Published Sep 17, 2020Promotional consideration provided by POP Montréal.
POP Montréal is among a small selection of festivals to feature in-person performances this year. As such, organizers have taken extra care to ensure not only attendees' safety, but also their full enjoyment by booking a superb roster of Canadian artists.
And despite a considerable change in format, this year's event should prove to be just as great as ever, especially when you account for the dozens of spectacular acts set to hit stages both real and virtual later this month.
Ten artists in particular fall into the category of the fest's absolute must-sees, including Exclaim! September issue cover star Backxwash, Jeremy Dutcher, Lido Pimienta, Yves Jarvis and more.
The festival is set to take place online and in venues across Montréal from September 23 to 27. Whichever way you're able to attend, there are plenty of incredible acts to choose from.
Here are 10 can't-miss acts at the 2020 edition of POP Montréal:
September 23, Clubhouse Rialto
Kicking off the weekend's musical performances are post-punk/dark art-pop duo La Fièvre. The pair are returning to POP Montréal following their performance on the 2016 bill, and after releasing a handful of truly haunting singles earlier this year. Their highly anticipated follow-up to their debut EP, 2017's Le Rituel, will signal the revival of Canadian dark-wave, following in the footsteps of homegrown 2010s staples like Austra and TR/ST. This show is a great opportunity to catch the francophone group before they pop all the way off.
September 23, Théâtre Rialto
Another artist representing the homegrown section of POP's lineup, Jonathan Personne — otherwise known as Jonathan Robert, the vocalist of Montréal's Sub Pop-signed francophone band Corridor — is set to headline Thursday evening's mainstage festivities, performing cuts from his sophomore solo record Disparitions, which arrived late last month. Robert's '70s vibes should sufficiently christen the festival's opening night, as his studied blend of nostalgic psychedelic rock and straight-up whimsy is reflective of "a lot of time touring away from home" somewhat reluctantly, an activity he (and the rest of us) may be longing for these days.
September 24, Théâtre Rialto
Hanorah — a recent grad of both Exclaim!'s Class of T.O. and Class of 2020 — is the definition of soul. The singer-songwriter has been biding her time in quarantine and the rest and recuperation have served her and her music well. Her sensual, eclectic sound is a healthy mix of Amy Winehouse (evidenced by her performance below), Corinne Bailey Rae and your badass grandma's favourite daytime jazz radio. We're excited to see her powerful voice return to the spotlight in-person at this year's event, kicking off Saturday's main stage festivities at Théâtre Rialto.
September 24, POPMontreal.com Livestream
Toronto psych-rock crew and Emerging Canadian Artists Mother Tongues — composed of members from other local projects such as Luna Li, Maylee Todd and Mimico — released their debut EP Everything You Wanted over the summer and, like Hanorah, were featured in Exclaim!'s Class of T.O. video series, where they performed ripping covers of Broadcast at Toronto's Monarch Tavern. Their live set is something fantastic to behold, and fans of Tame Impala, Tobacco or Ty Segall will surely bask in the band's digital glow as they perform virtually for this year's POP festivities.
September 24, Rialto Rooftop
In the time since his momentous Polaris Music Prize win in 2018, Jeremy Dutcher has fulfilled his promise of leading the "Indigenous Renaissance" in Canada. From his 2020 Aga Khan residency to chipping in on a Wet'suwet'en benefit concert to uniting "The Table of Indigenous Excellence" in his 2019 music video for his Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa single "Mehcinhut," Dutcher has proven himself to be a powerhouse artist beyond compare in the Canadian music landscape. His rooftop performance is sure to be nothing short of transcendent.
September 25, POPMontreal.com Livestream
Montréal's own Bodywash were formed at McGill University back in 2014, and began recording fuzzy dream-pop shortly thereafter, releasing their debut self-titled EP in 2015. Last year, they returned with their full-length follow-up, Comforter, and through it, revealed their penchant for purity, shoegaze instrumentals and compelling live performances. You can expect their virtual POP appearance to be a mid-weekend mellow-out — a palate cleanser of sorts — an experience we so desperately deserve in times like these.
September 25, POPMontreal.com Livestream
Blending R&B, pop, soul and hip-hop, Vancouverite Kimmortal is a self-professed "creative facilitator" whose music aims to appeal to a certain human universality, as well as empower multi-hyphenate identities such as their own. Their live shows offer hardline political takes in tandem with their unmistakable uplifting energy. Catch their early evening Friday livestream show through POP Montréal's website.
September 26, Rialto Rooftop
Poised to be the breakthrough artist of the year, Backxwash's reign over experimental hip-hop has only just begun. Having caught the coveted eye of the Needle Drop's Anthony Fantano earlier this year for her genre-bending 2020 record, God Has Nothing to Do with This Leave Him Out of It, the artist also known as Ashanti Mutinta likely won't continue playing mid-sized venues for much longer. Catch her atop the Rialto before her meteoric rise irreversibly ushers her live sets into larger-scale arenas, and make sure to give her new STIGMATA EP a spin in the meantime.
September 26, Théâtre Rialto
Lido Pimienta fulfilled a clear vision with her return in Miss Colombia following her 2016 Polaris Music Prize-winning LP La Papessa: to maintain her vibrant, colourful sound, and apply it to an imagined future for her home country. Singing mostly in Spanish and showcasing traditional instruments and eccentric costumery where visual elements apply, her latest album has been justly begging to be played in front of a live audience. Lido will finally get her chance on POP's Saturday mainstage. Expect to witness Björk-like flourishes and hear Grimes-esque industrial beats underscoring Lido's unique vocal style and explosive stage banter.
September 27, POPMontreal.com Livestream
Yves Jarvis will be just days fresh from the release of his new record, Sundry Rock Song Stock, in time for his livestreamed POP performance on Sunday. As one of the festival's final acts, Jarvis's bright, yet relaxed sensibilities will be a perfect bookend to a weekend packed with high-key, ripping acts. His groovy essence should soundtrack festivalgoers' return home nicely, with his minimalist guitar compositions lulling attendees back into reality.
Head to POP Montréal's official website for this year's full lineup and ticket purchasing information.