You will soon find that even Montreal natives can be affected by their secluded island lifestyle. Thankfully, long-time inhabitants have discovered a myriad of ways to expend energy and avert cabin fever (not to mention boredom, the silent killer). One method popular among youths is to attend large musical gatherings. Sneaking yourself into these other-worldly jamborees may at first seem a daunting task. Island-dwellers covering themselves in skin-tight pants and other dirty, colourful apparel will indicate the way. If you maintain safe distance, they will eventually lead you to musical performances – “shows” or “gigs” in the local vernacular. Bear in mind that while different music genres have their own rituals and strict unwritten codes, most locals will be open and welcoming. Below are some of Montreal’s most frequented concert halls.
Those looking to appreciate some of the world’s most famous troubadours and revel in the energy of the hordes should look for four of the city’s larger venues: Métropolis (59 Ste. Catherine E.), Club Soda (59 Ste. Catherine E.), Le National (1220 Ste. Catherine E.), and La Tulipe (4530 Papineau). Less conventional “independent” bards often perform at smaller-scale locations along Montreal’s main artery, the cryptically-named Main. Locations include the Green Room (5386 St. Laurent), Sala Rossa (4848 St. Laurent), Casa del Popollo (4873 St. Laurent), and Club Lambi (4465 St. Laurent). The diminutive and mostly francophone Divan Orange (4234 St. Laurent) is also a well-known spot.
If you’re looking into something more specialized, there are plenty of niche-oriented locales around. Upstairs (1254 Mackay) and Dièse Onze (4115A St. Denis) dependably feature jazz performances, while at the other end of the spectrum, L’Escogriffe (4467 St. Denis) and the second-floor dungeon Zoobizarre (6388 St. Hubert) pander to Montreal’s punks. Islanders are also known to flock to free Sunday bluegrass shows at Barfly (4062 St. Laurent), as well as the little-known but legendary hillbilly night at Wheel Club (3373 Cavendish).
The aspiring insider, however, would best head to some of the city’s intimate loft spaces, where young locals not only live, but often create art and perform music. Friendship Cove (215 Murray) is a fixture in the south of Montreal island, while new hotspot lab.synthèse (435 Beaubien O.) occupies more northerly territory.
There’s nothing quite like unintentionally stumbling upon an exciting show, but if you want to find out about performances ahead of time, make sure to scout out The Montreal Mirror (also online at montrealmirror.com/listings/music.html), as well as montrealshows.com, blueskiesturnblack.com and casadelpopollo.com. Now go on and shake that island fever out of your system.