The abundance of M for Montreal 2019 on Saturday night was no joke. With an endless stream of international bands coming through town, and playing at some of the city’s most essential bars like Sala Rossa, Casa Del Popolo, and L’Escogriffe, it’s been hard to decide where to go first.

The Best Kept MTL team hit up M for Mothland – Phase 1, because if you want a wonderful sampling of rock, grunge, and experimental jams, then trust the sophisticated curating of Mothland.

Self-described as “more than just an artist agency,” Mothland has been making some serious noise around our fair city and they are definitely worth paying attention to.

Their Phase 1 was in Sala Rossa and boasted two stages (one in the middle of the room and one on the old stage), and I got a chance to check out WHOOP-Szo and Atsuko Chiba, post-metal/grunge, and prog/post rock respectively. WHOOP-Szo saw their members head banging synchronistically. Cool. On the middle-of-the-room stage, they filled Sala Rossa with sludgy earth-shaking jams that hearkened back to older stoner rock bands like Dead Meadow or Earthless. Then Atsuko Chiba jumped up on the main stage. Having three guitar players really helped thicken the exultant melodies, backwards watery riffs, and unexpected time signatures. Geometric sounds matched their absolutely psychedelic projections that swam over them as they played. A very satisfying night, Mothland.

Then it was off to L’escogriffe to catch Toronto band, Tallies. Their now my new favourite band. Those clear, pure, soaring vocals, the staccato unbelievably tight percussion, the lush and gorgeously layered guitar, melodies so tasty and memorable that being in front of them live was like reliving summer all over again.

It is shocking but true: they just debuted their first album. The 4-piece is talented beyond their years, hearkening back to Cocteau Twins, the Smiths, maybe a little Best Coast. The textures and melodies just lower all one’s defenses and send you to a purple-pink shimmering groove.

Our festival wrap up was catching headliners, the Montreal based The High Dials. I had heard only positive things about this band.

Their vocal harmonies with influences of Byrds and the Beach Boys founding members Anderson and guitarist Robbie MacArthur pulled off exactly what their well-rounded sound is – a reflecting melodic sensibility with hooks in their choruses. The kind that easily get stuck in your head with its musical sensorama, your new internal psychological soundtrack.

M for Montreal 2019, you have done it again. An incredible cacophony of bands and artists, making our city just a little bit better for it. If you are traveling to your favorite band, this is how you need to pack. Thank you!