The other side of Montreal Jazzfest – The street performers
By: Kieron Yates – mtltimes.ca
Samuel Johnson once said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’ and that sentiment must also be true of Montreal. No matter your budget; there are so many things to see and do year round in this glorious metropolis. Festivals are so plentiful that they overlap. We are oozing culture at the seems, and life in Montreal is grand. People travel from all over to visit our festivals; and the Montreal International Jazz Festival highlights the list of things not to miss. But what about the lesser mentioned aspects of this phenomenal festival? Yes, I am of course referring to the many street performances that take place between the bands, to the sides of the stages and between the food vendors and beer tents.
From Snake charmers, conjuring human snakes to slither through the skies, pulling off incredible aerial stunts of the type you would expect to find in a circus show, the cringe worthy bed of nails and a man who bends a sharp spear with his neck. All manor of things that could turn ugly real quick, should something go array. A trope known as the Grease Monkeys pulled out a bag of tricks, back flips, and kick flips on a skateboard. Diving through hoops and juggling, guzzling gasoline straight from the gas canister. Ending off with a death defying display of pure oddity, juggling sharp knives and rubber chickens, of course, while standing atop a pile of tires, a cooler and a skateboard.
The creme de la creme was savored for after dark, where for two nights, a fire permanence took place. Two dames spun burning staffs and spat fire high into the night sky, dancing to the beat of the loud speakers in a beautiful display of potential danger. I was in awe throughout the two shows, and I wasn’t alone in that sentiment. Children stood aghast, mouths wide opened and mesmerized. Adults clapped along with joy, while staff stood by with towels and fire extinguishes – just in case.
Perhaps the best seats to be had, belonged to those who gathered around to watch the many, many street performances on display.