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  • A 30th Un-Birthday at the Wiggle Room

    • Photo courtesy Viva Diverse Productions

    An invitation to attend a mad tea party has been graciously extended to the city of Montreal, as the Wiggle Room bar is once again getting ready to premiere an explosive burlesque show. A 30th birthday party for Viva Diverse Production’s producer and songstress, Mikki Michelle, will be celebrated in style with an Alice in Wonderland themed burlesque show, Through the Looking Glass.

    The Link sat down with Mikki herself, who was more than happy to tell all about the upcoming event and the company. Viva Diverse, big on cabaret and burlesque, promotes artists as they are. “We’re giving them a chance to showcase what they’ve got,” Michelle explained. “I feel like a lot of artists are looked down upon and undervalued.” Michelle, originally from Australia, had only been living in Montreal for about 18 months before deciding to create a name for herself, thus beginning Viva Diverse.

    Upon asking what kind of show viewers can expect from Through the Looking Glass, as Alice in Wonderland isn’t exactly a musical to begin with, Michelle explained that it would be a mix of things. “It’s primarily burlesque, but it’s also a variety show of sorts,” she said. “There will be a circus performer, a pianist and singing bit, a bit of drag as well, and a few other acts.”

    Along with all of these performances, the birthday girl herself will be a part of the show with a singing piece of her own.

    “Everyone’s very much in charge of their own act,” Michelle answered when asked about producing the show. “I’ve worked with some of these artists before, and I love them all; I know that they’re very professional and we can work well together, so rehearsals aren’t really necessary so long as they know what they’re doing. I’ll be structuring it, though, and we will have a run-through the day of.”

    Michelle pointed out that there’s no particular audience group aimed for this show, it’s really just for anyone who enjoys a good time. “Pretty much anyone who’s interested in cabaret and the like.” With a hint of humor in her voice, she added, “But people should come, you know, because it’s also my birthday! If the show runs well and good, then that’s enough for me. If there are any birthday bonuses, then hey, even better!”

    Having originally planned to make the show solely Mad Hatter themed, Michelle decided it was too limited and changed it to a full on Alice in Wonderland theme, including the rest of the colourful characters we know and love. “Alice is a childhood favourite, so I guess it’s a bit nostalgic,“ Michelle explained. “It will be a mix of the original Disney animation and the Tim Burton version.”

    Through the Looking Glass will take place at the Wiggle Room bar on Friday, November 27. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. and the show will officially begin at 9 p.m. You can order your tickets in advance for $20 or buy them at the door for $25. The event has its own Facebook page, or take a look online at for more information on reservations and the like.

  • Review: Braids’ Deep In The Iris

    • Image Courtesy Braids

    Deep in the iris, you see a place of hope. Look at the floor—see how the hammer of fate has dropped.

    Braids have always stood out in Montréal—ask anyone who has seen them in the last seven years. With Deep in the Iris, Braids define themselves as a group existing entirely within a league of their own. Their unique sound features Taylor Smith (guitar, synthesizer and occasional techno xylophone), weaving floral melodies amongst thick electro textures and relentless, picture perfect grooves and are painted percussively onto the mental scenery by Austin Tufts. Of course, I mention vocalist Raphaelle Standell-Preston last—her singing and musicianship is extraordinary. She is a force of nature and celestial talent, and her lyrics are ironically, beyond words.

    In a time where poetry in song is often pushed back in the mix and left as puzzles for the audience, Deep in the Iris is a coming of age record through the striking power of its lyrics: “the hardest part is letting go/ The hardest part is letting go.” This is the basic nature of our whole lives. “Letting Go” is the beginning of the album and the end of everything else.

    Anyone who has ever been in love will know the lyrics of “Taste” before ever hearing the song: “take me by the hand/ Guide me through this phase of not really knowing where I am/ … Will you push me up against this wall / And spit all your hurt against me/ So I can feel my reach.”

    Another lyrical standout wrenching at your emotions is “Miniskirt” which touches on themes of abuse. You can almost feel the tears when you remember how you were abused, or how you felt when you abused someone else. You dance to “Miniskirt” not because you’re joyous, but because this is all you have to protect yourself from the inherent evil in being a human animal. Every person I have ever known has felt the lyrics of this song: “we’re all going, going/ Never knowing/ What we had/ Until it’s gone.”

    Felt like I messed up already. Watched some porn and surfed ‘til my eyes got sore again. And now I’m feeling gross and choked, like everything I don’t want to be a part of.

    You have a computer? Bet you know what this is like. You can watch so many videos of unrealistically naked people having sex and be so disconnected, that’s just how it is. Nobody questions it, you just do it, you forget it. Who are we? Why do we do this? I’m not guilty, am I?

    I go for a walk to the store and get some flowers and milk and a single cigarette. There’s a certain Dep in the Mile End where you can buy single cigarettes.

    I don’t really want to fall in love again.

    So what’s the bad with being alone while we’re living? Why the sorrow and the groan of curling up with a stuffy that lives long after you do? Named my bundles of cotton Piggy, Tishan and Bunny Rose. They wait for me to come home to lie upon my throne. I don’t really want to give
    myself again, the act of being naked in front of a friend. See when their eyes digress from their softer pure place, their smile taking form from the thirstiness they so often hid away.

    Raphaelle barely knows me but she’s just put unminced words to why I don’t hunger for a relationship, why I answer and belong only to the fat cat that roams in my apartment. All the while, shining through swirling vocals and synths, sustained piano notes caterwaul, resounding strongly into the darkest reaches of my mind.

    For as long as I live I’ll remember Deep in the Iris because with every spin, I grow up a little more. This is the album that speaks directly to my innards, a soul-scorcher at the level of “Blue” by Joni Mitchell. Both are deeply, deeply personal, yet it’s universal in scope. Dancing, friendship, music, love, drinking, parties, sex, work, death, sorrow, catharsis, staring at the sky wondering what it’s all for; seeing planes fly by, missing your family, the traffic lights change, seasons change, time marches on and we all get older despite ourselves – this is Deep in the Iris.

    I once loved someone with everything I had but it was not enough. I often think about telling them again how I feel. Actually, I always do, all the time. But I know I can’t anymore, I know that time is gone. Such facts of life are immortalized in the album’s closer, “Warm Like Summer.” It’s at once mournful and triumphant, with swooning, soaring progressions rising up and up until the album has finished.

    Raphaelle sings:

    It’s over now, it’s over. So nice to think of when we slept in the same bed. I wake up on my side with you still on my mind. Kneel down again to what’s no longer mine. If you ever wonder now, know you’re always in my heart. There is no end, there is no start because you’re always in my heart.

    For all the time I am blessed with on this earth, Deep in the Iris will always be in my heart.

  • Family Jewels, Electra Heart and Froot, Oh My!

    • Courtesy of via Greenland Productions

    On November 3rd, Metropolis hosted Welsh singer-songwriter Marina and the Diamonds and having only discovered her music this summer—when my love was crystallized by her incredible Osheaga performance—I was thrilled for another chance to see her.

    On entering Metropolis, the audience member is immediately immersed in sound echoing off-stage, lights awash from the rear. But those lights also reveal the number of packed bodies in the venue and how claustrophobic it is, which can be quite intimidating no matter how experienced a concert-goer you are.

    My friend and I arrived a little late so we only caught the tail end of the opening act, Christine and the Queens. I can say, from the little I saw, that she had an angelic voice and some solid backup dancers.

    After almost an hour of waiting, the lights dimmed and the screaming rose; neon lights began pulsating from the stage. Her bandmates came onstage, taking up their instruments, and beginning the opening track. After a few beats, Mariana followed, met with excited cheers from the crowd.

    One would think that a purple mouse-eared headband, bright red flowing crop top and purple skirt would look absolutely ridiculous on your average person. Not Marina Diamandis!

    The picture of elegance in her flashy get-up, she started off the concert with “Mowgli’s Road” from her debut album, Family Jewels.

    Diamandis explained that the concert would be split up into three acts, matching up with her three albums. I appreciated this as an artistic choice because it gave the audience a chance to hear her musical evolution, as well as allowing her fans to bask in the nostalgia of her older work while still getting to enjoy her newer songs.

    After Family Jewels wrapped up, she changed into a pink dress with holes in the sides to perform Electra Heart. One of her more noteworthy performances of the second act was her song “Lies” that included heavy guitar influence and strobe lights, quite the contrast from her subdued and much more quiet music video.

    The final act was from Diamandis’ new album Froot and that’s the song she began with, decked out in a sparkling blue jumpsuit and a blue cherry headband.

    You can believe I had a much better experience while jumping and singing along to these newer songs, which included my new favourite, “Savages”, which discussed violence as an innately human condition.

    Marina is a brilliant performer who knows how to keep her audience engaged and make us a part of her act. Her vocal prowess also never ceased to amaze me throughout the concert.

    Though I wasn’t able to meet her, despite waiting almost an hour, I feel blessed that I was able to be as close to her as I was and you can best believe that I will be in that crowd when she returns.

  • Montreal Zombie Walk 2015

    Eerie music and menacing groans filled the streets of Montreal on a grey Saturday afternoon. Thousands creeped down the pavement, each more terrifying than the last. It was Halloween, and thus time for Montreal’s fifth annual Zombie Walk.

    The event began at 1:00 p.m. at Place des Festivals du Quartier des spectacles, where the crowd of zombies—be it a TV show or movie character, celebrity, athlete, fairytale figure, animal, or a bizarre miscellaneous persona—gathered to get make up, eat and drink, play games, and prepare for the big march.

    The walk began at 4:00 p.m. and had viewers crowding the sidewalks in awe as one spectacular costume passed after another. Circling back around to the starting point by 5:15 p.m., the ghoulish crowd was treated to an after-party with music, drinks, and food, which included delicious brains.

  • Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

    • Photo courtesy Rocky Horror Picture Show Halloween Ball

    The Imperial Theater, a little over 100 years young, is the place the best in Montreal’s live theatre, from comedic to musical to classic theatre. With its vast lobby, balcony floor and red velvet seats, this venue is the picture of class. Ironically, it’s also the host of the annual Rocky Horror Picture Show Halloween Ball screening.

    For three days in the final week of October, including Halloween night, one has the chance to sit in this very theatre, costumed or otherwise, and watch the forty-year-old cult classic film, while a cast simultaneously performs the events on screen. This show is complete with barely clothed people, loony props and all the sexuality one could possibly want in a lifetime packed into a few short hours. Rocky is what I like to call “sexual madness”… and it’s awesome.

    If you’re lucky to be selected as part of the clean-up crew for the previous show, you get first dibs on your seat. Otherwise, you’re stuck outside in the line-up for a few hours before doors open. Luckily for me, I was in the former group. After helping to clean up the ridiculous amount of toilet paper, toast and cards off the floor and seats, my group and I sat down and anxiously waited for the show to commence. Fortunately, this waiting period was lubricated by classic hits: Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” and Men Without Hat’s “Safety Dance”.

    Finally, around midnight, the show began. The cast of corseted, sparkly or scantily clad individuals took to the stage to perform Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and dance along to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” and Sia’s “Chandelier”. The costume contest followed (because what would a Halloween event be without a costume contest, am I right?), hosted by the beautiful Plastic Patrick, in garters and an aviator hat. The costumes ranged from the practical, like Rocky characters Magenta and Riff Raff, to a flying Spaghetti monster complete with real spaghetti. Except for an unfortunate incident where Cruela De Vil was accidentally sprayed in the face with Sriracha sauce by an eponymous contestant, the contest ran smoothly, ending with Capitaine Trudeau crowned the first place winner, with second and third going to Spy VS. Spy and the Spaghetti Monster, respectively.

    Then, after the cast members were introduced and the Rocky Virgins were “fucked”, the lights dimmed, the projectors warmed, and, for the next hour and a half, the theatergoers were swept away in the magic. No longer a Rocky Virgin myself, I am happy to say that my second time attending was even better than my first. I had no shame in singing and dancing along with the incredible soundtrack and throwing cards, toilet paper and toast. My favourite aspect of the show has always been The Voice’s witty commentary, which ranged from mocking the Criminologist’s lack of a neck and making off-color statements about angels masturbating.

    I told myself last year that I would make it to The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween night and I absolutely will continue to do so. If you are a fan of the film or if you are just in the mood to spend Halloween in the company of the zaniest people you will ever meet, I strongly recommend making your way to the Imperial Theater on 1432 Rue de Bleury and revelling in the tacky sexual extravaganza that is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I hope everyone had a great Halloween and remember, “You’re not to blame, Sue’s to blame!”