Thursday night was a night of choices at POP. Too many great bands were playing simultaneously in different venues of Montreal and difficult sacrifices had to be made.

At 9pm, probably the best hip-hop band to have come out of Quebec ever, The Dead Obies filled the Metropolis while everybody’s favourite garage band Chocolat, led by Jimmy Hunt and guitarist Emmanuel Ethier were playing at La Tulipe.

But I decided to make a bold move and go listen to a small band from LA called Cones at the Barfly on St-Laurent, with a few dozen folks. These five guys, led by singer and guitarist Jonathan Rosen and his brother Michael on the keyboards, don’t even have an album yet but all their singles are very cool!

cones at barfly 2017

Cones, photo by Nico Pelletier

They have a huge melodic talent, reminiscent of bands like Luna and maybe even Tame Impala and The War on Drugs. A great pop feel in the best sense of the word: catchy songs that stick in your brain the very first time you listen to them! I really can’t wait to get a CD of their work. They only have a few tracks on Soundcloud as of now. That was a great call: I enjoyed every minute of their set!

At 10 played Bodywash at the Steamer, which is the new nickname I gave the room on the 3rd floor of the Rialto Theatre. Man, it was hot in there. Guys were sweating, girls with long hair had it glued in their necks, but still everybody was moving along to the dreamy rock music (“cream pop” is what they say) of this Montreal-based 5-piece band.


Bodywash, photo by Nico Pelletier

I could feel the drips of water on my back as I closed my eyes and enjoyed the music. Studio Rialto needs a bit of love on the deco side, and fans to move the air, but apart from that, this is the place I’ve seen the most great bands at POP ’17 up to here.


Bing & Ruth‘s musical project was one of self-introspection and meditation. Everybody in the Rialto Hall was sitting or lying on the floor, relaxed and focused on the calm music from the five-piece band that mixed cellos, piano, clarinet and atmospheric keyboards. More than a show it was an experience, the type of moment where you fight to control where your brain is going, too deep in the music, or totally out if the room.

Bing & Ruth

Bing & Ruth, photo by Nico Pelletier

Very nice but I was more in the mood for some dreamy indie pop so I went down to the Balattou to see MKRNI (macaroni).

I was a bit disappointed by the South American synth-pop trio. First the bass was so astonishingly loud that it made it intolerable to sit on the (for once available) couches in front of the stage. I had to move completely on the right side so my ears wouldn’t buzz. Surprisingly cold and mechanic for musicians from Santiago (Chile) who usually bring in a lot of sunshine, MKRNI sounded like Portishead amped at level 11 of their speakers, while singer Elisita Punto didn’t have half of Beth Gibbons’ charisma.


MKRNI, photo by Nico Pelletier

At POP, when you don’t like a show, you go. There are so many bands playing simultaneously that you can try something else. I decided to go to La Sala Rossa, since it was only a few blocks away. I have been lucky tonight: I found parking places really near each venue I went to (except in the Mile-End of course, let’s not kid ourselves!).

I was initially curious about Zach Phillips’ piano music but when I arrived, Mich Cota was still on stage. Mich didn’t come alone: a modern dancer was at her side, a string quartet, two keyboardists and a drummer! If Cota’s singing wasn’t always perfect, it did reflect beautiful vulnerability and total honesty and investment in her music. The clash of the classy strings with the modernity of keyboards was very interesting as well.

mich cota

Mich Cota, photo by Nico Pelletier

Zach Phillips started his set the second Cota’s violinists stopped playing. A grand-piano was placed so the crowd just turned aside and saw the musician ready to go. Phillips’ sense of humour, special type of deconstructed piano and easygoing and “sans prétention” (rare in high-end artist world) really made him closer than “complicated artists”.

At 12:30, I was dead. No energy left. That’s it, I’m gone.
See ya’ tomorrow!


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About The Author

Mélomane invétéré plongeant dans tous les genres et époques, Nicolas Pelletier a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts depuis 1991, dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie "Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique" en 2013, lance le site RREVERB en 2014, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016. Il dirige maintenant la stratégie numérique d'ICI Musique, la radio musicale de Radio-Canada.