Tall Shadows & Monogamy, Le Cactus, January 18th 2017

As I understand, last night’s performance was meant to be held at l’Escogriffe, but since it is currently under renovation, the event was moved to Le Cactus, a small showroom next door . Great little spot. Supposedly doubling as a dance studio, the venue’s side wall is lined entirely with full-sized mirrors, perfectly suitable for the disco ball and lasers bouncing all over the room. Unfortunately, not nearly enough people made it to last night’s performance, but this does not at all take from the music. The bands were great.

Tall Shadows, a band truly coming into their own, blows my mind everytime I see them play (I suppose I am biased as their frontman and songwriter is my beloved roommate, Owen Fairbairn). They have such a range in sound, from jazzy off-beat pop songs, to orchestral movements, to hyper-phazed droning grunge, all expertly transitioning from one to the next through the use of atmospheric samples and orchestral string parts. Laurence Gaudreau bows her cello masterfully, adding a chamber-like texture to their full sound, gracefully filling any space left empty in the music, and even coming into the forefront in their quieter arrangements. The rhythm section, Frank Gallant on bass and Brandon Goodwin on drums, is incredibly tight, their jazz backgrounds keeping the strange time changes and mood swings in focus. It allows Fairbairn to sing in perfectly crafted melody, even sprinkling in beautiful falsetto when the moment is right. Clearly inspired by his background in classical violin, he fingers spidery sweeping guitar chords through the use of counterpoint, syncopation, and cadence to arrange unexpected but unchangeable melodic and rhythmic structure, while expertly manning an arsenal of effects, resulting in one of the fullest, most interesting guitar sounds I’ve heard in some time. No need for a loop pedal here, he can make it work, exploring only the most effective melodic arrangements within the monolithic structures he creates willy-nilly. Tall Shadows has an album in the works which should be out sooner than later, and I truly hope it gets the attention it deserves. I’ve heard snippets of it here and there while he mixes in his bedroom, and I can attest that it’ll blow your socks off if like me, you find Maroon 5 unlistenable. Keep an eye out for this band in the future, you won’t regret it. Owen asked me to mention the band’s sex appeal.

On next was Monogamy, and the show took a distinct turn. Santosh Lalonde, on accordion and vocals, fronts another tough group to categorize. Definitely finding its footing in Tom Waits style cabaret music, using Black Sabbath inspired song structure and heaviness, and yet employing wavy surf-guitar to keep it fresh and jivin’, Monogamy is the kind of band that will please everyone. Just watch the pints swinging back and forth overhead. Lalonde has so much stage presence, you’ll find yourself grinning from ear to ear for as long as they’re playing. Between well-timed blasts of the dry ice machine filling the room with that godawful smell of rock’n’roll, you’ll find yourself laughing at Lalonde barking incomprehensibly as though Hunter Thompson incarnate was on stage, or else from his little comedic bits between songs involving lasers cutting through him. He and the rest of the band were truly at home on stage and changed the vibe of the small quiet crowd to a bunch of rowdy space pirates. Unfortunately, we had to take off for metro o’clock and missed the end of the set. Such are the woes of living in the Sud-Ouest.