Music has two levels of enjoyment. The first is on the personal level, in which one listens to a song alone. The second level involves the gratification of sound in a group, either with a few close friends, or amongst hundreds of strangers. The performance by Suuns with Radwan Ghazi Moumneh took the second level to heights that I have not yet reached.
The show was in a constant state of flux, with songs flowing between soothing (yet slightly disturbing) pieces of ambient-drone noise, to tracks that invoked a thrusting of my head back and forth so vigorously that I was in desperate need for an Advil the next morning.
It all began with Suuns, performing various tracks off of their latest album Images Du Futur. The band rolled into a collaboration with Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, a Lebanese musician who uses traditional Arabic instruments and modern electronic equipment to create tranquil, yet exhilarating music. The product of these two being synthesized on stage was a breath-taking show, bringing forth a sound and style that was completely foreign to my ears.
Adding to the "eargasmic" sounds of the performers were the mesmerizing visuals projected onto a screen in the background. These varied from individual colors splashed with the occasional strobe light, to live footage of a specific performer superimposed with a multitude of effects to create a psychedelic spectrum of awesomeness. This was a show to remember, a truly spectacular event.
--Connor "DJ C-Daddy" McComb hosts Take Five every Wednesday 9-10 pm.
As far as I can make out, "edgy" occurs when middlebrow, middle-aged profiteers are looking to suck the energy—not to mention the spending money—out of the "youth culture". So they come up with this fake concept of seeming to be dangerous, when every move they make is the result of market research and a corporate master plan. –Daria Morgendorffer
Way back in the early 1990s, while my friends were still listening to bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, my co-worker Ben Gunning gave me a cassette by a then little-known band called Mudhoney. The tape was Superfuzz Bigmuff, and the music was unlike anything I had heard before: it was metal, it was hard rock, it was garage, it was punk, and it was fucking filthy.
Not long after receiving that cassette, I was listening to Claude Rajotte on the radio, and he urged his listeners to head over to Foufounes Électriques that week to check out another Seattle band called Nirvana. Rajotte said something to the effect that Nirvana was not to be missed because their sound was going to become the next big thing. I liked the Nirvana material Rajotte was spinning well enough, and the show at Foufs was only four bucks (yeah, I know!), so I figured "why not?" and carted my under-age ass downtown a couple of days later. I don't think Nirvana's performance made that much of an impression on me at the time, but that angsty blond guy named Kurt Cobain was interesting enough, so I filed the band under "to keep an eye on" and went back to playing my Mudhoney tape.
Then suddenly it was Grunge.
Nirvana exploded into the mainstream shortly after "Smells Like Teen Spirit" played in a late-night timeslot on MTV. Within a year, another Seattle band called Pearl Jam made its way to the alternative charts with their album Ten, and "Jeremy" became a hit video on Much Music here in Canada. Every girl at CEGEP John Abbott swooned over Eddie Vedder. There was "grunge fashion" (long hair, plaid shirts, ripped jeans, and beanies), "grunge speak" (I'm bound and hagged, just swingin' on the flippity-flop wearing my fuzz, but don't worry it ain't no harsh realm 'cause my dish is coming over later and we're gonna get bloated), and even "grunge couture" (lest we forget Marc Jacobs' collection for Perry Ellis printed on the pages of American Vogue).
Not many people who lived outside of Washington state in 1992-93 (myself included) realized that the scene we then knew as "Grunge" was nothing new. Many of the Seattle acts that were suddenly getting some mainstream attention had already been together—in one form or another—for almost a decade. Lots of other bands from outside of Seattle (Dinosaur Jr., for example) were also lumped into that "Edgy! New! Grunge Scene!" simply because their music was raw and heavy, and probably used the same guitar effects pedals as those on Superfuzz Bigmuff. Canada even had its very own mini Seattle-like scene in Halifax with bands like Sloan and Eric's Trip.
The way I remember it, and I don't remember much, Grunge came to a screeching halt when Kurt Cobain passed away in April 1994. Subsequently, the scene became watered down with bands whose music somewhat resembled what came before, but with a style and a subject matter that was more commercially "acceptable" and "radio-friendly". Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill was the new angry, and Grunge was "dead" (to me anyway) just as Kurt Cobain's t-shirt predicted back in 1992.
Growing up sucks. I eventually lost my Mudhoney cassette to an old boyfriend and sold my soul to corporate America after University working a boring desk job for 15 years. I never did get to see Mudhoney perform live when Grunge was at its peak, and the last time I listened to them was in 1995 when My Brother the Cow came out on that fancy new music format called the compact disc.
Fast forward to 2013 at a record store. On the board was the list of shows coming to town in September, and Mudhoney was one of them. I got to talking with the store clerk about the band, told him how much I used to love them as a kid, and he told me their latest LP, Vanishing Point, was the perfect album for the 40-and-over crowd. Although I was just a few weeks short of my 40th birthday at the time, I picked the record up anyway, gave it a listen, and he was so right!
Mudhoney's ninth full-length album is modern and has that perfect mixture of primal, distorted grunginess that the band is known for, along with the awesome psychedelic fuzz that were hearing from the next generation of performers like Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin. I knew I finally had to catch the band live. So there I was on September 1st, 2013 at Il Motore—23 years after receiving Superfuzz Bigmuff from my friend—seeing Mudhoney for the first time.
I thought it was super cool that the band, with no delusions of grandeur, was booked to play such a small venue. When I got there, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that quite a few young fans, genuinely excited to be there, were in attendance along with seasoned fans of Mudhoney (now sporting their short, corporate haircuts, plain t-shirts, and fully-intact jeans).
The majority of Mudhoney's set consisted of songs from Vanishing Point, along with fan favourites like "Sweet Young Thing" and "Touch Me I'm Sick" from Superfuzz Bigmuff, and "F.D.K" from My Brother the Cow, peppered throughout to make the old gang happy. I particularly loved hearing their new material performed live, especially "The Final Course", which was ferocious, distortion-heavy, energetic, and full of angst.
I felt honoured to finally witness what talented musicians Mark Arm (vocals, guitar), Guy Maddison (bass guitar), Dan Peters (drums), and Steve Turner (guitar) truly are. Mudhoney is a band that knows how to play real punk rock, and they still have it going with a bullet! Scorching guitars, a solid back beat, and a vocal performance complete with all the anger and attitude fitting for generations past and present. This show, for me, shed the band of the unfortunate and trivialising "grunge" moniker of bygone days.
At this point Mark Arm, barely speaking and drinking wine from a bottle, engaged in staring contests with audience members and knocked over his crimson liquid before segwaying into "Chardonnay" and "The Only Son of the Widow from Nain". The band left the stage for a short time, then returned for the encore, which was nice and long and freaking rad. They played some kick-ass cover songs from Black Flag and The Dicks, and more Mudhoney tracks, including "Here Comes Sickness" and "When Tomorrow Hits" from their self-titled debut studio album.
This show gave me everything I wanted, and Mudhoney will always be (well, to me anyway) the band that escaped edgy.
I Like It Small
You Got It
Suck You Dry
Get Into Yours
F.D.K. (Fearless Doctor Killers)
In This Rubber Tomb
Sweet Young Thing (Ain't Sweet No More)
Judgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme
No One Has
Touch Me I'm Sick
What to Do With the Neutral
The Final Course
I Don't Remember You
The Only Son of the Widow from Nain
Here Comes Sickness
When Tomorrow Hits
In 'N' Out of Grace
The Money Will Roll Right In (Fang cover)
Hate the Police (Dicks cover)
Fix Me (Black Flag cover)
KISS... One of the most well known bands to grace the face of the earth. To find someone that doesn't know KISS is like finding a lost tribe in the jungles of the Amazon, and probably just as rare. Most every person in every country has heard of and has a basic working knowledge of KISS, but thanks to high ticket prices, less and less people get to see the band. I however, cannot be counted among these people, as I went to the Bell Centre to see them on a Monday night in July, 2013.
To be frank, I didn't go to see KISS at all. Earlier in the day I interviewed the drummer to the opening group, Shinedown, who I had seen when they were touring on their first album, Leave a Whisper in my home town at a small club as a band who had to work for every fan they could convert, and it showed. They had passion, and a kind of drive reserved for the up and coming, hungry for success.
Flash forward to the Bell Centre, where Shinedown is opening for KISS. Earlier in the day, when I spoke with the drummer, he said that he knew their job was to open up for KISS, and it kind of showed. I'd be interested to see them headline to see how it compares, but to me, it felt a bit phoned in. Though I've got to say, Brent Smith has a set of vocal chords on him that is nothing short of impressive. Also, it's been a long time since I've seen a band actually encouraged concert goers to interact with each other, in this case with high-fives, and the idea of trying to form even a temporary community at a show is a noble idea that I fully support.
After Shinedown, came "the best" KISS. I was fully expecting a full rock spectacle filled with all of the things that come with it, and truth be told, it was all there. Full makeup band... check. Pyrotechnics... check. Large lightning rig designed to look like a spider... check. Everything was in play for it to be a spectacular event.
But then, about three songs in, something happened. I started to get... bored. I chalked this up to a general apathy for KISS music, but after the third song from their last two albums in a row, I noticed that other people, even those die-hards in the face paint, were also sitting down and generally looking as though they didn't really care what was happening, and that was when I realized something. These people were here to see KISS for the same reason I was. Sure, some of them probably grew up with the band and the music, but now, they were here because they felt required to be there. Just like I felt required to stay for KISS, so did these fans seem to feel required to come see the band.
I stayed through Gene Simmons spitting blood and flying to the top of the spider rig, but after that, I left because I had checked all of the boxes of things that people have been seeing at KISS shows since the 1970s, but ultimately left feeling disappointed that nothing new was there to greet me.
All in all, this may be heresy to a KISS fan, and as such, I won't change your mind, and I suppose if someone buys you tickets to see them or you go to a festival and they play you should see them, but don't expect anything you haven't seen before. Though, I guess with the money they make off tours, if it ain't broke...
Pete Douglas, the host of CJLO's The Live Wire Show (Saturdays, 9-10 am), reviews some of his favourite acts from the 27th edition of the Festival International Nuits d'Afrique back in July, and discusses the trials and tribulations of outdoor versus indoor shows, and parking in downtown Montreal during the city's summer Festimania.
I would like to begin by congratulating the management and staff of the Festival International Nuits D’Afrique on the festival this year, and special thanks to our World Beat music director Ms. Kelly Belfo for coming through for us once again!
The Indoor Shows
We have been spoiled by the festival with some great indoor performaces over the past couple of years, but I found the 2013 edition of Nuits d'Afrique was lacking in that area. Perhaps this occurred due to the lack of sponsorship this year, because when you look at the schedule of outdoor shows compared to the indoor shows, you may understand where I am coming from. However, two indoor performances—one at le Cabaret du Mile End, and the other at Metropolis—were some of the best of the festival.
MARIA DE BARROS
Maria De Barros' performance at Cabaret du Mile End on July 12th showed you an artist that has grown in many areas of her on-stage performance. She seems to be very much at ease than when I first saw her a few years ago. Her interactions with the audience in the different languages that she speaks went over really well with those of us who understood the Creole. Her singing was in fine form, and the band (as usual) was tight and well rehearsed.
To me, the beauty of it all was that the band members were from diverse cultures, and that was evident in their newer compositions. They seem to have married the different musical genres from their cultural backgrounds, and the result was a non-stop dance party.
Maria and I were old Facebook friends long before the rest of the world discovered her; this was back when it was mostly musicians keeping in touch with each other about their up coming gigs. Fast forward to 2013, and there were quite a number of people waiting to meet and greet her after the show, which to me spoke volumes about her performance.
At the Kassav' show, my acquaintance Ray Blaze asked me a certain question, and I quote, "Pete, where do they get their energy from?" The name "Kassav" is the Creole word for the cassava plant. The answer to his question about the energetic properties of that fruit, I simply don't know, but Kassav's show had energy.
Kassav, the creators of the musical genre zouk, remains one of its driving forces. Their show at the Metropolis on July 13th was just another great classical Kassav party. I could tell that they were a bit tired, but never the less, the energy was still there. The horn and percussions sections were given their time to shine and they delivered.
In all fairness, Jocelyn Beroard was the most energized of the main core of the band that night, and so the show in itself was nothing but magic.
The Outdoor Shows
I made one of the biggest mistakes when attending a festival at Quartier des spectacles on Saturday, July 20th. I went by car, completely forgetting that the Just for Laughs festival was on. By the time I finally found parking, Joyce N Sana were just finishing their set, so I missed them!
The next band on stage was Mazagan from Morocco. The band's high energy level had the crowd in a dancing mood that lasted the entire set. Their style of music is a mixture of hip hop and their natural African roots blended so well and made some really nice grooves. Their bass players had a nice steady groove that was not too over powering. The rest of the band members were just having a fun on stage, which spilled over onto the crowd in attendance. Although I am not versed into the hip hop thing, I must say that I enjoyed their show. Mazagan is a band that should be brought back to Montreal.
Kadan's is a band made up of musicians from the islands of both Martinique and Guadeloupe in the French-speaking Caribbean. Their style of music is a mixture of cadence and zouk. Unfortunately for them, I had just finished watching the band Kassav' a few days earlier, and when I watched Kadan's for the first time, I was left with no other choice but to compare them with Kassav'.
I did not like the mix that the sound engineer gave them. Their style of music requires a heavy mix of the bass and drums. The vocals at times were strained. I could not always understand what was being sung or said. They tried their best to get the crowd going "Kassav' style", but in my view, the people were more receptive to them when they played their more traditional style of music.
They said that this was their fifth trip to Montreal over the past few years. I have seen the name Kadan's before, but I never did read up on them. I will defiinitely go and see them again.
When I walked into Il Motore, the venue smelled like sea food. I wondered if had I mistakenly entered a restaurant, or could it have been the rainy weather coming in from outside? Or was it Oakland, California trio Shannon and the Clams, who were on stage setting up for the show? It really did smell like seafood! I'm not making this up! I quite enjoyed the coincidence, to be honest, as it contributed to the room's atmosphere. Mmmmm... good music and yummy sea food.
Sound check was quite the ordeal for them, as both Shannon Shaw and Cody Blanchard got painful shocks on the lips from the un-grounded microphones. That problem seemed to have fixed itself, but it took a little bit for the band to really get going since they couldn't hear anything through the monitors. Shannon also commented that the people on the floor were just sort of standing there, staring, not doing anything. Yeah, typical. Welcome to Montreal. I felt kind of bad at that moment, because Shannon and the Clams were really freaking great.
I love their unique take on the garage genre. Their music is grimy and raw, and draws its inspiration from '60s rhythm and blues, Cry Baby, and Sha Na Na. This is the type of doo-wop I imagine the kids would have danced to at senior proms all over the United States back in the day—after drinking some spiked punch, of course. Shannon has some mad style, too. Like a punk rock waitress. She wore an apron, played her bass guitar different from anyone I've seen perform in the past, and sang with a surly voice. Cody's voice has an in-tune but hoarse quality to it as well (kind of like a male Stevie Nicks), and they did an amazing job at sharing and taking the lead as singers.
I'll tell ya, though, things got real after Shannon asked for the lights to be dimmed a little lower. The crowd started twisting and shaking to tracks like "Troublemaker" from their debut I Wanna Go Home, "Done with You" from their sophomore album Sleep Talk, and plenty of new songs from their latest Dreams in the Rat House. Finally. People were participating in having fun!
I've said in the past that the audience is an integral part of what makes a show great, and it was nice that the kids at Il Motore finally stopped posing and started dancing.
On the last stretch of an 11-week tour to promote their sophomore full-length Meir (Roadrunner Records), Norwegian band Kvelertak played to a sold-out crowd at Katacombes on May 21st before hitting their last date in Toronto. Performing that night as part of the original line-up were the three guitarists Bjarte Lund Rolland, Maciek Ofstad, and Vidar Landa, bassist Marvin Nygaard, and of course vocalist and front-man Erlend Hjelvik. A few weeks prior to the Montreal date, drummer Kjetil Gjermundrød left the tour prematurely due to an arm injury, so Jay Weinberg (son of E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg) took over on drums to fill the void, and Kvelertak delivered, hands down, the best show in Montreal so far this year.
With only three Canadian dates on this tour, the Montrealers in attendance were damn lucky to have purchased their tickets beforehand because this show was intense... complete with sweat, spit, fist pumps and blood! Yes, blood. Oozing plasma to be exact, thanks to an audience member (or should I say jerk) who decided it would be a good idea to fight-dance in the pit after being tattooed that day. This dude started out the night with bandages on his arm, which were subsequently ripped off by the swarming mass of sweaty metalheads. Enjoy that staph infection, asshole. This was probably the first show I’d ever been to that was literally a health hazard, and I wouldn’t expect anything less.
Kvelertak belted the crowd with their wicked array of in-your-face black metal, garage rock, and punk-inspired melodies, hardcore-style gang vocals, and a hint of—dare I say?—pop. Yeah, dark Nordic-style pop performed by heavily tattooed vikings! And just enough metal to get everyone at Katacombes party-rocking into a collective state of head-banging bliss. I was really impressed with their unique blend of heavy musical styles, and each song sounded different. The stand-out tracks for me included the lead single “"Bruane Brenn", "Åpenbaring", and the eponymous “Kvelertak” off of Meir, and the band were also heavy on the songs from their self-titled debut Kvelertak from 2010. Chokehold indeed!
Erlend Hjelvik tossed his sweaty mane around, caught his loogies right before the spit hit the crowd, climbed the mosh pit, and there was lots of hair touching (much to the enjoyment of two rockin’ chicks who toughed it out front-stage). Marvin Nygaard climbed the rails with ease and pummelled the bass on a teeny tiny platform, and no stone was left unturned as both Erlend and Maciek Ofstad raised their hands and played to the crowd stage right, left, and up on the balcony.
During the encore, the band paused on an instrumental refrain for a good 30-45 seconds and then as they belted out the final tune, Erlend took off through the crowd and disappeared through a door at the back of the venue never to return to the stage that night. When the show was over, I wondered, “Does the door open up to a secret passageway leading to the greenroom?” I chuckled to myself thinking that perhaps he was hiding in a small closet, waiting for the crowd to leave the venue before coming out. Never did see him after the show. Check out their website to find out if Erlend made it home!
Ty Segall played the Cabaret du Mile End on February 5th, touring with the release of three full-length records in 2012. Needless to say, we were expecting a big show, as he has been drawing a lot of attention. With recent studio album Twins, released back in October, he is no doubt starting to build an empire with his prolific contributions to the psychedelic pop-punk genre, all being heavily tainted with west coast surf nostalgia. Through the massive touring in the past year, he has only continued to stray away from the once loose grunge appeal he emanated in his earlier albums, and has broken into somewhat larger musical sphere and audience—enough to fill this Montreal venue on a Tuesday.
We waited in line outside the venue for half an hour to get into the then over-capacity venue; a lineup reminiscent of the Juicy J show earlier that year, only to then wait in a coat check lineup of equal length. Ex-Cult and K-Holes were warming the crowd up for the long-anticipated headliner.
Although we missed Ex-Cult while we were in the line, we were greeted by a lot of smokers outside who left during their set. There seemed to be a general disappointment at their sound, being described by one apathetic smoker as "soulless". She intimidated me, so I took her word for it.
Once inside, K-Holes had just began. K-Holes are a post punk band whose sound remains pretty true to their New York based punk influences. The best part being the saxophones' crunchy riffs that created an ambiance that was seemingly spaghetti western infused. Oh yeah, and the ‘80s-super-blow-dried hair, paying respect to their elders through their post punk nostalgia.
When Ty Segall came on, the crowd compressed to the front of the stage and so many off-putting camera flashes appeared. This obviously marked a departure from his humble grunge roots, to the mainstream celebrity-ism. Segall's set list was a visceral one to say the least, as he picked up the most heavy-hitting rock songs seeming to play to the crowd. The front of the stage was packed with super eager moshers who danced in anticipation more often than to the music. Although this was to be expected, as the stage was heavily guarded by two bouncers who periodically threw the straggling over-confident person who wandered onto the stage to take pictures or reoccurring crowd surfers.
A haunting harmony between Ty and the bassist made the group hypnotically pause in the moment of psychedelia; "Open our hands, up on the sand, we are the children still". This broke out into a heavy riff only to bring the energy in the room to a new plateau. The energy of the crowd was the driving force of the concert. Ty Segall in the end proving to have an undeniable relationship with his audience, where his music is the fuel for the relentless energy of his live show.
Oh Katakombes... how I love you. It's easily one of my favorite venues in this city, and perhaps one of the best that I've ever been to. So, I'm always super happy when I get to see shows there (most recently, Derelict). This time, the show was decisively not metal though, and featured William Control and Toronto's The Birthday Massacre.
Let me start out by saying that, full disclosure, I didn't want to see either of these bands perform. I was under the impression that Aesthetic Perfection, who I find much more interesting was going to be opening, but they got booked to do shows in Europe, so I went to see these two.
First up was William Control, a band consisting of a bassist and a singer... and I guess a computer too, because without that band member, there wouldn't be much going on.
Now, let me be clear, that sounds like a complaint, but it isn't. My complaint is that aside from doing a bunch of microphone spinning, the lead singer did nothing but sing, which isn't a problem if there are other things going on on stage. Really, it was like performing at its absolute laziest. There were keyboard parts, there were vocals with effects, all of which came through ye ol' laptop. Honestly, it's not hard to play a keyboard for a few notes or to throw an effect pedal on your microphone. There was even a part that the lead singer was LIP SYNCING with. Lazy. Honestly, the bassist should go join a real band, which I think he desperately wants to do.
Next, and finally, was the Birthday Massacre. Truth be told, the music from this band has not been something I generally look forward to when I see that they have an album coming out. Most of their works have been kind of boring, but this last effort, Hide and Seek, was actually somewhat interesting, so I decided to go see what a live show from them would offer.
Honestly, it was kind of what I should have expected. All of their newer material caught my ear and made me pay attention, while their older stuff made my mind wander to basically anything else in the room. It wasn't that it was bad, just uninteresting.
I kind of feel for The Birthday Massacre because they really are a band without a place. Not heavy enough to be Evanescence, not light enough to appeal to fans of Florence and the Machine, and not catchy enough to get the attention of anyone who likes Metric. They kind of exist as their own entity, which for music is kind of perfect if you're an entity that has something unique to bring to the table. I will say though, that their keyboardist should be raking in money since he's the only thing that gives this band somewhat of an identity, and for that I give him a lot of props.
Leaving the show, I guess I had fun, but I'm not sure if I'd care to do it again, and if I did, I'd only go to see the Birthday Massacre. If nothing else, I would get to go to Katakombes. Oh Katakombes... how I love you.
And so we begin the bleak descent into madness that is winter. This season is filled with pagan rituals, cold, unrelenting weather, and of course, the whipped cream on top of the pie: a mutual anger for having to put up with people in general. If this all doesn't relate to metal, then I don't know what does.
Fortunately for me, I started this season off right by cozying up to an amplifier at Katacombes to go see Derelict. I should mention that this show was put on by fairly new company, Productions Kranium, that apparently is going to be specializing in doing shows that only have a few local metal acts rather than the current set up of everyone under the sun. Look out for them in 2013, providing the Mayans aren't right and the world doesn't end on December 21st.
First up was a band named Epiphany from the Abyss, who's cryptic name was also accompanied by some questionable band practices. This is going to sound like me going on a rant, but it's really constructive criticism for what I'm guessing is a new band or any new band in metal for that matter. First, this band had two guitarists playing eight string guitars with no bassist present. While the idea is sound, since eight-stringed guitars are lower than other guitars, it's kind of unnecessary. Speaking of unnecessary, they also had two singers who did the same thing of alternating between growls and high pitched screaming. If you have one that can do both, why have two? Finally, just a thought, but maybe you should invest less in drum heads and full banners with your logo on it and more in, I don't know, writing music, you know, the thing that could pay for those things. Moving on...
Second to play was First Fragment, which I knew nothing about going into the show, but now after the show, I know everything about them. They were so impressive. They were musically solid tech-death, that blended together perfect, and man can that guitarist fucking shred. If you don't know about them, here's and early X-Mas gift for you. It is glorious and I cannot heap enough praise on this band. Keep a look out, because these fine gents are going places.
Rounding out the night was the fine sounds of the gentlemen in Derelict. Fun fact about Derelict: they actually did a session at the station which you can listen to in all its glory.
What is there to say about Derelict? They know what they're doing and it shows. I wouldn't say their tech-death legends, but they are seasoned vets and they know how to put on a damn fine performance. They played a good deal of things off their new album Perpetuation, which if you don't have I don't want to call you a bad person per se, but you're definitely not a good person.
So, my suggestion to you is to go, purchase some of Derelict's fine material, get a pair of headphones, set up a nice warm fire, and sit in your house hibernating until winter is over... unless Derelict and First Fragment play another show, in which case, venture out to remind yourself how little you want to be outside, and to see how awesome they are. Trust me it will be worth it.
Young Lungs performed at the CJLO/Safe In Sound showcase during M pour Montreal, so I was pretty familiar with the set that they would be playing. Their first song started off with a guitar sound that made me think of the Beach Boys if they had decided that hard rock was more their style. The sound in the venue was a little off mic-wise, and it took awhile to be able to hear the lead vocals properly. Their sound seemed to echo into the venue compared to the cosy show at l'Esco the previous Friday. However, they sounded tight and the new material that they tested out on the audience was my favourite tracks of theirs by far. The three of them make an odd trio—a nerdy indie front man, a bassist with a punk-power stance, and a drummer with impressive mullet—but the chemistry they have as a band is very apparent, and by the end of the set the venue had filled and the crowd was bobbing along with the band. You could tell that they were really enjoying themselves. The lead vocalist had to take off his glasses by the end because they kept falling down his nose from rocking out so hard. In all, a solid set, but I preferred them in the smaller venue.
When Absolutely Free started playing, the first thing that was whispered into my ear was "this is some Enya level shit" ...and it was. It was as if Death Cab For Cutie showed up and decided to take us on a space mission. Destination: Meh. They had massive amounts of equipment: a variety of twirly knobs, two keyboards, a drum kit, and a drum pad. The versatility of the band's members was impressive, and you could tell that some of them thought so too. Their music had elements in it that made me want to shout YES, LET'S EJECT FROM THIS SHUTTLE AND FLOAT AWAY. There were moments of Twin Peaks-eqsue melodies mixed in with the music accompanying you on Space Mountain at Disneyland. But just when you would get excited about them starting to play a really cool sample, they would stop using it and the audience was taken back into the spaceship for some more laconic singing and drumming. But the singer was a babe. You got it, man.
I saw Metz perform at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn back in October, and the show was very impressive. Definitely one of the better ones I've seen all year so it was a no-brainer that I would be attending this show. Plus, they all have luxurious hair—a fact I like to remind everyone I'm with whenever they're mentioned. Metz did not disappoint. Their songs are quick, fast, loud, and tight. With floodlights on the floor adding an extra punch in the visual department, they got the audience excited and moving around and one dude attempted to crowd surf every other minute. It was great to see the band keep their cool when they were just using TOO MUCH POWER, causing their lights to go out. Two members would keep on playing while narrating the attempt to turn the lights and amp back on. Crowd surfer dude kept yelling at the band "BETTER BE LOUD" and the audience got a laugh out of their responses along the lines of: "...well... it's going to be similar" and the amusing intro to "Headache" (which you can check out a video of them performing in the CJLO studio): "This is our slow jam". If you ever see that this band is coming to a venue near you, you have to go. They're awesome.