A slew of artists were in Montreal this past long weekend. Celebrating the third edition of The Mile Ex End Fest. Bringing diverse musical artists, food, games, and fun for the whole family,
to the Rosemont borough.
Protected from Montreal’s unpredictable weather, it’s main stage was safely tucked beneath the Van Horne Viaduct. Which, like last year, would come in handy. With it’s smaller sister stage located in a more intimate setting. Happening over four days, there was a little something for everyone.
Friday, August 30th, 2019
Friday night started off strong. With a mix of French, English and world music. Kevin Morby and Adam Naas warmed things up early in the evening. La Force, was an enchanting mix of electronic pop. Including newest the vocalist of Broken Social Scene, Ariel Engle.
With each act wrapping up their set, you witnessed the audience grow substantially. All wishing to get to the best spot to see the headliner of the night. Canadian singer, song writer Feist, was back to play to her beloved Montreal fans.
The Grammy nominated artist gave us the best of the older hits. Making sure to play some new tunes off of the album ‘Pleasure’, as well.
Saturday, August 31st, 2019
Kicking it off in the early afternoon with calmer solo acts Juste Robert and Nicolas Gemus. Followed by Natasha Kanape – an Innu poet and activist. Kanape read her poetry to a gathering that sat, cross-legged on the grass in front of the stage. It was a rare occasion were the crowd is to remain silent as possible. Then the festival turned up the volume a few notches by nights end. It was going to be a very packed day for some amazing music discovery.
Next, Elisapie brought her powerful native spirit to the stage. Covering all bases. She’s a documentary filmmaker, activist and singer. Showing the strong female presence, that most festivals have lacked only until recent years. Her verbal expressions between sets showed that of an activist. Of a women fighting for her people. For the Native American that has long been mistreated and kept down. She made reference to the festival being played on “stolen lands”.
Mile Ex End has always had spots for minorities, and that was true again this year.
Daniel Lanois was an older crowd pleaser. Experimenting with all forms of playing and producing music, he brought the bluesy breakdowns for a perfect sing along affair.
We also were lucky to get 80’s rock band’s, Dinosaur Jr, front man J Mascis. He gave us a solid solo set on the smaller stage. It was a highlight of the day to be seeing him
without the whole band. Although The Fog would have been a welcomed addition also. Mascis played acoustic and electro-acoustic portions of his songs as well. Through th use of pedals. However, the electronic segments seemed to be considerably louder than the acoustic, which gave off an uneasy listening.
Les Cowboy Fringants, got everybody up on their feet dancing. Their high energy show was what everyone needed. To keep warm on a cooler September night and also to stay awake. Dedicating one of the song’s to all the more than disliked politicians of the city (world) got a strong reaction. They luckily got to play an extended set
Native Producer and DJ crew, A Tribe Called Red, were the perfect end to the day.. Bringing the party vibe. Breaking it down with heavy bass and traditional pow wow drums Their one of a kind production styles use vocals blended with modern hip hop and edgy electronic music. The musical journey has given them a chance to play huge festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella. Being a smaller festival, there was still a huge crowd jumping and vibing to the beats.
Sunday, September 1st, 2019
The sun was shining, reminding us summer wasn’t quite over. Not yet. Parents were ecstatic to be able to enjoy a weekend of concerts while their kids played in the park. Plenty of board games, and a popcorn stand to keep the youngsters busy. You could see the awe in the eyes of those children who never had a concert experience before. There was also a very popular interactive game where kids, and drunken adults, pelted a giant LED screen with balls. Runaway balls where scooped up and lobbed from anywhere possible. I witnessed one poor kid take a ball off the back of the head. Good thing they were soft stress balls. No damage done.
Les Louanges had a pretty excited crowd waiting for them. Girls were swooning over the singer , as he jumped on the speaker. Teasing them, every time he got closer spectators screamed louder. With a rock, synth, funk style, they definitely set themselves apart from other bands so far.
Helado Negro played to a eager fan base . Since they had been here in February they had gained a larger gathering this time. Playing the entirety of the album ‘This Is How
You Smile’. A singer mesmerizing to watch, smiling bright, merged as one with his guitar tones. His positivity was contagious. Emulating the bright sunshine and sharing it with the crowd.
French hip hop collective, Auclair Ensemble, brought a whole new level of excitement . Adding to the atmosphere. It was non-stop energy from one end of the stage, to the next. A rarer Quebec blend of street rap, formed in Quebec city. With in your face hooks and pressing beats and vocal style, these guys really were the whole package.
Flowing perfectly afterwards on the side stage, was english language hip hop artist Zach Zoya. With a much more old school and smart approach to his lyrical stylings. Song after song, his set kept getting more intense, showing off this kids immense talent. It was refreshing to see a new breed of conscious hip hop in a time of terrible trap. Zoya has all the ingredients to be the provinces next big thing.
Next was alternative pop singer Jeanne Added. With lights turned down, she slowly danced into the light, showing off her eclectic frantic moves. Her irresistible intoxicating voice radiating through the night. It was catchy yet disturbing, not your typical pop princess.
Followed by electronic duo Chromeo, lasers and keyboards front and center. Serving up an 80’s techno dance party. With a dash of Prince inspiration and a pinch of their own brand of funk. Encouraging people to get on each other’s shoulders he had everyone up in the air. Encouraging absolutely everyone, not just girls can find shoulder’s to climb up on. The neon glow of the keyboard stands, made of mannequin legs, made me giggle. The visual it gave off was that of a man with lady-legs. I don’t even care if that is offensive to somebody. Chromeo were an old school throwback and a damn good time. People danced into the night. A great way to end the musical portion of the four day festival.
Monday, September 2nd, 2019
The final day of the affair, was a wet one. A day filled with French language stand-up comedy. Mired by a lot of rain and some unseasonably cool temperatures. The crowd was very sparse – probably due to the poor weather. Maybe also because the festival alienates a portion of its audience by not having any Anglophone performers. Not one.
Given the fact that there were two stages running, why not have one in English and the other in French? For a festival that does so well in supporting minorities, it is a saddening oversight to see the Anglophone minority ostracized and unsupported.
Although a good time, it surely wasn’t the young festivals brightest event. A lot of the programming was a little too similar and struggled to retain the interests of the crowd. Many of which were content to ignore the onstage talent, and lounge on the oversized lawn chairs – or watch their kids have a time in the park.
The organizers at Mile Ex End need to realize that they can capitalize of the Osheaga, Ile Sonic and Just For Laughs crowds that are hungry for a little more before summer’s end. The potential for greatness is there – here’s hoping they can reach it.
Written by Samantha Morris