and avowedly avant-garde duo of alaska B and Ruby Attwood. For their Pop show, YT//ST will perform a brand new work entitled Opera 33. 33 “as in RPM and the age of Christ,” alaska B explained to me when we met in July. Performed at exactly 120BPM (beats per minute), the “drag opera” is about two warring drag queens – “one has become disillusioned with life and the other plots to kill her and take over.” The 30-ish-minute piece will be followed by a “regular set,” which for YT//ST usually means spectacular Neverflat paper sets, Noh-drama and Chinese-opera inspired costumes, kabuki/Kiss make-up, and up to 9 other musicians on a stage lit to make the audience feel immersed in an alternate First Nations/Asian musical universe, as if art-rock had originated in a pan-Asian Neverland, instead of in North America or Europe. Radical queer reclaiming and maximalist sound of shudder-inducing originality: Not 2B missed.
Head down the street right after YT//ST for Jef Barbara‘s set at Cabaret du Mile End (5240 ave du Parc), with French lounge-pop music legend Bertrand Burgalat and TOPS, Fri. Sept 21, 10:30pm
QUEER POP! @ Le Cagibi (5490 boul. St-Laurent), Sunday Sept 23, 3pm-3am ($10 no one turned away unless it’s full, which it will be!)
You read that correctly: 3PM to 3AM. Curated by Rae Spoon as a queer music showcase coinciding with Pop, the festival’s omnivorous programming team jumped on this occasion to co-present a whole afternoon and evening featuring most of Montréal’s queer music scene and a dollop of Toronto’s. (Ginger-lovers will want to get there at 3pm sharp for the performance by Space and Time, the new project from Fall Horsie’s Justin Karas.) The all-day event will include near-unknowns Les momies de Palerme, cabaret queen Joseph Gabereau, “punk homo power pop” veterans Facials, and after a long absence from the 514, Kids on TV (10pm). DJs Benni E and Lynne T will finish the night off all sweaty-like in the cosy back-room of the Cagibi café. Eccentric post-folk dandy Rae Spoon is taking the early shift (6pm) right after FAFers J’vlyn + Sam, with up-and-comer DJ Tamika getting on the decks right before KoTV (squeal!). We don’t know how we’ll survive a whole 12 hours crammed in that quipster-comfy back room, but luckily there will a BBQ and plenty of refreshments purveyed by the vegetarian vanguardists at the bar to keep you fed and watered.
And finally, get your ass over to the Église Pop Little Burgundy (5035 St-Dominique) at 11pm for New Orleans Bounce beauty Nicky Da B who will get your P poppin’ with all the kids you’ve been wanting to EXPRESS YOURSELF with all week but were just waiting for the right beat to do it to (w/ the sextastic DJ Skaydakiss!).
No better way to end the indiest, most concert-glutted weekend of the year, right?
“Show Me Your Stuff” w/ John Caffery cameo!