After a few hours of hitting shows on the opening night of POP Montreal, Forget the Box ended up at the Église Pop to see the Manhattan experimental rockers Gang Gang Dance close off the first night of Pop!
Weird and distorted, Gang Gang sound was well-matched by locals Technical Kidman and Maxime Robin, and the bizarre interlude of stand-up comedy by Title TK.
Though their set was surprisingly short (less than an hour), we were still able to take in Gang Gang’s distinctive style, all percussive and synth-heavy. Singer Lizzi Bougatsos battered a set of electric drums while singing and wailing through walls of distortion in an almost Bjork-like fashion. Gang Gang was a six piece that night, if you count the one person—maybe “prop” would be more appropriate– who spent most of the show standing in the middle of the band holding flowers in front of his face. Artsy and a little surreal, Gang Gang’s unique, reeling worldbeat rhythms had the hardcore fans in the front dancing and cheering.
However, there have, since the show, been some concerns about the show and the venue itself. Gang Gang’s lightshow wasn’t perfectly projected, and the short duration of their set was definitely a letdown. The tight pack at the foot of the stage seemed mostly thrilled, though, and that energy was severely lacking at most the other sets I visited that night. In fact, I’ve never gone to so many shows in one night where so few people were dancing. Maybe it’s a question of perspective and priorities (it’s always a question of perspective and priorities), but it’s a buzzkill for me to be at a show where most people are standing around with their arms crossed. Short set aside, lighting problems aside, I was happy to see the night ending with a crowd that seemed sloppy and excited.
Who knows what accounts for the general lack of enthusiasm I saw on the first night, but I can happily report that day two more than made up for it! Stay tuned for more, and keep Popping out!
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.
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.
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!
POP Montreal snuck up on me like a ninja cat and I’m having a full on sonic panic attack.
This year has so many great artists playing (once again) and I love that I get to hate having to make choices. POP Montreal is a unique festival that blends all the music genres I like into an epic whirlwind of venue hopping and sound orgies. For the past few years, I find myself staring at the POP line up and being utterly divided: do I see those bands I already know and love or do I throw caution to the wind and discover some new beats?
For those of you who’ve been following some of my music writing over the past couple years (at FTB , MYATS, and other e-zines), here’s a chance to go see some of the best acts I’ve interviewed and reviewed live and you know, check out my musical tastes and stuff.
Here are my top picks for Pop Montreal 2012!
Cinéma L’Amour: September 21, 10:00pm @ Brasserie Beaubien
I’ve had the pleasure of following Cinéma L’Amour from their very beginnings and have been constantly impressed and often entranced. Dorian Scheidt and Chris Kavanagh deliver one hell of a show with Kavanagh’s beat wielding super powers (and kick ass shirts) and Scheidt’s guitar and loop peddle mastery.
Cousins: September 22, 8:00 p.m. @ Club Lambi – Salle McAuslan
Confession time, I’ve yet to listen to Halifax’s Cousins. One of my favourite things to do during POP is to finally check out those bands whose names have been floating around and that I’ve been meaning to hear but haven’t found the time. I like to go in to these kinda shows with virgin ears and see their live act and then, if they can make me feel something, I check out their recordings. Cousins has peaked my curiosity for a little while now and have been hailed and praised by those friends of mine who I know have great musical taste. So hey, let’s go have a listen!
I saw Canailles play at the Montreal Folk Festival on The Canal in 2011 and found them to be a refreshing serving of good ol’ fun time Québéc folk music. I am especially fond of their tunes ‘Parle-Moi’ and the comical tongue-in-cheek ‘Bien-être’. I am envious of this group of musical friends and wish I was part of something like Canailles.
As of writing their date has yet to be announced, but keep an eye on the schedule as they are listed in the line-up.
David Byrne and St. Vincent: Sept 21, 8:00 p.m. @ Église St -Jean Baptiste
I saw St. Vincent at Sala Rossa a few years ago (2009) and it was enthralling. Having heard one or two songs and knowing very little, I had expected Annie Clark to play the keys and sing but no, no way, St. Vincent plays the guitar and she rocks. Quickly, her tune “Paris is Burning” and “Marry Me John” became the anthems to my summer of failed romance and delicious Montreal micro-brews. I’m very curious to hear this collaboration and see what fruit it bears.
Gabrielle Papillon and the Mighty Oak: September 20, 1:30 p.m. @ Divan Orange – Salle CISM 89,3
Folk musician Gabrielle Papillon is launching her new album “Little Bug” and I can hardly wait. I saw her perform last year at Casa Del Popolo and was mesmerized, downloaded her album and sang “Dust to Gold” every day for a month or so. The Mighty Oak are the bunch of wonderfully talented folks that Papillon has played with over the years and their contributions are majestic. A must see, must hear, must sing.
Last Pop, I bought tickets to see this electro-pop trio and got so sick I couldn’t attend. My heart broke. The members of Goose Hut have been part of many a project I’ve enjoyed including The Hoof & The Heel and Wind-Up People. This fun time happy dance colourful band is right up my alley, at least on my cheerful days. For a good dose of fun-time, check out Goose Hut. AND HEY! Lucky us, they are playing three different sets. No excuses.
Gotye: September 21, 6:00 p.m. @ Métropolis – Salle MusiquePlus
What to say about Gotye except that well his song “Somebody that I used to know” is amazing. Here’s an opportunity to hear more of his pop tunes. Also, let’s be honest, he is very handsome (there are no bad reasons to choose an artist to see during Pop).
Lisa Leblanc is a singer-songwriter from New Brunswick. She packs a Maritime country-trash-folk punch and has been compared to Janis Joplin. For those who will enjoy Canailles, very much recommended. Here’s a video from her hit: ‘Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la marde’ (Today, my life is shit).
Peaches DJ Extravaganza: Sept 20, 11:30 p.m. @ Église POP Little Burgundy
Euh HELL YES. Peaches is a good time, always. She’s raw, she’s in your face, she fucks your pain away. I saw her a few years ago and was blown away and so, I believe a party extravaganza with her name on it is gonna fucking rock.
I had never heard of these guys before looking through the Pop Montreal line up but fell in love with their promo pic (above). Good job boys, because now I’m intrigued. Having found a music video for their song ‘Stuck in the Middle’, I am officially sold, or at least I’ll buy a ticket.
I’ve seen Young Lungs play twice this year and loved every second of it. These guys sound great. Their three part harmonies and fast beats make me wish I was capable of playing more than just sad folk songs. Check out their video for “Blood on the Streets”:
Forget The Box is proud to be teaming up with Audio Blood to present Audio Blood’s Afternoon Soiree at this year’s POP Montreal festival! The party will be on September 20th during the day at Divan Orange and it’s FREE*!
We’ve got 6 awesome bands playing all afternoon including:
Friday night we hit up the Pop Montreal showcase at the Silver Dollar. The line-up included The Redmond Barry’s, Goose Hut, Hooded Fang, Parlovr, Bleached, TOPS, UN and The Disraelis. Silver Dollar’s is a pretty sweet venue in that you’re not dying of sweat, you can jump out the back to the patio if you’re ears need a break or hide in the back room and chill in a booth. Again, options are fantastic.
Anyway, let’s talk about some of the bands…
Hooded Fang are a foursome from Toronto who play pop songs that swirl around memories of The Cure and Brat Pack movies. They hit the stage around 10pm to a half-full Silver Dollar. Their live sound verged on the cusp of surf-rock mixed with undertones of psychedelics. Problem is you either dig it or you don’t – live. But they sound great on record. You can catch Hooded Fang, Goose Hut and Parlovr playing shows across Canada this summer.
Parlovr, the most anticipated act of the night, hit the stage right after Hooded Fang. As soon as the first guitar string was strung the stage felt like it was lit on fire. Parlvor have this way with the stage that keeps you hooked, excited and wanting more. During their latest hit, “Holding On To Something“, lead singer Alex Cooper belted out screams that were drenched in woes of heartache and longing. It was a super high-energy performance that had people pushing their way from the back to front.
TOPS took the stage at 1am and was one of the last shows of the Montreal Showcase. They’re by far one of my favourite bands right now. The four-piece hail from Montreal, and are well seeded in the local Montreal music scene. Over the last couple of years TOPS has really cleaned up and fined-tuned their live sound. The lead singer bounced around her keyboard like a little kid in a candy store during their hit song, “Turn Your Love Around.”
After TOPS we headed over to the packed El Mocambo to check out Paper Lions. This PEI-based band known for their catchy guitar riffs and upbeat sounds had the crowd dancing and singing along song after song. In between songs, lead singer John MacPhee chatted with the crowd. After the show we talked with them about their decision to give their latest album Trophies away for free online, and how this impacted the success of online music sharing for them.
All in all we were super impressed with the POP Montreal Showcase at The Silver Dollar. You’ve gotta check out TOPS live, they’re definitely going to be all over the Canadian music scene in the coming months. And as for Paper Lions, they’re always great to see, and we have so much respect for them for their decision to back away from the label, and release their album on their own. It’s always interesting hearing the other side of how labels can dick-around artists, and yet how the dicking-around can really make a band stronger, make them question what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it aka. making music, playing music…and for whom they’re doing it.
Sweet. Well our next NXNE post is going to talk about Poor Young Things, NXNE surprise guest, and other random adventures that happened on our last day. In the meantime, check out TOPS, “Turn Your Love Around“…
If you’re a friend of Matt Stern’s, you may well end up in one of his songs. He shared the backstory on a couple of his tunes during POP Montreal, at Cabigi. Having never been there before, I was pleased to find that it provided a perfectly kitsch-tastic backdrop for his bright eyed, acoustic set (is that a Formica table? Formica is awesome!).
He explained how on a trip to Croatia, a friend of his, not having her usual distractions at her disposal, had been at a loss to entertain herself; a story he turned into the hashtagable (and timely; Facebook interface changes, anyone?) First World Problems. An email from a friend on the subject of her misdirected love inspired My Heart is an Idiot, bringing much needed levity to the all too painful condition.
Beyond the upbeat guitar and a voice that loosens the panties a li’l, Matt’s lyrics are filled with awareness, yearning, and how easy love should be. They’re simple tunes, overall, but is there anything wrong with that? I like music that makes me want to skip and smile as much as I like music that makes me want to smudge my eyeliner, and these songs made me think of sunshine and summer romance. While a few of the riffs reminded me of what Ben Lee was up to awhile back (which is fine in my books), his lyrics belie an expansive and mature perspective. With lines like “in an ocean still seeking / she’s kneeling with her palms in the ground”, and choruses about gratitude, it feels like Matt’s songs are coming from an honest and vulnerable place, one that makes me hope the best for his budding career. That, and I can’t wait until there are posters of him; he looks like he belongs in a frame…on my wall. There is of course a huge clause in the hipster manifesto about not getting too excited about things, and the carefully casual group in attendance didn’t disappoint in that regard. I may have lost some points there, but the good news is, I am ever too cool to care.
Photos by Chris Zacchia
For more pics from POP Montreal check out ForgetTheBox on FB!
L’Ecole Des Beaux-Arts is pulsating with art and energy on Saturday as artists, students and punk rock enthusiasts come together to contemplate a very unique female experience. The Raincoats: Adventures art show, at the top a winding staircase, starts behind an ominous black curtain. Inside, a woman screams wildly.
Cautiously peeling open the curtain, I crash into the chest of a sheepish-looking young man. He apologizes and sails down the stairs to the lobby. God, what’s happening in there? Then I see her – the screamer – the frame focused tightly around her face, catching a moment of sheer anguish and vulnerability. The screams come in long, deep bursts, like mad howls. The audience of five, scattered awkwardly about the tiny room, stares helplessly.
When the screen splits in two, it’s the same girl – screaming wildly on one side, laughing hysterically on the other. Words like rioutous, chaotic, girly, sexual and unapologetic float over the screen, bringing the female experience of a different time and place into focus. She is at once a little girl, vulnerable and afraid, and a young woman with something important to say. The louder she screams, the louder she laughs, and so it goes for eight painfully intriguing minutes. But somehow, even when the film closes around its quiet end, I can’t help wondering if that girl is still screaming today.
“Scream” is one of Gina Birch’s first forays into cinema. It was filmed in 1978, a time when the punk rock wave, that had swamped the country in the early 70s, was evolving into a more reserved and experimental movement. The post-punk era was a unique time for women and, for Birch, it opened up a space for girls to do things they hadn’t done before.
Birch’s shoe paintings, dating from 1977-2011, and also on display at l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts for POP Montreal, bring the stories of a female punk rocker to life through the shoes she wore at different times in her life. Through them, one can begin to understand what it meant for a woman to join the male-dominated party scene at London’s famous punk rock nightclub, The Roxy, or catch a glimpse of Birch’s personal and hyper-female experience of working in the “real world.” Her paintings cleverly turn the ordinary into an extraordinary and uniquely powerful storytelling tool.
Birch’s visual art simultaneously mirrors and feeds off her work as a musician. She and art school friend Ana da Silva started The Raincoats in 1977. And though Birch admits that in her youth she had no idea how to play her instrument or a gig, the band went on to enjoy huge success in the underground, post-punk scene of the time and become a major inspiration to the Riot Grrrl movement of the 90s. It was the rawness and vulnerability and breaking of barriers that bands like Sonic Youth and Nirvana hailed them for. Determination and inventiveness propelled them to the top of their game.
Birch has grown up since the early days of the post-punk scene, but certainly hasn’t lost the playfulness and wild female energy that fuelled her artistic career. Her art, whether through the raw wailing of her bass guitar, an extraordinary story through ordinary means, or the frightening power of a girl lost in a scream, brings to life a very unique and inspiring female experience of a different time and place.
As the Pop Montreal hangover finally wears off, it’s time to look back on the many highlights:
1 Colouring Contest & Discovering New Bands, Thanks to Indyish:
What better activity to complement live, precious-sounding indie rock by pretty girls wearing vintage dresses than colouring? It was too dark to differentiate between the different coloured pencils inside 3 Minots, which added to the fun of the reveal when I saw my poster in the glow of the streetlamp. Since I’d been swilling a newly created beverage that strangely resembled McDonalds orange drink with a nasty aftertaste, I was surprised how well I kept to the lines.
Holland Creek whetted my Pop appetite with their pleasant three-way harmonies and down home, stripped-down sound. The luscious 10-song album by Erik Virtanen and his some of favorite local guest musicians is available for free download at the website http://hollandcreekthemusic.com.
I was also impressed with Paper Garden Record‘s Little Tybee, here all the way from Georgia. Their songs were full of sonic twists and turns, interplay between guitar and electric violin juxtaposed with intriguing rhythms. I always dig a band that makes me want to listen to them more, one that doesn’t give away all their tricks in the first few songs so that you’re bored by the end of the set.
I wish I’d been able to stay for more of Hooded Fang, as they struck the chamber of my heart reserved for bouncy garage rock, but bed was calling as the minutes ticked away before work the next day.
2 Cutesy Graphic Design
The drink tickets are bright blue, and have a picture of a spilling beer bottle bearing the Pop Montreal logo. And cheesy as it may be, the little bird silhouette everywhere makes me smile.
Hailing from my hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, I’d heard a lot about the power of the Deep Dark Woods live show. On the heels of their recent release “The Place I Left Behind”, the five-piece boasts an alluring alt-country sound that evokes instant nostalgia. One reviewer stated that their music has a timeless sound, as you can’t immediately identify its decade of origin.
With songs like “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” and “Sugar Mama”, they pay homage to the greats like The Band and Neil Young while keeping it fresh. Conjuring up grit and clarity at the same time isn’t easy, but they make it look and sound effortless. Next time they pass through town, I’ll ask them about their influences and how their music is shaped by their surroundings.
4 The Arcade Fire Block Party Spectacular
Initially, I considered not going, as I figured the free outdoor Arcade Fire show would be too much of a gong show for my liking. But then I snapped out of it: when else are you going to get to see one of your favorite bands, for FREE?
At first, it seemed like a good idea to sandwich ourselves in with the mass facing the stage, getting as far ahead as we could until the shoulder barriers became impenetrable. One miracle text from a friend with a better spot, two hopped fences and we were out of there.
I can’t disclose the exact location of our secret spot, but let me just say, when you can’t go forward, go up. Privacy, the perfect view and room to dance simply made for a legendary evening. Nothing like swaying with your friends, belting along to “Wake Up”. I couldn’t understand why everyone around us was watching quietly with their arms folded.
Security took it upon themselves to try and end our fun just as the band gloriously launched into my personal favorite, “Rebellion (Lies)”. We pleaded for one more song, and they stonewalled us. We fought back by dancing our way to the door and buying time with desperate measures like untying each other’s shoes, all the while ignoring their staunch glare. We made it to the end of the song though, and that truly made my night.
So thank you Arcade Fire and thank you Pop Montreal for another awesome year full of new bands and old favorites!
“So the dominatrix texted me last night” Forget the Box creative director Chris Zacchia laughed as he took a long drag from his cigarette and sipped on his PBR. Hanging outside 3 Minots during a break at the latest Pop Montreal Indyish/Paper Garden Records collaboration this past Wednesday, Zacchia proceeded to update me on his recent exploits so outrageous they must be true. As I listened to the stories a sea of Plateau hipsters wandered up and down St-Laurent laughing, smoking and being generally unimpressed with everything.
Oh Montreal, how I love you. Life is definitely never boring when your around.
Pop Montreal has become a very important festival to me over the past few years. Usually gone most of the summer working for the Toronto International Film Festival, POP is a perfect place for me to catch up with friends, keep that crazy festival high going a little bit longer and most importantly hear great music.
Sadly I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make any POP shows this year, since I was only in town for a few days. I was quickly convinced to make time for this event when I realized it was a POP Montreal and Indyish collaboration. I’ve volunteered many years for Indyish, which is produced by my longtime friend Paul Aflalo. Because of this I know first hand that Indyish always puts on a professional show with interesting performers. This evening was no different with artists such as Polaris nominated band Hooded Fang.
Showcasing artists from Paper Garden Records, the evening was hosted by Aflalo’s co-host of the CJLO radio show Edge of the CityAsaf Gerchak. As we listened to a engaging and varied group of indie performers fellow FTB-er Jess Klein, our friend Maarika, and myself eagerly took part in the coloring contest portion of the evening. Let’s just say coloring in the dark after having a few drinks produces some amusing results.
Of the five bands that played: Belgrave, Little Tybee, Holland Creek, Pree and Hooded Fang, two are clear stand outs in my opinion. (Although each band had its merits, and we have a video interview with Pree coming up). After seeing them first perform last May with Little City I was just as impressed seeing NDG’s Belgrave a second time around. Swaying in the front row with Maarika, who introduced me to the band in the first place, we sang along to songs like Tokyo. Belgrave is very good at creating moments with the audience, and because of that they happily have me as a fan.
The other band that I loved at this showcase was Atlanta’s Little Tybee. A great southern folk band, they immediately clicked with the Montreal audience. “You’re good!” People began to cheer, and the band quickly got off on it, repaying us with an amazing performance. Backstage after the show we chatted briefly about their long car journey and they seem like really nice kids, which may sound dorky but makes me love their band even more. Download Little Tybee. Now.
I wish I could have gone to more shows while I was in Montreal but I’m happy that I did get to be apart of such a fun night. And unlike the 2$ chow mein I ingested on the way home from the show, I hope to have much more Indyish and POP Montreal in my future.
Photos by: Chris Zacchia
For more photos check out ForgetTheBox on Facebook, and watch for the upcoming release of video interviews with Little Tybee and Pree.
I’m deflated, are you? POP Montreal is over for another year. It somehow all feels like a big blur. Everything seems rather hazy when I reflect back on the past weekend. The running around the city, the drinking copious amounts of beer and only wearing one outfit the whole time (seriously, I don’t think I showered all weekend or changed anything but my jacket). But, that’s okay…it was a festival and showering on the weekends is overrated (or just something I don’t really do…haha). And, I recklessly lost of my POP virginity.
POP Montreal started Wednesday September 29, 2010 and ended Sunday October 3, 2010. During those five days we saw and hung out with tons of bands, we met plenty of people and made a bunch of friends, managed to spend very little time sober, and survived just long enough to see Monday morning (which was not pleasant).
We began this POP adventure at the POP opening party where ‘Electric, Electric‘ and ‘We Are Wolves‘ kicked-off the festivities. For those who were at the party (or those who could remember being there) the show was okay. I truly enjoyed Electric, Electric more than I enjoyed We Are Wolves (never really was a big fan). POP’s ending-of-the-night venue, located in the industrial section of Mile End, was a little out of the way for a drunk stumble home (of course unless you live in Rosemont) and their selection of bands was, okay…other than Holy Fuck (watch our video here).
All and all, POP did an excellent job and we saw some pretty sweet-ass shit (aka. bands). Here’s a list of the shows we covered during the Festival, in case you missed it because you were too busy POP-ing (like the rest of us and there are still a few review still to come).
We’d like to thank POP Montreal for the press pass and I’d personally like to thank the volunteer coordinators and Festival for all the hard work they put in to making it another great year (from what I’ve been told). Volunteering for POP was super fun and they treat their volunteers like a girl treats chocolate ice cream on the first day of her period (and us girls all know how awesome that is). I highly encourage anyone who is interested in getting involved to do so next year! As well, the free t-shirt – amazingly comfy and hot,hot,hot.
Well, that’s that. Stay tuned for our POP Montreal Photo and Video review which will be out shortly (15 + bands) as well as our up and coming music reviews (such as the Wooden Sky and our personal record reviews), our regular content and of course more parties and live bands at VEGAS. Now, go get some sleep!
In the east coast, living room shows are something that we’re proud of. Whether they’re your friends, a band passing through or just someone in town who wants to show what they’ve got going on we live for these nights. We live for the moments that pull a band and the audience together through a very intimate and low-key setting, where it’s okay if the beer gets knocked over or the band misses a certain cord (which didn’t happen at all during the Oh No, Theodore! set..the cord missing part that is). It’s about having a good time and appreciating the truth of live music.
Whether you agree or not, I feel that living room shows present a different side of artists. It is a chance for the artist(s) to illuminate a side of their talent that sometimes is pushed under the covers due to the demanding role that can be placed on them via venue owners or music representatives. When I say illuminating their talent, I mean, this option allows bands to showcase their music they way they see fit. The way they truly want our ears to hear it. The way they really see the world and themselves. It’s about colouring on the walls with the brightest orange and highlighter-yellow crayons, and not letting anyone tell you, “dude, you can’t do that,” because in VEGAS, you can (we usually use paint versus crayons, but we’re open to new ideas!). In this case, Oh No, Theodore! was the band that helped us colour our walls this weekend.
Oh No, Theodore!, based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, is an seven piece, miniature orchestra that will pull you in with smiles and hugs and slowly place you back on the ground, begging for more love (aka. their music). They’ve already secured spots opening for various bands at the East Coast Music Awards (ECMA) and in June 2010, their EP, How To Move Without Your Shoes, was named indie album of the week by CHSR-FM. They’re seriously on the yellow-brick road and the scarecrow, the lion, tinman and Dorothy are not missing out on this adventure (and neither should you!). Here’s the goods…
While in town for POP Montreal, four members from Oh No, Theodore! made a pit-stop at VEGAS to play a live acoustic set. During their set, they had everyone in the room stomping their feet, singing-along and clapping their hands with rhythm. They took us on a musical ride that started out in the living room, went through our blood and ended with an imprint of their songs in our memories (trust me, I’m still singing their song Bloody Hands). Jeremy McLaughlin’s vocals will echo throughout your soul, while Kyle Albright (guitar), Alethea Dinkins (violin) and Aaron Bravener (usually drums, but in this case tambourine and shaker) will remind you that it’s going to be okay, because music is suppose to be felt, it’s suppose to enter into your soul, shake you up and awaken everything inside of you (feelings are nice things). And they made sure we felt every cord that was strung (I’m learning to see the colours with the music!!).
Oh No, Theodore!’s gentle songs are filled with an interesting hidden passion that feels like you’re deep-sea fishing throughout an ocean of music. Jeremy’s vocals are the oxygen tank that you need to make bottom of the ocean and if you ever decide to resurface, it’s only to refill the tank. Their music is pretty and yet, awakening. It transforms from the girl-in-the-sun-dress picking flowers in the field on a nice breezy summer day to the bitter-midnight-walk-home alone and back again. And you love every minute of it.
Be sure to catch Oh No, Thedore! when they come to a city near you and for those who couldn’t make it, you can check-in your feelings via the Oh No, Theodore! MySpace and send your love to the band by joining their Facebook group. We’re all crossing our fingers that they’ll be back in town soon so they can get deep in the hearts of this city named Montreal and beyond. Thanks to all those who did come out and support the band and thank you Oh No, Theodore! for being so wonderful.
When you want to see a little Japanese lady signal to you in semaphore while the band around her goes absolutely crazy, then garage grunge power group Deerhoof is the band for you! I saw them at La Tulipe last Friday during PopMontreal with a few friends.
One of my friends Anna, who showed up to get some Deerhoof “merch” ( – but unfortunately there was none being sold at the POP stand), had decorated her fingernails quite impressively in Deerhoof-style, covering most of their albums and characters – even (my personal favorite,) the bloody fruit man from the Milkman album cover. I was so impressed by the tiny crafting ability and her ability to work in such small spaces.
But aside from the nails that I just could stop looking at, I was really taken aback by Deerhoof’s performance once they got on stage, not because I was shocked or surprised – like I didn’t know that they were an amazing band – but I realized now more than ever that the band is made up of escaped lunatics! They are a most talented group of young musicians, but they are so atypical, anti-music, they recreate their own order out of chaos, all the while harboring their own version of timing and meter.
Listening to Deerhoof’s insane anachronistic drum beats, you can’t but want to move around but this being a Montreal audience, I chose to stand there motionless with my arms folded. Deefhoof knows how to rock out while being out of time, purposely playing with meter -regardless of the tangent, the drummer; insane as he is, is able to keep the disarray together. And the at some point during a Deerhoof concert, emerges a beautifully written and fully composed song, executed perfectly.
The live show really shows why Deerhoof is so special. They are able to bring the disarray they create back to a sensual place , where Satomi Matsuzaki’s voice can shine and bring tremendous beauty to the music when the dust of cacophony settles we are left with a beautiful sunrise, to use the metaphor. Her voice brings order where there once was only chaos (I always wanted to say that!). And this flux between the chaos of the drums and the order of the singing is what makes Deerhoof such a pleasure to experience.
Aside from the luscious Japanees girl, bopping to non-sequential time and the semi-sex appeal of escape psyche-ward patients, the band has such tremendous talent, that it’s hard to look away when they take the stage.
Schopenhauer once described music as like a kind of secret language of the universe attempting to convey truth – or something like that – and if one were to hear the real meaning of truth, in words, it would be as nonsensical as speaking in tongues. This is how I feel when listening to Deerhoof, and this comment might also explain why I didn’t understand a single word of banter from the drummer the entire show. He was speaking French, or at least attempting to between songs, but it was nonsensical.
According to Greg Saunier this was the second time they played at La Tulipe , but the first time in Montreal? I don’t know what that means? Where they here only in spirit before in Montreal? Or were they on drugs?
During the night they played were mostly new material, although they did play some of their old repertoire from Apple O’,Milk Man, Green Cosmos, and The Runners Four. Both the guitarists were playing 12-string guitars, for some apparently “cool” reason. My highlight was when they played the time travel opus “Wrong Time Capsule” and “Panda Panda Panda.” With the 12 strings, that was just magical! The new guitarist, who just recently joined to make Deerhoof once again a four piece, really rocked and really added to the intensity of their harder material. I wish I could just pick up a 12 string like that!
Last night I was at The xx’s show at salle Wilfrid Pelltier, in Place des Arts – for those of you who are unfamiliar with The XX, they are an indie electro-pop group from the UK. They’re super hot in Europe right now and gaining popularity in North America quickly, cause well they rock! Their show for POP Montreal sold out weeks ago and their previous shows a few months ago were sold out as well. Basically, if you haven’t heard these guys yet, Get on it! ASAP!!!
So they’re playing this super chic venue to a huge crowd and the one thing I’m noticing is… this isn’t like any other POP show I’ve ever seen. The venue is pristine and clean, people are well dressed and behaving like themselves (everyone is looking super stylish, but neat) and there are no dirty hipsters anywhere!
I was at The Dears show the night before and everywhere I looked it was plaid and tight jeans, greasy hipsters in every direction. The show was in the Santa Cruz Mission hall, a glorified sketchy church basement that reminded me of the days when my friends and I would play any shitty venue if you just gave us some big speakers and a bottle of booze. So what in particular was it that made this venue so sketchtastic? Well, besides the bad sound and the fact that it was little more then a linoleum floored gymnasium, I got to see a sketch show for the ages. I witnessed a dude, barefoot, takin’ a dump in the public washrooms (mid-show) squatting and gruntin’ and forcin’ it out! I didn’t even want to touch the walls of this place and here was a guy walkin’ around without any shoes!
All this brings me to the question of when did POP go from shoeless joe in the crapper to putting on shows at Place des Arts? – When did POP start getting classy?
When did pop go from being the new kid on the block festival struggling to get by and playing super hip shows, for super cheap at super sketch venues ( I <3 church basements and my friend Cassie’s living room) to playing concert halls like salle Wilfrid Pelltier?
One of the coolest parts about POP is the intimacy it creates between the artist and the spectator. I’ve met almost every band I’ve seen person after the show and have had the pleasure of shaking their hands and congratulating them personally. I like that!
Anyways enough about venues and classy smashiness, let me get on to the review of the actual show:
The opening act was Zola Jesus, and everyone loved them! Both the second band, War Paint, and The xx gave them lots of kudos, and the audience really seemed to have enjoyed them. Unfortunately, I missed the opening act but I did check them out on Youtube and they seem pretty cool. You can check out their latest video over here.
Next up was the band WarPaint. WarPaint is a 4-peice band led by three powerful women up front and they’ve got some talent. They call their sound experimental art rock… and well, their songs are pretty and flowy, they aren’t quite my bag. They’re not really the jumpin’ around type music but more of the swaying around in circles with long scarves type of music. Unfortunately at some points I found it sounded whiny, and I wasn’t overly impressed by their energy. I would have preferred to see someone who would get me in the mood for The xx. Either way after WarPaint’s set there was a half hour intermission, which kind of defeats part of the purpose of warm-up acts in my opinion but anyways.
Ok and now finally on to the review of the xx…WOW! The xx rock! I had no idea what to expect. I’ve heard their album and a few of the remixes but nothing prepared me for this. They were so tight as a band, every guitar lick and cymbal crash perfectly timed! They exhibited a degree of musical professionalism rarely seen and much appreciated. The venue was assigned seating, which was weird, but it forced/encouraged everyone in the audience to really connect and pay attention to the spectacle on stage. The lights, smoke and showmanship of the band combined to make this one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time!
Take a look at the video below, and keep an eye out for more footage and photos from last night’s show on Forgetthebox over the next couple days.
September 30, 2010
construction and destruction, Rebahak Higgs, She Keeps Bees and Polipe
Dear POP Montreal Volunteer Diary, It was a really hard night. I only had two drink tickets (this is not a complaint, repeat, this is not a complaint), heard one amazing band I didn’t know and spent the end of my night watching a performance by Holy Fuck. Please help me over come my fear of stairs. Love with what’s left of my heart, Cassie.
Okay, ha, seriously, it was a great night at 3 Minots and I don’t have a volunteer diary (not one you can read anyway. God, I have to keep my secrets locked up tight, without photo evidence thankfully). I’m working the door for 3 Minot throughout the festival, which is such a nice change of scenery from my usual drunken, show watching activities (I actual managed to remember everything this time).
This is a super chill job for two reasons (okay maybe three because the POP Montreal coordinators are pretty awesome). One, you get to sit and enjoy the show without any real interference (it was a pretty quiet night) and two, you get to meet everybody that walks in and the bands give you free buttons (I’m bringing buttons back and there’s nothing you can do about it). Enough about the buttons and door-filled activities, let’s get to the goods here.
While I feel like I should be biased to these Scotian bands (and Polipe because the drummer was pretty cute), I really can’t find it in me to do that after hearing She Keeps Bees. She Keeps Bees blew everyone away. First off, they weren’t even in the printed schedule (they were in the online line-up); press people that showed up were confused. Show goers were confused. And, well, me? I’m always confused (jokes! I’m usually okay…on the weekdays).
Anyway, when She Keeps Bees came on stage the first impression was, well, Jessica Larrabee (vocals and guitar) is probably the most hilariously-charming-outspoken unheard-of female artist we’d seen in awhile. The unexpected is always the best, but, the unexpected that came from the deep, emotional part of this band’s soul…unreal (have you been to Louisiana? Naw, me neither, but that’s what She Keeps Bees sounds like, if they were a State). She Keeps Bees will make your mouth drop. The incredible vocalist Jessica Larrabee and her love/ band mate Andy Laplant are hypnotic to watch and hear. Their charismatic, soulful and dark sound makes you feel like your heart is aching and you can’t wait for it to break just so you can be reincarnated as one of the bees they keep. I’m pretty sure their set made the rain disappear and the show goers reappear. Let me convince you of this statement.
After the show, everyone that was there bought their CD, asked them to sign it and quickly grabbed any merchandise that was left over (shit, right? Yea that good). The band made it a priority to make everyone in that venue feel comfortable (but not the on-your-couch-chip-eating type of comfortable, c’mon, it’s a show). Jessica’s chit-chatting while on stage made you feel like She Keeps Bees were your childhood friends that couldn’t wait to play a set in your basement for your birthday. Honestly, you`d be saying this to yourself, “You need to come to my birthday party.”
We need to be friends. You are one of the most original people I have ever met. Who are you and what planet did you come from?” (I’m sure air fare to that planet is way beyond my budget). Still not convinced, go to their MySpace right now.
Also during their set, Jessica performed a couple some Acapulco songs (this woman makes me wish I didn’t shave my legs so I could feel the hair standing up). Most notable is Ribbon, which can be found on their MySpace and their CD Nests (you already have this opened in a new window by now, right? If not, stop reading, open it and then listen while you continue to read). Other mentionable songs (other than them all, please) Get Gone, Strike and Gimmie.
If you’re a lyric-nut job like me and enjoy suspicious, yet encouraging lyrics you’re really gonna like this band. Listen really carefully to the songs, there are some pretty sweet phrases and you can hear these phrases very prominently because recording job is fantastic (and home-based…wonderful). I love the catchy lines in their songs. I am trying to decide which one is my favourite, but I can’t…maybe, “get your dirty socks off my floor / you better be gone, gone, gone when I get home,” from the song Get Gone or “you like the way it is / the world must owe you something,” from Strike.
Alright, I’m playing favourites and am fully aware of this. I really can’t help it, I try to be an equal-band-loving-person, but that’s not reality and not everyone likes Subway (Seriously, ever notice how whenever you leave that place you smell like it for hours after…witchcraft!). I’m also leaning more towards She Keeps Bees because Jessica is an absolutely stunning person. I think we can all agree we like bands more when we like the people in them (and not just Perez Hilton style aka. superficial qualities).
Okay. Cool. Check out She Keeps Bees (and the other bands)…and don’t forget to keep on POPin’ around the city and enjoy tonight’s shows.
Don’t you hate it when you go to see your favourite band, all ready to sing along with the songs you know, the lights go down, they hit the stage and soon enough you figure out that they’re just going to play their new material. Aargh, right? Well, in most cases, that would be the reaction, but that’s not the case with The Dears and that surely wasn’t the case last night.
Full disclosure: while I’ve been aware of the existence of a Montreal band with indie success called The Dears for a while now and have even heard a few of their tunes, I’m not all that familiar with their repertoire. So, when lead singer Murray Lightburn asked the rather healthy crowd in Mission Santa Cruz to bear with them as they played their entire new album in order, I wasn’t all that concerned, in fact I was kinda relievedâ€¦I could sing along with as much knowledge of the lyrics as the guy next to me who had most likely been following this band for a few years.
And sing along I did. The Dears’ songs are catchy to say the least, but a special kind of catchy, the kind that has heart and soul but still rocks out. They’re a very intimate band with honest, thoroughly relatable lyrics and this was a very intimate show where the band completely related to the audience.
The venue helped. It was in a church basement, albeit a church basement room designed for performance and it felt like a church basement show, but with much better sound quality. Not like this band needed the help though, they seem like the type of musicians ready to play any room and make it feel like your living room.
A little over an hour into the show, they left the stage, returning after an encore chant to play almost an entire other set, this time consisting of tunes most of the people in the crowd knew. It didn’t matter to me and I’m guessing that most of the crowd felt the same way. Yeah, they knew these tunes better than the other ones, but with The Dears, all songs feel just as comfortable.
The new tunes are just as good as the old ones and they all fit into the experience that is The Dears. A familiar and welcoming experience where you get sucked in by the music and don’t want to leave. If I go to a concert by the Rolling Stones, I want to hear Sympathy For The Devil and Satisfaction, but if I go to a concert by The Dears, just hearing The Dears, whatever they play, is good enough for me.
For more Dears, please visit their website, their MySpace or check them out tonight (October 1st) at Mission Santa Cruz, 60 Rachel West, $20. For now, enjoy some vintage Dears…
Eager to continue my recent trend of firsts, I jumped at the chance to cover the Fashion POP show for Forget the Box. I began my POP experience yesterday by going to the Notman house, upon where after picking up the Forget the Box media pass, I saw Fred Penner hanging out on the front lawn drinking. There was something strange but incredibly awesome about watching children’s icon Fred Penner just chilling and drinking a beer. I saw it as a sign that I was in for a good festival.
Afterward, I headed over to Parc, where the show was being held in the legendary Rialto theatre. While I admired the beauty of the place and wished that I could have come to see films there in the nineteen-twenties, the building quickly became a hot sweaty mess of fashionistas. Fighting a sea of perfectly coifed up-dos and pouty stares in stiletto heels, I managed to squeeze myself into an area near the front of the catwalk, ready to be impressed by some local Montreal design talent.
Unfortunately, I can’t honestly say that I was blown away by the show. Fashion POP consists of six emerging designers who each present mini collections of six pieces each. What I found is that with each collection there were one or two pieces I liked, but on the whole most of the pieces were pretty uninspiring. My biggest problem with the show was the general lack of colour in each of the collections. An endless parade of sheer, loose fitting white and pale coloured tops and VERY tight shorts and skirts were all pretty on the fifteen year old (looking anyway) models but did nothing to inspire desire.
I don’t want you think I was completely disappointed with the evening. Along with the awesome tunes being played by DJ Minnie, the pieces that I did like in my opinion should be immediately snatched up if you ever happen to see them in stores. Natasha Thomas created some absolutely beautiful trench coats that would absolutely perfect for fall and the line Market Market created some very interesting silhouettes on their dresses. While I may get a lot of crap for this from FTB readers I must admit there were some fur pieces as well that definitely brought out rare moments of cooing from me during the show.
The evening may not have been what I thought, but what I love about POP and Montreal in general is that there’s never a lack of opportunities for new shows and new adventures. Have a great festival everyone!