Milk & Bone Phi Centre, Montreal QC, March 17

Milk & Bone Phi Centre, Montreal QC, March 17
Photo: Luke Orlando
Walking down the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, the energy was palpable amongst the throng of fans — many of whom wouldn't make it in — winding down around the corner of the Phi Centre. After a series of well-received singles, showcases, and festival appearances, Milk & Bone were ready to unleash their stunning debut album Little Mourning. The Montreal-based electro-pop duo invited fans for a free album launch party and — as attested by the crowds left outside — they responded in spades; thankfully the organizers and the Phi Centre were quick to utilize the multidisciplinary tech hub and set up an adjoining room where they could livestream the event. Clearly Montreal has a lot of love for Laurence Lafond-Beaulne and Camille Poliquin.
In a small dark room the duo walked out to much applause and launched straight into album opener "Elephant." They quickly enchanted the raucous crowd with vocals as silky as on record and harmonies that took on a life of their own on stage. Flickering 3D projections and effective lighting supported the duo, making their live set already as close to perfect as it can get, with Lafond-Beaulne and Poliquin playing off each other perfectly and with ease. "You're all crazy," they quipped in their native French while giggling, before Lafond-Beaulne grabbed her ukulele to perform "Easy to Read." They seemed genuinely surprised at the turnout, thanking everyone for coming out and apologizing to those who didn't make it in, adding jokingly that next time they should just call the Metropolis, whose capacity is roughly ten times than that of the Phi Centre. They're not that far off.
They performed a rap-free version of "Tomodachi," which definitely lacked the smooth delivery of Toronto rapper Terrell Morris, but they made a point of thanking him for his contribution to the album and urging everyone in attendance to seek him out. If anything, they made a point of taking the time to thank a lot of people in an interlude they joked was "longer than our actual show," from their friends and family, to their management, their press team, the media, and especially their collaborators. A few things were made clear throughout this profusion of thank-yous: they're extremely well surrounded, they're humble and appreciative, and they have an excellent grasp on their identity and sound. Widespread success is all but guaranteed.
Their early singles were particularly well received, especially "Coconut Water," before which Poliquin joked we could actually purchase coconut water from the bar if we were so inclined. Album closer and highlight "Watch" was especially affecting live, with their soaring vocals and swelling beats taking a whole other dimension. They closed off the set with first single "New York" to the delight of everyone in attendance, for an intense and otherworldly rendition. They hugged it out on stage looking both elated and relieved — sighing "it's done!" — before taking a sip of wine and looking out into the adoring crowd. Just like their debut album, the performance was short, sweet, and satisfying.