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POP Montreal 2020
Photograph: Coralie Daigneault

Rooftop shows, parades, and more: What to check out during POP Montreal's 20th festival this week

2021 marks POP Montreal's 20th anniversary, a hybrid festival of in-person and virtual performances from across the city.

JP Karwacki
Written by
JP Karwacki

Rooftop sessions from atop the Rialto Theatre, secret shows in the Mile End, online performances, art exhibitions, a huge arts and crafts fair with 120 vendors, parades, and beyond: The 2021 edition of POP Montreal may be smaller than the organizers may have dreamed for their festival's 20th anniversary, but it's no less ambitious.

Running from September 22 to September 26, this year's line-up celebrates 20 years of music and more with artists who have performed at POP Montreal editions over the years. Here's some major events that you need to check out:


Tickets are selling out for some of the festival's biggest and most 'household' names, but many more are available and generally cost less than $10 for smaller shows or just under $20 for a big show.

For the opening night, the artists Smokes, Eve Parker Finley, and Orchidae will all be playing a show at the L’Entrepôt77 venue in the Mile End in the afternoon. Throughout the rest of the week, highlights include Polaris Prize winners and longlisters like Backxwash and Laura Niquay (respectively); homegrown acts like The Dears and SUUNS; the debut performance by the newest Montreal super group ALL HANDS/ MAKE LIGHT formed by Efrim Manuel Menuck from GodspeedYou! Black Emperor and Ariel Engle from La Force; and Montreal’s "latest dream pop starlette" Vanille—but there are tons more than that.

The full calendar of events is here.

This year is a hybrid festival, but when it comes to in-person concerts, the vaccine passport rules are in effect and tickets need to be purchased in advance; there will be no tickets available at the doors of venues. Don't forget that if you didn't get tickets, you can watch the shows online!

Arts and crafts galore

This upcoming weekend will see the second weekend of Puces POP, a massive indie market for arts and crafts sale with 120 artisans. For two weekends—September 17 to 19 and September 24 to 26—dozens and dozens of artisans dealing in clothing, bodycare, food, jewelry, ceramics, art and accessories will be setting up shop every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from the early afternoon to evening. Everything comes from vendors based in Montreal & Quebec.

Get all the info for it here.

Parades and puppets for the kids

This year's Kids POP event—co-presented by La Petite Drawn & Quarterly, Mile End's Drawn & Quarterly bookshop's children's literature counterpart—will see a puppet-building workshop at St. Viateur Park followed by a parade with a mini marching band down Bernard to the Rialto for a kid's concert featuring Clerel, Geneviève Toupin, and friends. 

There's also a contest where kids can submit a picture of their puppet for a chance to win a real-life toy version by the Montreal toy shop Raplapla. The park event is free and the concert costs $5, with all proceeds going to Big Brothers Big Sisters Montreal.

More info on that here.

Documentary films on music

Film POP is returning to Cinéma Moderne for a big-screen showcase of the year’s best in music cinema, as well as to L’Entrepôt77 for a ciné-concert.

Highlights from Film POP's announcement include David Wexler’s Disintegration Loops documentary about William Basinski’s album series on the 9/11 attacks, Bobbi Jo Hart’s Fanny: The Right To Rock on the first all-female rock bands to see critical and commercial success, Les Blank’s I Went to the Dance film on South Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole/Zydeco music scene, and Jeremy Ungar & Ivaylo Getov’s Soy Cubana about a Cuban acapella group Vocal Vidas’ historic trip to perform in Los Angeles.

Art exhibitions, live performances, sound installations

This year there are four main events:

The group show Cover Story will be mounted at Studio Rialto, the former dance studio turned temporary exhibition space inside the Rialto Theatre. "The exhibition will position the artist as an interrogative and investigative body that seeks to uncover lies, debunk cultural myths, and expose half truths," the announcement reads.

Then there's the audiovisual performance by artists Peter Hernández, Suzanne Kite and John-Elio Reitman on the theatre's rooftop as well.

Outside the Rialto, there will be a roving, site-specific series of 'radio interventions' curated by artists Emmanuel Madan and Martín Rodríguez called Calling Planet Earth! Ligne d’alerte!, as well as a piece titled SEEKING, a public series of posters by artist Florence Yee which are plays on advertisements.

The 2021 edition and 20th anniversary of POP Montreal is happening this week from September 22 to September 26; the full calendar of events can be found here.

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