Pop Montreal 2022 has arrived in full force. The annual fest kicked off on Wednesday and continued Thursday with a host of stellar shows played at venues across the city. The festival aims to fill the city with art and promote independent artists along the way. More than 20 venues will host concerts over the course of the long weekend, as well as art shows, film screenings, lectures, and more.
At the Jardins Gamelin on Thursday, Thanya Iyer started the day with a free lunchtime show. The singer and multi-instrumentalist played two sets, the second of which featured a string trio. The band filled the park with their ethereal R&B that sometimes bordered on avant-garde jazz. Later in the night Thanya Iyer played Le Ministère with Still Kicking and Bibi Club.
Many, many more artists played shows throughout the day (including Loving, Burry, knitting, DenMother, TootArd, Medicine Singers, Partner, shn shn, Ata Kak, and more) but the highlight of my day came in seeing The Linda Lindas play the Rialto Theatre with support from Toronto punks MBG and Montreal pop-punk princess Sophia Bel.
MBG opened the night with a surge of energy, filling the palatial space with distorted guitars and slamming drums. Lead singer Lena encouraged the audience to mosh, as did the band's many tempo-shifting breakdowns, but the all-ages crowd did not quite form a pit. Sophia Bel followed, bringing Y2K fashion and sound to the stage with a modern twist. Her lyrics reminded me of early Taylor Swift in moments, with a fresh pop-punk bent that occasionally drifted into shoegaze and ska. Sophia played an ambitiously punked-out cover of Neil Young classic "Harvest Moon," and closed her set with "You're Not Real You're Just A Ghost."
And then the Linda Lindas. The LA teen quartet played a fantastic set of their straight-ahead punk, including standouts "Oh!," "Rebel Girl," "Growing Up," "Cuàntas Veces," and covers of the Go Go's "Tonite" and the Blue Hearts' "Linda Linda," their namesake. They bantered through a handful of technical issues, which their crew were quick to fix. Guitarist Lucia thanked the crowd for coming out on a school night, while fellow guitarist Bela talked about her cats (the inspiration for songs "Monica" and "Nino") and later introduced the band in French. I've never seen a show that appealed to so many generations at once -- from toddlers with giant noise-absorbing headphones to middle-schoolers in denim and leather to adults of all ages. The show was pure fun.
Check out some iPhone photos from the day below, and stay tuned for recaps of the coming days at Pop Montreal.