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2005 10 05
Union Station to Pop Montreal
imageVisiting Montreal seems to be a natural extension of Toronto. This visit I take the train, which really just seems like a long subway ride.

9:30am at Union Station, the place is so beautiful but the existence of Harvey’s as the main restaurant seems less than perfect. There should be a restaurant in the main foyer that Toronto wants to hang out at even if they are not taking the train. This must be one of the most under realized places in North America. I love being here. Run into Dave Porter. Porter is an A&R man with Universal Records and is well known for his generosity and the time dropped his cell phone in a urinal at The Horseshoe. Dave and I share the ride to Montreal and end up spending almost 24 hours together. It seems like every cool music person in Toronto is making the trip up for “Pop Montreal”

I check into the recently created Hotel Godin at the best possible location Sherbrooke and St. Laurent. The hotel is a restoration of the Godin building, which has been sitting on this corner since 1915, as well as an addition. Dan S Hanganu as well as Yabu Pushelberg completed the transformation. The hotel is calm beautiful and has a wonderful staff. The first thing anyone in Montreal says about the place is that is does not have a license. Oddly I think that may be one of its best assets.

The festival is in full swing as I arrive on the second night Torontonians Shawn Hewitt, The Russian Futurists, Ninja High School, Alcona, The Old Soul and LAL are all playing but I get to see most of them at The Drake whenever I want. I came here to see the Montreal music scene and then bring it back to The Drake. The problem is I need a guide. Porter calls Jonathan Cummings (leader the of rock god’s Bionic). Jonathan also writes for The Mirror and seems to be the mayor of The Main. He demands that we see Et Sans first at Le Divan Orange. The clubs here, there are many, are not like the clubs in Toronto. They seem to be in found spaces. Nothing looks like it was intended for rock and roll. Et Sans make some noise and do not disappoint but we need to leave early to catch Camouflage Nights at Petit Campus. Newly renovated an actual space built for rock is running late, we miss the band but run into half of Ontario. We leave the club and head for the experience of the festival.

Already fueled with as much beer as an adult 200 lb body can hold we enter Quai Des Brumes. The place is full of francophone artists and students. We pass a giant velvet curtain and the entrance turns into side stage. The place is old and is wood paneled with a wonderful chrome bar at the back. We make our way there immediately. Three pints and we are ready for why we came. Jonathan insists we go back to front of stage, Porter remains at the bar to talk to girls. Once the band “Les Breastfeeders hit the stage I find myself in a writhing mosh pit of fun. Beer spills everywhere and I am taken by the best live band Montreal has to offer. When the band finishes I meet their manager/promoter and quickly make a deal to bring them to Toronto. We finish up with Billy Childish and Torontonians The Old Soul. The Old Soul is probably the best party band going. They fit right into Montreal.

I will return to Toronto on VIA Rail and I will love it as much as my trip here. The fact that this wonderful portal exists between my two favorite cities continues to blow my mind.

[email this story] Posted by Jeff Rogers on 10/05 at 06:20 PM

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