For the next two and a half weeks, Consequence of Sounds Sasha Geffen will be exploring Montreal and its music scene, attending the mammoth three-day music festival Osheaga (featuring The Cure, Beck, New Order, Vampire Weekend and many more), and taking in the local culture. Follow her adventures here, or through the hashtag #MTLMoments on Instagram and Twitter, and visit Tourisme Montreals website to learn more about the city.
I keep seeing the same graffiti around the city. Artists follow us from neighborhood to neighborhood, inserting characters into my visions of Montreal. One bird in particular keeps popping up, spouting commands, expletives, and questions inside his speech bubble. I’m watching his story while he’s watching mine.
Unlike some U.S. cities that keep a tight grip on their aesthetics, Montreal seems to maintain a looser gradient between city-sanctioned art and vandalism. Certain murals are almost definitely intentional, sponsored by a government trying to keep a visible culture. Others look more happenstancemaybe the illegal work of an artist who didn’t expect much resistance in her transformation of a public blank. Some works of art reinforce the activity around them. Above a tombstone vendor, someone has painted workers carving an anthropomorphic granite slab.
I’m grateful for the people I’ve met so far in Montreal, and I’m curious about those whose presence I feel in the city. I’m curious about the people who talk with spray paint. I’m curious about whoever’s selling rare Joy Division single collections to Beatnick Records in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal. I’m trying to keep an eye out for the subliminal.
We’ve been to five record stores so far and each has a tangible personality. Cheap Thrills stocks used books in a room adjacent to its hefty metal and electronica collection; Atom Heart is an airy boutique with hand-picked experimental offerings. Beatnick feels the most like a library, with ’50s pop, ’60s pop, prog, industrial, hip-hop, and reggae all occupying their own carefully alphabetized corners. Expensive collectibles mix with standard issue vinyl in the rock/alternative section. The insides of these stores feel as curated as the canvases that make up their outer walls.
On Tuesday, we go to see a selection of horror shorts at Fantasia, the international film festival happening concurrently with Just For Laughs. Only the last selection was made by Canadians, but strong thematic currents run through through the roster. These are genre works that take their humor and their subtext as seriously as their scares. My favorite, Vienna Waits For You, is a whimsical take on the fear of aging and dying alone, although C#ckfight (in which a bunch of drunks gather in a basement to watch two men have sex like it’s a boxing match) ranks a close second.
Mostly, it just feels good to be crowded into a beautiful old theater with everyone else who’s primed to geek out about experimental filmmaking for two hours. We take in the same stories, the same labors of love. We laugh and cringe at the same time without speaking.
Previously on #MTLMoments: Sasha speaks with founder Daniel Seligman about Montreals healthy creative energy.