Alix Fernz Was a Wayward Star in Montreal

Bar Pow Pow, May 16


BY Stephan BoissonneaultPublished May 17, 2024

As we piled up the stairs into the Pow Pow Club to join the album release party of Alix Fernz, one of the newer Mothland phenomenons, everyone was dressed in their best. We had the neo-goth couple decked out in various chains and purple lipstick, a woman in alabaster white parachute pants complete with Sharpie symbols, a guy in a leather racing jacket, and a woman with a bright, chainmail shawl. 

The stage area, though there was no real stage, was also decorated with a white background, black handwriting and giant, foam-red lips protruding from the top left corner, symbolizing the album title Bizou. The whole room looked like the corridors of a vampire's lair; beat-up black pillars, a black bricked wall, dusty flickering lighting, random mirrors on the ceiling, a few disco balls — the perfect setting for Alix Fernz's smeared, synthetic glam punk.

Since his debut music video "Wax," Alix Fernz, who also happens to be the multi-tattooed Sid Vicious-looking bartender from L'Escogriffe downstairs, has been attracting a Montreal audience that likes the weirder, freakier sides of music  with his spiky rockstar aesthetic. Many say he reminds them of the New York Dolls or the Misfits, others, Bowie. Either way, Alix Fernz always makes a point of embodying his character when performing live — a playful theatricality that's lacking in the homogeneity of so much modern music — and tonight was no different.

"I like to dress up and really make the night a special one," Fernz told me outside after his set. "It's about aesthetics and feeling comfortable, yes, but also just making it memorable for the people."

Before he jumped on stage with his full band, we were welcomed with a darkwave, industrial set from PULSUM, a one-man synth looper who sometimes screamed in distorted wails. Like Carpenter Brut mixed with a bit of Skinny Puppy, PULSUM took a few songs to warm up the room before getting the crowd moving on his wavelength.

Alix Fernz's band took the stage and the man himself ran toward the microphone, painted with white foundation, black eyeliner, baby blue eyeshadow, some rouge and his signature red lip. By this point the venue was packed, past the point of selling out, and people were lined up outside to sneak a peak and hear a bit of the music.

"Bonsoir tout le monde!" he screamed before blasting into the hypnotizing album opener "Muselière," a tale following a character named Benjamin, about the fear and desire to rebel against the status quo.  

The music was twisting and sideways, but perfect for dancing; a bit dangerous, psychoactive and purposefully claustrophobic. There was no straightforward song structure, but the band was tight as sin, so the weird time changes, pauses, and interludes all felt warranted. Everything was tied together by the lurid nightmares and fantasies Fernz conjured up, sticking his microphone directly in his mouth for an intense growl, Karen O-style.

The credit can't all go to Fernz, who sang, played synth and a bit of guitar, but also to his band — the bass player and drummer holding down the chaos, giving Alix space to freak out, crowd surf and mosh with the crowd. The lightning-quick lead guitar lines from Nicolas Dube also cut through the madness.

At one point during the zany new wave banger "D​é​figur​é​e," an older, bearded Quebecois man told Fernz he wanted to crowd surf. "Get him up" Fernz screamed, and the crowd happily obliged.  

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