My hometown is all abuzz with excitement for the upcoming Pop Montreal music festival, and I’m happy to say that with a lineup of some of the most impressive female performers around, it gets the Venus seal of approval. Full schedule is available on the website, but I’m giving some of my top recommendations here - check the website for times and locations. One cool thing is that if you can’t afford the often-steep ticket prices for some of the bigger names, you can see many of the artists speaking on panels, keynotes, and symposia for free, and if you bring a tiny mp3 player with you and squint it’s like getting a backstage pass to their show.
The Heavy Hitters
Diamanda Galas: HIV/AIDS activist and OG (original goth) with a 3.5-octave range, not only is she performing but she’s giving a keynote address on the relationship between art and epidemics.
Buffy Ste. Marie: Whether she’s breaking your heart with her voice or breastfeeding her baby on Sesame Street, the iconic singer/songwriter is not to be missed.
Teenage Jesus and the Jerks: Despite claiming to hate most punk rock, Lydia Lunch is about the punkest lady ever. It seems unbelievable that her 1970s band is coming together again to play a show with Montreal art punks AIDS Wolf and Duchess Says, but I guess fairy godmothers really do exist.
Fever Ray: The female half of Swedish band The Knife (remember that song that you danced to for all of Summer 2007?) is known for the visual feastiness of her live shows, as if her haunting songs aren’t enough on their own. Check out the video for When I Grow Up from her self-titled 2009 album.
Under The Radar (but not for long)
P-Star: A thirteen-year-old rapper from Brooklyn, she’s been called a “gangsta Hannah Montana.” She’s also the star of P-Star Rising, a doc that will be screened at the festival.
Nive Nielsen: All the way from Greenland, the singer/songwriter is teaming up with Montreal musicians (including Gambletron) to form an impromptu InstaBand.
tUnE-YaRdS: Merrill Garbus never fails to please, please, more please.
Egyptian Light Orchestra: Sam Shalabi’s 20ish-piece psychedelic jazz ensemble isn’t exactly a clam bake, but there’s enough of a strong female presence in it to warrant a place on this list. I’m thinking especially of Molly Sweeney, the singer/songwriter who’s written and arranged some of the songs as well as performing. Their live shows are said to reduce strong men to tears and cause jaded hipsters to dance around like this guy.
Art by Ladies of the Casa: When your ears get overloaded, you will want to check out this art show by the female staff of the Casa del Popolo, the cafe and venue that has brought many a band to Montreal and is more or less the heart of the local music scene. They’ve been serving you drinks and making you sandwiches all year; now come see what they’ve been doing the rest of the time.
I’m exhausted just writing this. Keep it poppin y’all.