Category Archives: Events

Premier A Lighthouse at Night – Anarchist Mountains and Francesca Tallone

CKUT’s Music Department is proud to premiere a new video work by video artist Francesca Tallone that accompanies A Lighthouse at Night, a piece by the duet Anarchist Mountains. This is a duet project by brothers Jordan and Stefan Christoff which explores ambient tonalities and experimental instrumentation. Their latest album Fire Waves is out on Oxtail Recordings based in Perth, Australia.

Francesca writes:

“I was drawn to the rhythmic sounds in the song and saw layers of fog rolling past, through trees over and over, enveloping the lighthouse and blanketing the trees and muffling the sounds.”

On the Fire Waves album, a review on Beats Per Minute outlines:

“Far from the navel-gazing new age music most people might associate with that label, these songs have a purpose, acting as excursions through both our conscious and subconscious thoughts. Gentle but insistent in their approach to bringing light to the darker corners of our mind, the tracks acknowledge what is sometimes lurking at the edge of our perception, shadows that attempt to influence and move us to act in ways counter to our internal programming. These tracks provide space for us to engage with and mold those dark shapes into something constructive and necessary for good mental health.”


CKUT is pleased to share a new video by Anarchist Mountain from their album A Balkan Spacewalk, out on Alien Garage records, a label based between Wisconsin and Japan. The album mixes synth, field recordings and guitars.

Anarchist Mountains is an ongoing project of musicians Stefan and Jordan Christoff. Jordan plays in PJS and many other projects. Stefan is a longtime member of CKUT radio who has recorded and released multiple albums with musicians both locally and internationally, including Lori Goldston and Sam Shalabi.

For this album, the second track, “A Spacewalk Memory,” was worked into a video piece by filmmaker Sonya Stefan, based on footage recorded in Bulgaria by Stefan. Sonya writes:

When Stefan Christoff shared his personal archives from Bulgaria as a beginning point of our collaboration, it immediately inspired me. I was transported into a dream-like location as I watched the passing images taken from a vehicle of some sort. I filtered the images through layers of glass and on various fabrics, imagining the feeling one has when walking and exploring unknown places. The video ends in a parking lot with scattered lawn chairs and a large tree, reminding me of my home and family, transporting me to a place of connection with the Christoff brothers.



By Eva Lynch

The opener for the night was Joy Again, an indie-rock band from Phillidelphia who has been on tour with Snail Mail for part of their North American leg of the tour, before they plan on splitting off and heading to the West Coast for their own tour. 

In person, their tracks are a lot more raw and rock-fueled than the gentle quality of their indie pop recordings, bringing new life to their discography. Members of the band alternated vocals between two frontmen, Sachi DiSerafino and Arthur Shea who took turns leading each song, their voices reminiscent of a young Neutral Milk Hotel.  

The songs were interspersed with personal anecdotes that inspired the songs. They also took this moment between songs to play some jazz, which transformed into the intro of some of their songs showing the real instrumental control possessed by the band. They played several songs from their earlier EPs such as “Looking Out For You” and “Winter Snakes”, which have gained popularity again with its use on popular social media platforms such as Tik Tok. For their final song, they played “Winter Snakes”, which they extended the final section of as they built it up by having every member play as hard as possible in front of the strobing lights, and then taking it back to almost a soft lullaby as they faded out of their set and the lights turned off one by one until only one spotlight was left, illuminating the band from behind the drum kit. 

After Joy Again was Snail Mail from Maryland, which is a solo project of guitarist and lead-singer, Lindsay Jordan. Fun fact, Jordan started the band when she was only 15! Snail Mail adorned the stage with a large red backdrop and several white cherub statues scattered across the stage, with vines that descend the cherub’s pillars and wound up the microphone stand. 

One of the greatest pleasures of being a long time Snail Mail fan is getting to witness the growth and evolution of not just the band, but the vocals, and transparency of Snail Mail as an artist. Lead singer Lindsay Jordan’s voice has maintained that same raspy quality that she’s known for, in a classically queer indie-pop way which sounds a little similar to King Princess, but her voice has only gotten richer as she’s unlocked more range and control over time. She performed songs off her first EP from 2016, such as Thinning, and more than any other song, it showed how strong her voice has become as she’s developed it over the past 6 years compared to the young voice that first recorded it. The music itself also showcases growing vulnerability and openness in both the lyrics and entire musical production, discussing everything that Jordan has navigated growing up in the indie spotlight after being discovered at such a formative age. 

On stage she jokes that apparently she wasn’t naturally meant to have a smoker’s voice at the age of 14, and reveals that she’s in recovery from a vocal surgery after waking up one day no longer able to speak. Despite still being in speech therapy and recently undergoing such an intensive operation, her voice was mostly unwavering. As a side effect of the surgery however, Jordan has unlocked a whole new range and experimented doing a few songs in a higher key which both gave them some new life and rearranged them to still fit her voice. It was great to see a new take on the songs, and her vocal range was particularly showcased by the songs she performed acoustically, including her hit ballad Mia. 

Especially since she’s been touring non-stop since being signed, Jordan has incredible stage presence, and immediately comes across as charismatic and confident, seemingly really enjoying being able to share her music with the crowd. For one of the last songs of the night, they pulled out a cover of Tonight Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins and really let loose — Jordan hopping on the floor with guitarist Ben Kaunitz as they played the guitar riffs to each other. While there are really three main guitarists/bassists in the band, everyone is constantly playing and switching guitars — even keyboardist Madeline McCormack kept switching between guitars and keys, and they had a member of their team running in every few songs to swap them out for everyone. It showed what a production their music is and how specifically crafted the sound is for each song, particularly within the string section, when changing out so many guitars to produce just the right sound and the effort it takes to develop and experiment with one’s sound.




Happy Deuce Deuce to our sister org and favourite festival, Suoni Per Il Popolo. The Suoni crew will host The Montreal Sessions on May 24th May 31 June 7 and June 14th from 3-5PM. We couldn’t be happier for them as the festival returns IRL and the lineup is as amazing is it ever was. Check out the full lineup here:



#WhereIsTheLoveForPalestinians! A Letter to the Black Eyed Peas

MusiciansForPalestine BlackEyedPeas graphic 3

#WhereIsTheLoveForPalestinians !


Last year the global network, Musicians For Palestine, made an appeal in collaboration with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and BDS France to call on the Black Eyed Peas to cancel their concert in occupied Jerusalem on Nov. 29th, the international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, as celebrated by the United Nations.


After a couple weeks of discussions with musician friends, I agreed with a sentiment that was developing in our global conversation between musician friends working to support BDS, that it would be important to try to reach out to the band personally. After conversations with artists globally, including some high profile musicians who know the band personally for years, that route wasn’t going moving, the band wasn’t responding. In that light we launch a campaign: #WhereIsTheLoveForPalestinians ?

Here is the global BDS movement post

In the end Back Eyed Peas did respond to the campaign directly in the context of an article in AP, that directly references our campaign. The article reads :

“The BDS movement says it is a nonviolent campaign against Israeli abuses against Palestinians — both Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians who have lived under Israeli military occupation for more than half a century. Israel says the campaign is an effort to delegitimize and even destroy the country. ”

A statement on the BDS France website said the concert was “even more scandalous” because it was taking place on the international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people. It urged supporters to use the hashtag #WhereIsTheLoveforPalestinians — a nod to the group’s hit “Where is The Love” — to call for the group to cancel its performance..”


A letter from the heart to Black Eyed Peas 


“Let us remember, with our hearts, the Palestinian families who were shattered just this past May during the bombing campaign that took place in Gaza. 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed, with more than 1,900 people wounded, many for life. These are not just numbers, these are Palestinians who lost their lives, or who were permanently injured.

All of these recent events took place in Gaza, a tiny territory that has been and continues to be under a state of military siege, dating back to 2008. All land, air and sea points of access to Gaza are under the siege and largely cut off to the outside world.

In this context and also with the continued expansion of colonial settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, we are appealing to you to not hold the concert in occupied Jerusalem on Nov. 29th.

Your music is heartfelt, about being in the world, engaging with people, focusing on manifesting positive energy, finding a good vibe, yes to all that! Also as a band you have played such an important role in creating space in the music industry for Black culture and voices, respect. Your songs often speak to a cultural framework for the Americas that cuts across borders, that cuts across linguistic divides; shout out to that !

It is in the spirit of engagement and solidarity between peoples that we are calling on you to look to Palestine, to see the devastating realities in occupied Palestine today, the thousands of political prisoners. Also note that today, many Israeli human rights activists are pushing for the light to be focused on these realities also. Israeli activists who are challenging Israeli apartheid policies from within Israel and are facing serious internal repression right now.

This Black Eyed Peas show could be a turning point for the band because the concert crosses a major ethical and moral line in the public space. This concert must lead to a larger conversation around bands playing shows in occupied Palestine. If you play this concert in Israel. Is your music authentic, or just a show? Is your effort to create a positive spirit through your music, full or an empty shell? Do the Palestinian people matter to you? What is the responsibility of artists to speak out with truth for human rights, for the people?”


Stefan Christoff, host of Free City Radio, airing Wednesdays, 11am on CKUT 90.3fm.

(Thank you to a network of friends who reviewed and edited / added to this text. Also to those who were involved in and / or where supportive of the broader process surrounding the appeal to Black Eyed Peas to respect the BDS call by Palestinians, including: Ian Kamau, Jessie Stein, Wake Island, Nicolas Jaar, Narcy, Peter Burton, Sarah Albu, Asher Gamedze, Aaron Lakoff, Talia Joundi, Salim Vally, John Clarke, Narcy and Airick Asher Woodhead (Doldrums).)

Concert Review: Zach Framption + Martin Heslop @Datcha


photo of datcha

On the corner of Avenue Laurier O and Rue Saint-Urbain is where you’ll find Datcha. Its blackout mirrored exterior kept the cold away from the music shared in the hip, Russian, low-lit bar. The intimate gathering of many people from diverse walks of life made for an indulgent night shared with a group of friends. Intoxication triumphed, perhaps from the wine served but namely from the musical performance of Zach Frampton and Martin Heslop.

     The Nova Scotia natives played sets with musical inspirations of jazz, soul and hip-hop. Zach, the pianist, was having fun and his facial expressions were infectious. Martin, the bassist, was at ease as the two blended repertoire and improvisation seamlessly. The two were set in the corner of the smokey, dim-lit room, their black clothing faded into the walls, but their sound flooded and filled the entire room. The electric piano and bass combo was refreshing, the pair was dynamic and innovative. I recognized a personal favourite ‘Summertime’ a standard that was reinvented through the use of a loop and constant trade off of melody from one instrument to the next. The crowd was all ages, styles and from many different walks of life. The music was intended for the diverse group that attended and appreciated the event.

    The jazz was TESS BUCKLEY accompanied by tarot card readings and synchronized light boards. We didn’t have any food, but indulged in a few drinks which where exceptional. The host of the event was Isaac Larose, a character and Quebec City native. Isaac is known as “the Modern Hatter,” he co-owns a millinery label (Larose Paris) and hats heads around the world. He is in high socio-artistic as well as fashionable standing. Isaac’s focus is quality and organic growth rather then finances. Isaac’s ideals and creativity was front-stage in the event he birthed and shared with the Montreal community, thank you Isaac.

   Datcha’s owner Thomas Von Party is known as a “one-man party” who was “raised to rave.” He created the nightclub as a modest space intended for intimate events featuring artists hand-picked based on talent. I truly respect the talent based curating and presentation of many unique artists. It’s not just about the lights and names for Datcha, which is refreshing and sadly rare in today’s industry.

     Emotions are thought to be an instinct as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge. Music is capable of changing a state of mind, by sparking one’s mood, or memories, even subconsciously. It takes a certain type of individual and performer to successfully evoke many different emotions from their audience, Zach and Martin did just that. April 5th was wonderful, I would highly recommend this event to a friend and hope to return one day.

  Datcha was not just a night of ‘Jazz and Tarot’ it was an experience. The smokey room, and collective created by the eclectic listeners was electric and led to a memorable night

— Review By Tess Buckley

Concert Review: The Wombats @ Théâtre Corona

It may seem rather typical that the first time I went to a concert was to see a band that I adored in middle school. What makes my experience different, I suppose, is that I attended my first concert at age 20, last weekend, as the Wombats took the stage at Theatre Corona.

The Wombats of my adolescence were really just one album: 2007’s A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation. Their sound on this album is distinctly whimsical and pop-flavored, with a punky rhythm section backing up the singsong Scouse and guitar of Matthew Murphy. I think you will agree if you give this album a listen, which you should. At the same time though, the songs feature themes of anxiety, loneliness and dysfunctional romance, almost without exception. The song that stands out most immediately from this album is the Wombats’ best known single, “Let’s Dance to Joy Division”. This song is infectiously catchy, and embraces Murphy’s pouty British voice to the utmost. In my school days, this was my preferred anthem while my peers sung along to “I Gotta Feeling”, “Umbrella” or “Replay”, by the Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna and Iyaz respectively. Looking back however, I feel that some of the other songs on the album, especially those that slow down the pace from “Joy Division”, are their best work, particularly “Party in the Woods (Where’s Laura)”, “Patricia the Stripper” and “Here Comes the Anxiety”. In retrospect, the angst of the songs can get to be a bit whiny from time to time. Folks who prefer rap or metal exclusively may find it to be too light, but if you like pop music, this may be for you.

I had some concerns, attending a concert. I didn’t really like the idea of mindless, strobe-lit hordes pushing each other around, based on my unpleasant and infrequent visits to McGill frosh events and various nightclubs. I also don’t like it when music is super loud, just in general and especially recently because I have been having some problems with my ears, so the volume was certainly a worry. The other thing is that, I really like recorded music, with all its complexity and maximum of quality. I’ve never really seen the appeal of live music, my thought process being, “This can only be worse. It cannot be better than the versions they perfected in the studio”. Also, I had heard horror stories from all over about musicians taking the stage hours late, and of those who put on awful or insulting shows.

I was justified in being concerned about most of these things. The Wombats played super loud, which at first, I actually enjoyed. My ears were getting numb by the end of the setlist though. The crowd, although manifesting in large numbers within the excellent Corona venue, didn’t really bother me too much, it wasn’t that crazy

The Wombats were not worse in live performance than on their records, and they put on a fantastic show. It was certainly, however, a very different music than what I knew of them, and it was a pleasant surprise for me. They dove after each sunshine-pop melody with the intensity characteristic of arena rock and punk music, with the rhythm section pounding through with the volume it deserved. Murphy’s guitar parts were quite the highlight for me, as he wove high-pitched chords into alternate melodies between his singing. To be honest, the only songs I recognized were “Patricia the Stripper”, “Moving to New York” and “Let’s Dance to Joy Division”. Most of the songs were from their new release from February of this year, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. Two of my favorites are “Cheetah Tongue” and the lead single “Lemon to a Knife Fight”.

My direction now is clear: start listening to The Wombats again, and continue to attend concerts.

~ Review by Will Anderson

Concert Review: Bat Fangs, Hop Along @ le Belmont

From the band’s very first address to the audience, it was clear the Hop Along show at the Belmont last Saturday would be a relaxed evening with hearts warmed by great music and charming and humorous band members. Throughout the evening, banter between spectators and band would blur the lines between the two for an intimate show appropriate of the Belmont’s shoebox performance space.

Before this, Washington, D.C.-based Bat Fangs warmed up the stage, announcing their provenance via the bassist’s Capitals tee and a brief introduction from singer/guitarist Betsy Wright. Wright and drummer Laura King formed the band after bouncing around a few other groups, and their experience oozed out of their ripping guitar riffs and flourishing tom hits. As if their stage presence didn’t scream of enough rock n’ roll cool, they introduced the song “Bad Astrology” by yelling out, “was anyone here just born bad?” It took a moment for the audience to respond, probably because they first assumed it was a rhetorical question meant for the band members themselves. The answer was a clear “yes.”

Hop Along took advantage of the sizzle left by Bat Fangs’ riot grrrl torch and immediately launched into the lead single, “How Simple,” off their album released earlier this year, Bark Your Head Off, Dog. Onlookers lining the front of the stage and pockets of them throughout the venue bounced and hooted along to the contagious melody of the refrain, reflecting the more optimistic half of the lyrics, “Don’t worry we will both find out/ Just not together.” The set that followed would include most of the 9 songs from the short-but-sweet track-list. Origin-indicating shirts seemed to be a motif of the night, with a member wearing a Modern Baseball shirt, this time referencing a fellow band from Philly.

Front-woman Frances Quinlan broke the ice by thanking the crowd for coming out on their “only Saturday of the week,” adding that, “it’s just bazonkers.” Over the chuckling crowd-members, she ironically added, “yeah, I’m a wordsmith.” Though meant in jest, one of the band’s greatest strengths is Quinlan’s songwriting. She excels in stringing together monologues that put the listener in the shoes of characters imagined, observed, or of her own in ways that are still deeply relatable even through layers of idiosyncratic imagery.

The band then took a brief detour through their past discography with “Kids On The Boardwalk” from 2012’s Get Disowned and “Texas Funeral” from 2015’s Painted Shut. By the time the irresistible rhythm guitar of newer song “Somewhere A Judge” rung out, anyone in attendance not previously unabashedly crying out memorized lyrics would have understood their excitement. Indeed, successfully singing along with Quinlan and coming at all close to replicating the often unexpected turns in melody and her many vocal inflections should definitely be considered a feat. Quinlan’s voice has the ability to take on as many identities as the diverse assortment of those described in her lyrical narratives, from understated whisper to disinhibited howl and somehow, in combination of both, a throaty yelp full of simultaneous force and restraint.

“What’s the Montreal version of a Waffle House?,” Quinlan asked, foreshadowing the next song, “I Saw My Twin,” about Quinlan spotting her doppelgänger in a West Virginia location of the restaurant chain (the crowd’s decided equivalent: “La Belle Province”). Afterwards, Mark Quinlan, the band’s drummer and Frances’ brother, lightened the topic of lives that could have been and the thin veil of celebrity by joking, “just about 420 songs left.” In response, a member of an enthusiastic group in the crowd that had previously screamed out an open invitation to their address after the show, yelled in ecstatic recognition, “the weed number!” The tone of the show became serious yet again as Frances started off “Look of Love” as she does in the recording, with just her voice and her acoustic guitar. Lyrics containing the album’s title wove a story about a guilt-ridden childhood experience in which her wish that a disliked neighborhood dog would stop barking at her is fulfilled by a car accident. Though Quinlan had warned the audience of melancholy subject matter just prior, the song ended in an uplifting reflection on the beauty in life after death upon returning the dog’s grave and seeing birds feeding on the garden over it.

The thematic intensity continued, this time taking a turn for the biblical with “What the Writer Meant” and “Not Abel.” Hop Along’s latest work differs from their previous efforts with the addition of strings either bowed or plucked in the background of most of the album, including these songs. Understandably, this feature was not translated to their tour, but the absence of the arrangements was barely noticeable with Quinlan’s poignant lyricisms and the band’s camaraderie that both made their playing seamless and the audience feeling like a part of the family.

With this atmosphere in mind, I almost expected Hop Along to make light of the traditional encore formalities and perhaps continue straight into the end of their set after a wisecrack about not leaving the stage. Though in the end they went through the motions, they promised to return as soon as possible after treating fans to old favorites “Well-Dressed,” “The Knock,” and “Tibetan Pop Stars.” I have no doubt they’ll have an even greater troupe of loyal music lovers waiting when that happens.

~review by Dylan Lai

Concert Review: Hanna Benn, Sinkane & Son Lux @ Theatre Fairmount

Paradoxically, one of the best ways to characterize the music of Son Lux is that it’s difficult to do so. The genre-resistant group was originally the solo project of Ryan Lott until 2015, and his proclivity for out-of-the-box musical exploration has drawn comparison to (and a collaborative project with) Sufjan Stevens. Personally, his unique vocal timbre is reminiscent of James Blake. This affinity for the unusual also apparently extends to Son Lux’s choice of touring partners, as openers Sinkane and Hanna Benn blended their own selection of sounds to give audience members a taste of what was to come. As I entered the Fairmount this past Monday to catch the end of Hanna Benn, the already substantial crowd was a clear indicator of the magnetic power and intrigue of ambiguity.

Benn’s crystalline vocals, which also made an appearance on Son Lux’s 2016 EP Stranger Forms, floated over compositions influenced by her eclectic classical and gospel training. Sinkane, up next, mixed the music of his Sudanese roots with jazz and funk elements for an energizing set that showcased the talents of the group’s members. The guitarist got a few improvisational solos in, and the harmonies of keyboardist/vocalist Elenna Canlas backing up frontman Ahmed Gallab’s soothing tenor transformed to lead vocals for the majority of the band’s final two songs.

Before long, Lott’s faux-hawk appeared under the dim stage lights. He was joined by guitarist Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang, and the trio introduced themselves with the first few chilling verses of “Forty Screams,” then the opening song from their latest album Brighter Wounds. The project is the second to include Bhatia and Chang as official band members after 2015’s Bones, though the group has been performing together since 2013. Though the most recent album is sonically more accessible than the last, Lott hasn’t lightened his hand lyrically. It’s an intimate reflection on his alternating hope and uncertainty for the future spurred by the recent birth of his son. His trembling falsetto, sounding always as if he might be moments away from tears, lends itself to expressing the raw content of the music. Varyingly passed through filters and paired with his eclectic production, full of instrumental samples and effects with a distorted yet organic feel, it can be hard to be sure he’s emitting the sounds you’re hearing or if they originate from some otherworldly source.

Though Son Lux is Lott’s brainchild, the group’s writing process is reportedly highly collaborative. Accordingly, the musicianship of the of the other members was given ample time to shine, with the band adapting their recordings for the stage to highlight their skill. Bhatia had a few solos and covered string parts by adjusting his tone, and for “Stolen,” Chang broke into an extended drum break to finish off the song. Building off this energy, Lott later showcased his usually restrained voice by belting out the resplendent chorus of “Dream State.” Digging into the keyboard unconventionally angled away from him, it seemed like he was holding on against a musical fervor that would otherwise sweep him away.

As he approached the end of the set, Lott joked with the audience, playing on the traditional faux exit and encore by telling the audience, “the song after this is our last…but not really. Just pretend it is.” The crowd happily obeyed, keeping energy levels high. When the band got to their “last song,” they requested that the people in the venue participate, instructing the crowd and cueing them in to sing a melody adapted from one of the string parts in the song. The tune in question, “All Directions,” was befitting of the impromptu choir, since a similar effect is applied in the final refrain of the recording. The lyrics, “And weren’t we the beautiful ones/I promise we were,” also stir up a collective impression of loss and redemption that was easy to feel part of.

As promised, Son Lux exited the stage before re-entering and delivering a smoldering performance of “Aquatic.” To spark things up again for their (actual) last song, they treated everyone to their most popular tune, “Lost it to Trying,” getting the audience to join in once again – this time without any request needed.

~ review by Dylan Lai