It hadn’t been that long since the Dandy Warhols came to visit us here in Montreal, but judging by the size of the crowd at le National the other night, their fans seem to never get enough of this West Coast band.
Entering the charming National theatre, you immediately felt a surreal emotion looking at the stage. This was due in part to the giant Chinese round paper lanterns that hovered above the stage and little did we know at this early time, how they would compliment the band in fantastical fashion.
When the band hit the stage they were in a mysterious shadowed display, leading to a feeling of, "what were we going to hear?" Yet, we had a pretty good idea of what that would be, due to the fact that they were here to promote their new compilation album The Collection Years 1997-2007.
They remained shadowed out, until the chorus of the first song, "Be In", a quite fitting tune to get the show going due to the fact that it is from the 1997 album The Dandy Warhols Come Down.
The light show that ensued was impressive. The lights during "Be In" flashed like crazy and we were even taken back in time to the '80s when strobe lights went wild. Something that is quite impressive is that the whole band plays upstage. Even drummer “Fathead” De Boer was in plain sight at the front of the stage.
At the lead in to the third song, "Shakin’", off their Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia album from 2000, singer/guitarist Courtney Taylor-Taylor tried his hand at French and I must say, I was thoroughly impressed with his accent. Sounded like he has spent some time with les Français and the crowd ate it up.
However it was the next song that sent the audience into a right tizzy… it was "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth". Everyone got into the groove, as the big Chinese laterns went bright red.
The band was in fine form, sounding just as they did back in the '90s and although they may be older, they still seem like they can party. Zia McCabe often took a time out from the tambourine to take a swig of beer.
Speaking of Ms McCabe, as Taylor-Taylor would call her, she delighted us with her talents as a musician. Midway through the show she even took on the harmonica when they played "The New Country" and ooo wee, can she play like the best of them. This song has always got me, as it is so different from everything else they do… however they manage to make your conform to country by creating that toe taping effect. It wasn’t until the very end that we finally got to hear their most famous tune "Bohemian Like You", from Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia and they made you feel like it could just go on forever. Everyone jumped up and down and sang every word.
The last song of the night was "Country Leaver" and that it was, leaver that is. They did not play an encore, but still sang 22 songs throughout the show, with no breaks. That is what I call rock and roll stamina and lovers of the craft!
There aren’t enough people who know the name Devin Townsend, but most of those that do would probably make the connection to Strapping Young Lad while the rest would think of his solo project. Tuesday, November 2nd of this year, I went to see Devin Townsend live on stage in Montreal at Petit Campus. There were three other bands that night, but I don’t want to say anything about them. To be fair, I only wanted to see Devin and while I was early enough to catch the opening acts I spent the time mingling with friends in the crowd and taking names of people I thought I’d like to keep in touch with. I was lucky enough to get to meet Devin in the backstage area - it wasn’t very much, just more of a “hi how are you” kind of deal, but when he came on to the stage it was worth it….
Devin has a habit of making his presence known and felt when he’s on the stage. He’s more animated than any physical comedian I’ve seen, his facial expressions reflect the mood of every one of his songs and he converses with the crowd not just during the set, but during his songs (he made it a point to give a hug to a guy in the crowd because he looked “bored”). Halfway through the concert he stopped to remind the crowd about the “stereotypical metal show traditions” he wanted everybody to participate in. He wanted us to clap our hands, to ignite our lighters and to “start a fucking mosh pit right here”. Finally, at the end of the show, he let us know that he was going to walk off the stage in an attempt to fool the audience that the show was over with the intention to have the audience entice him back on the stage for an encore, which he was very happy to deliver.
As for his music, I’m not a hardcore fan of Devin Townsend so I’m not able to identify or list off every track he played, but I know when he played songs I really enjoyed which made me very happy. The first song he played that I recognised was "Christeen" early in the set, and I went nuts. As the night went on, he played other great tracks such as "Bad Devil", "Earth Day" and several tracks from the classic Ziltoid the Omniscient album. The reception in such a small venue (Petit Campus) was better than the reception for other bands in larger venues, which showed the dedication of the audience to this man! Throughout the set you could feel the energy of his music as it progressed through his styles and the evolution he brought with him from his days with Strapping Young Lad to his later solo work. I believe him to be a musical genius in the world of metal and, being of Canadian heritage, a pride of the country as well.
In the end, this was one of the best concert experiences I’ve had to this date and I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to meet him backstage for a little impromptu meet and greet. Yes, I know I could have gone to the VIP showing but I missed out, only to meet him one-on-one in the back. Happy? Very. But at the same time, who’s dumb-assed fucking idea was it to play Vengaboys, Aqua and Outkast over the PA right before Devin’s set?
- Burnt Offering’s Cecil
The other day, I skipped out on the 2nd half of my radio program in order to catch Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell play Cabaret JPR. Driving from CJLO studios to St-Laurent Boulevard took under ten minutes due to some speeding, whirling in and out of lanes and running to the venue from my parking spot. Totally worth it.
I missed the opening set by Willy Mason, which was a bummer since he performs lead vocals on a few great songs on the duo’s new Hawk record. One of them is a terrific cover of “No place to fall” by the legendary Townes Van Zandt. He played it a little later in the show, and I was all smiles.
So… You’ve got the lead guy from the Screaming Trees doing his third record with that sweet little pixie from Belle and Sebastian. The result: Dusty traveler storytelling and soft-hearted ballads. There’s more to it than that, and we can analyze it t’ill the cows come home, but it’s basically that. Lanegan’s voice is dark, and at times gloomy not unlike the baritone of Lee Hazlewood or that of Leonard Cohen. Put together with the delicate coo of Isobel Campbell, and you’ve got a surprisingly stellar duo now on their 3rd LP, playing their first ever Canadian show in Montreal.
If you missed it, I’m sorry. It was pretty damn good. You got to hear all the best selections from their 3 albums with a hearty chunk of the show-dedicated Hawk which isn’t a far step from their earlier recordings “Ballad of Broken Seas” and “Sunday at devil dirt”. Although the show was brilliant in itself, much of it was song after song of twinkly, down-tempo heartbreakers. No problem with that, however the energy level midway through the set was pretty low. I was mesmerized by the performance, but I had to lean on something to stay standing. Hearing “Deus Ibi Est”, “Come walk with me” and “Ramblin’ man” from the Ballad LP were personal highlights that had me inching closer and closer to the stage. Campbell played a portion of the show on her own, playing “Sunrise” and “To Hell..” which had most in attendance smiling due to that awkward, soft-spoken charm she possesses.
Did I mention that people in attendance got a 2 for 1 deal? That’s right. The walls on the right side of the floor were trembling due to a performance by Helmet taking place just next door. Taking a breather in the lobby, you can hear the insanity going on through the common wall separating the two Cabaret venues. From what I heard, it was pretty nuts.
Nevertheless, Lanegan & Campbell were pretty crazy too, well… as crazy as one can get with an acoustic guitar and a violin. But in all seriousness, they’re the absolute perfect mix of sweetness and melancholy, and seeing it unfold in-person was just, brilliant. Next time they come, don’t miss it… and bring a date. I really should have brought a date to this one.
As always, Jason Collett could be spotted in the shadowy back corner of the bar as soon as I walked in, his eyes fixed on the opening act. Tonight, he and the rest of the small crowd at Il Motore were treated to a quiet, folky set from Daniel Romano, better known as the frontman for Attack in Black and the Daniel part of Daniel, Fred & Julie.
Like Collett, Romano often draws comparisons to early Bob Dylan, and his soulful performance tonight, accompanied only by his brother’s occasional tap on a snare drum, wouldn’t change anybody’s mind. Romano managed to hold the attention of the mostly college-aged crowd even as more and more people filed into the tiny venue. Nearly everyone found themselves seated on the floor, drinking their snuck-in beers in respectful silence as he made his way through his debut solo record, Songs for Misha. The material is a departure from his indie-rock driven work with Attack In Black and speaks more to his collaboration with Fred Squire and Julie Doiron on their album of traditional folk songs. A shy and introspective performer, Romano paused only at the end of his set to thank the crowd and praise Collett on their last night playing together before Al Tuck joins the tour. All in all, his bare-bones style of playing impressed the eager crowd and somehow made the room feel even smaller, setting an intimate tone that carried through the rest of the night.
Wasting no time, Collett hopped onstage and quickly launched into his stripped performance of "Rave On Sad Songs" from his latest full length, Rat A Tat Tat. This was my first time seeing Collett play without his band, and it was a definite contrast to his last visit during the Bonfire Ball Revue tour with Zeus and Bahamas, the members of which have backed him on tour for nearly a decade and recently evolved into solo acts (again, living up to that Dylan thing.) Needless to say, these were two very different shows, even if he was wearing the same outfit. Dubbing this recent stretch of shows the ‘Undressed’ tour, Collett focused his set mainly on his new EP, Pony Tricks, which features reworked versions of old favourites and a handful of new songs.
He gained most of his notoriety as one of Broken Social Scene’s stately elders, but tonight saw Collett jovially telling stories to set up each song and stroking everyone’s ego a little, admitting that the traffic he and the Romano brothers faced earlier in the day driving into the city from the Maritimes made it feel like “you needed to be on the guestlist to get into Montreal tonight,” before proclaiming us “the sexiest town in North America. Full stop.” Il Motore is the perfect venue for all things acoustic, and Collett’s crisp vocals commanded the room, particularly as the material took a serious turn with "Pulling The Sun Down", a new song written from the point of view of a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. Striking the perfect balance between heartbreakers and songs about super-toking in the parking lot before a school dance, Collett made sure his set resonated with the audience and proved that his new material can stand on its own. Though a seasoned performer, he still maintains a raw quality in his playing and vocals that perfectly delivered some of his best lyrics to date.
Clutching his Stella and blowing a kiss to the crowd, he ran to the bar for another before closing his show with "I’ll Bring the Sun", eliciting some rare audience participation as everyone joined in for the chorus. This was easily the most relaxed I have ever seen Collett in concert and this show would have been a great introduction for anyone used to seeing him resigned to the back of the crowded Social Scene stage.
Rave On Sad Songs
No Redemption Song
Pulling The Sun Down
My Daddy Was A Rock n’ Roller
Love Is A Chain
Not Over You
I’ll Bring The Sun
Metropolis played host to the enigmatic and powerful Blonde Redhead on October 16th. I have to admit that I am not a Blonde Redhead head but the week preceding the show I grabbed some of their old albums and was jonesing for the show by the time Saturday night rolled around. Their sound can be compared to other riot girl acts like Vivian Girls or Ciccone Youth. The opener, Pantha du Prince, warmed the crowd with a bouncy house set riddled with noise-ish samples, lit by strategically-situated flickering light bulbs on stands. The crowd, peppered with super fans, was rearing to go by the time Blonde Redhead took the stage.
The brothers preceded lead singer Kazu Makino on stage and took their places. After a short pause, one of them arrived clad in a short white dress and a sleek white mask which looked like a storm trooper has inhaled a couple of Barbie dolls (pigtails out of the nostrils contributed to this effect). With very few words to the audience, they began their set with a couple of tracks from their album, Penny Sparkle, harbouring a synthier, simpler, and more mellow sound. The mask came off for a few tracks but for the most part Makino chose to sing through a mic under her disguise. With the introduction of the newer, less familiar tracks, the crowd was salivating for some more familiar material, and Blonde Redhead finally gave it to them with tracks like "Dr. Strangelove." They were occasionally joined by one of the members on synth, which was a beautiful addition to their already quite full sound. The band communicated to the audience solely through their lyrics rather than through cliché stage banter. For example, during "Dr. Strangelove", while the lyrics “looking everywhere I see othing but people” were intoned, yellow lights smoothed over the audience, which made all the lookers-on go nuts.
The stage decor, including a backdrop of lighting umbrellas and some precisely designer lighting, made the feel of the show as if it were a magazine photo shoot, which kept the band behind a lens for the audience. Although they were in close proximity, they felt distant, as if we were watching a music video. Even so, the intimacy of the show was heightened by the emotion inherent in the lyrics and musical content. Their presence was indistinguishable from the music, and the music was album-quality. Their set was chosen from a combination of new tracks and old. The older tracks were mostly from the albums Misery is Butterfly and 23. After finishing their set to the roar of a thundering encore, the band returned to the stage and played an old favourite, "Equus," topped off by a naked screeching cry from Makino, and with a kiss to the audience (sans mask, finally), the gig was up.
I cannot believe I was oblivious to this collective until last night! Chicks on Speed, who stem from Munich, stormed into Montreal, apparently much too late. Fans of this DIY/electroclash/punk group’s previous work told me that they were huge about 7 years ago with the hit “Wordy Rappinghood”, which just made me grin from ear to ear. The general opinion, though, seemed to be that going to see this show was more like caving in to a bout of nostalgia then being spurred on by knowledge of Chicks on Speed’s recent work.
The night was part of the little-known “Les Escales Improbable” festival, which runs in September of every year. This year it involved audio installations, theatre, performance art, opera, street art, and music, at the Old Port, Lion D’Or, Monument National, and Club Soda. It ended on the 10th of September.
Opening for Chicks on Speed was Montreal DJ Cherry Cola who slayed the room with bass-heavy beats and my own nostalgia trip new wave track, “Eisbar” (thanks for that!). The crowd was thin and ticket stubs showed that they were offering 2-for-1 tickets after a presumed lack of interest. The DJ set’s end cooled the steamy dance floor and, after two cigarettes, Chicks on Speed were still not on stage. After a few technical glitches with the projector, though, they appeared unassumingly on the stage. Being an international collective of artists, the members are disparate, and this show involved two of the Chicks, Nadine Jessen and Melissa Logan.
Jessen’s amazing dance moves on top of the DJ table with gratuitous use of jazz hands was one of the highlights of the show for me. The awkwardness of the entire setup, with Sharpied banners, shiny space-age homemade costumes, and grainy video of the Chicks dancing with their reggaeton friends, was beyond endearing.
The aforementioned reggaeton tracks left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The Chicks immediately rectified the situation with an audio-visual remix treat involving a LOT of ass-slapping. Each slap was on hyper-bass boost, and the kids in the crowd didn’t know whether to dance or to laugh.
Altogether, the Chicks on Speed were beautifully awkward, and their multi-media setup was crafted with expertise. Hopefully on their return to Montreal the dance floor will not be so under-populated.
Tucked into the south end of the Mile End, just above the mountain, lies a nice little venue called Cabaret du Mile End. This was my first time in this venue, which used to be the Kola Note, and before that, Club Soda, so the sound system and lighting were impeccable. I arrived at the show way too early, but the door was already teeming with Dragonette superfans, which tended to be the indie “interesting sweater” crowd with money burning holes in their pockets. They were definitely digging the pre-show Cake soundtrack provided by the sound man.
Unfortunately, the crowd was dead through the opener, Silly Kissers, from Montreal. This new wave electro-pop outfit is a mainstay in the indie scene. In fact, you can catch them again during the Pop Montreal/Arbutus Showcase at the Rialto on the 30th of September. Their repertoire ranged from synth-pop tunes which smacked of The Cure to incredibly poppy tracks reminiscent of none other than the main act, Dragonette. Their instrumentation included two synthesizers, an incredibly tight drummer, and a guitarist. Their lead singers, Jane Penny and Bob Lamont, traded off to highlight their quite different vocal stylings. There was much tapping of feet, but no one seemed to feel quite moved enough to get up and shake their booties.
Booty shaking ensued, however, when Dragonette, from Toronto, finally made it onto stage. Within seconds of Martina Sorbara saying “Why are you all sitting down?!”, the entire crowd was up on their feet. I have to admit this show was much too pop-centric for my jaded old ears, but the 20-somethings definitely dug it. A synth master was at left, with an impressive rack of four versatile keyboards. Lead singer Martina at center wowed the crowd with her ultra skinny physique yet super rad haircut, and the bassist and drummer gratefully followed their leads. I would suggest this group to anyone who wants a mindless pop tune to dance naked around their living room to. Dragonette is one of those groups that even shamelessly delves into country-like remixes of their own tunes, which is appropriate considering the vocals sounded to me like Shania Twain rediscovering a new genre. Look up their videos on Youtube if you don’t believe me.
In any case, Dragonette definitely makes a point of making people dance just for the hell of it, no brains needed. Sometimes that’s okay. They won’t be coming back this way for awhile, though, so if you need a fix, here you go.
Embarking upon his first solo tour across three continents, Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke performed solo in Montréal at La Salla Rosa on the 4th of September, 2010. Being his seventh overall stop and second in a majority francophone city, Kele strutted onstage with a well-traveled divinity that hinted towards modesty. The females within the first ten meters immediately shot glances towards upstage while the men opened their ears and loosened their dancing feet; Kele’s presence alone made the measly cost of the concert ticket forgettable to all now tuned-in to his music. His goal was seeking converts to his style.
While the first gulps of alcoholic drinks were taken and the fanfare gravitated from the bar to the stage, Kele began his set with "Walk Tall", the first song off his 2010 solo album The Boxer. The hyperactive single began in usual Bloc Party rhythm, before breaking into the new electronic hybrid genre that Kele now represents. Those mostly filling Sala Rossa were long-term fans of Kele, drawn to him from his beginning in the alternative/indie rock group Bloc Party and excited to hear what his new-found autonomy would produce. Capitalizing on fan-loyalty, the show spawned a new Kele never before presented, though just as equally esteemed as Bloc Party (on hiatus as of October 31st of last year).
Tighter, sharper beats kept the audience extremely active, from cuts "On The Lam" to "The Other Side" to the now-popular single "Everything You Wanted". Kele’s use of electronic acoustics and sounds placed him more as a showman than a lead singer, as his voice and direction appealed directly to the music, rather than seeking to overpower and dominate it. This new sound magically arranged itself out of chaos, inventing a New Spontaneous Order that easily convinced show goers to stay until the last chord was struck.
Not wanting to disappoint those most loyal to him, Kele (his first name, as well as his solo moniker) hammered out a continuous string of Bloc Party favorites: "Blue Light", "The Prayer" and "One More Chance". While the show goers forewent using their voices for the sake of dancing at the beginning of the show, the Bloc Party hits evoked harmonic cries, amazingly useful for more than just ordering drinks at the bar. This part of the show converged Group Member Kele with Solo Artist Kele, and the moment and audience did seem to favor the latter. The energy emitted from the stage disseminated among the crowd, from the hip-hopper to the head banger to the quiet couple, one standing in front of the other.
The undeniable apex of the show was the hit "Tenderoni", which has already garnered 25,000 plays on Last.fm and over 1.2 million views on Youtube at the moment of the writing of this review. It would be naïve to chronicle this song in any other way, as simply: Kele. This is the new Kele, the one that shall continue to load mp3 players, lag computers and excite audiences and dance clubs for ages to come. "Tenderoni"’s electronic stylings and excitable beat epitomizes the entire album and is certain to be Kele’s solo mark upon the world of music. Far from Kele’s only dance hit (he's already collaborated with The Chemical Brothers and Tiësto), "Tenderoni" will open an entire genre’s worth of audience and potential for future albums.
Seeking to test the limits of his voice, Kele’s next song was the calmer "Rise". Though less excitable, this song also proved energetic with a great mix of Kele’s singing. Ranging from high-melodies to low-digs, Kele proved his talent beyond expectation and began the slow transition to the end of the show. The next tune was "All The Things I Could Never Say", a less-vibrant song filled with much more emotion and empathetic swings than any other song performed that evening. The gentile atmosphere was quickly penetrated, however, by the Bloc Party classic "Flux", which Kele used to close out the show. This was enough to regenerate the loyal Bloc Partisans to his favor, and to leave all others awaiting more.
In closing, Kele had transformed an entire room of concert-goers to converts to his style. If he shall continue to pursue his musical dreams, than he shall surely have a following with the youth of this day.
When I was in grade nine, Pennywise was the quintessential punk band. Not only did they give me instant cool cred when everyone else was listening to Nickelback, but their music soothed over the rough moments of early high school. When I heard that they were coming to Montreal, and I had the chance of reviewing the show, I jumped at the opportunity. Also, they were playing with pop punk legends Authority Zero and Riverboat Gamblers, as well as local band Fifty Stars Anger. It was the promise of a majorly great show.
First, I have to mention the venue, the Metropolis, a spacious space that once served as a theatre, located in the nitty gritty portion of St. Catherines street. There's a generous floor right in front of the stage, large enough to fit hundreds of people and screaming out for mosh antics. Behind that, nearer to where the entrance is, there's seating for those with either drinks or too much dignity to join in the sweaty floor scene. Looking out onto the floor, on the second level, is a sweeping balcony with enough of the original old theatre seats to fit at least another few hundred. Altogether, we're talking about a space with the potential to hold 2,300 people, bars scattered throughout, and what was obviously a sold- out show. We're talking a lot of great energy here.
The first band to come on was Montreal-based Fifty Stars Anger. I had never heard of this group until this show, but they did not disappoint. Although their stage antics could have used a little work, they delivered fast, driving songs that were perfect for a first set. They delivered their short songs back to back with almost no break, and by the third song the floor crowd was already starting to get worked up. However, the set was sadly very short, the band playing for only about 30 minutes before it was all over.
Next came Authority Zero, whose credit as a force on the punk scene became readily apparent as soon as their show started. Pulling from many other genres, including at times a healthy dose of ska rhythm, their music is infinitely catchy. They delivered high-energy anthems that had the crowd in a frenzy almost immediately. They played a lot of stuff from their new album, as well as old classics such as “No Hope” thrown in to compliment the mix. When they made their way off the stage, people were still screaming for an encore long after they were gone. Alas, we did not get one.
Riverboat Gamblers came on with their more pop-leaning punk songs, but because the crowd was still pining for Authority Zero, the first half of the set was met with a slightly dampened atmosphere. But the second half more than made up for the initial response. Once they started playing their hits, such as “Bad Reactor” and “Hey Hey Hey”, the energy picked right up. The best things about the Riverboat Gamblers is that, although they are a punk act, they are pop enough that the songs are easily danceable and have refrains that one can sing along to.
Then came Pennywise. I need to say here that I went into the concert totally unaware that Pennywise had a new lead singer. When someone told me of this fact, I was pretty upset. I was all ready to hear the original songs from my teen heroes, and felt affronted that there was someone else singing in the place of Jim Lindberg. The anticipation between sets as people waited for Pennywise was phenomenal, however, and within about fifteen minutes of picking up the vibe, I went from disappointed to excited at the prospect of a new lead singer. The lapse between sets was punctuated with screaming, shouting and spontaneous chants of ‘Olé!’. When Pennywise took the stage and launched into “Every Single Day”, the entire audience rose into a roar. While the other three bands before them really delivered, Pennywise dominated the stage. After over twenty years of music together, they knew just what to say and how to say it. Each song was accompanied by a small comment or story that really added to the melody, and their stage antics were fantastic.
As a band, they were completely in sync with each other and played a tight, comprehensive set. They mixed both old and new material, the newer definitely more pop than the old , but still most certainly Pennywise. When they played older songs such as “Same Old Story” and “Fuck Authority”, the crowd went crazy and sang along, word for word. The set ran for about an hour and a half. When the last note was played, we all filed out, some very happy people indeed. And, yeah, I have to admit Zoli Teglas, as the new lead singer, was great.
Overall, the concert was one of the best ones I've been to in a long time. The combo of these particular artists, each one worthy of a show alone, was awesome. Add to that the mix, the venue, and the crowd, and the result was a phenomenal show.
(Photos by MNJIVR. For the full gallery from the show, click here!)