Under Pressure festival 2021

Strange times we are living in. Nothing new there, really. With things slowly returning to “normal”, whatever that means any more, things are almost certainly staying strange. Case in point, this weekend, Under Pressure celebrated their 26th year; yet all what was not as it should be.

A combination of reasons for this; collateral damage as a result of two years of pandemic conditions, and the greed of the rich who continue their gentrification, their war on the lower classes and the arts. Meaning that this years festival, a celebration of art and culture, was far from what it should have been. Few people ventured out, to paint or bare witness, and many of the walls that would normally be adorn with murals and art, instead have been demolished to make way for… more condos. Because what this city needs is more overpriced condominiums that nobody can afford.

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In the past, there would be DJs spinning from roof-top perches; but that building no longer exists. Instead, a fenced off hole in the ground takes its place, waiting to be developed into homes for the affluent. Montreal is under a very serious and very real housing crisis, despite what it’s ditzy mayor, Valerie Plante tries to sell us. MC’s would be spitting rhymes from a stage set-up on Ste. Catherine’s street. Break dancers would be competing for trophies and bragging rights. Skaters would skate their ramps and the streets would be full of onlookers. None of that happened this year.

The Foufounes Electriques would have been serving people drinks, yet it remains closed. So too, would the Ste. Elizabeth pub, instead the building that housed some of the better pieces or murals, one that connected to the Ste. Elizabeth pub, was also torn down. Those two missing buildings account for at least a third of the wall space Under Pressure would normally be slapping paint on. Keeping the city bright and beautiful, full of art and color. The Fouf too, almost always plays part in these festivities, including having murals painted on its front terrace. Sadly, we are loosing our arts and our culture. Why? Condos. Gentrification.

Still, those that did come out to participate did a great job, and they city with benefit from it. A world devoid of art, is not a place I want to imagine, nor reside in.

Hopefully 2022 will see a return to normal, for one of the greatest cultural experiences in the province, if not the country.