It is a much slower week than last week now that M for Montreal is over, and even though he is battling a wicked cold and in the throes of the end of semester term paper/exam hell, Prince Palu wants you to know that there are still things happening this week. Obviously there are more things happening than this short list, even things that old Palu would recommend, but his Ultra Strength NeoCitran induced haze has left him a shell of his normal self.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Tonight Jim Dee is back at Le Cagibi (5490 St-Laurent) to present the 13th edition of The Secret Museum of Sound and Nature with Hazy Montagne Mystique, Kevin Pan and Bitter Old Man. The SMOSAN series is a monthly celebration of sound and lights that Jim describes as "showcasing experimental, drone, shoegaze, ambient, stoner, noise/psych pop, post-rock, post-folk, boundary breaking electro, junk loops, dissonant, cinematic. Also, a monthly meeting place to inspire." $5 (or more) at the door. Bitter Old Man get things going at 9:30, but if you get there earlier you can always grab a bite to eat in the front room before venturing into the back.
Also happening tonight over at Casa del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent), Analogue Addiction presents the punk-psychedelic sounds of She Serpent along with the strange Quebecois pop music of Hull, QC's Fet.Nat and local free-jazz/noise-punk duo Shining Wizard. $8 at the door. The show starts some time after 8:30. If you or someone you love like it when it gets weird, this is the show for you.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Passovah proudly presents a couple of local bands that are launching their latest singles, Smokes and Look Vibrant, up at The Plant (185 Van Horne). Joining in on the fun will be the Toronto band Blonde Elvis, fresh off opening for Thee Oh Sees at the Danforth Music Hall and in the middle of a mini-tour that will take them to Rochester, NY, home of Nick Tahou's Garbage Plate, Philadelphia, PA, home of the Philly Cheese Steak and a few other places. Rounding out the night will be a DJ set from Saxsyndrum. All these pieces puzzled together are sure to incorporate many of the parts to the glamy-psych-drone-lo-fi rock and roll party you've been looking for. $8 at the door, show starts at 9:00, and BYOB.
If you were looking for something a little more grounded, Joe Grass brings his brand of soulful country music (or is it countrified soul) to Divan Orange (4234 St-Laurent) with his full band and many guests.
Saturday, November 29 & Sunday, November 30, 2014
Montreal record label Cuchabata Records take over Brasserie Beaubein (73 Beaubein E.) Saturday and Sunday for Cuch Fest IX. There are too many bands playing over the course of the two nights, but if you click on the festival name you can see who is playing when. $8 before 9:00, and $10 after. If you wanted make sure you are in the neighbourhood to make it to the bar by 9:00 and save yourself the $2, you could always make a night of it and head up or down, depending on where you are coming from, to Bethlehem XXX and see what chef Beaver Sheppard has on the menu this week.
It is obvious that I need to get something to eat, so I'm going to stop writing here. I'll see you next week when I will hopefully be back to full strength. Cheers!
--Prince Palu hosts The Go-Go Radio Magic Show. Tune in, turn on, freak out! Every Friday at 6 PM on CJLO.
Hosted by: Celeste Lee
Stories by: Celeste Lee, Marilla Steuter-Martin
Produced by Emeline Vidal
It's a tense time in the world. We are constantly inundated and bombarded by selected news and pop culture controversies with the lines between the two becoming more blurred. It's increasingly hard to tell what's important or to discern when real news descends into just another form of entertainment for those who live to be outraged. Surely, there must be a saviour somewhere in the midst of this chaos, waiting to save us from this madness?
Turns out, there are two. Killer Mike and El-P have been around for some time, and both are prolific in their own right. I was first fully introduced to El-P through the still mind-bending 2000 LP, Fantastic Damage, and Killer Mike through the politically searing 2012 release R.A.P. Music, which was produced by El-P. Their continued collaboration since R.A.P Music has been one of the most compelling things to happen in hip hop, blending Killer Mike's blistering yet deeply human verses and El-P's manic, maximalist production.
Run The Jewels 2 is a towering release, but it's also as much fun you are likely to have listening to a record that lyrically goes right up to your face, and musically sounds like an electronic hurricane. El-P has really become a master of sound; what other producers could have allowed to become abrasive or noxious he turns into something you can move to or blast full volume as you speed down a highway (my personal preference).
The album's most instantly catchy banger has to be the Zach de la Rocha (of Rage Against the Machine) assisted "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)". This is what Kanye West's Yeezus might have sounded like if it were fun. Here, and really the whole record, El-P and Killer Mike come out with all guns blazing. One of the most surprising and likeable tracks on Run The Jewels 2 is "Early" featuring Boots, who late last year gained praise for his work on the excellent Beyonce. It's a softer, dreamier and poppier moment on an otherwise frantic and jittery record, and serves as a nice palate cleanser for the end of the record.
Killer Mike serves as the heart and soul of this record. His verses are lacerating and deeply entrenched in the politics and racial tensions that continue to drive so much of the world he experiences. As a listener it is easy to dismiss these things as distant. However, Mike's delivery is so empathetic, clever and poignant, that it becomes hard to distance yourself from the harsh realities preached on this record. It's a call to action as much as it is a call to party. And for once, that weird endless cycle of commercialized outrage comes crashing into the context of real lives of ordinary people for a brief and near perfect 39 minutes.
Best For: Driving through the city with your windows down and obnoxiously blasting this on your speakers. People will think you are fun AND socially conscious!
--Kenny Chatoor is former CJLO radio DJ and magazine contributor currently living in Ontario, "Yeah things are good, there is definitely nothing like CJLO in Toronto though, which is a bummer."
Riots in Ferguson over trial decision
by Marilla Streuter-Martin
Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed in Ferguson, Missouri after the official inquisition into Michael Brown's death was met with rioting and violence.
The grand jury announced Monday that the actions of a white police officer, Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed African American teenager were technically legal.
According to the Toronto Star, the announcement exonerating Wilson was followed by over 60 arrests, a dozen fires lit in downtown Ferguson and multiple instances of property damage and vandalism.
Non-violent protests have also begun in solidarity with the small city in several locations across North America including Ottawa and Toronto.
Treasury board president suggests hiring freeze
by Julia Bryant
The Quebec government proposed major job cuts in the public sector on Tuesday.
According to CBC, the Quebec Treasury Board President Martin Coiteux suggested cutting public sector jobs by 2 per cent or more.
He also proposed a freeze on hiring employees from January 2015 until March 2016.
Coiteux said this hiring freeze would save the government 689 million dollars.
Hosted by: Jocelyn Beaudet
Stories by: Julia Bryant & Marilla Steuter-Martin
Produced by: Julia Bryant
Over the last few years, I was told numerous times that I would love the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Former and current residents told me it was my kind of town and I should come out some time for a visit.
Halifax Pop Explosion was taking place between October 21st and 25th, and a dear friend offered to put me up for as long as I wanted. After getting a great deal on a plane ticket, I was all set up for a week in a new city. To sweeten the deal, CJLO helped me get media accreditation for HPX, which gave me access to all the shows I wanted, and has now pulled these words out of me to describe my experience of the festival, the bands and the city of Halifax itself.
I arrived the day before the party started and made my way to the North End where I was staying. I was happily surprised to see that I was located 20 minutes walking distance from most of the HPX venues, and the neighbourhood at large was full of local business for any need I could think of. The North End of Halifax is going through a transition, much like we've seen here in the Mile End in Montreal. It's an affordable neighbourhood that has a lot of new independent businesses starting up with local resources and partnerships. One of the people I stayed with runs a hair salon; there are small restaurants that serve only burritos; cafés with locally-roasted coffee beans; microbreweries that serve you beer in returnable "growlers"; and let's not forget about the boutique selling specialty home items where I (HIPSTER ALERT) bought locally made beard oil that smells like cedar. Admittedly, beard oil is not exactly a need in life, but you get the idea: it's a cool, up and coming place where the entrepreneurs are planting their flags.
The night was spent with a home-cooked meal, Monty Python on the TV, and a few laughs; all in all a great start.
As I awoke and looked outside, I decided to take a walk on what turned out to be the only sunny day of my entire time in Halifax. I walked past the Halifax Commons (the big green space) to the headquarters for HPX volunteers, artists, and media to grab my badge for the week. There was no swag bag, and I found this to be refreshing to not need to throw away any useless promotional materials that are prevalent in these types of multi-day music festivals. Save for one big beer company, there is very little in the way of big corporate sponsorship at Pop, and it seems the organizers instead go the route of local partnerships to help promote and run the event in the city.
My next move was to grab some coffee and take a walk, which pointed my feet toward the downtown area. Much like the North End, downtown Halifax is building up in its own right, only in this case there are multiple construction cranes in the skyline building condos and office towers. I walked toward the waterfront and found a place to get some fish & chips for lunch and a few quiet moments to plan out the first night of loud shows.
As night was falling, I met up with my brother for a drink and we had a good talk about the city, and since his background is civil engineering, I was all ears. He further laid out the interesting predicament that Halifax finds itself in from a city-planning standpoint. It appears they are in a weird stasis—caught between companies that want to build the city up and a citizenry that constantly tries to preserve older buildings as heritage sites. More comically, there's an infamous highway ramp that was built near downtown that was never completed and has since been blocked off at all sides—hence it goes nowhere and cannot be used. The people who were overly eager to build were unable to topple demands of the preservationists and it literally led to a bridge to nowhere.
My adventures on the first night started in what would be my unofficial residency venue Gus' Pub, which had something going on every day of Pop that pulled me there, and was usually the most fun place to be every night. My maiden voyage was Halifax local punk outfit Negative Rage, who zipped through a set of downright snarly tunes with feedback squeals and theatrics to set a bold tone for the night. They were actually filling in for another local act, Grump, but as I found out from the NR's frontman Cody (who is also in Grump), their singer got called away for military work and couldn't make it to any of their gigs for the week.
After Negative Rage, the table was set for one of my recent favourite bands, WTCHS, to hit Gus' Pub with a speaker cabinets that were way too big for a room that fits about 75 people at maximum capacity. Each member of the band plugged into a cabinet the size of a refrigerator and made more volume compression than a person without earplugs could handle. Subsequently, when I interviewed Jag from WTCHS later that week, he admitted that was their reduced "road" gear; when they are closer to their home in Hamilton, Ontario, they (insanely) play through two of those cabinets each. For those who don't know them, WTCHS are a noise art punk band who have been learning as they go for years now, and they are about to release a full-length record for Sonic Unyon in 2015. They are not to be missed.
I decided to change the flavour of the evening by hiking over to a downtown venue called Reflections Cabaret to catch Austra play their 1:00 AM set to a full crowd. Reflections is a new incarnation of a well-known dance club in Halifax, and the venue is bathed in all kinds of newfangled LED rope lighting everywhere. The stage was luminous with bright blue lights and served as a perfect place for Austra to play their rich blend of synth pop to the delight of the crowd. I was right up front near the PA and watched them as they locked into each other for a tight set of tunes. Singer Kate Stelmanis was not one to stay still for any amount of time, and at one point as my hand rested on a PA monitor, she promptly sat there, which forced me to move my hand lest it be trapped under her Austra. OK, that was the one bad joke I'll write in this piece, I promise.
Kate Stelmanis (Austra)
Walking home after that show was a kind of eerie moment, as the downtown core of the city was completely quiet and free of any humanity or moving vehicles of any kind. It was a Tuesday night, to be fair, but I still found it odd that the city shuts down after 11:00 PM on weekdays. All the same, it was a quiet and peaceful walk home where the only thing I passed of any note was a weird abandoned office chair sitting by the road outside of a hotel.
I awoke to see that the rains had come in full force, but undeterred I made my way to the Museum of Natural History for a talk on Composing Music for Screened Media. Being a lover of film scores, as well as a lover of video games, it was a very enthralling discussion. I felt that I learned a little bit about what kind of a commitment a person has to make in order to try and monetize their sounds, as well as what kind of tactics I would need to employ in order to break into the very competitive field of composing music for someone else's vision.
My brother and his wife invited me to have supper at their place, which was in a hilly, verdant neighbourhood called Clayton Park. All of the backyards are lined with trees and the houses all feel very sequestered from any hint of urban life. It was a lovely dinner, and it served as a quiet oasis before another loud night, this time holding court at Gus' Pub for the full bill.
The first band, and one of the "secret guest" spots on the HPX schedule was London, Ontario party-punkers Single Mothers, who were a sweaty dishevelled mess in the best way possible. Singer Drew Thomson, with his missing front tooth and raspy delivery, kept everyone entertained through the start of a beery night. After the set, I ran into my good friend Paul who is a former Halifax resident (and the drummer for Kestrels), and he told me how excited he was for the next band coming up. A bunch of kids called Soft Spot hit the stage, almost unassumingly, and proceeded to play a set of fuzzy noise pop that was just sloppy enough to feel loose but just tight enough to hang onto. I was hooked on them as soon as the first song hit the chorus. I found out later they all work in the same place (a drug store), they all live together above that place, and practice in the basement below that place. It sounds so perfect that I can't even fathom that idea; and it has helped this relatively-young band to gain a lot of traction in a short amount of time. I am excited to see where this band will be in a couple of years.
Another band I was really excited to see was next, and Kuato did not disappoint by any stretch of the imagination. New to their set was a recently-acquired lighting rig run by a friend offstage making the colours dance and turn to their long and powerful post rock songs. They finished with "Ripped from the Soil", which is my favourite song from their 2014 record, The Great Upheaval, and the crowd ate it all up. To cap off the wonderful night were Montreal's own Solids, who I've seen live countless times and were the perfect musical comfort food to an awesome night of bands. If you know them, then you know that they delivered a high-energy show and their music inspired people to crowd surf through the entire duration of their set. One of the crowd surfers was about six and a half feet tall and Gus' is about the side of my living room.
Speaking of comfort food, and following the show, Paul and I high-tailed it to legendary late night food dive, Tony's, for what is Halifax's hallmark: the Donair. It is to Halifax what poutine is to Montreal; it is everywhere and it is plentiful; it gets top billing over pizza at a pizza place. For the uninitiated, a Donair is a Turkish spiced meatloaf that rotates on an upright rotisserie and is shaved off with an electric knife. They take enough of this meat to guarantee about a year of cholesterol medication will be needed, wrap it into a pita, throw tomatoes, onions and about a pint of a donair sauce (that is sweet in taste), wrap it up and watch you struggle not to get it all over you. It was so messy, I was actually happy it rained on my walk home. It was delightful, by the way.
The rain the next day was even worse than it was the day before, and I had to make it to Gus' Pub (of course) for an interview with WTCHS, but not before coffee and a Mexican breakfast across the street. After finishing up the coffee, the breakfast, the interview and another coffee (in that order), I made my way to Gus' to see Calgary, Alberta horror punk quartet HAG FACE. These four females scared me and aroused me at the same time and were also really nice when I sat with them after their set. I called them "Black Sabbath's younger sister, with ADD", and they loved that analogy. These girls go from creepy whispers to blood-vaporizing screams and change tempos just for fun during some of their songs and it's absolutely compelling.
After that was done, and with the rain being a bit too constant for my liking, I headed home with a few detours into record shops and a killer coffee place along the way on Agricola Street. That night's entertainment was going on at the Multi Purpose Centre, which was the "big ticket" venue for the more established acts at the festival. After walking about a half hour in the rain away from any semblance of a city-like area, I happened upon the venue, which was about the size of an airplane hangar. The crowd was entertained by Canadian electro jazz dance party boys BADBADNOTGOOD; it was a fun set and I caught about 20 minutes of it, which the mostly younger audience ate up and squealed at with glee. The show was running long, and after finally finishing, we all began the waiting game for the night's headliners, which in this case were Wu Tang Clan members Ghostface Killah and Raekwon. I was really excited to see any Wu Tang members, let alone two of the best MCs in the whole crew, so the patience level in what became a 90-minute delay in their appearance on stage was eroded before it even started. I had no previous knowledge that apparently they are famous for delaying shows for basically no good reason at all, and once the wait started passing the one-hour mark, the audience members started to boo as they waited. I kept myself occupied by watching PS I Love You and Halifax Pop Explosion doing a Muppets Statler and Waldorf routine and making some jokes as they also waited for the show to begin. Once it did get going, it was a really good show but once I caught the songs I wanted to hear, I got out of there and hopped in a cab back to (of course) Gus' Pub.
Ghostface Killah and Raekwon
HAG FACE were on stage again as I arrived, finishing their night-time set, and their energy transitioned from hungover by day to more of a partied state of lubrication at night. The band up next were my good buddies Kestrels, who were set to start their last show of 2014 at midnight sharp, and start on time, they did (see how that's done, Wu Tang Clan?). They turned the lights off, not even opting to use the coloured stage lights and blistered through the best set I saw them do in quite some time. If there is something about playing in front of a full house in your hometown at your label's showcase night that brings out a little bit extra in you, Kestrels had it in spades that night. Their tour mates, Philadelphia power-pop band Swearin', closed out the night with fantastic male and female vocals duking it out with sharply played guitar lines. All in all, it was a great night, but oddly, I was regretful that I missed both Veneers and Operators that night due to making the choice to wait it out at the Multi Purpose Centre.
At this point, the rain was almost without cessation for the better (or worse) part of two full days, and it made me really want a good drink—really, that's a "when in Rome" situation in Halifax, so I've heard. After being a hermit for a while in the comfort of indoors, I ventured out to meet with some friends of Paul's to basically tag along for a birthday dinner. The gastropub called The Stubborn Goat had great food and drink, and won the best beer of the week award from me for the Big Spruce Special IPA that I sampled in plentiful amount. After a really good meal and a few pints, Paul and I hit up Reflections Cabaret for Montreal bands aplenty. Hand Cream were the first of the night and their sounds (although hazed through a few hoppy beverages in my brain filter) were a pleasant change from a few days of bombast. Keeping the gentle pop sounds going were Fixture Records' own Brave Radar who played their pretty tunes and made me happy as this was the first time in three days that I did not require earplugs at a show.
After a couple more beverages, we made our way across town to catch Sheer Agony at Gus' Pub and their mathy garage rock was a nice way to kick things back into gear. Following them (and really at the apex of my less than moderate consumption of beverages) were Crosss, bringing the Montreal band count to four in a row for the night. This band brought the volume back up to the "high" setting, and had an ominous attack that would at times wait for you to adjust to a chord, just to pummel you with it over and over again. I really liked their set, and I hope to catch them again at a point in time when I'm of sound mind and body.
The last band was PS I Love You, and much like with Solids a few days before, it was a good familiar note on which to finish a night. Paul Saulnier and I have spoken a few times in the past, including twice for CJLO interviews, and it was cool to talk about stage gear with him. Every time I see them, it's a marvel at how much goes into their polished set of riffy noise pop, and getting an insight on how the stuff actually works was a nice bonus. The set was on point, and as usual they put a lot of energy into their show, which in such a small room was really palpable. I hit a point, however, when my focus was lacking and my phone lost all battery power while I was in the middle of taking pictures of the band, so I called it a night and walked home. The fresh air and the ever-present rain were also a big help to getting my brain back to basic operating power.
The last day of the HPX fun started with hitting the 'zine fair and then the record fair with Paul from Kestrels. Finding the record fair saw us do some circles around town and proved to be a longer walk than we bargained for (neither of us are topographers, it would seem) but at least it was not raining for once! We eventually found a large warehouse with many local record vendors plying their wares to a good amount of vinyl collectors and shoppers alike. After a bit of browsing and buying, we made our way to Dee Dee's for a fantastic burrito and a bit of down time followed by what would be our last visit to Gus' for a show. This last band Un Blonde was by far the oddest act I witnessed at HPX, and probably the whole year if I'm being honest. At the time, my knee-jerk reaction would be to describe them as a band that plays two different art rock songs at once while hints of R&B crooning permeate the mic. It was weird, but I have to admit to enjoying it, especially after so many nights of live music in a row; I suppose I was seasoned enough to enjoy them. If you're into weirdo music that revels in complication and being against the grain then I think you would enjoy Un Blonde.
After we parted ways, I met up with my hosts and took them out to a nice dinner on the town as a thank you for letting me stay with them for the whole week. We had tapas and cocktails, and had a nice chat about the city and what they enjoyed about living there, so it was a nice bookend on the various things swimming in my head about the city and its people.
Once I left them to a night of watching a hockey game, I made the trek out to see Chad VanGaalen at The Olympic Hall, which was a crowded show that had also seen PS I Love you and Cousins earlier in the night. Chad was very engaging on stage, telling stories and building them into his set of vulnerable and powerful pop music. He's a great performer and it's funny how he kind of projects this "awww shucks" persona of a guy who can't keep his guitar in tune, and then he slays you with that warbling falsetto. Very highly recommended if you have a chance to see him perform.
Keeping with the storytelling and strong voices, and ending my musical journey at The Marquee Ballroom was Cold Specks from Montreal (well, some are from Toronto others are from Nova Scotia). The Marquee is a really cool venue, with high ceilings and lots of places to sit and stand, but I chose the front of the stage and was treated to a fantastic live performance. I wasn't blown away by the record Neuroplasticity, but live the songs were killer.
Along the way that night, I lost my friend Paul to a basement show and he kept texting me that he was going to the after party at the Seahorse Tavern, so after the Cold Specks show, I went to meet with him. However, his presence was elusive and I was greeted by a Saturday night of over drunken Haligonians wilding out downtown. Where there wasn't a peep on Tuesday night, now was some kind of controlled riot of the kind of obnoxious people you see on Crescent Street on a Saturday, seemingly saving all of their frustration to blow it all off in an overly clubby-looking outfit. Lots of bros, and lots of arguments in short skirts; a nightmare that once encountered was quickly escaped. The Seahorse was packed with the chatter of a few hundred drunken conversations trying to talk over the live reggae band playing party tunes, and after about four minutes, I shifted into "can't deal with it" mode and called it a night. Walking out of the downtown core, the pulsing activity of party rage fell into the background in minutes, and the quiet of the walk to the North End sucked all of the noise away for the last few steps of bliss back to the bedroom door. No rain anymore, just a bunch of thoughts on five fantastic days.
My trip home to Montreal was swift and without incident. It was one of the best musical journeys I have ever been a part of, and rain or shine, I would do it all over again. How about next year?
--Denis hosts Dirty Work on CJLO. Your dirty work is done for you... all you have to do is listen, every Thursday at 4 PM.
Hosted by Danny Aubry
Stories by Alexa Everett, Omar Megahed & Danny Aubry
Produced by Tom Matukala
Oh boy, where to begin? Can a record be great and terrible, enjoyable and infuriating, really smart and incredibly stupid, all at the same time? If this was the goal of Ariel Pink's latest record Pom Pom, then good lord, has he ever succeeded.
Like many, my introduction to Ariel Pink was through the weirdo-masterpiece of a pop song, "Round and Round". His 2010 record, Before Today, became a sort of milestone, and this was well deserved as the myriad of artists who have been influenced by Pink (Panda Bear, every chillwave band ever) is quite astounding. The follow-up, Mature Themes, saw him delving back into the weirder kitschier sound he was well known for. Pom Pom continues that trend into the strange, but in a more bizarre Tim and Eric-like way.
Pink is quite the character in real life, with his frequent on-stage meltdowns (which I was fortunate enough to witness in Chicago four years ago), and his "commentary", often bordering on either flat out offensive or as a famous Montrealer suggested, misogynistic. With all the noise and mythos surrounding him, listening to Pom Pom can be a rather disorienting experience.
It starts off with a pleasant sunny silliness that's also undeniably catchy, which only a master songwriter could pull off. It's easy to overlook this fact since Pink shrouds his songs with ancient/gimmicky sounding production and sitcom soundtrack-like instrumentation (see: the 1980s). And then there are those lyrics, "Freckles! Freckles! Where'd you get those freckles!?", Jello Jello Jello!", and "Uhhh I like your areolas baby".... you get the point. Outside of that nuttiness is the occasional insight and social commentary. The album's two best tracks "Black Ballerina" and "Picture Me Gone" stand side by side, and give the album a feeling of depth and importance on an otherwise lyrically and musically aloof record.
Overall, this is a divisive record, and you will either love it or hate it. There are some real moments of beauty where Pink's ear for creating sound collages really comes through like the aforementioned highlights, and on ethereal songs like "Lipstick". These moments are almost enough to remind you that beneath his wacky persona and bizarre lyrics, Ariel Pink is still better at doing what he does than just about anyone else.
Best For: Do you find yourself magically transported to and trapped in a Tim and Eric sketch, or that Too Many Cooks video? Congratulations! You have found an alternate dimension to enjoy this record in a sincere, real-life context. Good luck finding that portal back to Earth!
--Kenny Chatoor is former CJLO radio DJ and magazine contributor currently living in Ontario, "Yeah things are good, there is definitely nothing like CJLO in Toronto though, which is a bummer."
Photo by Alexander Schneider
Nils Frahm is one of those artists that most don't know about, and if you do, then you are probably a major devotee! I was reminded of this phenomenon this past Saturday during M for Montreal. Nils has played in Montreal a handful of times, including sold out shows at Mutek. I tried to catch his set the last time earlier this year, but, alas, it was sold out. I was thrilled to be able to see him, at Metropolis no less, where his minimalist ambient sound was fully enhanced with their incredible sound system.
How can I turn you into a Frahm-follower, you ask? Well, imagine this... Three different piano configurations on stage, yet only one musician. Intriguing, right? Then let me tell you more! First setup, classic upright piano, okay, I know, not the most exciting idea, until you hear him play it! Second setup, vintage, gorgeous Roland Juno 6, aka a total dream machine, run through an amazing Space Echo delay unit, topped with yet another Space Echo delay running yet another rare Roland machine. You might be asking yourself, what does this all mean? These are the primary wonder-making tools of Frahm's misty, arpeggiated, ambient lulls that will have you swaying in the clouds. Lastly, closing out the instrument lineup is a grand piano, just waiting for Nils' magic fingers, and drumsticks, to grace it's ivory keys.
I will list the things that blew me away at this show, for the last enticement of your induction into the "Club of Nils." The most impressive thing, besides the delicately intricate musical delights of Nils Frahm, was the beyond-captive audience. We have all been to those shows that we really just want to shush the crowd at the bar because they are harshing your music-watching vibe, right? This entire audience seemed to be joined in one collective group-thought of complete silence, to the point that you could hear bartenders clinking glasses at the bar... - AT METROPOLIS! There was also at least three separate people that were moved to the point of passing out (they were fine, in the end). I am not sure if this is a regular thing at shows, I am sure it is, especially at bigger, hotter venues, but it was especially noticeable at this show because of the audience silence.
Occasionally, you just heard a big "THUD," then a rush of aid. Not only was it really disturbing to see this, it actually totally numbed my mind at how many different people passed out at this show. The only other audible audience sound, aside from the thunderous rounds of applause, was the semi-silent sounds of weeping. Yes, you read that correctly, weeping. To top it all off, Nils has to be one of the most humble, appreciative, and utterly charming musicians that I have had the pleasure to see live, as of late. He even took the time to sign autographs and chat with the queue of fans waiting at the end of the show. If that isn't the hook-line-and-sinker for you to discover the world of Nils Frahm, then please, please take my word for it! His latest release, Spaces, was recorded live, and I feel it encapsulates many of the raw emotions that I witnessed at Metropolis.
Check out his website, http://www.nilsfrahm.com/, for tour information.
--Julie Matson hosts With Gay Abandon, an afternoon dose of the best in queer music and culture! Tune in every Monday at 4 PM, only on CJLO.
Hosted by Alexa Everett
Stories by Emeline Vidal and Catlin Spencer
Produced by Sam Obrand