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Taverne Tour 2024: A Winter Party With Edge

The intimate multi-venue indie music gathering is heating up Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood once again.

by Madeline Lines

There’s a certain time of the year in Montreal where you look around and realize the famously racing heartbeat of the city has slowed to a dull thud. It’s on ice, literally. Gone are the summer days where you had to choose between six different concerts, five raves, three festivals, and a Boiler Room set. The city needs something to wake it from its winter hibernation – and thankfully, it has an especially intimate festival coming up to jumpstart its citizens’ cold, music-starved hearts.

Taverne Tour is by and for Montrealers, an idea cooked up by the people at Mothland to reinvigorate the beloved venues, bars, and music scene at a sluggish time of year. “A lot of people stay inside for the whole month of January, and we’re kind of the light at the end of that tunnel,” says Marilyne Lacombe. “When people come to these shows, they’re ready to party.”

It started in 2016 with mostly local bands warming up a handful of taverns and bars dotted across the city’s main arteries, and has grown to a healthy mix of intimate bars and bigger venues to accommodate an eclectic mix of acts from local and beyond. “We want to have a spectrum of sound, from rock to hip-hop to electronic,” says Lacombe. “Some of the acts are on their first album, or don’t even have a full album out yet, so it’s the perfect chance to discover a new band.” 

Last year’s lineup included the likes of Of Montreal, Adam Green, Backxwash, and Lydia Lunch. This year’s wide-ranging mix is bound to get our pulses racing again, with Deli Girls, New York Night Train, Yves Jarvis, Nightlunch, and more. Dip your toes into the fest with the supple sounds of Hawa B and sparkling electro-R&B of R. Flex on Thursday, February 8 presented by RANGE — RSVP

On Friday, experimental masters TEKE::TEKE make their Taverne Tour return, on a bigger stage this time. They’re bound to make you bounce to a mishmash of Japanese folk, psychedelia, and a million sounds in between. If you’re on more of a hip hop wave, mosey on over to Le Belmont for assorted bilingual bars from High Klassified to 20some, topped off by the highly danceable alt-RnB of Janette King —RSVP

If you need another push to wade through the snow, there’s a healthy dose of free shows as well. Wander into the fest HQ, Le Ministère, and you’ll find projections from local video artist Anthony Piazza setting the scene for some of them. You can also catch a few cozy free sets in local bars. Then, on Saturday, February 10, close off the fest with the running tradition of a free punk pizza party, where they’ll be serving up New York slices with the sounds of Brooklyn’s TVOD from midnight till the wee hours. 

Marilyne’s advice, as a tried and true Taverne Tourer of nearly eight years? “Take a chance with bands you haven’t heard of or have never seen, because I think that’s where you’re really going to be surprised.”

To explore this year’s lineup which runs Feb. 8 to 10, head to tavernetour.ca