Hildegard, Jon Bap, and Tirzah Deliver a Night of Electronic Music

Great Energy and Better Music Coming From Pop Montreal

  • Safia Nolin performed at Pop Montreal. Courtesy Pop Montreal

Despite the countless music festivals that pass through the city each year, Pop Montreal still manages to attract great crowds to the tenured five-day festival that has been showcasing emerging and talented artists since 2002.

The Sept. 26 show kicked off at the Rialto Theatre with Montreal electronic duo Hildegard.

With a hazy stage lit with the silhouettes of the two performers in dark blues and purple light, the energy and stage presence was enough to captivate the audience.

The performance could best be described as hypnotic, and the combination of siren-like vocals over smooth synths and a pounding bass created an alluring atmosphere that proved to draw the audience in.

Hildegard was followed by experimental soul artist Jon Bap. After a darker lit, more sequestered staging from Hildegard, Jon Bap’s setup contrasted it heavily with a typical four-man band setup, with bass and electric guitars and a drum kit pulling up the rear.

The band brought energy from the start, and with their experimental funk fusion performance came a more open and encouraging reaction from the audience.

While the stage presence of Hildegard might have drawn the audience in, and kept them quietly watching and waiting in anticipation, Jon Bap’s presence worked differently. Through loud power chords and soul rhythms, heavy reverb and live instruments, Jon Bap’s energy brought a more engaging reaction from the audience.

By then, the Rialto was overflowing with engagement. While still very much tuned into and enjoying the performance, the audience was teeming with interactive energy, a fired up crowd that now felt more like a community, rather than a large group of observers.

“While still very much tuned into and enjoying the performance, the audience was teeming with interactive energy, a fired up crowd that now felt more like a community, rather than a large group of observers.”

Despite the band’s interesting decision for the two guitarists to face each other instead of the audience, their energy reached as far as the back of the concert hall. Jon Bap’s performance was as infectious as it was enjoyable, which proved to be a great lead in for Tirzah.

English singer-songwriter Tirzah performed songs off her first full-length album Devotion from 2018, and was easily the most anticipated performer of the night.

Despite the excitement around her set and the increasing energy from the crowd, Tirzah kept her stage setup simple: one microphone sitting centre stage for her to stand with, and two people accompanying her, one synth player and another using a drum machine.

Tirzah’s simple vocals over the asymmetrical electronic music made for a staggering performance, with a wall of sound being carried through the Rialto. With the heavy bass added to the track, the whole theatre began to move in a similar motion influenced by Tirzah.

While most of her performance did stay true to the imperfect, spacious, electronic sound that her audience has come to love, Tirzah was still able to deliver in the vein of more classic synth-pop, with her track “Holding On” proving to be a huge crowd pleaser and a subtle change of pace.

While Tirzah will definitely be remembered as the headliner, credit is due to the quality of Jon Bap’s performance: His band brought such infectious energy that Tirzah probably wouldn’t have received as strong as a reception from the audience as she did without them.

All three performances made for a great night of electronic music spanning across different genres and experiences, a great example of the range and talent Pop Montreal is able to curate and put on display year after year.

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