What’s your scene? Lit, food, arts, music, theatre, find out what’s happening in the city of churches.
Although Concordia’s student-run art festival, Art Matters, doesn’t kick off until March 7, there was a brief appetizer at this year’s Nuit Blanche.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read the event’s description: “An interdisciplinary night to celebrate interactive art.” Eager to find out, I ventured to the MainLine Theatre on St. Laurent Street to see what Concordia’s students had put together.
Stepping out of the cold, the general vibe was easygoing—recycled furniture, low key music, vintage records, old movie posters; the decor of MainLine Theatre fit well with its crowd and with the general tone of the night. Of course, this is the MainLine on any night—what I had come for was the art and the chance to see (or interact with) something I never had before.
The evening did not disappoint.
In the lobby, a night-long performance, designed by Veronica Mockler and Clémence Renaud, took place with five performers talking endlessly, alone or to people sitting near them. Laurent Viau-Lapointe, art curator of the event, explained they had set up the couches to form a pentagon shape, offering a novel experience of the “salon.”
After that, the first exhibit I hit seemed simple: one small interior decorated like a bedroom, complete with a bed, a lamp propped on a bedside table, a carpet and a poster on the wall.
As I was trying to figure out the concept behind this peculiar art project, by artist Edith Maisonneuve, I noticed the finishing touch. Someone was in bed—there was a human moving under the sheets!
As it turns out, the idea was that you could cuddle in bed with the stranger. Whether it meant to do so or not, this art piece had me reflecting on the importance of physical human contact.
It made me think of the “free hugs” project or those infamous Tokyo prostitutes who get paid to hug (yes, just hug) lonely customers in dark alleys. However, I couldn’t help but feel there was more to it—a pure and simple affection, a faceless tenderness that could melt your heart in an instant. Go ahead, call it old fashioned.
Across the room, Benita Whyte had created an installation reenacting an online ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), AKA brain-tingling, video. This controversial phenomenon is supposed to make viewers of the video experience a pleasurable tingling on their scalp, head and the back of the neck. I wasn’t feeling it much, in any sense of the word, and carried on to the next curiosity.
Sparked, I continued into the concert room. The atmosphere was light-hearted and people were chattering as a musician was getting his instruments ready.
I have to admit, the music did not really sweep me up into a higher plane or even make my brain tingle a little. Don’t mistake me, I have strong interest in indie experimental music, but I wasn’t able to make much of this psychedelic grunge experimental rock.
I learned later that the artist/musician, PRIME DYNO was actually putting on exploration of noise and sound experiments, so I wasn’t too off track, I guess. Three additional musicians performed at the event as well: Camp Fortune, MSTR SSTR and SHE DIVIDES, but I did not get the chance to see them.
Further into the night, the place started to feel a little bit crowded, buzzing with more Nuit Blanche patrons looking to get out of the cold, grab a beer and see what I had already been exploring. I squeezed into the last room for another musical set, but was unable to see much of the show because of the thick of people inside.
Still, I stayed and listened to the jazz band which boasted a really talented saxophone player. After a few minutes, I left to go grab myself a beer at the bar and hung out with some friends.
Overall, this event left me with a positive impression. The artwork was diverse and unconventional, something the bright, artsy minds of Concordia had concocted and stood to be proud of. I may not have loved all of it, but that’s art in the modern world, isn’t it?I left the place around midnight to go see the MUTEK event at the UQAM coeur des sciences and let’s just say I really regretted leaving Art Matters and its unique atmosphere after I had walked out into the White Night.
At least I know that with the festival beginning this week there will be more creativity to experience.
I want to meet the person who has somehow pulled off the perfect Nuit Blanche and shake their hand—it might be the closest I’ll ever get to meeting a real live unicorn.
That elusive individual who managed somehow to hit up all of the events that piqued their interest, had their mind blown by beautiful art, who didn’t have to wait in line for hours, inside and outside, too hot, too cold, harassed by shuffling crowds.
This person put enough booze in their thermos to never pay for any drinks and kept the feeling going all night long until daybreak, when they met up with their still-going friends and regaled their spectacular art-filled evening over waffles.
I’ve been to a handful of Nuit Blanche festivals in my time and none of them have ever gone so swimmingly. This one started with a palmful of friends, huddled around a fire at the Planetarium, shivering and watching penguins, and ended with a surprise jam session on a bus home at no less than four in the morning (despite my ambitions to make it to waffles at the crack of dawn).
Nuit Blanche 2014 boasted over 200 events city-wide, and yet every single one I hit up was packed to the rafters. The penguin exhibit at the Biodome was overcrowded, Place-Des-Arts was a veritable madhouse full of people, and I was denied the opportunity to ride my first ever ferris wheel after waiting in line for an hour because it was snowing too hard to operate anymore. It was disappointing because I’m pretty sure they say you’re never quite the same following your first go on a ferris wheel.
Traversing the snow blown streets of our fair city, my friends and I, an ever changing amoeba of people coming and going, crash landed in a joint on St. Laurent for some middle of the evening grub. We hit up karaoke for an hour, and finally made it to the Art Demolition at Theatre St. Catherine at 3 a.m., one of the few plans we actually saw through to success. This was followed by hunting for ice sculptures which we never actually ended up finding before calling it a night.
Almost nothing went the way I expected it to, and you know what? I’m here thinking that’s kind of the beauty of it all. Nuit Blanche itself kind of hinges on the element of madness. It’s held in the middle of the winter, from dusk to dawn, and banks on the idea that people want to get out of their houses, to do things they have never done and see things they’ve never seen. That they want to be out of doors all night. Crazy, right?
You can turn a corner and see a gigantic projection of someone’s face up on a wall, or walk into a bar and be suddenly immersed in a costume party that looks like it’s being thrown by Gwar. You can find yourself in the back of a karaoke bar belting out Blink-182 with the people on stage, and the next minute, be out on the prowl for poutine.
Nothing went right, but nothing went wrong, and all things considered this was the best White Night I’ve ever had. Because if nothing else, I was afforded the chance to spend a night out of doors, kicking around in the streets, seeing the sights, the lights and spending it with my friends. We made an event of it and had a good time, even when things went off track, taking the ever-changing plans in stride.
From this I can only surmise that Nuit Blanche is art imitating life—it’s unexpected and it can be antagonizing, but you see amazing things and you adapt and you carry on.
If I had any advice for next year’s Nuit Blanche attendees (excluding those unicorns out there) it would be to dress warm, pick one or two things you really want to see, and then after that, just see where the night takes you. Don’t expect anything, or everything; you must let yourself get swept up in the madness.
Also, if you’re looking for something to change your life, don’t put your bets on the ferris wheel.
Looking to grab some grub over the weekend? Dig into these five new restaurants that are trending on the Isle of Montreal.
1. Biiru — A New Japanese Izakaya
1433 City Councillors St.
Open: Tuesday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Does your ideal Friday night include sake bombs, authentic Japanese food and DJs soundtracking your night away in a bistro-type setting? Then drag your friends to Biiru! Their bold menu ranges from Gyoza dumplings and japadogs, to street-food style karaage (fried chicken). Don’t leave this place without having tried the Japanese pancake okonomiyaki topped with mushroom and truffle oil as well as the Ramen with foie gras. Oishii!
2. Hip Hop Café — Sip on some joe and jam to hip hop classics!
4801 Parc Ave.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (hours vary by day)
This place is literally brand new and buzzing with hype—its grand opening is this Saturday, March 1. The Hip Hop café promises to be a thriving cultural centre, bringing coffee and hip hop music together at long last. In addition to java, you’ll find a merchandise section of the store where you can peruse CDs, vinyls, books, magazines and more.
3. Hof Kelsten — A Bakery Opened by Ex-Chef of World’s Best Restaurant
4524 St. Laurent Blvd.
Open: Wednesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
After spending many years working in in the kitchens of Noma, French Laundry and El Bulli, chef Jeffrey Finkelstein today supplies to some of Montreal’s best restaurants. His new bakery concentrates on baking simple, quality bread. Don’t expect anything fancy but, while you’re there, get yourself a gravlax sandwich for a satisfying lunch. Don’t forget to reserve a trademark Challah loaf with raisins—they’re so good, they fly off the shelves.
4. The Cardinal — A British Tea House in the Mile End
5326 St. Laurent Blvd.
Open: Friday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The time has come to get your (tea) party on. While Montreal has a pretty big coffee scene, tea houses are slowly steamrolling their way across the city. One of them is The Cardinal, created by the owners of The Sparrow (a bar on St. Laurent), a Victorian style tea room decorated with vintage books, antique items, and even a chandelier. Expect a vast selection of high quality tea to be enjoyed with a side of scones, pastries and tea cakes.
5. La Recolte — An Eco-Conscious Brunch Spot
764 Bélanger St.
Open: Saturday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
After working for several years in the food industry, three friends took matters into their own hands and opened up La Recolte, a brunch spot that promotes healthy and eco-responsible food. Many of the products they use in their dishes are organic, locally-grown and cultivated by local farmers. The menu changes on a weekly basis, but you can expect to find suitable meals for all tastes—they also have a delicious hot gin drink that marries well with virtually every meal.
Once dusk settles over Montreal on Mar. 1, the dark night truly will rise: Nuit Blanche is the all-nighter city-wide festival that makes dreams come true. From films to art to parties of all kinds, this sleepless night will be one for the ages, and we’ve compiled a guide of some of our favourite events we’ll be hitting throughout the night. Stay up all nuit to truly embrace the night—if you can.
1. 24 Hours of Vinyl 9th Edition
Date: March 1st – 7:00pm
Venue: Le Bleury-Bar à Vinyl
Address: 2109 Bleury St. , Montreal
Feeling the need to rock around the clock? This event has 15 different Montreal DJs taking a turn(table) on the vinyl platters at Le Bleury for an unforgettable music set that goes right round, like a record baby, right round until the early hours of the morning.
2. Broadway Café
Date: March 1st – 10:00pm
Venue: Segal Centre for Performing Arts
Address: 5170 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, MOntreal
Do you have a swing in your step and a song in your heart? Head to this event in Côte-Des-Neiges for an evening of musical comedy. The event looks to bring together Broadway fans to perform or enjoy show tunes accompanied by a live pianist in the Segal Centre’s ArtLounge Bar.
3. Theatre Night: Best Black and White Comedies!
Date: March 1st – 6:00pm
Venue: Crabhouse Serafim
Address: 393 St. Paul St. E, Montreal
Calling all cinephiles! Make it a Nuit Blanche et Noir with these screenings of classic black-and-white comedy films, featuring the comedic genius of Charlie Chaplin and more. Grab your bowler hat and get ready for a laugh!
4. Kino Kabaret
Date: March 1st – 8:00pm
Venue: Grande Bibliothèque
Address: 475 de Maisonneuve Blvd. E., Montreal
“Kino” is a filmmaking movement that began in Montreal in 1999 and has since grown onto the worldwide scene, focusing on the collaborative nature of movie-making as well as spontaneity. This screening will show off 30 three-minute-long Kino flicks, many inspired by Quebec cult classics, on loop for the entire evening.
Date: March 1st – 11:00pm
Venue: Theatre Ste. Catherine
Address: 264 Ste. Catherine St. E., Montreal
There is an old saying that what goes up, must come down. The Theatre Sainte Catherine invites the public to spend the night building up an art installation and to stick around and watch the once-in-a-lifetime art exhibit be destroyed once 3 a.m. rolls around.
6. Painting With Light
Date: March 1st – 6:00pm
Venue: Galerie MX
Address: 333 Viger Ave. W, Montreal
Prepare yourself for a freakadelic art presentation with a curious new medium. Think of the neon paint splatter masterpieces, reminiscent of the galaxy bowling alleys of your youth, teaming up with world-renowned light painter Patrick Rochon. This live demonstration and projection of previous projects might just light up your life.
7. Sugar ‘N’ Ice, And Everything Nice!
Date: March 1st – 5:00pm
Venue: Patinoire Atrium Le 1000
Address: 1000 de La Gauchetière St. W., Montreal
Showing off your inner winter Olympian has a tasty payoff. This event offers free skating at the indoor rink accompanied by the live music of folk musicians—and when you need a break, enjoy some free maple taffy and snacks. Sweet deal!
8. Kilo-Beat: Interactive Bikes
Date: March 1st – 2:00pm
Venue: Complexe Desjardins – La Grande Place
Address: 150 Ste. Catherine St. W., Montreal
With a hint of spring in the air, it will soon be time to once again break out the bicycles. In the meantime, this exhibit will get you back in pre-season cycling shape with a whole different groove. With bikes that function as musical instruments and VJ consoles, you can compose tunes with a sweat, multitasking art and exercise.
9. Rum, via Sea Chanties, Legends and Tastings [18+]
Date: March 1st – 12:00am
Venue: Le Cabaret Du Roy
Address: 363 De La Commune St. E., Montreal
Tickets: Free admission, drinks additional
If you find yourself weary and need to warm up in the wee hours of the morning, shiver your timbers down to Old Montreal, where you can play at fancy piracy with a tasting of six different rums for $30. There will be plenty of music and merry-making at this pirate party, so get your booty on down!
Indie/opera outfit Sidney York had their beginnings as a long distance collaboration between opera singer Brandy Sidoryk and bassoonist Krista Wadelet, clashing two very different worlds. When I walked into the citrus-lit venue Divan Orange last night for their show, I really didn’t know what to expect.
Local pop-rock-dance-punk band The Hydrothermal Vents opened the show, the group made up of a guitarist, bassist and an iPod drummer. Maybe I’m a snob, but I couldn’t help but be a tad turned off by the iMember. It’s not easy to find a good drummer though, and after bassist Tessa Katuzman made a joke about it, I was able to shrug it off and enjoy the music, especially their closer “Neptune.” In general, however, I wasn’t overly impressed by the performance. But when headliner Sidney York took the stage, my mood was immediately lifted.
Right off the bat, Sidney York was much more rock n’ roll than their music videos had led me to believe. It’s their variety that impressed me so much. Besides the typical guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums, the set included a ukulele, a tuba and, of course, the bassoon. The bassoon added a layer of depth to the sound that I can safely say was totally new to me. Of course I’m well-acquainted with ska’s take on wind instruments, but their presence in what I can only call an indie pop band was different and exciting. I thought perhaps the variety might overwhelm the performance, but the different sounds were layered extremely professionally.
I had also been slightly apprehensive in regards to Sidoryk’s advertised opera background. Combined with the unusual instruments, there definitely was potential for an intensity that, although artistic, might be an uncomfortable match for a couple beers. But there was no need to worry. The only giveaway of her opera roots was the astounding quality of her voice. She sang with a sharp clarity and gave each song an instant essence of fun. Nothing was ever over-sung, and while her voice could have stolen the show, the quality of the rest of the band made sure it didn’t.
The infectious stage presence shared by all performers made the music increasingly danceable as the set went on. Sidoryk and Wadelet had great chemistry and played off each other well, but they weren’t the only ones—every band member was completely present and a vital part of the package. Eventually it was just too irresistible and a couple tables had to be pushed aside for the few free spirits who simply needed to dance (I may or may not have been one of them).
Unfortunately, Sidoryk informed the audience that their van had been broken into and robbed as they were setting up that night, and I really hope that doesn’t stop them from coming back to Montreal. I would certainly welcome the Calgary band back into our beloved scene.