Miracle Fortress / Pony Up! / Plante Te Femme Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ottawa ON May 13

It was a little slice of Montreal in Ottawa on Mother’s Day, and although the crowd was sparser than it should have been, the music was expansive enough to fill in the nooks and crannies. Starting off the festivities was the retro-electro Plante Te Femme, who admirably tried to get everyone moving with their mix of Chromeo-esque ’80s love and more hipster-ish indie dance. Much helped by the spasms and unending energy of both their bassist and keytarist, it was, to be fair, interesting. As my friend so aptly put it, "They sound much better than they look.” Pony Up! drew the throngs towards them and, debuting new material, these four lovely ladies impressed, but still left me looking for that spark. The newer stuff seemed a bit more melodic and measured than some of their other upbeat music, and combining that with awkward banter and long silences is never recommended. But, pulling out some noisy guitars and some fiery vocal passion near the end pulled them from the brink. After setting up his massive collection of electronic knobs and other assorted doo-dads, Graham Van Pelt, of Think About Life, got around to showing off his solo stuff as Miracle Fortress. Still figuring out how to translate his psychedelic pop, he looked a little "mad scientist” with all the pushing, pulling and knob twiddling. Somewhat effortlessly playing drums while conjuring his layered and beautiful visions, it was quite sad to see the solo act go and have him call up a band. But, it took very little time to convince that, with a bit more practice, this will soon slay live. With Van Pelt’s gorgeously melodic voice, the absolutely manic drumming and layers upon layers of dazzling sound that pummelled the lucky few left, the experience was actually quite close to a miracle.