During the summers, Montreal festival season is very active. This summer we welcomed a new kid on the block, Mile Ex End; a two-day festival set under the Van Horne overpass. This new festival promised us a lineup full of talent, good food, and good times.
As this was the inaugural year, I didn’t know what to expect. I treated this like a first date with someone you met online; you’ve seen pictures, you got a feel for the person by chatting, but you never know till you finally meet. Is it love at first site? A disaster? Well, Mile Ex End was not a disaster, might not have been love at first site but there is a great foundation to make this a yearly festival on the circuit for years to come.
Only a few steps away from Rosemont metro stop, the venue is hidden away from the everyday world under the overpass. I was greeted by friendly staff and entered to what I can only describe as a hipster paradise. The area was nicely laid out with the main stage in a parking lot adjacent to the overpass, a stage directly under the overpass, and a third behind a building nearby. There was food trucks, beer trailers, and even a barista on a bicycle so the food and beverages were covered.
Saturday had us see eleven artists, a few stood out on this day starting with the headliner City and Colour. This was the first time I’ve seen City and Colour perform as a full band and it was sublime! Dallas Green has a unique voice that takes you away. You just relate to his lyrics and get lost in the music. Songs like “Waiting…,” “Hello, I’m in Delaware,” and “The Girl” were highlights in the set and got the crowd signing along.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Diplomats, a band we previously reviewed, hit the stage. I must say they certainly improved since seeing them at La Sala Rossa a couple years back. Cat Power performed under the overpass. Her voice is magical, however, she is known for her lack lustre performances and this was no exception. A great discovery was Matt Holubowski who I have heard many good things about before and never had a chance to see him. Well, the hype is real. This guy can sing! I look forward to hearing more from him, and next time he has a gig around town you should check it out!
Finally, we were treated to a special moment on the first day. The first live performance of Megative, a collective of eight musicians (four from Montreal and four from New York). Led by Tim Fletcher (The Stills) and Gus Van Go (Me Mom and Morgentaler), the band describes themselves as part Gorillaz, part The Clash but laced with Lee “Scratch” Perry-style dub FX, hip-hop beats, and swirling sirens right out of Massive Attack’s sound system! It was a musical journey; from punk to reggae no genre was off limits. This was a special act for sure.
Day one was a huge success and the weather was brilliant. The only hiccup might have been the position of the food truck as when they were busy, and this was most of the time, the lineups blocked the entrance to the site which made it go from stage to stage. This was corrected on the second day but the weather didn’t cooperate as much. Sunday was marred with rain but that didn’t stop anything.
Day two was highlighted by a rare performance of Godspeed You! Black Emperor closing the festival. Their performance was chilling. A screen behind the performers displayed a dark ominous imagery, and it was clear that these musicians have great chemistry as their performance is flawless.
Talking about flawless, Patrick Watson gave another solid performance. This Montrealer oozes talent and this was evident under the dark underpass as it was illuminated by lasers. Another performer that stood out on this day was Toronto’s, Basia Bulat. The folk singer voice was amazing and had people crowding to hear her show. I had a hard time getting close to see her but I loved what I heard. I definitely need to discover her discography.
Finally, the highlight of the entire weekend was seeing Montreal’s, Charlotte Cardin. Her performance was brilliant. I love the attitude she sings with. Her voice is just mesmerizing, and the whole set was flawless with a few stand out songs: “Les Échardes,” “Big Boy,” “Main Girl,” and “Dirty Dirty.” She is a definite must see for your bucketlist. She just released her new EP Main Girl so be sure to catch her on tour with Nick Murphy this fall.
Mile Ex End was a success. From the blowup dinosaurs to the kids playing in the sun and the sea of umbrellas, the soundtrack of our summer was well received. I hope to see you there next year enjoying some great tunes with friends.
Written by Eric Brisson
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy