POP Montreal Music Festival | Exciting 2020 Hybrid Edition

Lido Pimienta by Dani Murillo POP Montreal

Is it just me, or did you also feel a little cheated this summer? Usually, there is no better place to be than Montreal. But as you know, this year we have had to give up festivals, bustling terraces and many awesome events. However, there is one quintessential event that will be delighting us once again, for the 19th year in a row. The 2020 hybrid edition of the POP Montreal Music Festival is happening form September 23 to 27 both online and in person. Let’s get into it!

POP Montreal 2020 promo poster

POP Montreal Music Fest

To begin, POP Montreal is not just a festival, it is a culture event. More precisely, it’s a non-profit musical festival founded in 2002 to “introduce and champion the next generation of musical talent and to support independent art forms”.

Normally, a few hundred musicians from all over the musical spectrum perform live. However, because of venue capacity limits this year, the format is a little different and focuses more on local talent yet still packs a punch.

Actually, this is the type of festival where most people have not heard about many of the artists and that is the beauty of it! As a music rookie myself, I am excited to go on a journey of discovery. Honestly, I really want to find out what “Sugary post glam” and “Cinematic orchestral bliss” sound like. In fact, the graph above barely covers all the genres that you can listen to!

And for all other rookies out there, POP Montreal’s creative director Dan Seligman has a few tips for us to best appreciate the festival: “be open minded, talk to other festival goers and have fun!” Also, to “come back in 2021 and 2022” for the full experience!

New Festival Experience

To continue, there are three ways in which you can experience this festival.

The first is online. On the POP Montreal website you will be able to live stream performances and walk through a 2D version of the Rialto, where most of the events will take place.

The second is live. There is limited seating for each concert and you can only purchase tickets in advance so everyone can be safe. Also, one fun part is that the venues are classic Mile-End haunts like:

    • The Rialto Complex (Clubhouse, Rooftop, Hall) – 5723 Park Ave
    • Le Ministere –  4521 St Laurent Blvd
    • Terrace Boxerman’s – 1041 Ave Van Horne
    • Ursa – 5589 Park Ave

The third is at secret pop-ups. The location of these shows is kept secret and is given to ticket holders at the last minute. Let me tell you; they get creative! It can be in a backyard, a courtyard,  a rooftop; “who knows!”.

Lastly, with over 60 different artists, venues like these AND tickets at $5 to $10, it is a real steal!

Music to Your Ears

As mentioned above, even with many limits, POP Montreal is pulling out all the stops this year. The various artists will be performing either live or on live stream. The musicians that I am most excited about are the following.

First of all, I am intrigued by the beautiful and haunting voice of Norwegian folk pop singer Marthe Halvorsen.

Secondly, I had never heard of the ecstatic electric cumbia genre before but I am loving Lido Pimienta’s unique and fun sound.

Third of all, I live for secret locations and shows. I cannot wait to be surprised by Marie-Pierre Arthur with her big sounds and high energy.

POP Segments – An Extension of the Sound

Furthermore, this is a festival where you get a well-rounded experience. Where there is music, there is also art with a capital “A” and these POP Segments are what’s in store.


First, Art POP is the visual arts part of the festival. Exhibitions, installations, performances, etc. These are mostly taking place at the Rialto Studio and online with some shows at Articule (262 Avenue Fairmount O) and Espace POP (5587 Park Ave).

Puces POP

Second, Puces POP is a marketplace for “local designers, crafters and artists”. This year, the marketplace will happen online and at the St-Viateur Pavillion (530 Querbes ave) with all the safety measures in place.

Film POP

Third, Film POP presents films with topics surrounding music. These will mostly be shown at Cinema Moderne (5150 St Laurent Blvd). The POP Movie is actually going to be played on the Rialto Rooftop!

Film POP Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland
Film POP – Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland
POP Symposium

So, you’ve listened to the music, you’ve experienced the art and now you can learn from the artists and experts of the music world. POP Symposium consists of panels that are open and free to the public. I found these to be very interesting:

POP Montreal – Encore!

In conclusion, the POP Montreal music festival is a smorgasbord of art and sound. As such, it has a little taste of everything and discoveries for everyone! Actually, in times like these I believe it’s art that enriches our day-to-day lives. Therefore, I think it’s the best time to support the artists that add so many colors to the creative mosaic of our city. If you feel the same, you can find the schedule and buy tickets to shows on the official POP Montreal website and for timely news, check out their Facebook page.

We have to be able to adapt and take a few chances and be safe and try new things.  It’s a new challenge but we are up to it! – Dan Seligman on pivoting to a hybrid model this year.

POP Montreal 2020 – COVID safety measures

Finally, writing about POP Montreal reminded me of another innovative and unique music festival we discovered. More specifically, you can check out our article on Shazamfest to learn more!

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