Montreal, August 12, 2019
The 24th edition of the Under Pressure festival took place this past weekend. Beginning in 1996, Under Pressure is the longest running active urban culture festival in North America. Emulating, or playing homage to, the historic street parties of New York City in the 70s, Under Pressure brings a taste of real Hip Hop to Montreal. A main stage and two deejay booths provided music to the passers-by and festival faithful, while skateboarding demos from the young talents of Skateboards For Hope tore up a half-pipe. Basketball and soccer demos for the kids, and an incredible breakdancing tournament drew a large crowd. How these street dancers are able to move the way they do, is both beyond me and fascinating at the same time.
Saturday’s festivities were temporarily disrupted as the skies opened up and the rain came crashing down. Spray painting walls in the wet is nigh impossible, and seeing as the festival largely centers around graffiti writing, the forecast couldn’t have been worse. However, the scheduled performance of Canada’s premier Hip Hop artist, Maestro Fresh Wes, went down unhinged. One of the early Canadian rappers and the first to ever break through to mainstream success, he has been credited as the “Godfather of Canadian hip hop”.
Sunday saw perfect weather, however, as people wondered around the back alleys around the famous Foufounes Electriques bar and the Saint-Elizabeth pub. From all walks of life and all ages, curious eyes gazed on the artists as they slapped fresh paint over brick. Unfortunately, the rooftop deejay tables weren’t on display this time around, as the building on which they normally sit was recently sold to a new owner who apparently wasn’t overly receptive the idea.
The festivities began Wednesday, August 7 and further continue until Sunday, August 11, 2019. During the weekend, Saint-Catherine East Street will be closed between Saint-Dominique and Saint-Elisabeth. All in all, over a hundred local, national and international artists took part in the event.