After an exhilarating and tiring weekend, I was ready to return to the Montreal Infringement Festival. Usually the early week is reserved for more sober activities like poetry, theatre and film screenings. But this time around, we were going to start things off by rocking out at Barfly.
For me, Tuesday began with drinks at Bifteck with Brooklyn infringers Sunshine (Bianca David will tell you all about it). Then, we walked up St-Laurent and in on Chorale du Peuple leading the whole bar in song, protest song, that is. There were lyric sheets on every table with the words to songs like “Old Monsanto had a Farm (GM, GM, O).”
As their set was concluding, we started hearing sporadic drum and bass accompaniment. Turns out this was coming from the next act, Mr Parker Quebec, and the flow was seamless.
Dan Parker, a prominent member of the Chorale, sang while drumming in this rocking two-piece. This prompted one of the members of Sunshine, also an organizer of Brooklyn Infringement, to mention that he’d love it if Parker played the Brooklyn fest (Dan, if you’re reading this and are interested, get in touch: email@example.com).
I went to the festival Wednesday wearing two hats: reviewer and performer. I was scheduled for a brief set in the Infringement spoken word show at the Concordia Co-Op Bookstore.
I won’t tell you how my performance was from an audience perspective, but going through acoustic versions of a few tunes from my normally very loud band [sic] with Jerry Gabriel on guitar was fun as hell. While it was my only scheduled performance in this year’s fest, in true Infringement fashion, it wasn’t my last time on stage.
Our little musical interlude wasn’t the only music I would hear that evening. Sunshine treated the crowd at the bookstore to a very lyrical acoustic set in anticipation of their plugged, full band performance Friday.
Music aside, this was a spoken word show and there was plenty of interesting poetry, courtesy of very clever Siberian native Maria Bronnikova and Montrealers Steven P. Frasier, Rebecca Anne Banks and emcee Laurence Tenenbaum, who delivered his works throughout the night. We even got some hilarious real world conversations from British native Robert Wringham.
The night also had a special audience member: Buffalo’s Josh Smith, a spoken word performer and comedian in his own right. This was a surprise visit and he brought his car, too, which worked out great for me because he was able to offer a lift halfway across town to Labo where the night’s other evening of poetry was happening.
Louis Royer’s Grand Récital Fractal was in full swing when we arrived. It was a mostly francophone evening of words and song.
I say mostly because there was an English performance from rapper and Infringer Jay Manafest. There was also a bilingual French-Spanish poerty duo KoraZón NordSud.
I was also pleasantly surprised when Pasqui Paz, whom I hadn’t seen since the 2005 Infringement, took the stage mixing beats. The in-character performance by L’Abbé Tizumen caught my attention too (if you don’t speak French, the joke in his name would take too long to explain).
For me, the highlight of this part of the evening was Vitamine Bleue. This guitar and vocal duo, all decked in blue striped outfits with blue hair and performing in front of a blue curtain were clever, cute and entertaining.
Their personalities really came through in their performance. And personality in performance is one of the main things the Infringement is all about.
* Top photo of Vitamine Bleue by Yvon Jean.