Kiss Me Deadly / Crystal Clyffs / Tusks La Sala Rossa, Montreal - February 18

After a short set by Toronto’s Tusks, a pleasant indie pop patchwork of defunct bands Kepler and Sea Snakes, and ongoing acts including I Am Robot and Proud, a pair of disparate local bands weathered a lukewarm hipster crowd on a frigid Sunday night. Relative newcomers Crystal Clyffs, featuring Godspeed You! Black Emperor alumnus Mauro Pezzente (better known locally as the co-owner/manager of Sala and Casa del Popolo), sound a lot like a Williamsburg band, specifically early Liars or Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But beyond the Karen O-isms and jerky heaviness, they’ve got a unique punch that hits you a few songs in. The singer is still stage-shy, and she began the set with her back to the crowd, wearing an unflattering quasi-dashiki. Before long, she turned around, revealed an Emily Haines-ish outfit under the maternity shirt, and literally let her hair down. Meanwhile, the lead guitarist did his instrument some fabulous damage, but the boy drummer nearly stole the show. Call me simple, but I love it when drummers stand, not just to be cool like Bobby Gillespie in the Jesus & Mary Chain, but to really hit that thing. We were forewarned online that Kiss Me Deadly are in a "transitional phase” once again — their last transformation was from edgy indie rock to lush electro pop — but seeing the quintet reduced to a duo was still strange. They’re also considering a new name (Condor? Those Flamingoes?), suggesting that a real change is on the way, but the duo nonetheless played songs from 2005’s sweet LP Misty Medley, pairing swirling guitars and keys with "the electronica” and beautiful vocals. Unfortunately, the set was delayed by technical problems that nearly derailed the whole show after only one song. The sound guy scrambled to revive the keyboard while singer Emily Elizabeth added to the tension by shooting some snarky sarcasm his way. They eventually soldiered on, but Elizabeth said it herself: it ruined the vibe.