Concert Review: Brainflower & The Nicotines @ Reggies, April 27, 2017

The sound check was so loud that some customers at the back of Reggies’ Bar, oblivious to the fact that a rock concert was about to begin, complained about the sound to the bartender. Unfortunately for them, the show hadn’t even started yet.

As a small Concordian crowd assembled in front of the stage, the first band, The Nicotines, stepped up onto the stage, surrounded by an army of amps and cabinets.

The Montreal-based trio has been gigging for about one year, and has released one EP, Spaced Out. This was their second concert at Reggies, following ROCK the Winter Away which took place in March.

The heavy trio usually opens their shows with the punchy, fast-paced “Nothing To Do”, which also happens to be the first song they ever wrote, and is their most listened song on Spotify. This time, on the initiative of Costin (bass player) and Lucas (drummer), they decided to bypass this tradition and start out with a song that they usually close with: “My Mind is the Desert”. This had an interesting effect on the crowd, as instead of shocking people with speed and energy, it installed a grimy, darker atmosphere. Slightly dissonant, slower paced, the song builds up to a heavy, melodic chorus, intermittent with guitarist Davide’s young, raspy voice and Lucas’ and Costin’s softer backing vocals: “again and agaaaaaain…

Following this, the Nicotines upped the energy with “Feed”, a song reminiscent of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings” and the now classic “Nothing to Do”. At this point, the crowd had gotten into the sea foam green rocky vibe, and they happily headbanged to “In The Light” and the catchy “Breath In” (which happens to be their next single).  The setlist included two interesting covers: “Hey Hey My My” by Neil Young, as well as “Blue Monday” by Newspeak, which they also performed at Café Campus. A lot of the songs the Nicotines performed will be included in their upcoming 6-track EP Don’t You Know, due for June.

The Nicotines’ stage presence carried a unique mix of concentration and passion, almost as if they were separated from the crowd by a glass wall. Still very young, the trio clearly vibed with each other, and the crowd looked on as Lucas, Costin and Davide were carried away by their own music. Reggie’s low stage allowed for Costin to jump to crowd level, and one had an amazing close-up view of Lucas’ infamous style of drumming: hard-hitting and arm-flailing, accompanied by incredible grimaces.

Brain Flower, the second band to perform, had a remarkably different style. Their songs carried poppy and funky rhythms and melodies. Known for their crazy stage antics (for example, exploding a poop-emoji-shaped piñata at their show at l’Hémisphère Gauche, on December 21st, and starting a candy fight with the audience), Brain Flower were incredibly relaxed on stage. The quartet stopped playing to ask the bass player what the next song was. Oliver (the aforementioned shirtless bassist), took out a shopping receipt on which he had written the setlist, and after informing everyone that their next song was the catchy “Brain Shower”, he slapped the piece of paper onto his chest, where it stuck to his manly sweat, for the entirety of the show.

Josh (guitar and vocals) and Theo (guitar and vocals) quite literally jumped around, with Josh looking almost possessed by the sound of his instrument, an electro-acoustic guitar which sometimes took on a very heavy sound. The show was not only a listening piece, but also an visually entertaining performance. By the middle of the set, Reggie’s Bar was strewn with beach balls and balloons, which were kicked around by the audience members or by Josh, who would contort around his guitar in ways that were truly jaw dropping.

Brain Flower brought the heat with songs such as “Ipomoea” and “Stab Me With a Flower”, which the crowd giddily danced to, and also slower, more poetic songs such as “Hear Me Now”. The surprise came with “So Do I”, their upcoming single, which will be on their next album (coming out in the near-future; I heard through the grapevine that they are almost done recording).

The marriage of those two bands for the show was a happy one – the Nicotines set a darker, heavier tone, and Brain Flower’s colourfulness and poppy-ness balanced that perfectly. The crowd (including me) went to bed with tired feet and buzzing ears.

Explore further:

The Nicotines: Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, YouTube, Bandcamp

Brain Flower: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Bandcamp


Main picture (The Nicotines) by Jackson Long. Brain Flower picture by @plateauprincess.