Culture  Preview: Igloofest

Hype and hypothermia

Montreal dies a little bit every winter. Rodents freeze; plants stop inhaling our carbon emissions; our citywide hobby of drinking outdoors becomes a fatal pastime; our genitalia shrivel. Salt encrusts our boots, and the tiny hairs in our nose uncomfortably fuse to one another. Fortunately, we are a city of strong people. Despite our constant complaining about the weather, we’ve invented half-crazy celebrations to brighten the season for those who don’t hibernate or migrate south. If you’re not busy hiding in Iqaluit, Nunavut; Nuuk, Greenland; or Hammerfest, Norway – all of which are warmer than this frozen patch of concrete – then revel in the folly of city founders de Maisonneuve and Jeanne-Mance by heading down to where it all began in the Old Port for Igloofest.

Montreal’s most recent large-scale festival is a stunning display for both the eyes and the ears. Three stages make up the grounds, where ice sculptures and mulled wine can be found at every turn, backed by the thump of ever-present basslines. Don’t let the cold turn you away, even if heated wine isn’t in the budget; the body heat from the crowd is a wonderful thing, and leaves you feeling like you’re (at least) at room temperature without the buckets of sweat that accompany a trip to an indoor venue. Plus, if you’re too cheap for the mulled wine or not clever enough to sneak your own alcohol past the bouncers, you can take drugs (but say “no” to drugs).

Watch out for the early start, as the first acts are on by 6:30 p.m., and the evening wraps up by midnight. While this may shift your pre-drink by an hour (or three), it’s a small price to pay, and who doesn’t have drinks with dinner anyway? Tickets are $20 “at the door,” $18 with an online purchase, and $16 if you go to a listed boutique (such as Off the Hook or Moog Audio).

Igloofest has officially begun and we’ve heard good things about the last weekend. To help the Igloofest-naive navigate the many nights of revelry still ahead, we’ve written a few short blurbs about the most promising nights coming up. The cheesy titles we gave to each evening reflect The Daily’s interpretation of Igloofest’s lineup, and are not endorsed by Igloofest.

January 24 (Thursday) –“Girls in the House”

This year Igloofest has invited serious female DJ talent to an almost-all-girls night on Thursday, January 24. Local producer Alicia Hush will initiate proceedings with a tech-house set at 6:30 p.m., followed by Miss Kittin’s throwback electroclash, and finally, the good old techno of Germany’s Ellen Allien.

If we were comparing the festival’s female DJs, Russia’s Nina Kraviz would certainly come out on top (she would also stack up well against any of Igloo’s male picks). She plays on Friday with the excellent Pan-Pot. For Thursday’s fest, our favourites are still our hometown heroes, Nymra & Sofisticated, who’ve held down Piknik and Salon Daomé for years with their rock-solid house sets.

January 26 (Saturday) – “(We) Beez in da Trap”

In some circles, this is shaping up to be one of the bigger nights at Igloofest, with a hip-hop theme that will likely attract a massive crowd. On at 8 p.m. is Kaytranada, who has been making a name for himself with an array of beats that are fantastic to funk to (funk to, guys). His remix of “If” by Janet Jackson is a particular highlight. After him comes the celebrated duo of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, also known as TNGHT, whose music looks to be a great fit for the open spaces and contagious energy of Igloofest. Trap music, polarizing as it may be, is their calling card, and the combination of minimal melodies with in-your-face bass can only result in what many are so eloquently terming “a massive party”. This is one you don’t want to miss.

February 1 (Friday) – “Acid/Techno/UK garage/insertgenrehere”

How better to avoid hypothermia and satisfy your MDMA-induced dance-lust than a night of UK garage? Going over the classics, we’re forced to ask ourselves, was dubstep ever necessary? Anyway, local garage heads Lexis and Dr. Love will be holding down the “Virgin Mobile Igloo” while a killer trio – Montreal’s Vosper, Berlin’s Ewan Pearson, and Detroit’s Magda – will be spinning various flavours of techno and house on the main stage. This is the mixed-bag night where you’re certain to find something you like, and probably something you’ve never heard before.

February 9 (Saturday) – “Techno über Alles”

Deutschland is coming to the main stage: Tommy Four Seven and Chris Liebing will be rounding off another year of Igloofest with crisply produced minimal and tech-house beats, timed to exactly 134 BPM (just kidding). But we are not kidding about the seriousness of this night: it’s a chance to catch a glimpse of the Berlin club culture without the price of Stereo or a plane ticket.