It was so hot inside the of the Ukrainian Federation, an old, musty concert hall that smells like a school gym, that tUnE-yArDs frontwoman Merrill Garbus looked like she was going to pass out. It’s a good thing she didn’t, because she absolutely mesmerized the POP Montreal crowd in a show sponsored by Williamsburg’s own Northside Festival. The Connecticut-raised Garbus actually lived in Montreal’s Williamsburg-esque Mile-End neighborhood for awhile, where she played in a band called Sister Suvi with Patrick Gregoire, who opened the show with his band Pat Jordache. So yeah, there was a lot of Montreal love happening on-stage, even despite the face-melting heat and the fact that the show had to end early thanks to local noise ordinances. The set was a pretty straight run-through of w h o k i l l with one new, slightly subdued song thrown in for good measure.
Things got really fun when she brought on a group of symposium singers she worked with earlier in the day to mimic the crazy looping vocals she normally uses in her music. If you haven’t seen tUnE-yArDs live yet, there is something wrong with you. Garbus’ booming vocals, the pounding drums, the blaring horns; it all got even the normally too-polite-to-dance Montreal crowd jumping around. Not to mention POP Montreal as a whole is pretty damn fun, with tons of bands like araabMUZIK and Japandroids playing, plus plenty of Canadian acts that don’t get a lot of press in the U.S. Oh, and there was also this bunch of young, upstart Montreal musicians called Arcade Fire that played, as seen in this horribly shaky smartphone video taken by me while jumping up and down in a crowd that numbered around 100,000.