A uniquely Mon­treal fest at Van Horne over­pass

Mega­tive, a new band fea­tur­ing fa­mil­iar faces, makes it­self at home un­der the Van Horne over­pass at Mile Ex End Musique Mon­tréal

Montreal Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - tdun­levy@post­media.com twit­ter.com/TChaDun­levy T’CHA DUNLEVY


The Mile Ex End Musique Mon­tréal fes­ti­val takes place Satur­day and Sun­day un­der the Van Horne over­pass, be­tween Cas­grain and Henri-Julien Aves. Mega­tive per­forms Satur­day at 4:30 p.m. on the Mile Ex Stage. Tick­ets cost $50 per day, $90 for two days. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit mile­ex­end.com.

It’s not the most ob­vi­ous spot for a fes­ti­val. Or for any­thing, for that mat­ter.

The urban blight that is the Van Horne un­der­pass is the kind of place where you wouldn’t want to be caught at night. Un­less, say, you were get­ting down to some in­tox­i­cat­ing sounds with a few thou­sand like-minded rev­ellers.

The Mile Ex End Musique Mon­tréal fes­ti­val isn’t the first event to re­pur­pose this des­o­late, in­dus­trial set­ting — com­ing on the heels of the re­cent Osheaga Block Party and other one-offs over the past sev­eral years (see ac­com­pa­ny­ing story) — but it’s by far the most am­bi­tious.

A range of in­die acts, mostly lo­cal and a few in­ter­na­tional, will take to three stages set up un­der and around the con­crete in­fra­struc­ture this Satur­day and Sun­day for the in­au­gu­ral edi­tion of a cel­e­bra­tion that has el­bowed its way onto the cul­tural cal­en­dar on the premise of cre­at­ing some­thing uniquely Mon­treal.

An­chor­ing the lo­cal con­tin­gent is the in­can­des­cent alt-pop of Pa­trick Wat­son, who will be joined over the week­end by postrock icons God­speed You! Black Em­peror; ris­ing trip-pop star Char­lotte Cardin; folk-pop singer Ba­sia Bu­lat; singer-song­writer Matt Hol­ubowski; DJ Kid Koala; jazz-pop en­sem­ble Busty and the Bass, and many more.

Add in a few big names from out­side our fair city — Cana­dian rocker Dal­las Green’s City and Colour; the awe­somely in­tro­spec­tive Cat Power; the old­school cool of Suzanne Vega; al­t­folkie Andy Shauf — and you’re off to the races.

But there’s one name on the list that rep­re­sents Mon­treal un­like any other, bring­ing to­gether representatives from two dis­tinct decades of our city’s music scene while con­verg­ing to mark a third.

It’s a name you haven’t heard be­fore, but that you may be hear­ing a lot more of in com­ing months.

Mega­tive is the brain­child of Gus Van Go, a.k.a. Gus Co­rian­doli, the tow­er­ing front­man of late-’80s/early-’90s Mon­treal ska-punk he­roes Me Mom and Mor­gen­taler, and Tim Fletcher, for­mer lead singer of earlyaughts in­die buzz band the Stills.

The two friends have come to­gether for some­thing dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent from ei­ther of those pre­vi­ous groups: a dub-reg­gae­in­flected fu­sion of hip hop, rock and other stuff, with a hefty dose of urban cool. In other words, the per­fect kind of sound to launch in an urban waste­land.

“Oddly enough, I think the Brook­lyn-meets-Mon­treal an­gle of the band — which in­cludes four Mon­treal­ers and four New York­ers — in the most Brook­lyn area of Mon­treal is kind of fun,” said Van Go, who has been based in New York for two decades.

Dur­ing that time, he has built up a rep­u­ta­tion as a pro­ducer, work­ing with Cana­dian in­die acts Arkells, White­horse, Win­ter­sleep, Les Cow­boys Fringants and, of course, the Stills. Aside from the odd Me Mom re­union, Van Go hasn’t been on a stage the last 17 years. He thought his days in a band were be­hind him un­til some­thing called him back.

“I feel a need for Mega­tive,” he said, sit­ting with Fletcher in a Plateau park Mon­day af­ter­noon, on a break from re­hearsals in­side the con­cert hall La Tulipe.

“Seven years ago, Tim and I started talk­ing about do­ing this project. No one was do­ing cool, dark, apoc­a­lyp­tic reg­gae. For us, reg­gae is not some­thing that only has to do with good vibes. Dub reg­gae is dark, f---ed up and kind of scary. The po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism of bands like the Spe­cials and Clash is lack­ing, too. That so­cial com­men­tary is es­pe­cially needed in to­day’s po­lit­i­cal cli­mate.”

Dub leg­ends King Tubby and Lee (Scratch) Perry are cited as in­flu­ences, as are Bri­tish triphop pi­o­neers Mas­sive At­tack.

“This is a chance to ex­plore dif­fer­ent realms,” said Fletcher, who has been mak­ing reg­u­lar trips to New York over the past two years to work on the al­bum, due near year’s end on Last Gang Records.

Fletcher as­sumes lead vo­cals for Mega­tive, while Van Go is on backup vo­cals, gui­tar and — kicks?

“We’re on stage in re­hearsals and you’re do­ing kicks and s--t,” Fletcher said to Van Go, a hint of awe in his voice. “I’m like, ‘Whoa! OK, this is go­ing to hap­pen. OK, I re­mem­ber those Me Mom shows. This is Gus, from Me Mom! Oh yeah, OK.’”

The core of the band is rounded out by New York pro­duc­tion duo Like­minds, with add-ons in­clud­ing Ja­maica-via-Brook­lyn dance­hall reg­gae MC Screechy Dan and old Me Mom per­cus­sion­ist John Brit­ton, now liv­ing in Toronto.

The op­por­tu­nity to give Mon­treal­ers a sneak pre­view of the project is a per­fect fit, Fletcher said.

“I used to live at St-Lau­rent and St-Vi­a­teur,” he said. “Now I’m in Park Ex. That whole Mile End, Plateau area, and now Mile Ex (com­prises) decades of stomp­ing grounds. It’s very in­ti­mate to be play­ing there, in terms of neigh­bour­hood. We’re go­ing to be per­form­ing in the mid­dle of a com­mu­nity that I feel is home to me. So on one level, it’s amaz­ing; on an­other level, it’s like, whoa, fam­ily. It’s a home­com­ing.”


Gus Van Go (ex-Me Mom and Mor­gen­taler, sec­ond from left) and Tim Fletcher (for­merly of the Stills, fourth from left) will bring their new dub-reg­gaein­spired col­lec­tive Mega­tive to the Mile Ex End Musique Mon­tréal fes­ti­val un­der the Van Horne over­pass.


The Bridge Burner par­ties in the late 2000s cre­ated a uniquely Mon­treal at­mos­phere un­der the Van Horne.

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