It's not easy to conjure up an image of Deastro (aka Randolph Chabot) and Max Tundra as compatible tour buddies. The former is a withdrawn minimalist virtuoso from Detroit, while the latter is a zealous Londoner whose gallant love for experimentation is evident by his insistence on touring with virtually 20 musical instruments. Yet their Montreal stop made you think twice about these initial assertions; these dudes both like dancing, anecdotal between-song banter and extremely complicated equipment, making for some pleasant kinship and a compelling show.
Tundra's opening set was tumultuous, to say the least. He played song after song of jagged, synth-heavy avant-pop nerd tunes, arbitrarily grabbing and using new instruments from a large table, where he had them laid out in front of him. The performance was refreshing when compared to the formulaic nature of so much of current electro pop, exuding authenticity and intellectuality. Initially, as he bopped around the stage, one got the impression that his music was being created at random. But considering Tundra's obsessive mastery of every instrument surrounding him, one began to contemplate that maybe he was just on a different wavelength than everyone else.
When Deastro came onstage, a venue-wide mood shift came into play. Charbot's brooding looks, coupled with his nervous introductory greeting, made for a quieter and less dynamic crowd interaction than the opener's, but a no less entertaining one. Accompanied by new bassist Adam Pfaff, the pair slowly eased the audience into their echoey space rock. Soon, they found their comfort zone, dancing jarringly and thrusting themselves into the crowd, which reacted energetically to their noisy, electronic garage rock. They played many tracks from this summer's LP Moondagger, but, come the last number, Chabot presented a new pared-down and promising electronic ballad.
In all, this show revealed the great and diverse potential for new styles and approaches to electronic music, while being unpretentious. Everything is good when Max Tundra's beside you, dancing wildly to Deastro whilst doing bird calls.