Be different: 10 "underground" places in Montreal worth seeing

By Jacques Bérubé

Underground. Alternative. Different. Here’s a short list of places the “proper” people avoid, calling them bizarre. We know there are plenty of people out there that want to check out something different, though. So check these places out and discover a side of Montreal you may not have know existed.

Be different: 10

1. Coop Katacömbes

Katacömbes Coop, on St. Laurent Blvd. opens whenever there’s a show. Anti-capitalist, anti-racist and feminist, it’s also somewhat chaotic. The likes of Diamond Heads, Grim Reaper and Bad Uncle have performed there.

2. Bar Notre-Dame-Des-Quilles

A hipster bar near Little Italy is a rare thing, but that’s what Bar Notre-Dame-Des-Quilles on Beaubien Street East is: you can bowl a few frames, have some drinks, even eat comfort food like mac ‘n cheese.

3. Les Foufounes électriques

Fronting Sainte-Catherine Street East near UQÀM, Les Foufounes Electriques has been an alternative Montreal mecca for eons. Performances by groups like Kronos and Dark Tranquility; offbeat events like Halloween Night and La Grand Guignolée Underground for the benefit of Sun Youth Organization; and disco nights (with a good dose of classic rock, house, hard rock, ska and metal thrown in for good measure) define this iconic nightclub.

4. Le Belmont sur le Boulevard

Le Belmont sur le Boulevard, on the corner of St. Laurent Blvd. and Mont-Royal blends rock music and electronic burlesque. Their Mec plus Ultra evening is among the most popular gay events in Montreal.

5. Le Salon du disque et des arts underground de Montréal

Each March, Le Salon du disque et des arts underground de Montréal takes place for two days in the basement of Église Saint-Denis on Rivard Street. While there you’ll meet hundreds of artists, reps from recording companies and indy publishers. You’ll find everything from comic books to music, jewellery to art – and much more!

6. X20 Rio

X20 Rio has been selling boots and shoes on St. Denis Street since 1979, which coincides with when the punk movement arrived in Montreal. Doc Martens, Converse, jeans, skirts and accessories have been a staple there since the start.

7. Boutique Diabolik

Located at 245 Mont-Royal East, Boutique Diabolik sells a selection of Quebec-made garments for men and women in the goth, metal and lolita styles. Add to that accessories, jewellery, boots, shoes, on-site tailoring and garment rental for special occasions, and this boutique truly puts the chic in “diabolique”.

8. Oly Anger

The artists at Oly Anger tattoo studios specialize in realism, neo traditional, black and grey, and geometric-style tattoos. Nestled between the walls of a historic stone building, the shop is on de la Commune Street in Old Montreal.

9. Osheaga Music and Arts festival

The Osheaga Music and Arts festival is Canada’s big gathering of emerging musical talents performing alongside such famous international artists as: Smashing Pumpkins, Arcade Fire, Metric, The Black Keys, Garbage, The Cure, Half Moon Run, Koriass and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Towards the end of July each year, the festival welcomes about a hundred groups. Parc Jean-Drapeau is still echoing!

10. Heavy Montreal

The Heavy MTL festival, which takes place for two days in August following the Osheaga festival, has a playlist sure to shake you up: hardcore rock ‘n’ roll, sunshine and wrestling! It’s where rock music meets muscle, and the athletes’ grunts of pain clash with the artists’ lyrics.

Bonus

The Cleopatra Café in the former red-light district of St. Laurent Blvd. sits in the trendy Quartier des Spectacles. Exotic dancers perform at street level and on stage, alongside highly-entertaining, queer vaudevillian troupe Glam Gam Productions.

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