Pop Montreal: Diamond Rings and Wild Nothing

Diamond rings POP MOntreal
Diamond rings POP MOntreal
Diamond Rings

It can be difficult trying to recall all of the details of a packed night in a post-POP haze, but Diamond Rings’ sparkly, energetic performance undeniably stood out from all the low-fi indie bands this year. With a festival as large and widespread as Pop Montreal, you can end up in a lot of overcrowded, dimly lit bars, but it felt like a real show at La Tulipe, complete with neon lights, disco balls and room to dance – all of which are essential for front man John O’Regan’s catchy electro-pop songs and his loosely choreographed dance moves. Diamond Rings has recently grown to include members of Miracle Fortress, but you may not even have noticed them dressed in black behind O’Regan, who was wearing all white and glittering eye make-up.

Diamond rings
Diamond rings

Even though his dance beats are filled out and amplified with the support of a live band, it’s still essentially a one-man show that’s as glamorous and vibrant as he is. His androgynous style and deep vocals are similar to David Bowie’s but his music seems to serve as his personal emotional outlet.

He introduced a variety of songs from his latest album, Special Affections including the 80’s inspired “I’m Just Me” which breaks into a pulsing club anthem and he grabbed a guitar for the indie rock jams “Something Else” and “Runaway Love”.

Before the show, I had really only been exposed to a sampling of his remixes, but I was happy to finally experience some of his spectacular originals.

Properly energized for the evening, we moved on to Wild Nothing‘s sold out show at Il Motore. Jack Tatum with his four-piece band released “Paradise” and “Shadow” from their new album, Nocturne over the summer and they made their way onto so many indie stations, blogs and summer playlists that I was subconciously hooked by the time the album was finally released in late August.

Wild Nothing
Wild Nothing

It’s the dreamy guitars and drawn out buildups that made “Paradise” a refreshing midsummer track that fit perfectly into beach days and night drives. Now that we’ve all had a chance to warm up to the rest of the album for a few weeks, it seems like Nocturne and its unmistakable 80’s sound is going to be on heavy rotation for awhile.

They opened with “Shadow,” the charging first song on the album with heavy drums and swirling synths. “Midnight Song” and “Nocturne” are beautifully layered with softly echoing guitars, but when played live, the melodic guitars become the focus and the result is mezmerizing. “Rheya” also stood out with dreamy, lingering effects that added to the haunting quality of the song.

In terms of stage presence, Jack Tatum actually seemed a little uneasy on stage – a glaring contrast between the shows that night, but the band sounds fantastic live and is well worth checking out!

Photos by Chris Zacchia

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