Published Nov 11, 2014Montreal bookers massively underestimated Caribou's appeal by initially booking him at Le National, which sold out, and finally upgraded his Montreal gig to the much larger Métropolis, which also sold out quickly. Most of the set consisted of tracks off Dan Snaith's latest release as Caribou, this year's fantastic Our Love, one of his strongest releases as well as a definite contender for album of the year. Snaith was joined onstage by his live band, all clad in white, consisting of guitarist Ryan Smith, drummer Brad Weber and bassist John Schmersal, for a performance that sometimes veered into jam-like territory, in both good and bad ways: good in that the musical improvisations allowed for Snaith and company to really showcase their respective skills, bad in that certain songs tended to go on for just a bit too long.
The band kicked off the set with a fantastic rendition of their new album's titular track, basking in smoke and light. While the room was jam packed, this was a slow-warming crowd, and "Silver" didn't get the attention or reaction it deserved. But by the time we were treated to successive massive buildups during "Mars," the crowd was fully captivated, just in time for the raved-out bliss that followed.
Fans of 2010's now seminal Swim were in luck, as it is the only other Caribou release to be featured throughout the short 75-minute set, including "Bowls," for which Snaith jumped on drums to flex his percussion skills, and "Jamelia" featuring bassist Schmersal taking over for Born Ruffians' Luke Lalonde on vocals. Jessy Lanza was invited back on stage to assist on "Second Chance," which wasn't as successful as her opening set; while her appearance on the album is great, her addition to the live rendition broke the groove that had been established thus far.
The melancholic "Back Home" took on anthemic proportions in its live version, complete with organ-laden finale, which then transitioned into Swim highlight "Odessa" featuring a brief recorder interlude by Snaith. Most of the material performed was transformed into a live aural experiment, adding layers of distortion that was sometimes distracting, as was the case with "Your Love Will Set You Free," which would have benefited from a more straightforward rendition.
The use of lighting was stellar but definitely not for the faint of heart, assaulting you visually until you could discern new patterns in the background imagery, which was a large scale replica of the album artwork, much like Caribou's brand of loop-driven electronica does aurally. When it came time to perform the set's last song — Our Love standout and arguably one of Caribou's best tracks, "Can't Do Without You" — the quartet scraped off some of the polish and shine of the album version to reveal a potent live rendition.
As the band came back on stage to perform "Sun" as their encore, Snaith earnestly quipped "You guys are so lovely, you've been great to us," showcasing his charmingly humble demeanour and sincere smile. The four performers were so comfortable and happy to be playing together on stage, infecting the crowd with their dedication and enthusiasm, and offered an almost perfect concert experience that has nothing in common with the type of event now associated with popular electronic dance music.