Pop Montreal: 2022 Edition

It's the time of year again where the city’s heartbeat is a little more uptempo. The streets are plastered with pastel coloured posters with beautiful faces on them. Shops, restaurants and venue doors are left half-open despite the start of the autumn cold. And anyone you may bump into in the mile end area will be either coming from or going to one thing: Pop Montreal and Pop Montreal.

I was lucky enough to cover this year’s roster which featured some of the best names in upcoming artists. There were almost too many concerts to choose from, leaving one having to deductively pluck names from the never-ending lineup. Alongside the artists was the second attraction of the festival: the city. Festival goers would be lucky enough to see Montreal at its most beautiful; in its small venues, theatre rooftops, and makeshift stages. The locations, tossed across like dice, over the city map.

The opening night featured a celestial performance from legendary soul/funk band Cymande who played at L'entrepot 77, the perfect hipster venue in an old lot underneath the overpass on east Bernard. Cymande, a British band who were most prominent in the 1970s, found little mainstream success over the course of their career but were beloved amongst those who were in the know. The documentary Getting it Back, a retelling of their story played at Cinema Moderne just hours before their show, revving up audiences old and new, to see the band’s mythology become reality. 

Another highlight of the festival was Cedric Noel’s rooftop performance at the Rialto Theater on Friday. The ultimate intimate performance; friends gathered together and sat down cross llegged to see the soft spoken indie artist. Between funny little anecdotes about trying (and failing) to call his mother on her birthday and him playing unfinished material, Noel removed all the grandeur of being a performer and made his audience feel at ease. The lull of his echoing guitar and careful voice were a perfect match for the just setting sun. Sitting there on the rooftop, you could watch everything around you slowly turn pink, see the bright singular light of the moon, or watch in almost slow motion as a plane crossed the sky.

Throughout the weekend, I managed to pop into a few other venues, most notably La Sala Rossa for Toronto based electronic artist Shn Shn who performed a flawless, ethereal set. But one of the most memorable moments of the festival was seeing experimental musicians FUJI|||||||||||TA (Yosuke Fujita) and Kali Malone perform at the St. James Cathedral on closing night. 

Concert goers lined up down the street much before the show started, the excitement and the evening cold created a sense of urgency for everyone to quickly head inside. But when one finally scuttled through the venue doors, they would be stopped in their tracks at the sight of the nightime church all lit up in deep red. 

Fujita was first to take to the stage. Based in Japan, Fujita performs with his handmade pipe organ and follows 7th century style landscape building music called “Gagaku.”  His performance was utterly unique; balancing between natural and unnatural, organic and synthetic, life and when his piece was over, suddenly death. 

Kali Malone, a sound artist based in Sweden was up next, this time performing on the cathedral’s organ. The red lights faded out and the church was left in almost total darkness. As Malone started her set, the towering golden organ pipes were suddenly illuminated and at their base sat her small silhouette in between two lanterns. When she hit the first reverberating notes, something half between a dream and reality began. The audience, captivated, sat still and silent in their pews. 

In all, the festival whirled quickly through the city, feeling almost symbolic of the youthful spirit of Pop Montreal. This year’s edition featured art, music and creators as varied as never before. A definitive success, it left festival goers only wanting one thing: more. 


Lisa Rupnik is ½ of the duo behind The Last Stop, a radio show dedicated to sharing conversation about music appreciation. Tune in Wednesday at 11:00AM to hear some of your old, new and forgotten favourites.