Published Oct 14, 2015Contrasting the heavily experimental aesthetic of the headliner, Language Arts frontwoman Kristen Cudmore had ample stage presence complement her band's dreamy, bubble gum indie-pop sound. She dedicated "With Me," from their recently released Able Island record, to Busta Rhymes, claiming the song was inspired by the vocal dexterity of "Gimme Some More," and implored the crowd to buy a shirt to help put dead dinosaurs in their bathtub of a van.
Unfortunately, Cudmore didn't sing nearly as well as Busta Rhymes rapped, but her guitar tone was striking from song to song, enhancing her consistently uplifting melodies, while Neil MacIntosh popped on the drums and keyboardist Joel Visentin rocked a Nord and Dave Smith synth. They could really jam when they let loose and got a little grungy and psychedelic — it would be nice to see them push it more in that direction.
Next up, Jessica Moss, most famously of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, encouraged the crowd to find a place to relax in body and mind as she performed a 20-minute solo violin piece that was inspired by the ocean. A small yet distinguished table lamp positioned on the floor illuminated a veritable Tetris of pedals and effects that she nimbly manipulated with her bare feet, fading loops in and out with her big toe and layering loops of dramatic, processed violin and a light dusting of ethereal vocals. The powerful piece felt majestic yet haunting, serene yet ominous.
The chill vibe that Moss recommended was maintained for Montreal's Jerusalem in My Heart. There were film rolls draped over mic stands in the middle of the room, angled around four projectors on two tables. People huddled behind them, crouched on the floor in front of them, or found seating that lines the walls, and remained in hushed awe for most of the performance.
The man of the hour, primary Jerusalem In My Heart composer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, only sang at first, presenting a somewhat stripped-down take on "Al Affaq, Lau Mat, Lau Lau Lau Lau Lau Lau," in which cryptic images appeared each time he yelped and the bass hit. It became instantly obvious that Charles-André Coderre was not a mere supporting character, but an equally important part of the show.
With the projectors' clicks ever clacking and whirrs ever humming, Coderre adjusted the lens angle and triggered visual cues, manipulating and feeding loops and expanding the chemically treated 16mm film imagery that adorned Constellation's beautiful pressing of If He Dies, If If If If If If, which they would basically perform in its entirety, re-sequenced and reimagined.
Moumneh emulated the granular synthesis of the buzuk from "A Granular Buzuk" with spits of distortion at its climax, during which Coderre showed the charred horse and boys running on a beach footage from the album's cover, pulling them back and forth across the hot lens by hand.
Near the end of the set, Moss slinked into the darkness on her side of the stage to replace the flute of "Ah Ya Mal El Sham" with her violin. Seemingly unable to get her sound through her pedal board, she played acoustically into the amp mic, which caused a touch of feedback, but otherwise added a strikingly natural timbre to the song.
Moumneh had a rather odd stage presence, but it suited his odd set. He screamed into a talk box tube for "Qala Li Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa," shoving the tube into the mic at one point, and jammed buzuk like nobody was watching on "2asmar Sa7ar," but he didn't say anything to the crowd until after the fadeout of the last track. With Moss crouched motionless nearby, he sang the outro to "Ah Ya Mal El Sham" without a mic, his hand gesturing regally, pained emotions and static black and white projections sprawling across his face.
As the projectors shut off, and Moumneh delivered his final refrain in the dark, he let out a simple "thank you," and the crowd gave him the uproarious applause that they'd been saving up the entire show.