Nancy Pants + Heathers + Special Noise @ The Plant

Total Nancy Pants!

Last night, up on the far northern edge of the Mile End, I was introduced to many new things. The debut album from Nancy Pants, who have quickly become one of my favourite local bands, two new bands I'd never heard before, Heathers and Special Noise, a venue that I had never been to before, The Plant, and this may be a bit of a stretch and probably wishful thinking, but a brand new catchphrase, "Total Nancy Pants!" This is the name of the album being launched, but as soon as I read the event on Facebook, I immediately began using it as a catchphrase in my head. Now I know that "Nancy Pants" is already a slang term with two different meanings (depending on which gender it is being associated with), but this is different, or maybe a combination of the two plus some, I don't know. What popped into my head as soon as I read it was sort of a fun and arty happening that far exceeded one's expectations. I feel strongly about this one and think it's got legs. It can start off in and around the Mile End and St-Henri neighbourhoods, eventually growing in all directions before ultimately being used to describe high school parties in the suburbs. I will do my best to make this happen, but this is getting off track. What last night was really about was celebrating music. 

The Plant (or La Plante if you prefer) is a good sized loft space on the second floor of a building that backs onto the train tracks that separate the Mile End from Petite-Patrie. It has the warm ambiance of a place that is well-used and well-loved, with worn hardwood floors and past event posters covering the walls. The stage is set up in the back corner of the room. The tissue paper streamers and Christmas tinsel strung above it and the multicoloured balloons hanging off the support beams, add to the handmade charm of the space. 

Shortly after 9:30, the all-girl trio Heathers (Helen - guitar/vocals, Heather - guitar/vocals, Nikki - drums) quickly set up and launched into a no-holds-barred set of rock and roll. I didn't know what to expect from Heathers, but I definitely didn't expect the force with which they played. That is not to say that women cannot rock out, it was more of my prejudicial assumption based on the look of the 20-something men and women gathered in the room. The whole room had a kind of a Girls episode feel to it, and I don't mean that in derogatory terms, but in the young, creative, hipster way. I was expecting it to be a little bit more jangly-indie pop. What I got was a welcome blast of fury that rightly put me in my place and gave me a quick reminder of what happens when we assume. This is a power trio that knows how to play their instruments with force. With a sound that they have described as "dark sequin grunge", Heathers are a band to be reckoned with for any future narrow-minded newcomers. They will be launching their own album in two weeks (December 5th) at Brasserie Beaubien (73 Beaubien E.) with Loosetrife and Doilies and I can't wait to be there. 

I wasn't too sure about Special Noise during the first two songs, although I did quite like the bird sound samples that were incorporated in the first one. It all seemed a bit much ado about nothing, but by the third song they started to win me over. The quirkiness that wasn't working for me began to take form. I wouldn't know how to describe their sound, but I felt a little Built to Spill vibe in some of what they were doing, mostly in the vocals. The simple power drumming also got me bopping my head. Drummer Greg Napier beats his drums like he is angry with them, and it works very well with the angular guitar riffs and squeals of Jef Simmons. After a voice sample of HBO ring-announcer Michael Buffer, rattling off the long introduction of Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, was used to introduce what would turn out to be the final song, the quirky was replaced by straight ahead rock and roll for one last blast of pure fun.

After what seemed like a long break, Nancy Pants took the stage. The room had filled up considerably more by this time and from some of the bits and piece of conversations I heard going on around me, it seemed like some people were leaving M for Montreal shows happening throughout the city to come and catch this new Montreal band. It isn't surprising either. With their infectious pop hooks and punk rock energy, Adam Waito's bouncing bass lines and Jeremy MacCuish's thundering back beat, and Ohara Hale's acrobatic vocals and nervy guitar, Nancy Pants defies classification and immediately brings any room to life. Kicking off with their first single "Happy", they electrified and already wound-up room. Throughout their set they easily kept the bodies moving and heads nodding as they performed all the songs off their debut, Total Nancy Pants, as well as a couple new ones, engaged in banter and a little kissing with the audience and even made up a song about Windows '98 with one extremely enthusiastic fan (I'm pretty sure this is the same dude that crashed the Ty Segall/Mikey Heppner symposium at POP Montreal). From beginning to end, through malfunctioning guitar pedals to that guy dancing wildly about Windows '98, Nancy Pants kept the groove bumping and the fun flowing. The future is very bright for these three Montrealers. 

What else can I say? The whole night was total nancy pants!

--Prince Palu hosts The Go-Go Radio Magic Show every Friday at 6 PM on CJLO. Tune in, turn on, freak out!