Pop Montreal 2004 Montreal QC - September 29 to October 3, 2004

Pop Montreal 2004 Montreal QC - September 29 to October 3, 2004
By Jasamine White-Gluz, Lorraine Carpenter, Michael Barclay, Tim Snow A Vertical Mosaic Montreal electro-pop heartthrobs A Vertical Mosaic unfortunately shut down after this finale show at the Pop festival. Between the knob-turning and electronic sounds, there were some emotional parting words and cute covers, which made listeners even more upset over the band's demise. Dedicated fans turned out to support their final bow, cheering them on to the last note. JWG The Acorn Probably one of the best indie rock bands swinging out of Ottawa right now, the Acorn bridge the gap between melodic pop rock and atmospheric indie. Opening up the Kelp Records showcase, the four-piece played a short but sweet set of favourites off of their The Pink Ghosts release. A must-see for fans of riff-ridden indie rock. JWG Billy Talent Don't let the fact that pop-punksters du jour Billy Talent packed Montreal's Spectrum with wall to wall screaming pre-pubescent girls holding signs reading "marry me Ben" and the like fool you; these kids have not let their success affect their performance. The musicians were tight and lead singer Ben Kowalewicz leapt around the stage like a spastic four-year-old on a three-day coffee binge. The highlight of the set was an unexpected cover of the Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen In Love," but the punk classic was largely ignored by the fans who were there for songs they would recognise, not ones ten years older than them. As the set progressed some more recognisable BT songs appeared, then in the encore, when they played the first few chords of "Try Honesty," the club erupted. TS Black Keys Have you ever walked into a show not knowing what to expect but feeling as if you were about to get your ass kicked? That was the feeling before the Black Keys hit the stage and they didn't disappoint. Their dirty mix of the blues and pure rock'n'roll ensured that every person left with a huge grin on their face. The Ohio drum and guitar duo's set was played with the same ferocity that their Fat Possum Records counterparts are generally known for; the night ended with all attendees feeling bruised and battered and damn glad they went. TS Books On Tape Live electronic music without a computer, just Todd Drootin jumping up and down and hitting various guitar pedals hooked up to his sequencer and Theremin-like hand-controlled electronics. This was no passive email-checking laptop performance, this was as rock'n'roll as electronic music gets. MB The Adam Brown Packing the sorely unused Miami club, Montreal-based four-piece the Adam Brown lit up the room with their mellow mix of country and rock. Despite the music's calm appeal, the band was pure rock'n'roll onstage. The band was constantly flailing around and poking fun at themselves, with stage banter almost as exciting as their music. With an impressive Jeff Buckley-esque upper register, Adam Brown is a lock to become both a local heartthrob and major player in the Montreal music scene. JWG Canned Hamm Call it hokey, call it creepy, but Vancouver's hypest musical entertainers are only doing it for you. And you. And you! Big Hamm and Little Hamm wear matching costumes, practice choreography and sing syrupy tunes about toupees, shortening, father-and-son "business" and karaoke ladies while running around the room offering hugs, instigating sing-alongs, stripping down to leopard-print boxers and gyrating in your face. This festival gig was Montreal's last look at the show they've been touring for several years, but the act wasn't stale. In every sense of the word, Canned Hamm is fresh. LC Comme un Homme Libre Opening the night with a cover of the Go-Go's "Our Lips are Sealed" that didn't even merit a performance in a high school talent show, the Jonquiere-based Comme Un Homme Libre played a set full of derivative, unoriginal songs. The band had an awkward stage presence, led by a flirty but uncharismatic lead vocalist. The band seemed somehow unfamiliar with their instruments (save for the drummer, who managed to make things interesting for a second) and perhaps the man behind the sequencers, who seemed bored with the set himself. JWG Controller.Controller Toronto's post-punksters played to a highly appreciative crowd in Montreal's Cafe Campus. The crowd were so appreciative in fact that most of them left after their set thinking the night was over, much to the chagrin of the following act. The steady hypnotic backbeat and droning bass lines coupled with the band's own supplied lighting set a mood that most of today's indie fans and '80s nostalgia hipsters alike would enjoy. If you are a fan of the Smiths, Joy Division or Wire, check these kids out next time they pull through your town. TS Death From Above 1979 Though probably not used to the teeny bopper shrills that now ensue when they hit the stage, DFA were nonetheless in fine form. Slugging through each fuzz-filled song with progressively more edge, the duo did what they do best and were met with much affection from the crowd. Although better sound may have improved their set, the band were still as entertaining as ever to watch. JWG Flogging Molly Halfway through Joe Strummer's version of "Redemption Song," the Mollys took the stage and vocalist Dave King sang along with the dearly missed ex-Clasher. The Molly's then went on to thrill the audience with their blend of traditional Irish folk and punk rock, leaving little doubt in anyone's mind as to who the reigning kings of contemporary Irish music are. Highlights included songs from their newest release, Within a Mile of Home, as well as old favourites "the Devil's Dance Floor," "Swagger" and "the Worst Day Since Yesterday." TS The French Kicks Probably one of the most unexciting bands to watch, the French Kicks played before the packed but horribly disinterested crowd at Metropolis. Slugging through what seemed like the longest set in the history of music, the Kicks still have yet to prove why they keep landing on decent tours. JWG Frog Eyes Less constipated, still complicated. For the first time out of the four previous occasions I've seen Frog Eyes, they had a decent mix and sounded somewhat comfortable, especially on the mostly new material that comprised the set. Which is weird, considering that they were trying to bait the crowd that came to see headliners Tegan and Sara, with Carey Mercer smirking, "You've been kind of a kind audience. Notice I said kind of; I loathe you all!" MB Hank Featuring The Hank Collective Sure-fire recipe for entertainment: tall, dapper and electrifying Englishman with a sardonic baritone playing electric guitar over '60s go-go beats with three babes dressed in matching white T-shirts singing and dancing beside him. Nary a song was over two minutes long and much like their Blocks label-mates Barcelona Pavilion, the on-stage enthusiasm is undeniably infectious, even on the one or two duds that threatened to slow down the set. MB Keane Beautiful piano and incredibly catchy songs still couldn't make Keane's performance memorable. Lead vocalist/front-man Tom Chaplin's cliché rock moves took away from the band's gracefully light Brit-pop sound. Somehow, Keane managed to pack the venue, even if on stage they come across as nothing but a mediocre Coldplay rip-off. They are a band that comes across significantly better on record. JWG King Cobb Steelie Like the late Mr. Dangerfield, these survivors get no respect. Stuck at a terrible venue with no P.A. and a bar manager who walked on stage to turn the bass down, KCS nonetheless managed to transcend and turn the gig around, leaving the crowd screaming for an encore. It's ironic that they've become a primarily instrumental band, as Kevan Byrne is actually singing better than ever — even through a muffled mic, he did justice to Michelle McAdorey's vocals from their 2000 track "Mayday." Byrne and newbie Geoff Walton locked into call-and-response guitar interplay that at once conjured Afrobeat and a post-punk Skynyrd, while the unstoppable rhythm section stole the show as always. MB Les Angles Morts After resolving intense technical issues, these young dudes got their visuals rolling and released the sounds. A cheesy preview for '80s flick Gleaming the Cube kick-started the set, which featured a hot flash of post-punk noise with a porky bottom end accompanied by montages of found home movies, public domain crap and cheap-ass neon psychedelia, homemade I presume. The band's sonic assault was meaty but digestible, while scraps of vocals rocketed incoherently through a megaphone and an assistant in a plush-toy costume galloped around the room, sealing the three-way chaos. LC Les Mouches It seems weird to say this about Toronto's drama kings, but this was over the top even by Les Mouches's standards, managing to frighten even close friends who had seen them dozens of times. Singer Owen Pallett ended the show standing and screaming in bloodcurdling agony on the bar of Casa del Popolo, which was guaranteed to get the attention of the tightly crammed and talkative audience. MB Matisyahu What could be more delightfully contradictory than a Hasidic Jew reggae band? Led by hippie turned Lubavitch Hasidic Jew Matisyahu, the reggae band played to a completely adoring and totally jam-packed room. While the crowd was understandably mixed (Rabbis, hip-hop fans and festival hoppers alike), the show was stellar. Matisyahu's range is something to get excited about: a sleek Sting-like tone and the ability to belt it like he was Bob Marley's son. Reggae hasn't sounded this good in a long time. JWG Mission Of Burma Their first Montreal show in at least 22 years — if not ever — drew lots of the old faithful and the newly curious. It was heartening to see the band get their due and enjoy themselves, but it was also a bit painful to watch drummer Peter Prescott try and keep up with his band-mates. And the question remained unanswered: would the audience be as excited if this were a new band and not a pre-established legend of the American underground? MB Phonemes Despite missing a key member, bandleader Magali Meagher showed an unexpected new confidence in leaving most of her lullabies behind and rocking out with the help of the boys from Blocks Recording Company, who clapped furiously, sang harmonies and did can-can kicks. Expect excellent things from their forthcoming full-length, being recorded in Montreal with Efrim Menuck. MB Plants and Animals This versatile improv band builds impressive structures on their half-formed songs, skirting post-rock's clichéd volume and pace climaxes by keeping the process loose. The sound's eclectic and the show watchable; it wasn't quite spectacular but a touch of rock bravado is always appreciated. With two guitars and drums, the Montreal-based trio introduced their set with leisurely ambiance, jolted the crowd with noisy outbursts just as they were starting to get comfortable (raw rock inspired by histrionic jazz), then slowly segued into a more melodic, accessible sound verging on pop. LC Ghislain Poirier Local next-level beatmaster Poirier left the political MCs at home and stuck to his laptop, so to brighten up the show he invited two dancers to frolic around the stage with their bicycles. The effort was appreciated, but only a fraction of the fractured choreography seemed to work, serving more as a distraction than an embellishment. Simply putting two women on stage doesn't make it a stage show. MB Rantmusic Unique musical arrangements and a punk rock presence helped make Rantmusic's sweaty performance memorable. The BC bunch combined delicate mandolin, which was also used to create feedback and noisy riffs, spastic violin and indie rock guitars to produce a special folk meets punk sound. The boy/girl vocals are especially great, with each singer possessing their own unique tone. JWG So Called So Called is a musical ensemble blending traditional klezmer music and hip-hop. Spearheaded by accordion player/lead vocalist Josh Dolgin, the band is the Broken Social Scene of klezmer, with a rotating line-up of various MCs and vocalists. While there isn't much out there to compare with So Called, it's definitely innovative and entertaining. JWG Subtitle This laid-back motor mouth MC from L.A. impressed both those at his opening gig for Beans and at an after-hours loft party that coincided with his birthday, where he traded rhymes with Noah 23 over a space-rock/hip-hop jam led by members of the Unicorns. His own beats could use some beef but it's likely you'll be hearing about this idiosyncratic wordsmith soon enough. MB Torngat French horn, keyboards and drums can hold infinite possibilities, as this Montreal trio aptly demonstrates. Pietro Amato (Bell Orchestre, occasionally Arcade Fire), Mathieu Charbonneau and Julien Poissant also juggle duelling melodicas, percussion and an arsenal of effects to create captivating soundscapes and compositions that unexpectedly flowered into dance beats by the set's conclusion. Can Montreal fit another spellbinding instrumental band inside the city walls? Absolutely. MB