French Kicks / Nightwood La Sala Rossa, Montreal QC September 16

French Kicks / Nightwood La Sala Rossa, Montreal QC September 16
In what was unfortunately another non-event for Montreal, New York’s French Kicks were welcomed to town with a dismal turn out of approximately 30 people.

Making the usually welcoming room of La Sala Rossa look absolutely cavernous, the night began with local girl/boy trio Nightwood. Very stripped down guitar-based rock, Nightwood seem to be channelling Veruca Salt. Vocalist and guitarist Amber Goodwyn had Nina Gordon’s sweet yet strong vocals down, while Erin Ross provided more of a rock edge with guitar riffs reminiscent of Louise Post. Despite their best efforts, no one could shake the lack of energy in the room.

To make matters worse, moments before French Kicks were set to take the stage, their van was broken into. Visibly shaken and with even less motivation to hit the stage, the quartet decided to do their best with what they had. Their radio-ready blend of gloomy ’80s pop and popular 21st century indie rock is tight and likeable.

Vocalist Nick Stumpf is a commanding front-man, his impressive height making him tower over the stage and his band-mates. Some of his rock moves are at times cliché, but much like the Killers’ Brandon Flowers, when done in small doses Stumpf can be a charming presence. Material off their newest effort Swimming came across as more rock-oriented and guitar-based, compared to the more polished pop of previous albums. When Stumpf got behind the piano the show tended to lag a little bit, as the band risked entering cheesy Coldplay territory.

Like their New York doppelgängers the Walkmen and Elefant, French Kicks have seemingly passed their prime. While their sound is still solid, it seems to have lost an audience.