Caroline Rose L'escogriffe, Montreal QC, May 5

Caroline Rose L'escogriffe, Montreal QC, May 5
Photo: Nadia Davoli
Not much can pull people inside when the evening air is still light as denim. But as Sunday's sun set, a second summer flared in the catacomb called L'Escogriffe, spawned by shouts that "I got soul / I got soul" and songs about soullessness.
Caroline Rose's "fascination with making sad songs fun and danceable" means that her music has (at least) two layers: the wink and crinkle that envelope the slippery eyes. On Sunday night — though "every day's Saturday to us" — the underlying sadness spilled from the get-go. Rose kicked off the set with "To Die Today," bubbling to the surface of the crowd noise until they were forced to listen to her rumble out of the daily and into the truth of mortality.
Rose really dipped into and stirred the night with a quieter version — the original format — of "Getting to Me," letting her voice sob and warble and run out of both breath and pretence. She stepped off the stage and stood nearly still in the crowd, embodying middle-of-the-party isolation, the microphone cord a pull away from the present.
But soon fairy lights were bumping against the bass drum again. Caroline covered "My Heart Will Go On" on kazoo and hyperventilated to segue back into song. She stayed connected with Abbie, undulating keyboardist with certain fingers, and, ever the comedian-poet, called drummer Willoughby's legs "pearly whites." She laughed at herself for "getting all emo and shit," but she was still willing to go there. She hopped onto a platform in front of the stage, head way too close to the stony ceiling, fingers spread like sunbeams of permission over the slick bodies dancing to sadness.