Sam Goes to Pop Montreal, Day 1


Pop Montreal is the stylistic cousin to CMJ. A lot of bands play and it’s overwhelming even though everything is really close together. The difference is that there are fewer shows and many of them happen at the exact same time so you end up missing a lot and hoping you made the right choices. On my first night I arrived late to the Fool’s Gold showcase, so I didn’t really have to make any choices—I was going to that.



Maybe it’s because of the lower drinking age, but young people in Canada actually like dancing and showing enthusiasm, so the Fools Gold show was full of young enthusiastic dancing people and felt like a music video. Kavinsky really is a rock star at this point, when he drops one of his songs he raises his arms up like he’s Batman with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth. After the Fool’s Gold showcase, I ate Poutine in the proximity of a lot of Canadian rappers I didn’t know. Poutine is interesting because it is the worst food for your body ever without question. It’s French fries in gravy and humongous globs of cheese curds. It sounds and looks terrible but is pretty great to eat maybe once every 4 months or so. Cheese curds don’t really have much of a taste.


Across the street from my hotel was the registration center for the festival, it was in an antique house with beautiful hardwood floors. It had been turned into a music journalist frat house for the weekend. There was an Xbox room featuring Xboxes, a foosball room featuring foosball and a Bun B room featuring Bun B sitting at a table. Journalists drank Redbull and milled around and it felt like an alternate universe so I left for the Ukranian Federation to see Yeasayer. Everyone at the show was sitting down in chairs which was weird, but since it was a rock show at the Ukranian Federation I guess I should have expected something out of the ordinary. The band was calmer than I’ve seen them before but no less together—their music is still unclassifiable, it sounds like a lot of different things but never things that would normally go well together, like the Gypsy Kings mixed with Timbaland. Actually, that sounds great.





Dr Dog played in a dirty club with lots of blue lights, it wasn’t like Dr Dog jam band dirty, it was more like 19-year-old kids getting drunk and groping each other while big room house is playing dirty. It’s funny, I’ve loved Dr Dog for awhile, but not once did it really occur to me that they were basically a jam band until a kid standing in front of me that smelled like stale chocolate bars started doing the wavy-arm jam band dance in a t-shirt that read: “Our Promise: YOU’LL GET MORE FUCKING FUCKED THAN YOU’VE EVER FUCKING BEEN FUCKED BEFORE.” I took a picture of it and then drank more beers. It was nice to know that I was bonding with smelly people who really like jam bands.





Apparently Bun B was staying at the same hotel as me because I saw him get into a cab and head to the venue. Does that mean Bun B is not balling very hard? Maybe he’s just careful with his money. Either way, at this point, Bun is a veteran so he can do an entire show consisting of snippets of great songs he rapped on and have people go nuts every time. It almost turned into a pattern: Bun B dropped his verse from “Big Pimpin” and we all went crazy, by the time we were done flipping out, he was onto “Int’l Playas Anthem” and we were spilling beer on the carpeted floor and coughing because the smoke machine broke and was spraying the thickest smoke ever for five minutes straight. After coughing a lot I ate Canadian Doritos while looking at my granite ceiling until I fell asleep.
-SAM HOCKLEY-SMITH


Check in tomorrow for the further adventures of Sam in Montreal.

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Sam Goes to Pop Montreal, Day 1