My first time visiting Canada was last summer, where I went to Montreal’s biggest music festival, Osheaga. I immediately fell in love with the city, and I realized how prevalent their music culture is. So, while studying here, I have made an effort to go to a few concerts. My first was in March, where I saw Tame Impala at the Métropolis with fellow Champlain students. The venue is on St. Catherines Street, and is only a five minute walk from the Champlain Residence. Though the outside of the venue is seemingly small, the inside is rather large, with a balcony and seating on the top floor, and a large ballroom on the first. Even at something as universal as a concert, you can still see the eminent Montreal culture seep through the artists’ performances. Indeed, Tame Impala, though from Australia, spoke to the crowd in both French and English. You could tell that they do not fluently speak French, but only knew a few phrases. However, the crowd really loved that they made an effort.
The next two shows I saw took place at La Sala Rossa, which is a venue up St. Laurent. It is about a thirty-five minute walk, or a ten minute bus ride away. This venue is very discrete, with nearly no signs on the outside indicating that it exists. Here, I saw Wavves in early April, as well as Born Ruffians just last Thursday. Both shows were much smaller and much more hectic than Tame Impala. Throughout both shows, people would get up on stage with the bands and jump off into the crowd, something that would not be permitted at Métropolis. Indeed, this venue had much more character than Métropolis, and due to this, I liked it better. Again, either the opening acts or the main performers would speak to the crowd using some French phrases. Even at concerts, it seems it is only polite to try and use French.
Ultimately, the use of French throughout these performances made me realize even further how prevalent the language is in Quebec. After the Born Ruffians show, I even spoke to my francophone roommate about this. Indeed, she says she respects anglophones more when they make an attempt to speak French. So, if you haven’t been yet, or you are hoping to come to Montreal next semester, I highly suggest you go to some concerts to further submerge yourself in Montreal’s truly unique culture.