Montreal band The Holds have already succeeded in bringing the blues to this city’s indie rock scene. Now, following the success of their self-titled EP launch at O Patro Vys, they are set to play Turbo Haus in St-Henri this Saturday, March 12th, but not before releasing a second music video.

While their first video for the song Can’t Go Back featured members of the band in a warehouse setting, their latest foray into the world of music video leaves the band on the audio track playing the song Say You’ll Be Mine. Meanwhile director Helene Ha chooses to focus the visuals on ballerina Anna Sementchouk performing in the middle of a deserted street, or maybe two deserted streets.

While the background is unmistakably Montreal throughout, I’m pretty sure that the first part takes place on the northern edge of McGill Campus while the second part was undeniably shot near the Jacques Cartier Bridge.

Regardless of whether I guessed right about the first part or not, the choice to shoot at night, the dark aesthetic and the way Sementchouk’s dancing mixes with The Holds’ music creates a very enticing tableau. Check it out yourself:

And check out The Holds with openers The Empty Yellers this Saturday at Turbo Haus, 5011 Notre Dame Ouest, 9:30pm, only six bucks!

Last Friday evening at the Corona Theatre looked like a scene straight out of Cameron Crowe’s acclaimed rock n’ roll drama Almost Famous. The venue was packed to the brim with rowdy, power-chord-hungry teenagers sporting long, greasy hair and leather Iron Maiden jackets. And if I had a nickel for every time that I saw someone toss up the rock sign (otherwise known as the sign of the horns) during one of The Sheepdogs’ ultra-classic sounding guitar solos, I’d probably have enough nickels to fund the construction of a time machine to send all of those kids back to the generation that they clearly missed out on (or at least think they missed out on).

Now while I don’t want to sound overly skeptical of the crowd’s enthusiasm and excitement– the energy was palpable at the Corona– I do wish to express that my first official Sheepdogs experience was pretty surreal. A total blast from the past, you might say.

Sheepdogs Corona Theatre Montreal 2While the teens (and pre-teens) were busy shredding gnarly air-guitar and starting short-lived mosh-pits, the other demographic of the crowd, composed of 40-year old Dads and their spouses, were quietly bobbing their balding heads, and shuffling about in Asics running shoes, probably reminiscing on a time when rock music was more culturally cutting edge, and less obscured with piles of layered-on nostalgia.

That’s not to say that The Sheepdogs’ sound can simply be reduced to mere genre re-hash— serving merely to fill the cultural void which emerged in the mid-90s, after hippie revivalism and guitar-based rock moved deeper and deeper underground. Indeed, while some of the younger fans at the Corona were blatantly appropriating a style and a culture that they knew relatively little about, the band onstage that night is an important Canadian cultural emblem, carrying the sonic torch of seminal rock bands like The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive into the 21st-Century. The Sheepdogs’ tendency to evoke nostalgia doesn’t feel like a cheap gimmick; instead, their performances remind us that we need more bands like these guys to keep the ethos of rock music alive.

The show on Friday night harkened back to the glory days of classic rock; the 2-part guitar harmonies (a technique the band likes to call “guitarmonies”) on the fan-favourite Southern Dreaming recalls both the deep-south rock stylings of the Allman Brothers, and also the blistering double-guitar lead on The Guess Who’s Share The Land.

As the night progressed, The Sheepdogs worked through a setlist composed of new material from their aptly titled 2015 release Future Nostalgia, as well as a host of hit songs from their critically praised debut and sophomore records.

The Sheepdogs closed their initial set with arguably their most well-known and recognizable track, I Don’t Know before returning for an encore that featured a 12-minute rendition of Neil Young’s classic Down By The River. Not only was it an epic way of closing out a nostalgia-laden evening, the choice of song seemed to be a deliberate gesture to the band’s roots– the days when drinking beers and jamming along with Neil Young records in someone’s basement took precedence over rehearsing polished live performances.

Sheepdogs Corona Theatre Montreal 3

It’s hard to imagine that The Sheepdogs were teetering on the brink of musical oblivion just six years ago. After years of relentless touring across Canada, and countless nightmare “touring adventures,” the band was severely in debt and on the verge of giving up. That was, until a Canadian record producer silently submitted the band’s name to be considered for the 2011 Rolling Stone Cover Contest. The rest, of course, is classic-rock-revival history. The Sheepdogs went on to win the contest, and in doing so, became the first unsigned band in history to appear on the front cover of Rolling Stone.

The Sheepdogs’ performance last Friday at the Corona was the band’s first show in Canada after an extensive European tour. Although the Saskatoon natives were still thousands of kilometres from their true stomping grounds, they were nevertheless “thrilled to be back home,” according to lead vocalist and band frontman Ewan Currie. Their 2016 Canadian tour, which will bring them westward all the way to Vancouver before returning back east, will naturally be remarkably different than those brutal treks across Canada a less than a decade ago.

The band has rightly earned a special place in the hearts and minds of a Canadian classic rock fan base that still craves those sweet, southern-influenced guitar hooks and delicate three-part vocal harmonies. Friday night’s performance reminded me that The Sheepdogs were able to pull through in the end, turning their Cameron Crow-esque pipe dream into reality. Finally, it seems, The Sheepdogs have made it.

* photos by Georgia Vatcher

Raw and carefree is how we can describe the sound bestowed upon us by Cakes Da Killa. With the release of Hunger Pang in June 2014 (and even with his first releases in 2011), this young Jersey rapper has provided some with more than they would have bargained for or even can handle.

Most importantly, he has given some of us a voice and sound within the rap genre. Vulgar? Cakes Da Killa is only being himself, raw, honest, hard, providing music for LGBT people of color looking for relatable music and homophobes something to choke on.

He has gained a lot of attention over the past few years, making the rounds on blogs and known radio shows and receiving more than honorable mentions from MTV and more. With all this success, don’t expect him to change who he is. The music is still raw and the content is still Queer.

But this does not mean that he wants to be set apart from the rest of the players. Giving us impeccable delivery and spitting scripture within his lyrics, he could go neck to neck with any.

As for his beats, he takes us beyond high hats and basic basslines. A heavy mix of electronic sounds merge more than they clash.

Cakes Da Killa is coming back to us with more of his goodie goodies (with WASIU ft. Dear Lola & KD II Times and Visuals by Jason Voltaire) this Saturday, November 28, 8pm @ Phi Centre, tickets available on the Phi Centre website

Montreal’s own orchestral gospel-inspired folk-rock band Lakes of Canada are releasing a new album. It’s called Transgressions and according to the band’s website, it’s inspired by Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. If that doesn’t already grab your attention and make you want to grab a copy, give a listen to the single Eden:

They’re launching the album on October 16th. Forget the Box in partnership with Indie Montreal are giving you a chance to win tickets to the launch and grab yourself a free copy of the album, too. It’s quite simple, really. All you have to do is share this post on Facebook or Tweet it along with your favourite Lakes of Canada song. Make sure to tag @forgetthebox and @indiemontreal so we actually see your entry.

We’ll put all the entries (one per person) into a hat, or a cup, or whatever’s around, and draw a winner, who will be announced on Tuesday, October 13th. The contest is not open to FTB contributors, editors and promo people as well as those who work for Indie Montreal, but if you are part of one of those groups, please don’t hesitate to share anyways!

Also, we’ll be posting a review of the album and an audio interview with the band in the next little while, so be on the lookout for that, too!

Best of luck!

Thursday marked the second day of POP Montreal, and it was arguably the best day for electronic music lovers. Kaytranada, a Haitian-born, Montreal-raised producer who is known for his groovy, R&B infused dance music, played his second sold out show in Montreal at the SAT.

Since the start of his career in 2010, Kaytranada has been able to cultivate his own unique sound that differentiates his music from other producers, which has allowed him to not only draw in thousands of loyal fans from Montreal and across Canada, but also grow rapidly as an intentionally recognized producer.

I attended some Kaytranada shows a few years ago, back when he was opening for bigger producers and playing at smaller club-type venues, like Le Belmont. The setting was intimate, and everyone who attended was there for the music. I knew this wasn’t going to be the case on Thursday, simply based on the fact that this was a sold out show at the SAT, which is a sizeable concert venue.

Planet Giza and Graves were the opening acts of the show, and the crowd loved them. Or maybe they were just really stoked for Kaytranada. Before the opening acts were even over, I had a layer of sweat all over my body from how crowded and hot the space had become. I was already nervous about how I was going to be able to withstand that level of heat for the rest of the night.

Once Kaytranada came on, everything went wild. I became a human sandwich, pressed hard in between people in the crowd. Kaytranada started his set with one of his classic tracks, and continued his set with catchy beats that just make you want to dance.

The problem was, you couldn’t dance because there was simply no room for it. Every couple of minutes, an intoxicated person would push through the crowd, falling on the people around him or her, trying to get as close to the front as possible.

It was hard to immerse myself in the music when I found myself caught in the middle of all of this. Kaytranada seemed to be okay with this though, because at one point during his set, he took the microphone and said “this isn’t a concert, it’s a party!”

Kaytranada played a good set, but I wouldn’t say it was spectacular. He played many of his older songs, which I enjoyed, but there were definitely points in the night where I had trouble telling the difference between one song and another. This may have been a result of his staple sound that can be found in most of his music, or because I wasn’t able to immerse myself enough into the show.

It disappointed me when I realized that much of the crowd was not there to enjoy the music, but simply for the hype that Kaytranada has become. I’m thrilled for him to have found fame and success, and he definitely deserves it. Despite that, I’ll forever miss those raw, intimate shows he was able to play before he became a mainstream musician.

As a long time fan of Kaytranada who went to the show for the music, it was difficult to fully enjoy myself. However, I have no doubt that those who went to the show to party had an amazing time. I wish Kaytranada the best with his career and I will continue to support his music, but I can’t say I am planning to ever go to a Kaytranada show again.

As you have probably heard, Weird Al Yankovic will be performing outdoors in Montreal tonight. Also, experiencing His Weirdness live won’t cost you a penny as the show is FREE!

This is both part of Just for Laughs and a stop on the Weird One’s Mandatory Fun tour. For many Montrealers, myself included, attendance is, well mandatory. This is also the case for out-of-towners who are heading to Montreal just for this show.

Now, while whatever songs Yankovic chooses to play will be great, there are five tunes I really hope to hear tonight in Place des Festivals. In no particular order, they are:

The Night Santa Went Crazy

While Wierd Al is known for his parodies, he also has an ample roster of original tunes. They are still funny, but funny on their own, without the need of a well-known tune. My favourite, by far, is The Night Santa Went Crazy.

This was the closing track on his 1996 album Bad Hair Day. It’s a take on our cultural obsession with violence and, as such, is quite dark.

Amish Paradise

Sometimes, Weird Al’s parodies are bigger hits in the long run than the original songs they were inspired by. Such is the case with Amish Paradise. It’s no wonder Coolio was initially upset that the Weird One chose this song to cover. I don’t think a parody of Fantastic Voyage would have gone over quite so well.

Word Crimes

This song from the Mandatory Fun album makes it possible to enjoy that tune everyone was humming a few summers ago without having to listen to Robin Thicke’s misogynist lyrics. Also, it’s about English grammar.

If that wasn’t enough, it’s the tune that let Weird Al show some true class in handling criticism. When people pointed out that his use of the word “spastic” was offensive, he responded with this:

Classy!

UHF

Now this isn’t one of Al’s best tunes, but the film it comes from is a treasure. In fact, I was initially inspired to create media after watching it. It made the prospect of getting your voice out there seem possible, which the internet later turned into a reality.

I wonder if Weird Al ever contemplates the effect he has had on culture and people. Maybe it’s just go-go-go.

The Saga Begins

If you want to know what happens in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace without having to sit through over two hours of CGI animals farting, Jar Jar and trade negotiations, this is the ticket. It’s the whole plot summed up in one tune before spoiler alerts were even a thing.

While I am also partial to Weird Al’s other Star Wars-themed tune Yoda, this one has the added advantage of being set to Don Maclean’s classic American Pie, a song which a bunch of the people who listened to Al’s 1999 album Running With Scissors were apparently unfamiliar with. When Madonna released a cover of American Pie a year later, some wondered why she was covering a Weird Al song from the year before and changing the lyrics.

Other tunes I’d like to hear tonight include: Foils, You Don’t Love Me Anymore, Smells Like Nirvana, one of the Michael Jackson or Madonna parodies and, of course, a polka! Hell, maybe he’ll play a medley of all of his polkas!

Are there any Weird Al tunes you hope to hear tonight?

* Weird Al Yankovic performs in Place des Festivals tonight, July 21st, at 9pm, FREE!

It’s hard to be a diamond in a world full of home shopping network cubic zirconia. You have to do much more than sparkle to stand out here. You need talent, a gimmick, unspool ferocity, and a team full of fellow freaks and performers to pull off being famous.

The world is uber intense and will spit a bitch out within the bat of a lash. So many techno centric kids are just not amused anymore because they are so emerged in technology and content. Art is created by computers, it is a counterfeit culture. People think they have seen it all, but really they just googled it or saw a video of it on their phone.

In order to be famous you have to be completely you, a total original. Fame on the “household name” level is virtually impossible to achieve, it’s all based on luck. Right now a different kind of fame is emerging based on social media and the internet. You get intimate with your audience and let them into your tender, private moments.

I think in order to reach true success you need to give people more than just a show, you have to give them a complete visceral experience. You need more than a band or a dancer, you must be a variety show, a circus of sorts. They must feel like they are on another planet for the time you have their attention.

Think about GWAR, they are absolutely and unapologetically terrible musicians. But their showmanship is absolutely on point. Where else can you get squirted with green alien cum slime and blood out of mutant dicks and boobs? The costumes and props are absolutely fantastic. I love the political satire as well.

To me GWAR is an example of a movement more than a band. Alice Cooper is another one that has been using major theatrics including a guillotine for decades, he is a real trailblazer.

I also really adore The Dresden Dolls, Amanda Palmer’s original band, this was before she changed the world by using crowd sourcing to fund her album.

cat fame 2I saw them several years ago. They used local performance artists in their production. This is genius because your fan base instantly grows. People will come out to see their friends perform.

You get the local flair as well as having a unique show each night. The combo of theatre and music was mystifying and sensational. It inspired me.

Of Montreal is another band with an incredible live show. They really go all out with crazy costumes, projections, and props. All of this creates an atmosphere of loveliness and energetic bliss.

I am a burlesque dancer. My favorite thing to do is perform with live bands. My dream is to one day have a rainbow bus and travel the world with my circus, a band of friends, performers and fellow weirdos with unique gifts to add to the experience.

It’s all about combining efforts, we are stronger and more interesting together. We need lights, projections of cool old cartoons, crazy costumes, original music, and theatrical storylines to really make an impact.

Art made with heart out shines all copies. Fight the fake and virtual reality with real live entertainment. In a world built on faux plastic perfection the only way to reach pure super stardom is to be your own beautiful original self.

I remember my first music festival. It was Lilith Fair, the late/mid nineties, and I was around 8 or 9 years old. Natalie Merchant, Sarah McLaughlin, Fiona Apple, Lisa Loeb and soooo many more! All the female power was exhilarating. Less superficial than the “Girl Power” of the Spice Girls (don’t get me wrong, I fucking LOVE the Spice Girls). Free spirited feminists, many with armpit hair, ruled the audience. My eyes were open to a whole world of strength, celebration, and raw positivity lead by real live women. I was hooked.

Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill.
Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill.

It wasn’t long until I discovered Riot Grrrl music: Bikini Kill, L7, Sleater Kinney, and Bratmobile being my favorites. Kathleen Hanna is an absolute goddess. I also adore the obviously Riot Grrrl influenced Gwen Stephani of No Doubt, and Beth Ditto of the Gossip as truly kick ass leading ladies. These bands all brought light to the issues of rape, domestic violence, smashing patriarchy, sexuality, racism, and other socially taboo progressive feminist topics. Girls to the front! Fists in the air! Mini dresses and combat boots galore! I was recently at the Dyke March afterparty and was so moved by all of the female bands. Buffalo also has Vaggie Fest, an all female punk music festival.

Unfortunately not all music festivals or music venues these days are as female powered as I would like. I’ve seen several blogs where they remove the all male bands from the poster and it is always depressingly scarce. I wondered why this was happening? Why is the music industry so male dominated?

I sat down with three extremely unique and talented female musicians, Ellen Pieroni, Erica Wolfling, and Lindsay Zasada, and I made them brunch. Over our pink champagne mimosas and a literal meat fest we discussed what it’s like to be a girl in the primarily male dominated music world. These women have proved that they are more then just tits, an ass, and legs.

Ellen Pieroni

Ellen is in many bands including The Ellen Pieroni Quartet, The Folkfaces, and Blue Stone Groove.

“Things are happening to me recently where I have been getting gigs solely for being a woman saxophone player. I literally got called by a woman from out of town who has never heard me play before and she hired me for a gig just because I was a woman, I want people to hire me because I’m good saxophone player,” Ellen says.

“The one problem and I always get from everyone is like ‘Oh it’s so nice to see a woman up there playing the sax, I love seeing a woman do that.’ People mean well saying that so you have to take it as compliment because they are genuinely are trying to being nice. Compisults ‘your tone is so feminine’ – the sad part is that most time it’s women who say this stuff. It stems from the general lack of female musicians. I’m the hottest girl in my band – did I mention I’m in a band with 4 other guys? I’m in a few bands with all guys with the exception of one girl, the incredible singer in Blue Stone Groove.”

“I don’t think women should ever be discouraged . A lot of women are afraid to join a band and gig. You must go outside of your comfort zone . Mostly only little boys are being handed the sax and not girls in school. It is discouraging early on especially.”

“Join the army of female musicians! When you see another one you get excited. In Buffalo State College right now there. equal amount of girls playing sax so I hope things are changing.”

We then discussed how women are often over sexualized on stage. They are forced to be the center of attention whether they like it or not. The girls are always staged in front because sex sells. Gotta have that hot stage show wearing tight leather pants and a low cut shirt or the teeniest of dresses. Do I have to dress this way to be successful?

“Just in general I don’t like wearing a lot of clothing, it’s for me not anyone else. I’m not part of the scenery. You can be an incredible musician but still seen as just a sex object No matter how good I get they will always see me that way. Sax is a sexy instrument it’s not my fault.”

Featured photo is a shot of Ellen Pieroni performing.

Erica Wolfling

Erica Wolfling is a singer, songwriter, pianist, and an ice dragon. Her voice is like Regina Spektor and Tori Amos had a baby.

“I don’t sing about sex. I sing about mental illness and sexual domestic violence. Feel things and emotions for the music I sing and write, not about my body. You are putting yourself out there. Here are my emotions and I can’t do it in any other way. I’m doing it in front of a room full of people and all you see is my boobs,” Erica says.

“How people perceive women is the problem. Everyone just puts boobs on their music. There is a sadness when they compliment my looks but not the sound, just dismissing the reason I am up there. It will never end! In my professional life too: A man once said to me that ‘it’s been a business doing pleasure with you.’ I’m not just this cute girl. I’m a smart woman who learned this hard thing that you don’t know. Fucking respect me.”

Erica Wolfling performing.
Erica Wolfling performing.

“I don’t want to be a rockstar with a harem. It’s more like ‘Thanks guys gonna go upstairs and hide now.’ I never take anyone home, I take myself home, thank you.”

“I have this hot mesh and leather dress and a guy outside one if my shows said ‘You shouldn’t be wearing that, you will entice so many men.’ Oh rape culture. Other men say he’s just protecting me and women are enraged.”

“It’s important to wear clothes I can I breathe in. Why did I think it was ok to wear Spanx to perform? Now I don’t even wear a bra half the time because I don’t want boob sweat. Comfort over sex appeal all the way. I’ve never had people treat me like this before. I was a late bloomer. Then, when they whistle to you on stage, it’s creepy. Being objectified is so strange. I’m treated differently after losing weight. ‘You look really good now. You are really attractive now. I would date you now.’ I’m not insecure, just detached from it. It’s all about self projection and being comfortable in your own skin. It takes a long time to get there.”

Lindsay Zasada

Lindsay Zasada

Lindsay Zasada sings and plays a variety of instruments from guitar, to ukulele, and electric violin. She was once in an all girl band called The Cunning Stunts. Her newest band is called West Side Bike Ride, all females and one male, a little different perspective. She says being in bands with girls is empowering but can also be volatile.

“I’ve never had weird competition due to gender, just people who play the same instrument. It’s important to play unique instruments. Unconventional ensembles… Fuck yea! Women should not be scared to pick up any instrument and play.”

“There is nothing wrong with being sexy! Lindsay Sterling made tons of money selling her body, not saying she isn’t beautiful and talented but the sex appeal is definitely a focus for her.”

“A lot of people think it’s about attention. I’d rather play my music and not be popular. All the guys are like it’s not that bad.”

“Sexism infiltrates all parts of life don’t take music from me too bro! Music is beautiful and genderless, the person who is delivering it to you shouldn’t dictate whether you like it. I just wanna play! It’s not just in my head. It’s good to know we are all having the same experience.”

 

Laying in a tent that defies all logic and common sense underneath a sleeping bag because everything is pulsing, feeling the vibrations of live music and people. Smelling nature, every sense electrified, and every feeling new and intense. Beneath your eyes are more colours than you could have ever imagined, melting into each other and swirling uncontrollably to create a new way of thinking. Music is more intense, art is more beautiful, everything is sensual, and your mind is open wider than it has ever been before.

Sounds great right? Be careful! Drugs are fucking scary and can kill you. Being reckless can mean DEATH! It’s important to be in a safe place with people you trust while tripping. A bad trip can change your life forever – but I’m not going to give you the scary accounts that your D.A.R.E. counsellor gave you. Be an adult and make up your own mind.

Music festivals are more than just pretty girls dancing in flowing dresses with flowers in their hair and guys playing frisbee, while bands play all day and night. Music festivals are also the Number One place where people experiment with psychedelic drugs. Rapper A$AP Rocky openly reports that he took LSD at the South by Southwest festival and then slept with nine women. Whoa. Not everyone has psychedelic orgies, each experience is different.

A painting I did of Lisa Frank on acid.
A painting I did of Lisa Frank on acid.

I was recently at a smaller scale festie and I couldn’t believe how many people were selling all the drugs. “Molly… Mushrooms… Ketamine…” were common greetings, almost like a peanut salesman at a ballgame. Every conversation I overheard involved the sentence “Man, I was really tripping balls last night!” Every person there was on something, it seemed. I was surprised how out in the open it all was, considering that all of these things are illegal. The police were out in full force all around the gates of the festival. I know a few people who were busted for weed. They didn’t get all the drugs though.

Scantily clad smiling girls and sweaty shirtless guys slithered about with wide eyes, fully dilated pupils, and the look of a god/goddess. Hula hooping, flow arts, dancing, making and listening to music, and art making are commonly enhanced by these drugs. Colorful intricate art is important to the visual experience.

The first two hits didn’t seem to do a thing, then a third was taken (not a good idea, give it time to kick in). By the time all three kicked in, everything was a roller coaster ride. I was also the funniest person in the world. Eyes watering. Dancing as if floating. Everything was warm and life made sense. Several hours in I did not have the same zest. Hiding within myself I needed to go into the cocoon and go the fuck to sleep.

Often the worst part of an acid trip is the fact that it can take 12 hours or more to come down. You feel like it’s going to last forever, and that’s super duper scary. When doing these drugs you definitely want to plan at least 48 hours for the high and the come down. Don’t plan on working the next day or going to dinner at your parents house. Interacting with anyone at all will seem difficult actually. Also, your serotonin levels will be depleted so don’t expect to be jovial.

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The term “Psychedelics” refers to drugs that alter cognitive perception and cause dreamlike hallucinations. Tests have been done that prove these drugs can help with stress, PTSD, OCD, and dealing with the end of terminal illness. The most commonly used drugs in this category (besides marijuana) are LSD (acid) , psilocybin mushrooms (magic shrooms), and DMT (the spirit molecule). MDMA (Molly or Ecstasy) and the dissociative drug Ketamine are also very popular recreational drugs in this setting. Cocaine, marijuana, hash oil dabs (pure THC) and good old fashioned alcohol are often thrown into the mix to try and maintain a state of control over the “trip”.

Dabs are intense, you need to use a blow torch to do them. The first time I ever did one was in my friend’s van and I definitely felt like a badass. Molly/Ecstasy is scary because most of the time it is cut with dangerous chemicals or you are actually buying bath salts. Candy flipping is when you combine ecstasy with LSD. Hippie flipping is combining ecstasy with mushrooms. DMT is the strongest of these drugs – it contains chemicals naturally released when you are dying.

Music festivals need to realize that they can’t stop people from experimenting with recreational drugs. Harm reduction and education is so important. The Lightning Bottle Music Festival in California is offering resources to help minimize the potential fall out. They are partnering with DanceSafe and the Zendo Project to provide a judgement free space to address drug dangers before they happen. They educate people about things like heat stroke, dehydration, and the signs of overdose. They also provide condoms, earplugs, water, and an extended line of communication about safe trips. The Zendo Project advocates drug policy reform and mental health services for people on psychedelic drugs. If someone is upset or confused during their trip they can turn to a trained drug therapist for help.

Major festivals have been under a watchful eye due to the amount of tragic drug overdoses and deaths. The fact is that most of the cheap synthetic substances being pushed are not what they are supposed to be, often mixed with things like rat poison. Colorful pills and powder filled baggies traded off in porta-potties between strangers are dangerous. The Electric Zoo festival requires their audience to watch an anti-drug PSA and also has medical students on hand to help with situations.

With anything you put in your body it is important to do the research and be smart about your choices. Some people see the psychedelic experience as a birthright, that you must expand your mind to see the world completely. Nobody can police your brain.

 

Montreal’s own Milo McMahon graced the back room of Toronto music hot spot The Cameron House for an energetic Canadian Music Week set on Saturday.  Along with drummer Mike Beaton (yes, that’s his true surname) and bassist/back-up vocalist Stephen Court (it was only his third gig with the band and he absolutely killed it), the trio that carries the lead singer/songwriter’s name played a collection of songs both new and those that have been released on Milo’s EP Big City Hustle.

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Milo’s music touches primarily on rock and roll and alt folk, but being raised in Ireland, he is also able to intersperse the odd Celtic song into the mix.  He is a charming lad, singing with passion about topics including life, love, isolation and persistence.  His band is also wildly talented, and together they make a powerful mix of good sounds and good times.  Milo cranked out some wicked guitar solos, adding some interesting dissonances, and Stephen played some really tasty bass lines.

The group have been touring Canada pretty extensively over the past few months, and are now on reprieve to get back in the studio to record a new record.  Here’s Milo’s video for “Big City Hustle”:

Be on the lookout for more Montreal shows later this year.  His music is available for purchase via his website.

Toronto singer songwriter Amber just dropped her latest album, Tall Tales. The opening track “Grave Robber” comes on like a Tom Waits tune with ragged trumpets and that lurching 20’s swing. You can tell right away that Amber plays the keys well and has an ear for recording piano tracks. I found the keys on Teardrop to be especially resonant, and reminiscent of the lo-fi flavour The National nailed in Fake Empire.

Amber has a sultry, smoky voice and prefers singing long inversions over pretty pop progressions. Most to of the album is comprised of tunes that repose on Amber’s storytelling ability. The album is easy to listen to, something you throw on on a rainy day after you light some nag champa. I’ll be sure to let you know when Amber hits Montreal this summer. Bang –

Montreal is a town replete with festivals. Some are big and corporate, some are smaller and more grassroots. Some are focused on indoor venues, others occupy entire streets. And then there’s PorchFest.

“It’s a music festival that takes place on people’s front porches,” explained PorchFest organizer and NDG resident Aurora Robinson, elaborating that “it’s a community oriented music happening that’s brought to fruition by and for the members of that community.”

Robinson got first-hand experience of the PorchFest concept when she lived in Somerville, Massachusetts, across the river from Boston, one of the growing number of communities with a ProchFest. In Somerville, residents looked forward to this event every year.

“When I came back to NDG,” she noted, “I missed it, and then realized that NDG would be a great place to have one.”

How Does it Work?

The concept of PorchFest is simple. In a nutshell, people sign up to play, either on their own porches or on a friend’s porch and are included as part of the PorchFest lineup. Organizers expect musicians to find their own porches, but, in some cases, if they really can’t find their own, they can help.

“One of the things that separates it from other music festivals is that it’s uncomplicated and inexpensive and not reliant on any kind of corporate sponsorship. It gives experienced musicians a chance to give something back to their neighbourhood, and it gives emerging musicians a chance to play in a low-stress, friendly environment, or maybe even try out performing in public for the first time,” Robinson said, noting that “it’s also a great opportunity to meet your neighbours.”

Why NDG?

Just what makes NDG an ideal location to host the first PorchFest in the Greater Montreal Area? For Robinson, it’s simple: “Nice porches. Great musicians. People who like music. Streets that are nice to walk down. These are the essential ingredients to a successful Porchfest, and NDG’s got ’em all.”

So far, they’ve already got quite a few musicians interested. Some of these are pros, others new to playing music in public.

“The seasoned musicians are perhaps attracted to the idea of a very low-maintenance performance that gives back to their own community,” Robinson speculated, “and amateurs are looking for chances like this to be heard. We don’t have any bands that you’d hear on pop radio, of course. But that’s not at all the aim of Porchfest anyways. We don’t want everyone crowded around one or two porches, blocking traffic. We want people moving around, discovering local talent!”

The deadline to sign up for PorchFest NDG is Monday, April 6th and the event happens Saturday, May 2nd. For more information: porchfestndg.com

It’s a cold, hard fact that there is some truly amazing music coming out of the East Coast.  The boys of Pretty Archie, a band from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, certainly measure up to their notable Maritime contemporaries. Last year I had the privilege of meeting the band and seeing them play at NXNE. At the time they were revving up to record their sophomore album, a follow up to 2013’s Steel City (which was nominated for Music Nova Scotia’s bluegrass/country album of the year). They were great then, but with this new album, North End Sky, they have matured a surprising amount for such little time. The album is fun and energetic like their live shows, but it is also wrapped in warmth and yields a depth that is often reserved for more seasoned acts.

Pretty Archie

North End Sky shows a development from Steel City’s mainly folk and bluegrass shades to include other colours that lean in the direction of alt-country. The colours come from their use of banjo, harmonica and mandolin; as well as the usual acoustic guitar, bass and drums; but also from the electric guitar parts that beef up many of the songs on the album. The vocal prowess of lead singer Brian Cathcart is emboldened by the layered harmonies provided by the other band members. Jamie Foulds, audio engineer extraordinaire from Soundpark Studios, did a fine job of making the album sound polished. Yes; there is a lot of really beautiful stuff going on.North End Sky Cover

Many of the tracks are jolly-good foot-stompers, but they are complimented by the few more relaxed tunes like “The Flood,” a vocally intense song that’s somehow haunting and powerful at the same time. Another tune that stands out is “Devil Take Me Down,” which features some of musically the most interesting works as well as one of the strongest vocal deliveries on the album. After a moderately-paced beginning, it morphs into a driving, mighty middle section before pulling back at the tail end again. It’s very effective.

Pretty Archie have taken strides forward with this collection of songs that range from good old-fashioned drinkin’ tunes to their more sentimental numbers. Here is a video from “Hardwood Floor,” one of the slower tunes on the album.

Their music can be purchased on iTunes (link on their website).

There is nothing quite as lusty and exhilarating as bumping and grinding to a live, in the flesh, sweating, breathing, and hearts beating band! The drums changing the way your heart palpitates, the strumming of the upright bass (its smooth shape mimicking the beauty of a woman’s curves), ivories being tickled by skilled fingertips, a saxophone leading the twists and curves of gyrating hips, the trumpet, a washboard going right down your spine, the rhythmic ruckus of a guitar being strummed, and a voice with such passion and power it could make you cry (or take your clothes off).

Fringe swaying, asses shaking, heeled shoes tapping, tassels twirling, breasts revolving, hair tousled, arms flailing flawlessly, bodies moving to the rhythm of the moment. The chemistry between live musicians and dancers is probably the most beautiful thing that has ever existed. It is a connection only surmounted by sex (oh, you mean, coitus?). It is carnal, it is magical, and it is the stuff love stories are made of.

It is a basic human need, a deeper form of bonding than even speaking or kissing. Think about the primal sexual nature of African dancers and pound drum circles. Even a girl twerking to live rap music is sexier than someone with a boom box. Line dancers with real fiddles behind them always stomp a little harder. My body is an instrument.

In the brothels of the 1920s there were jazz piano players (and other musicians) who would look through a small peephole in the room and play along to the action. A famous jazz musician, Jelly Roll Morten, once told his mother that he had a job as “a night watchman.” The john would then tip the musician based on how well he aided the sexual performance. It’s genius really! I would love to be peephole singer and sing sexy songs to these wayward couples.

This is before there were ipods to give soundtracks to sex. Many ladies of the night became fabulous jazz singers themselves, accompanying the house musicians. Women contributed to New Orleans jazz in significant ways. They were vocalists, musicians, and bawdy dancers in the Storyville red-light district.

Burlesque and music: normally we dance to CDs or mp3 songs for burlesque, but god forbid the sound fucks up. A speaker pops, a CD skips, an iPod dies, or your phone turns into a terminator and kills you and all of your friends 10 seconds before showtime in a bloody massacre. Anything can happen, technology cannot be trusted. That is one of the gazillion reasons it is better to do burlesque with live music. Then anything that goes different than rehearsal can be played off or improvised. The audience will be doubly mesmerized.

music and sex cat and well worn boot photo by Peter Dunn
Cat performing a Halloween show with Well Worn Boot (photo Peter Dunn)

 

All of the classic performers have big bands backing them. Many current neo-burlesque dancers are trying to revive this tradition of live music and vaudeville performance art. I also love it when a cute girl sings/plays an instrument while stripping. I am currently learning to play ukulele for this very reason (I aim to be campfire ready by summer). Two of my sweet as pie troupe members Madina Madis and Fanny Debeau have started an old timey duo called The Coquette Sisters that does this very thing and its pure loveliness.

Both solo and with my burlesque troupe, The Stripteasers, I have been lucky enough to perform to many live bands. The Folkfaces, The Stamplickers, The Irving Klaws, Randell and the Late Night Scandels, most recently Blue Stone Groove, soon Pine Fever on Valentine’s Day, and many many more to come. The crowd gets ready by dancing to the band, then come in the dancers and BOOM!

During a recent Buffalo Infringement Festival fundraiser several dancers, Izzy Aman, Trixi Firecracker and I did impromptu performances to all of the live music that night and it was a huge success. I have also performed to live poetry/ spoken word (MC Vendetta, Molly Burhans, and Melanie Donofrio). Kathleen Hanna style feminist bad ass spoken word and burlesque is an incredible display of femininity and punk wonderfulness, a not giving a fuck about the superficial standard of beauty and expectations on how a woman should look and act.

music and sex vintage records 2

I do love vinyl. Listening to records is more visceral and real feeling than other forms of recorded music. The smooth crackle and timeless sexiness of the revolving masterpiece. The tangible largness and details of the album art.

Some of my favorite records (in my ever growing collection) to have sex to in no particular order: anything by… Billie Holiday, Portishead, St. Vincent, Etta James, Janis Joplin, Lou Reed (Velvet Underground), Duke Ellington, or Gogol Bordello. The only downside to banging by the sound of vinyl is having to pause and flip the record for continued ambiance. I usually use it for an opportunity to do a sexy little dance for my partner as the music starts back up. Challenge them to do the same for you next time they get up to flip. It is also a good way to initiate love making, a little striptease at the beginning of a new record.

You can also be lazy and throw on a sexy time playlist or a really great Pandora station (or maybe even throw in a few discs into that five disc changer you have from back in the day). I won’t judge you. Do you remember the song you lost your virginity to? Mine was Depeche Mode Enjoy the Silence. All I ever wanted, all I ever needed is here in my arms, words are very unnecessary, they can only bring harm… or something like that. The other discs in the changer at the time were Jimmy Eat Wold, NOFX, Brand New, and The Cure, any of which would have changed my virginity loss story forever. I’m sure your song is playing in your head right now. That song helped write your sexual story.

Enjoy #throwbackthursday

Three years ago, Zola Jesus came to Osheaga and I was dying to see her. However, due to the fact that it was raining heavily, the show got shut down after the first song; safety comes first. Ever since, I remained curious to see her live and Blue Skies Turn Black finally made it happen at Centre Phi last Friday night.

The opening band was quite a discovery by itself. The Deradoorian sisters are talented multi-instrumental artists. A mix of beatboxing, heavy drums, synthesizers and seductive voices, leading you into a trippy journey. When they announced their last song, fans would have had them stay a little longer.

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This was the perfect intro to the whole Zola Jesus, a psychological experience. The Gothic Godess reminded me of Dead Can Dance and iamamiwhoami — a mix of baroque pop, dark wave, electronica and experimental rock. Going back and forward between mellow tunes to serious headbanging sessions while the drummer brought the house down. She was running all across the stage if she wasn’t immersed into her trance or gracefully delivering a memorable performance. At some point the whole venue went quiet when she started singing without the microphone and a little after that, she took a stroll trough the crowd. She also told us about her love for Montreal and mostly of her love for our bagels a.k.a. the best bagels. Pfff…take that, NYC! If you want to hear some of her latest work, her 5th album Taiga is out now.

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Click on the photo to launch the slideshow. Photos by Bianca Lecompte.

Deradoorian + Zola JesusDeradoorian + Zola Jesus

 

This weekend on Sunday, I attended Igloofest for the first time. The weather had uncharacteristically warmed up – above zero degrees! – and I knew that the universe was telling me to make merry and go rave to Flosstradamus.

Flosstradamus is a DJ duo made up of J2K (Josh Young) and Autobot (Curt Cameruci) from Chicago, who has worked with big DJ names like Diplo and A-trak, and also rap stars like Kid Sister, Juicy J, and Waka Flocka Flame. They produce music that is a perfect blend of EDM and trap, bridging the two genres together in an intense way that will get you “Too Turnt Up” or TTU for short.

They performed on the Sapporo stage with flashing graphics of purple and green weed leaves. Two fans were waving huge American flags at the front of the stage and it was a mix of wonderful and random things that felt like a hallucinogenic cartoon.

While I was raving along on top of the Jagermeister truck, it was snowing lightly – the kind of snow that is fluffy and unintimidating that made everything look like it was covered in shimmering glitter. I knew it was meant to be. There were ice sculptures everywhere – tall beautiful symbols of shining capitalism that spelled out brand names like Jagermeister and Sapporo. Other than the Igloosnacks and Igloodrinks you could get in heated trucks, there were ice slides and a hockey rink. What a true Canadian gem!

With all the looming dilated eyes, Igloofest was truly a molly winter-wonderland. The soft snow made the whole experience feel magical, while the raving EDM music coming from the Sapporo stage took you to a different world of colourful bodies, dressed up in silly costumes like the Power Rangers and animal onesies. It was a hypercolour free-for-all that everyone was vibing to.

The crowd began chanting “ROLL UP!” on Flosstradamus’ command, everyone lighting their joints in solidarity and excitement. A layer of smoke rose above the crowd, the familiar dankness hitting me at the top of the bouncing Jagermeister truck. There was so much smoke coming from the crowd, that it looked like the bouncing bobbles on the colourful Igloofest hats were on fire. At one point, you couldn’t tell the difference between the smoke coming from the half-lit Js and people just breathing. Flosstradamus flattered the crowd by stating that Montreal had the best weed in Canada, and the crowd screamed back with joy.

This is what Josh Young and Curt Cameruci do. They are charismatic, talented hypemen who curate their set to such precision that they can get the crowd jumping, smoking, chanting, and dancing at their will. At one point, Flosstradamus transitioned from the kind of chaotic, high-energy trap rage that is “Waka Flocka Flame,” to a tribute song for their fallen homie ASAP Yams, who passed away recently. Flosstradamus has a diverse set of talents, from creating fiery bangers you’ll want to destroy the town to, to producing sweet electronic melodies like “Rebound” and “God’s Whisper.” Their style is fun and intense – a lot of their tracks feature minimalistic, yet heavy trap beats with rap verses that build up to an explosive bass drop that is heavier and dirtier than most EDM tracks care to explore.

The point is, Flosstradamus will get you moving.

For the last half of their set, they started playing “Rebound,” and it was beautiful and cathartic. After going hard for an hour and getting their crowd pumped up, it felt like the performance came full circle by ending on such a sweet melodious note.

Igloofest is still going on every weekend until February 8. If you’re in town, this is one show that you will definitely not want to miss out on. It is like nothing you have ever experienced before (unless you’ve already raved to colourful bouncing Canadians dancing to the beat and to the snow) and it is a memorable night for any Montrealer. Come for the ice sculptures, come for the music, come for the silly costumes. Either way, you won’t regret it – Igloofest is a surreal and wonderful music event that is more of a PLUR-fuelled circus.

Igloofest CorrectedIgloofest Corrected

Click on the photo above to open the gallery. All photography by Isabel Lee.