For the next two and a half weeks, Consequence of Sound’s Sasha Geffen will be exploring Montreal and its music scene, attending the mammoth three-day music festival Osheaga (featuring The Cure, Beck, New Order, Vampire Weekend and many more), and taking in the local culture. Follow her adventures here, or through the hashtag #MTLMoments on Instagram and Twitter.
It’s my first morning in Montreal and I’m sitting in a hotel room while the city outside debates whether it’s raining or not. Twenty-four hours ago I jumped on a plane where I got to drink real, strong coffee and write while some excellent clouds rolled by. As we left Chicago, the airline announcements boomed out in English first, then French. As soon as we landed in Montreal, the order reversed. I made it through customs (pop quiz: are you supposed to be in this country?) and took the bus downtown. Everything’s written in French, but the city feels bilingual; strangers switch seamlessly into English as soon as I answer their French with a confused, apologetic smile.
You sleepwalk through the first hours in any new city but so far there’s been plenty to wonder about. Like Chicago, Montreal wears layers of history in its architecture. New skyscrapers loom over old stonework. I’ve been collecting photos of the street art that decorates the alleys. There’s a real, live HMV a couple blocks from the hotel.
I’m staying at the Loews HÃ´tel Vogue, where the bathroom is bigger than my bedroom in Chicago. The iPod dock is kind enough to play my vintage ’06 music box and gets very loud (sorry, neighbors, hope you like Youth Lagoon). There’s a desk but I’ve decided the best place to work is the windowsill, which is wide enough to sit in and overlooks a nice stretch of the shopping district.
Last night I got to enjoy dinner at Lola Rosa Cafe, a quiet vegetarian bistro where you can eat sweet potato quesadillas (which I think went extinct in Chicago after Wicker Park’s Earwax closed). The “Mexican” here is milder, savory, just as good. I’ve noticed that Montreal’s a bigger believer in open windows than air conditioning. The breeze does the job. It’s been hot, but the air doesn’t stick.
Later today I’ll be walking through the entertainment district, scoping out some of the cultural history at the roots of this city. I’ll get to hang out at a barbecue hosted by Cult MTL and talk to a few of the folks who work to curate Montreal’s summer music events. Tonight I’ll be seeing local alt-folk act Timber Timbre perform at ThéÃ¢tre de Verdure in Lafontaine Park.
Our itinerary is packed with adventures: gigs, interviews, movie nights, record stores, and of course Osheaga over our last three days. I’ll be posting recaps on the regular here, and broadcasting real-time blips on Twitter.
I’m real excited. See you out there.