Published Aug 03, 2010In a city crowded to the brim with festivals, MEG Montreal has spent the majority of its 12-year existence on the losing end of a game of musical chairs. Whether it's been difficulties finding suitable dates on the calendar, working in the shadow of partners like Osheaga or building a specific enough identity to cater to the tastes of any one scene, MEG has repeatedly repositioned itself over the years for a better, more luminous fit in Montreal's cultural landscape.
This year, MEG separated itself from the Osheaga concert grounds and moved into two principal locations a good 20-minute walk apart, making it difficult to take in more than one showcase in an evening. The 1,000-capacity Club Soda in Montreal's downtown featured a three-night lineup of eclectic dance rock and left-field beats practitioners such as Black Strobe, In Flagranti, Birdy Nam Nam, and DFA's Holy Ghost, who played to a mostly empty room during the week and to decidedly bigger crowds as the weekend settled in. Meanwhile, the more intimate 200-capacity Divan Orange up on the Plateau favoured a roster of mostly local live acts and DJs, such as breakbeats DJ Brace and spacey synth pop minimalists Organ Mood.
The bulk of the festival's heavy hitters were reserved for the MEG Boat Party, which is one of the few festival events to have garnered a loyal following in recent years and has since become a staple event. Setting off from the Old Port docks just before midnight on wonderfully warm and clear Sunday night, the tightly packed four-hour cruise heralded performances and DJ sets by DFA's Juan Maclean, left-field disco pioneers Black Devil Disco Club, Ninja Tune's Bonobo and noughties dance rockers VHS or Beta.
MEG also went a long way toward padding its lineup with events that were already taking place around the city, and many of the festival's biggest draws performed at these associated stages. A June 25 showcase at Parc Jean-Drapeau — a full four days before the rest of MEG — was primarily a Piknic Electronik event headlined by boozy French house duo Nôze. The July 31 showcase at the 2,500-capacity Metropolis, featuring Chromeo, Neon Indian, and Telephoned, was mainly an Osheaga by Night event. And the continuous stream of local DJs billed at Laika over the course of the week were just the lounge's regular nightly DJs aggrandized to pad the festival programming.
As a result, apart from the boat party, it was difficult once again this year for MEG to make a major statement, often overshadowed by its partners and an uneven lineup that proved either too obscure for large audiences or enamoured with genres that had outlived their trendy heydays by a good seven or eight years.