Juana Molina POP Montreal, Montreal QC, September 14

Juana Molina POP Montreal, Montreal QC, September 14
Photo: Steve Louie

Mere moments into Juana Molina's second song, the audience came to a collective realization: the night's venue, the Ukrainian Federation Hall auditorium, was a poor fit for her music. Molina's unique blend of folk, pop and electronic is meant to be physically experienced, something the venue's seated setup was unable to convey. So, almost as if in a trance, dozens of attendees got up from their seats and filled the front of the stage with their dancing, sweaty bodies. It was the perfect encapsulation of the power of Molina's craft: hypnotic, sensual and transformative.
For each track, Molina, along with drummer Diego Lopez de Arcaute and guitarist Odin Schwartz, often begun each song by establishing its folksy backbone before smothering it completely with electronics, demonstrating both compositional brilliance and expert musicianship. Lopez de Arcaute, in particular, constantly impressed with his technical skill at executing drum patterns at breakneck speed.
The set crested with an enthralling version of "Un día," stockpiling a series of synth hooks set to a dazzling, strobing light show. Often seen as one of the pillars of Argentinian experimental music, Molina demonstrated the power of thinking outside the box, pushing sounds in ways often overlooked. Her charming, animalistic dance moves were also endearing — even better once Schwartz joined in near the end of the set, truly solidifying the performative element of the set.
Turning spaces into sweaty dance floors is no problem for Juana Molina, but the Ukrainian Federation Hall auditorium posed an even greater challenge — one she overcame with ease.

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