Cats, Clutch, and Beer Torture

My first experience with opening act, Amigo the Devil, was a standard affair. Their output originally came in as a mere muffled kick drum echoing around the depths of the MTELUS– a steady beat rocking the gaping porcelain mouths upstairs. Joining this heartbeat were the anguished hurls of an occupant in the next stall, whose devilish retching combined with the muffled beat in a way that would make the best black metal bands jealous. Amigo the Devil weren’t that bad.

I hate to say that this introduction summed up my experience at the Clutch concert. As their name suggests, these Maryland ‘Muricans have been offering a steady output of good music to blast when driving down the dusty American highways of old. Perfect music for the honcho hunk behind the wheel and his cowgirl driving stick.

While the show was billed as part of Clutch’s No Stars Above Tour, the Montreal date was christened as part of something called Festival Brewtal 2023–  which brought 10 unique craft beers to the MTELUS drink roster. You know, those overpriced hipster beers that taste like shit but have cool pictures of grim reapers on them. These special items were promoted fairly heavily and were assigned individual numbers for ease of ordering. Cool.
I knew I was in trouble when I asked for a “Number 5” and the bartender responded with “five of what?!” Is nobody ordering these?

I can’t remember any of the actual beer names or where the hell they came from, but this first brew took the definition of “light” far past Coors could ever dream of. I basically traded a cool pink crisp one for carbonated water with a 4 per cent alcohol content. Bad pick. No biggie. Onto the next.

Looking for something more flavourful after that original scam, I opted for an Irish red proudly labelled as “local.” As it turns out, “local” is synonymous with “collected from the rusty gutter runoff trickling into the alleyway behind the venue.” Who drinks this crap?

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on you for selling this garbage. All I wanted now was something with the reliability of a big brand name like Heineken, or maybe a refreshing Blue Moon for God sakes.

Surprise! All of the normal beers drunk by regular God-fearing men like myself had been taken out of rotation for the super duper special Festival Brewtal 2023 festival.

As I sure as hell wasn’t about to drink wine at a rock concert, I knew my third and final beer choice had to be a good one. A redeemer of the lost souls forming a frothing mutiny in my otherwise empty stomach.

I went with the least of all evils:  a quadruple IPA with the most normal looking can. This ale was easily the worst of the bunch and tasted like something wrung through a sweaty sock.

Despite the trials and tribulations of a mere mortal in search of beer, the music was pretty good. Amigo the Devil had a varied set that twisted between hard blues heel-stompers and love songs longing for your crush’s husband to face a painful death. They were a silly band that managed to get the crowd singing along to silly ballads. The best part of their set was the huge flag backdrop, adorned with Amigo the Devil’s band logo and a humongous litter of cute kittens. “Put the lights on the cats,” said frontman Danny Kiranos. The crowd cheered as the house lights spun around, illuminating the furry family.

Clutch were also fairly decent. Their set featured a heavy rotation of stoner rock thumpers that livened up the crowd. Frontman Neil Fallon offered an energetic and captivating performance, using the stage to its full potential while belting out Eddie Vader-esque drawls.

The headliner’s varied setlist was also much appreciated by the crowd. Opening with the title track of their newest record Sunrise on Slaughter Beach, Clutch went on to play music from all of their eras - nailing hits like “Electric Worry” and “X-Ray Visions” during the encore.

While the bands were fair, I’m afraid the concoction hipster beer was brewing an angry storm in my stomach. Following a few after-show Crescent pints, I was soon rejoicing in the hurling energy of that poor soul whose cries echoed around the men’s room at the beginning of the night. I will be boycotting all future editions of the Festival Brewtal for their crimes against brew-manity.