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10 Montreal Bands You Must See Live At Least Once In Your Life

Homegrown musical heroes that make Montreal look good.
10 Montreal Bands You Must See Live At Least Once In Your Life

Cover photo cred - Karel Chladek

Montreal is known around the world for its music scene. Although lots of groups from the city are great to listen to on record, some of them have to be seen in person to get the full experience. Here are 10 Montreal musical acts you must see live.

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One listen to their first big single, “Needy Girl,” and you’ll know that this duo writes some of the catchiest, funkiest songs this side of Hall and Oates. What you won’t know, though, is how much fun these guys are to see in concert. Their synth beats and lovably cheeky talkbox vocals never fail to get the crowd moving.

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Photo cred - Raphaël Ouellet

Misteur Valaire

Originally from Sherbrooke, these guys relocated to Montreal in 2005 and have been killing it ever since. Members of the group received formal training in jazz, and they’ve since adopted their technique to electronic music. You’ve got to see them live to appreciate their virtuosity on their instruments and dance your ass off to their memorable tunes.

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You can’t be totally sure who exactly you’re going to see perform on a given night when you go to see this band. What you can know, though, is that you’ll get a spontaneous performance with a feel-good vibe that you’ll carry with you for days. The collective, consisting of over 60 singers, dancers, musicians, and poets, is known throughout the city for delivering shows that engage audiences and put a smile on their faces.

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Half Moon Run

This band’s dark songwriting and gorgeous harmonies have earned them plaudits from such artists as Mumford and Sons, and when you see them live it’s easy to see why. Their performances bring out the subtle complexities in their arrangements and showcase their formidable technique on their instruments. The energy they bring to the songs in person gives them an added depth.

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This DJ has been helping promote independent hip-hop and electronic artists through his label Fool’s Gold, but his abilities as a live performer are an equally vital part of his legacy. He’s known for his scratching technique, and his ability to get crowds moving is no less formidable. His fusion of rap and electronic music makes for a raucous good time.

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Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire’s soaring hooks, emotional lyrics, and expansive instrumentation make them a highly demanded live act around the world, and they’re proud to make Montreal their home. Even though many of their songs are intensely personal, they take on a new dimension when they’re being belted out by thousands of adoring fans. Going through the hassle of getting dressed up for one of their shows is well worth it.

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Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra

Silver Mt. Zion churns out some pretty unique sounds from their unorthodox instrumentation, and their live show is the ideal way to appreciate it. The heavily processed violins and cellos produce a wall of sound that can only be properly appreciated in person. Vocalist Efrim Menuck’s tortured-but-melodic vocals have a sense of immediacy that can’t be conveyed on record.

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The Dears

The dark, tuneful sounds on their albums have earned them worldwide acclaim, but their live shows have caused slavish devotions amongst their fan base. Their concerts are so beloved that they’ve released five live albums, in addition to their extensive discography of studio albums. Though their line-up has changed dramatically over the course of the band’s nearly twenty year existence, their commitment to a powerful and immersive live experience has not.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor

True, they share a few members with Silver Mt. Zion, but their use of film projections in performances and their expansive, meditative sounds makes seeing them a unique experience. The tape loops blend seamlessly with the live instruments to create a haunting and ethereal atmosphere. If you like what you hear at their concerts, you can take it home with you, because they allow audience members to bootleg their shows.

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Patrick Watson

This singer-songwriter delivers live performances with a level of intimacy that’s difficult to equal. Even when he’s playing with a full orchestra, as he did at Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste in November, the honesty of his lyrics and the fragility of his tenor voice make you feel like he’s singing directly to you. The eclectic instrumentation of his band needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

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