festivals Reviews

Best of POP Montreal: Day 1 featuring Kilo Kish, Zola Jesus and more!

By: Sun Noor

The 17th edition of the annual music and arts festival kicked off last night with a party at their headquarters open to everyone as well as myriad of thrilling shows, vernissages and exhibitions in various bars and venues along the city’s vibrant Mile End neighbourhood. The festivities also a few various film screenings including Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation and even a meditation class.

Zola Jesus at the Rialto Theatre last night

Having the privilege of choosing from a wide range of shows each night sounds appealing until you must chose between five different bands playing in venues that are on the opposite ends of each other. Corridor, Palm and the Proclaimers were amongst the handful of artists on my list of shows to catch last night, despite all of them conflicting other shows. Nonetheless, I was lucky enough to catch both Zola Jesus and Kilo Kish’s electrifying sets back to back at the Rialto Theatre.

Zola Jesus played the first headlining show at the Rialto’s main hall alongside LAL and Devon Welsh.  The fact that this lineup consisted of artists from different genres was quite fitting for a POP show. The sets each gave off different vibes yet did not disrupt the ambience of the show. Audience members were undoubtedly in for a treat.

LAL were first up to take the stage and instantly attracted a crowd with their hypnotic tunes. The massive crowd of people who were at the party earlier began pouring into the room as soon as they heard the music echoing from the venue. The Toronto-based collective decided to play a handful of songs from their discography but leaned more into playing material from their most recent record, Find Safety which came out in 2016. Hopefully, the is new material in the works. Devon Welsh was up next, toning down the high energy levels radiating from the crowd. The ex Majical Cloudz frontman played a generous solo set under a vibrant blue fluorescent light, which was quite fitting for his dreamy set.

The obnoxiously bright stage lights and pre show music slowly began to fade. A thick cloud of smoke emerged from the stage as the music slowly built up. The audience was met with a crawling Zola Jesus appeared centre stage followed by a dance under the ominous lighting. Despite having quite the minimal stage set up and lighting, her theatrics were enough to capture the crowd’s attention throughout her show and undoubtedly suited her choice of songs to perform.

Kilo Kish performing at the Piccolo


The second show of the night took place at the Piccolo, an intimate, club-like venue located at the theatre’s basement that is allocated for all the after shows. Toronto’s up and coming R&B artist and producer Tika was first up to take the stage at the Piccolo last night putting on quite the intimate set. She managed to uplift the crowd by radiating positive vibes through her upbeat tracks. She also took the time to share her personal struggles while promoting the importance of self-love. Clairmont the Second who is another Toronto-based artist was next to warm up the stage with a handful of his high-energy tracks that instantly awakened the audience members that struggled to remain awake for the rest of the show. He also treated the crowd by taking a few requests and playing new material, which was definitely a great way of culminating his touring cycle.

Kilo Kish was without a doubt one of the few artists that I was looking forward to seeing at the festival following the release of its initial lineup, given the fact that she had only announced a few tour dates for this year. In fact, her latest body of work, the”Mothe” EP has only been out for a few weeks, meaning I had anticipated the release of new material. For those who have yet to catch any of her performances, Kilo Kish is quite known for putting on quite the grandiose show with a specific set of alluring visuals for each song as well as eye-catching costumes, creating an experience and bringing her projects to life. Given that she was due to play an intimate after show last night,  audience members were in for a treat as the experimental artist played quite the stripped back set. Nevertheless, the intimate setting did not take much from her performance. She also had quite the generous set list, playing into the middle of the night.

Here are more photos from tonight’s performances:


The festival continues today with talks featuring various artists including SOPHIE and performances by Jpegmafia, Bodega, Molly Nilsson Gabriella Cohen, Michael Rault and more! Click here to view the complete list of shows and purchase tickets.

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