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So Many Concerts And So Few People: What Is Happening in Montreal?

Something is afoul in the city streets of Montreal this summer of 2013, and it’s not just the stench of the garbage trucks. Talk to any concert promoter around town – from the bigs (Evenko, Spectra), to the mids (Preste, Blue Skies Turn Black, Pop Montreal, Neon, Greenland, High Food), to the smalls (Bonsound, Indie Montreal, Pirates of the Lachine Canal), to the venues themselves (Casa del Popolo, Divan Orange, Sala Rossa, Cabaret Mile End, Il Motore) – and they will all tell you that concert attendance is down…way down in our fair city.

Now, not all levels of performances are affected. Sure the big arena shows keep on trucking and are generally bringing in loads of coin, but it’s at the middle and emerging artist level where we see the biggest misses, and where most promoters do not have access to the monetary rewards of a stadium-sized gate. What is up you ask? Well. Look around and do the math. Montreal is a small city. We are not Toronto or New York or Chicago. With a shrinking population on the island and burgeoning suburban growth, there are less people to draw from. Further, said suburbs – hello 450 – have now gotten into the concert entertainment game as well.

Back on the island, increased competition between promoters has led to bidding wars for artists that frankly don’t merit the fees they are demanding, while obliterated music sales have led to many more bands hitting the road to sustain some sort of a living. This perfect storm has hit Montreal particularly hard. The city is poor, with low wages and high taxes, and entertainment dollars are stretched to the limit for most – and hey, don’t forget this is the city of festivals, arts, and culture.

So, this, in a very general nutshell explains why a) there are fewer smaller to medium-sized venues in the city and b) why your new/old favorite band is not playing here.

You can travel to Hog Town soon to catch Fuck Buttons, Low, Wavves, Built To Spill, The Blow, Kurt Vile, Okkervil River, AFI, Monster Magnet, Crystal Stilts, Deerhunter, Queens of The Stone Age…cuz they ain’t playing here.