Monday, November 23, 2009

Recap:: M for Montreal Day 1

I spent most of last week in Montreal trying to balance my day job with the heavy lifting we do for herohill, abusing my liver and neglecting my fatherly responsibilities. Before I get into the music, I have to say that M for Montreal is the type of festival/conference we could really use here in Nova Scotia. Sure, we might not have the sheer mass of bands that you find in MTL, but the premise was fantastic.

Eighty journalists, radio programmers, booking agents, and festival promoters traveled from all over the world to be inundated with Montreal culture and music. Four days of shows, panels, schmoozing and booze are always great, but when you consider the attendees included the likes of ABC-TV, CMJ, CBC3, CBCTV, SXSW, European Festival promoters, Polaris Prize and of course, herohill, well you can see how a great set from a band might just be enough to launch a bigger tour and larger fan base.

Thursday night for me started with an non-festival show - the delegates had a special show from Dead Wives and Red Mass, but I snuck down to see The Rural Alberta Advantage and The Great Bloomers at Club Lampi. 2009 has been the year of the RAA - in fact, they had a full page write up in the Globe on Friday (where herohill was mentioned as one of the catalysts to their success), and the jam packed room and screaming fans helped cement the fact that they might be the most popular band in Canada right now for indie kids. They sound so much tighter than they did even a year ago @ our HPX show, and Nils stripped down take on Eye of the Tiger had the crowd freaking out. The openers - The Great Bloomers - did well too, convincing a lot of new faces that the Ontario band's roots pop was something to pay attention to.

But really, it was about M for Montreal. over the next few days, I'll post about all the showcases and hopefully you will enjoy some of the bands we saw and find a few new acts to check out. That was the point of the festival, and from all the banter, the diverse lineups were perfect as almost everyone had a different favorite. Throw in the fact the dual stage, short set approach the organizers used, and almost no one could complain even if a band didn't meet their tastes.

Thursday Showcase: Final Flash, The Luyas, Miracle Fortress, The Rural Alberta Advantage, You Say Party! We Say Die!, Think About Life.

Final Flash - This was an interesting choice for an opener. The boys were into their songs, pushing forward with arena rock anthems and lush, dreamy soundscapes that seemed a little too safe from a band a little too green. They were enjoyable, just not ready for the stages they hope their songs end up on and admittedly, the songs blended into the same malaise.

The Luyas - Wow. When I first looked at the lineup, this was one of the sets that had me giddy with anticipation. I loved The Luyas last record, but the word around the venue was that they were "even weirder" now. That was an understatement. Jessie came out rocking something that sort of resembled what you'd get from PlayStation if you bought sitar hero - found out it was actually a Moodswinger - but the collage of quirky art pop the band delivered was 100% in my wheelhouse. The mix of keys, drums, African/Middle Eastern tones courtesy of the Moodswinger and of course strings and horns all set a perfect stage for Jessie's vocals. I had high expectations for this set, and they were more than met.

Miracle Fortress - After spending most of the day telling people that this was Graham's less electro, more Beach Boys-y project, Mr. Van Pelt came out and performed a set of all new songs. The only guitar was played with a lightbulb, and with all the sirens/disco lights and effect, he was more blinding me with science than with the shimmer of summery pop. The tracks were programmed beats with a few samples tossed in and an more animated GVP dancing around playing with lights and busting out his falsetto vocals. It's a huge shift in sound, as he's scrapped the band and opted to put the spotlight(s) back on him. I'll hold off until I here the recorded versions, but obviously GVP isn't ready to sit still and the potential for a great headphone record is already there.

The Rural Alberta Advantage - I'm not sure any band has had a better '09. From playing small clubs and having day jobs, to opening for Grizzly Bear at a Church Show in SXSW and getting signed to Saddle Creek is a Carl Lewis style long jump but the trio seems to be taking it in stride. They still put every ounce of their hearts into every set and even the truncated, industry-type populated 25-minutes seemed like they were playing as if their lives depended on it. I just wish the venue and audience was more suited to the style they play.

You Say Party! We Say Die - After just seeing the band power through an energy filled set in Halifax, sadly I'm come to realize YSP!WSD just isn't my thing. The band was hyped up - and considering how dead the room was - they got the bodies starting to move, but I just don't get it. I should like the Blondie inspired stuff more, I just don't. Sorry YSP!WSD!

Think About Life - The final act of the night was more GVP. This tecno-inspired dance outfit really got people shaking their ass. Throw in a Cadence Weapon cameo on Sweet Sixteen and you can imagine how hyped people got. Easily the set of the night, and the foreign press may have found something better than a bottle of maple syrup to take home in their suitcase.

MP3:: New Song - Miracle Fortress (live @ M for Montreal)

MP3:: The Ballad of The RAA - Rural Alberta Advantage (live @ M for Montreal)

MP3:: Cat in a Bag - The Luyas


Labels: , Miracle Fortress, , Rural Alberta Advantage, The Luyas, Think About Life

Posted at 7:46 AM by ack :: 1 comments

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At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Dave did sayeth:

Great write up! I'm a bit disappointed to hear that the rest of the MF band has been dropped but look forward to hearing the new material.


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