Oct 30, 2009

Bodies...The Exhibition and UK's Florence and the Machine in Montreal this weekend

by Fiona O'Connor
This Halloween weekend it looks like Montreal has its bases covered in the eerie-activity department. Being the culturally well-rounded city it is, these range from the entertaining to the educational to the absolutely enchanting. You can find a link to the Mirror's Halloween Party Guide on this website, but here are two highly-recommended items that didn't make it into yesterday's post:

They have arrived...The historic exhibition Bodies...The Exhibition, The Science Inside You is in Montreal, presented at the Montreal Exhibition Centre on the 5th floor of the Montreal Eaton Centre. While the ethics of this touring collection of cadavers has been debated (there are claims that the bodies were made using the remains of Chinese prisoners), the show offers an unprecedented scientific and educational experience. For admission details and directions to the Montreal Exhibition Centre (705 St-Catherine St. West), click here.

For those prefering to witness the heart (and soul) of a very much living specimen, I suggest checking out one of my (and the BBC's) current faves, UK's Florence and the Machine. The intensity of frontwoman Florence Welch's singing will bring you to the brink of emotional overdose with each epic tune. Between their songwriting and art direction you might think the band (or perhaps just Ms. Welch) was born out of some kind of gothic fairy tale- a suspicion I hope to have confirmed when I see them play at the Just For Laughs Cabaret on Sunday night. For ticket information click here.

Bookmark and Share

Oct 29, 2009

All Hallows' weekend: Halloween in Montreal

by Fiona O'Connor
Regardless of what day of the week it falls on, Halloween in Montreal is never just a one-night affair. The holiday rivals New Year's Eve as being one of the city's most celebrated annual events, and you can bet that with this year it getting Saturday of all days of the week, there are more than just a few parties to choose from. What could be better, 48 hours of everything that spells fun: cocktails, costumes, and candy? While I hold strong to the tradition of leaving party and costume plans to the very last minute (usually hatching both, simultaneously, in the musty aisle of a nearby Salvation Army), Montreal homes and haunts alike are transformed for maximum holiday hoaxes. For an overview of your dress-up dance party options, check out the Mirror's comprehensive Halloween Party Guide. Then just add a whole bunch of house/loft parties to your list of choices.

Photo credit: Swedish photographer Denise Grünstein. Her portraits of ornately- costumed, ghost-like figures in nature are both unbelievably eerie and classically beautiful.
Bookmark and Share

Oct 25, 2009

Fall foliage: beautiful in Montreal, even more so in North Hatley

Alexandra Forbes, special to Montréal for Insiders

Sure, fall is beautiful in Montréal. The ruffling of fallen leaves, the blinding sun cutting through yellowed branches, the contrast of the fire-red trees against the old stone houses. But... it ain't quite the same as hopping in a car and driving out to the city's countryside, and more specifically, the beautiful Eastern Townships, 40 minutes from the downtown area. My favourite little piece of countryside is called North Hatley, and it's where I took these photos. Need I say more? Go. Now. While there's still gold in the landscape and farm markets to shop at.

At the Chapelle St. Agnès winery...

One of the cottages at the Relais & Châteaux Manoir Hovey:

And the façade of the inn:

More about North Hatley on this site.

Oct 20, 2009

Good gourd! The autumn riches of Jean-Talon market

by Fiona O'Connor

It seems that no matter where you are in the world, a trip to an outdoor food market can transform the otherwise routine chore of grocery shopping into an other-worldly experience. In our culture of chain grocery stores, imported, and often genetically-modified foods, it’s somewhat of a novelty to have a local market that offers such an abundance and range of fresh, locally-grown produce. There is of course a growing awareness of the social, environmental, and health value of eating “local,” and in Montreal we’ve seen this in the Plateau neighborhood with the recent resurrection of its weekly farmer’s market, now called Marché Duluth.

PC food trends aside, an afternoon stroll through the Jean-Talon market is downright good for the soul. Whether like me, you end up at home with bags full of curious-looking vegetables you haven’t the faintest idea how to cook, perusing the endless food stalls and specialty shops is a feast for the all the senses- and especially the eyes. In all its natural imperfection, market food- from the translucent green, misshapen bell peppers to the grilled sausages oozing grease- looks infinitely prettier and yummier than anything you'll find bathed in neon light at that honking big super store. Sunday's my market day- see you there!

Bookmark and Share

Oct 17, 2009

See and hear it: Califone's multimedia evening at the UK Fed

by Fiona O'Connor

Chicago's Califone will launch their new album and feature film tonight at Montreal's Ukrainian Federation. Both titled All My Friends Are Funeral Singers, the band will perform live while the movie, written and directed by Califone founder Tim Rutili, simultaneously plays. My guess is that this will be a lovely, though probably somewhat blue, evening.
Show and film starts at 8:30 pm at the ever-intimate Ukrainian Federation (5213 Hutchison, corner Fairmount). Tickets cost $15.
Bookmark and Share

Oct 13, 2009

De Geuzen's "Wearable Resistance" at Montreal's Studio XX

by Fiona O'Connor
DIY electronics plus second-hand clothes equals feminist activism.

Confused? So was I when I first heard about the 3-day workshop entitled "Wearable Resistance," a "collaborative, creative session" designed by the Amsterdam-based multi-visual research foundation De Geuzen. The event, which began yesterday and wraps up tomorrow, is hosted by Montreal's Studio XX, a chick-focused digital arts centre for technological exploration, creation, and critique.
For 5 bucks, 12 registered participants will "collaboratively brainstorm and play with a mix of electronics and traditional handcrafts. Armed with curiosity, secondhand clothing, LEDs, electronic gear, scissors and glue, the group will create a variety of prototypes aimed at transforming the body into a walking billboard or protest sign. Novices and experts alike are welcome to participate."

Now, if you were lacking it before, this description pulled from the event's webpage has surely armed you with sufficient curiosity to make you an eligible participant. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so head down to Studio XX at 4001 Berri, Suite 201 to sign up, or visit the website. The daily workshops take place between 2 and 8 p.m.

One thing I'll admit I'm still confused about: who exactly- besides the project's innovative creators (Riek Sijbring, Fembke Snelting and Renée Turner)- are the "Wearable Resistance" experts?

Bookmark and Share

Oct 9, 2009

Thursday nights at Old Montreal's Velvet speakeasy

by Fiona O'Connor
Open only on Thursdays, the Velvet speakeasy "is the weekly rendez-vous for consumers of ill beats, fresh drinks, and casual good-times." While hearing about Old Montreal's swankiest new "speakeasy" through Facebook couldn't be a more fitting illustration of how the prohibition-era concept has been redefined as contemporary cool, it's good to know Montreal isn't missing a beat on the hottest nightlife trends.

Next Thursday, check it out! 420 St-Gabriel in the Old Port.

Oct 1, 2009

Halifax's Dog Day play POP Montreal tonight at Green Room

by Fiona O'Connor
Whether it's music, movies, books or food, rarely have I been one to profess a single "favourite" anything. My tastes and preferences have always straddled so many categories that the concept of choosing one thing above all else has always seemed pretty impossible to me, or at the very least, a bit silly. That, and I'm also really indecisive.

This all changed for me though when, about 2 years ago, a friend introduced me to a band, comprised of 4 of his friends from Halifax, called Dog Day. For reasons I will one day elucidate in a much longer piece of gushy writing- perhaps my first music-nerd piece- Dog Day has since come closer than any band before to being, ehem, my "favourite." This being new territory for me, it was through measured, scientific analysis that I arrived at the ground-breaking conclusion that the band, with their simultaneously melancholy and uplifting songs, eerie tone and perfect lyrics, pretty much fit all of my moods, pretty much all of the time. That, for me, was a first-hence this blog post which is now, officially, gushy.

The real reason I bring this up today, of course, is because Dog Day (in their first Montreal show with a new drummer) is playing tonight for POP Montreal, at 10pm at Green Room (5386 St-Laurent Blvd.). Be sure to check it out!

Dog Day's "Happiness" from their latest album, Concentration, released this year.