Published Mar 01, 2010For a decade the people behind the indie music institution Blue Skies Turn Black have helped create the gold standard for live music in Montreal. To celebrate their tenth anniversary, the promoters held a three-day jamboree that featured some of the best bands going in Montreal, and reunited some old favourites.
The first night's festivities kicked off with up-and-comers Adam and the Amethysts but closed with the firmly established Montreal mammoths the Besnard Lakes. The Lakes played a short but sweet set consisting of only four jams, two of which were from their new ...Are the Roaring Night full-length. It was a solid set of psych pop/space rock sung by husband-and-wife duo Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, with drummer Kevin Lang opting to wear a black Led Zeppelin T-shirt, literally wearing influences on his sleeves.
Despite the Besnard Lakes' dirge, the mood was playful and celebratory. In the middle of their set, the band serenaded Blue Skies with a song specifically tailored for the event. To the tune of "Louie Louie," the group crooned, "Blue Skies Turn Black / OhhhoooOhhh / Ten Years of Shows." Even Patrick Watson jumped on stage for the ode. It's rare to see musicians, who are categorically wary of promoters, display such gratitude, but the appreciation all the performers had for the people at Blue Skies Turn Black was undeniable.
If the first night featured bands on the brink, the closing party was a veritable reunion show giving fans one last chance to see their favourite broken-up bands together again. Festival headliners North of America (pictured) and Rockets Red Glare closed the three-day bacchanalia of booze and music to a room of grateful onlookers.
Math rockers North of America were noticeably giddy to be back together since their dissolution in 2003. Though the band played a generous set as if they had never stopped, the group became confessional with the audience, admitting that they felt old, yet they certainly didn't seem to be. It had been a while since the band played together, but North of America were far from out of practice and the kinetic thrill to be playing again was shared by the audience. Later in the set, the band regaled the crowd with old road stories, relived dusty memories about broken-down vans and a mishap on their way to one of their first Blue Skies Turn Black shows in Montreal. With their fond affection for bygone days, North of America played like they'd never missed a beat.
Afterward, disbanded post-punk heroes Rockets Red Glare graced the stage for their first Montreal show in six years. The final night was so packed with adoring fans that it made you wonder why any of the bands playing the finale broke up in the first place.
Blues Skies Turn Black started so many years ago because the promoters are fans first and simply wanted to see their favourite bands. And if necessity breeds invention, Blue Skies breeds satisfied fans and ringing ears, proving they are more than fairweather friends.