This Is Bat Country
Montreal Psych Fest Dedicates Weekend to Good Vibes
Do you consider yourself too weird to live and too rare to die? Do you find yourself drawn to the dark side of the moon and carry Visine in your schoolbag for your “allergies”? If so, this coming weekend’s Montreal Psych Fest is the place for you.
From Oct. 10 to Oct. 13, this petite indie festival is letting the dopamine flow and showcasing over 20 bands, most of which are local, and all of which are celebrating the music and spirit of the psychedelic, the groovy, the far out and the substance of “imagination.”
Local radio stations CJLO and CKUT are among the sponsors for the festival.
With psych music festivals already taking place all over the world in places such as Austin, TX and Liverpool, England, it was only a matter of time before Montreal got in on the action.
It may be young—this is only the second year for Montreal Psych Fest—but it has already grown since its creation by local musician Tasha Class.
“I was sitting in my jam space, and I hadn’t gotten tickets to Austin Psych Fest, and I was bummed about it,” said Class. “I decided, ‘well, why don’t we put on one here?’”
Class took multi-tasking to a whole new level by organizing last year’s festival completely solo.
This year things went a little differently, however, when she realized she wasn’t the only musician in town with an eye on bringing psyched-out vibes to Montreal’s peace and love hungry masses.
“I had booked half my bands, I was getting venues and I came across somebody else’s psych fest from Montreal on Facebook,” she said. “So I wrote to them, and we ended up meeting and conjoining. Now, I’m one of three.”
The trippy trio share management and promotion duties, and are even paying for the rent of festival venues out of their own pockets.
“We have some small donations from some of our sponsors, but mostly, it’s us,” said Class. “We’re just going to hope the tickets will help cover it. The rest of the money is completely split between the bands.”
They are also being helped by a 15-strong volunteer force—a big upgrade from last year’s Psych Fest, when a one-man army worked the door both nights.
Class says that everyone has been extremely helpful, but admits that she has a tendency to want to take control.
“We all want a piece of the pie, we all want to help. [But] I’m kind of a control freak, because it’s my baby,” she laughed.
In addition to festival work, Class manages, drums and sings for her band, Melted Faces, and plays bass for Uubbuurruu, both of which are set to perform on what promises to be a mind-melting weekend.
Both are equally part of a Montreal psych scene that’s gaining a larger following with every day that goes by—and a larger festival along with it.
“It just started, but I think it’s going to grow,” says Joey El Napoleon, another Montreal-based music maker who provides vocals and plays guitar in both Uubbuurruu and his personal solo project, El Napoleon.
This year’s docket of bands is over double last year’s—there are 26 bands in this year’s line-up compared to last year’s 12, and only four of them hail from outside the island.
Headliners for the festival include psychotropic acts The Dahlias, The Hazelles, Space Bass and Vomit Squad.
For the uninitiated in psychedelic music, Class cites The Doors, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix as textbook examples of the kind of music to expect at the fest, along with lots of “jamming and noise.”
El Napoleon has a more ethereal interpretation of the music he makes and loves.
“It sounds like nothing and it sounds like everything at the same time,” he says. “I’ve heard it a million times, at the same time I’ve never heard it.”
Montreal Psych Fest is a celebration of the groovy and weird, and the fans are often as “out there” as the music. Festival attendees and music lovers of the acid-soaked genre are anything but another brick in the wall, coming from all different walks of life to share the trip.
“I have people coming up to me on the street thanking me for throwing the festival. We get old people who are acidheads from the ’60s,” says Class.
“I had a little old lady come up to me, she saw the poster, and she said she’s going to come. [And] we get kids who are 17, and who just want to have fun. It’s very diverse.”
If you’re not sure that quirky tunes are your thing, Psych Fest has other offerings to tickle your fancy in their schedule this year.
“We’re having an art show, [and] there’s also going to be body painting. We have visual artists, and a psychedelic breakfast on Saturday and Sunday morning,” Class says.
We’re not sure what exactly is on the menu for a psychedelic breakfast, but there’s a good chance there won’t be just plain old mushrooms in your omelet.
Class has high hopes for the future of Psych Fest, one day hoping to take it outdoors, à la Woodstock. For now, however, she’s content to jam with her friends and her scene, and encourages everyone who is interested to come check it out.
“Just be prepared for a wild ride,” warns Class.
Montreal Psych Fest // Oct. 10 to Oct. 13 // Barfly (4062 St. Laurent Blvd.), L’Escogriffe Bar Spectacle (4467 St. Denis St.), Le Cagibi (5490 St. Laurent Blvd.) and more // $10 to $15 door