A Guide To Montreal’s RBMA Weekender 2017

By Stuart Oakes, Feature Photo via URSSS

Because nothing says “yes, I am taking school seriously” quite like taking a vacation in September, I’m headed to Montreal to enjoy this year’s Red Bull Music Academy Weekender (“life is an adventure,” I tell myself, stuffing textbooks that I vow to read on the bus into my bag). The Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) is a series of travelling workshops and festivals; as corporate patrons go, it appears, from the outside, pretty chill. The Weekender is a four day electronic music festival, or “takeover,” per RBMA (perhaps the revolution will finally do something about the inexpensive living and convenience store beer that I hear has been haunting poor Montreal for years). This iteration of the fest runs from September 21st to the 24th. The line-up is uniformly great, and includes the fantastic Toronto locals Bambii, Charlotte Day Wilson, and Nadja, as well as other Canadian acts like Jayda G,  Orphx, Bonbon Kojak, M.Bootyspoon, Pierre Kwenders, Odile Myrtil, and Dopethrone.

Here are some names to watch for if you are attending the shows, and artists to check out even if you aren’t. Tickets are available here and range from $10 to $20, including a ridiculous $15 for the thirteen-hour Saturday party starring heavy-lifters Umfang, Volvox, Courtesy, and Jayda G. The full festival lineup is available at the bottom of this page.

Pan Daijing

Thursday is the noise, drone, and experimental night, headlined by the legendary Hamilton industrial and experimental techno duo Orphx. The artist I am most excited to see, however, is the Chinese-born, Berlin-based performer and performance artist Pan Daijing. Daijing’s music is dark, and works with noise and primal, non-verbal elements of the human voice, but instead of being harsh, the music has a deeply therapeutic effect—for example, the rasping scrape sound in “A Situation of Meat,” from 2017’s Lack, is softened until it becomes oddly, unexpectedly comforting. Rhythm is central to her work, helping to merge interests in techno, industrial, and opera with an emphasis on physical embodiment and live performance.



TRSNGNDR/VHS is a queer, much more directly confrontational noise project from Baltimore City; however, Alexandra Brandon’s music is playful in its efforts to unsettle listeners. 2015’s Condominium EP is blistering and distorted, but tracks like “Geography” and “Fighting in the Suburbs” build into slow (but very real) grooves, and “Permanent” feeds vaporwave aesthetics through a grinder. They’ve also released an extremely eclectic, excellent mix with Discwoman. Anticipate a visually impressive, chaotic performance.


DJ Marfox

DJ Marfox is a Lisbon-based Kuduro DJ, an energetic, Angolan/Portugese style of electronic music. He’s a veteran—his first big release, DJs Do Ghetto, came out in 2006—but it has only been in the last couple of years that he’s begun playing shows in North America. Kuduro is a lot of fun, but it’s also directly tied to Afro-Portugese issues: in an interview with Complex, Marfox says, “We who are in the barrios [roughly, “ghetto”] always lived in crisis with minimal resources, but creativity and joy is never on short supply. This music gave us the much-needed morale to take on the adversities of life and lift our spirits up. I don’t know what I would be today without this music!” As such, I recommend a little research before enjoying his set: here are some good Marfox interviews with Thump, Fact Mag, and Electronic Beats.



  • Saturday, September 23rd
  • TBA
  • Usine C

Najaaraq Vestbirk, or Courtesy, is a both a Copenhagen-based DJ, or “4×4 queen,” per RBMA, and the co-founder of Ectotherm, a label that a lot of my friends have been really excited about recently. Her mixes are eclectic and not afraid to get experimental, but they’re always oriented towards the dancefloor—she plays techno, electro, bass, and jungle and isn’t afraid to get high with the BPMs—which makes them a lot of fun. Honestly, with her, Umfang and Volvox (check out their unbelievable recent Boiler Room b2b here), and Jayda G scheduled to DJ, Saturday is going to be a blast.






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