Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pop Montreal 2012

Originally published in the CJLO Magazine.

TWEE POP: Twee Time's five-day festival recap!

I have always felt that autumn marks the start of a brand-new year, and for the people of Montreal that is especially true. For five fun-filled days at the end of September, Pop Montreal arrives to bring this city (and me) back to life. The 2012 edition of the festival went above and beyond what this born-and-raised townie has ever experienced in Montreal before.

So many amazing local bands joined the line-up this year, starting with Parlovr, who I believe put on their best show to date. The room at Le Divan Orange on Thursday went wild when the band performed the song "Just Marriage", and all their songs inspired everyone to dance, pogo, mosh, and even crowd surf. I ran over to Alex Cooper after the show, gave him a big hug and said, "Alex, I love you! You guys keep getting better and better!" I've got this total witch vibe in my body right now, so believe me, something really big is going to happen to Parlovr. Keep your eyes and ears open, and get ready for what they do next.

And then there's Archery Guild, who gave a delightful performance at an after-hours POP UP SHOW courtesy of Entree des Artistes on Saint-Denis. The band (which is actually more of a collective) had nine musicians playing a variety of instruments from guitar and drums, to cello and violin, and even a tambourine! I wondered how so many different people, playing so many different musical devices, could come together and sound so good. I still don't know, but it worked! I would have loved to join them, if only I had a triangle with me that night.

I attended CJLO's very own POP UP PARTY at Salon Identité on the last day of the festival, and was so happy to catch Andrew Sisk play. His minimalist, avant-garde sounds provided the perfect Sunday soundtrack. I placed a warm coffee cup on my cheek, held my arms close to my body, sat back and listened. It sure felt like home, as if I were wearing a bathrobe and mellowing-down easy in my comfy bed. Also at the salon was Garry-Lewis James Osterberg's Iggy is Dog, which features a dancing Chihuahua in various outfits superimposed over Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" video. Such a smart idea! I couldn't stop watching because the dog really did resemble Iggy Pop. I've had the song "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by the Stooges in my head ever since.

The following are five additional live performances that really caught my attention at Pop Montreal this year, one for each day of the festival.

Wednesday: Cobra & Vulture

Attendance at Le Divan Orange was quite sparse when Montreal-based trio Cobra & Vulture started their set. But it didn't take long before I was pushed out of my space next to the sound board as people piled in to catch the sweet vocal harmonies of Amber Goodwyn and Erin Ross. I was spellbound by their voices, which flowed effortlessly through the soft and girly, right down to the deep and soulful. The intense drum beat from Jeremy MacCuish (Parlovr, Cotton Mouth) complimented the performance so well, and the guitars were trippy and jangled clear as a bell (if that's even possible). All I could do was sink into that little spot I found and take it in like a dream.

Thursday: Pigeon Phat

After the first couple of bands at Le Divan Orange finished their sets, I said to my friend that I thought their music was alright, but what I really needed was to see and hear something different, something special. Well, the Universe always says "Yes!", and what I wanted I got with a bullet when Aaron Seligman began singing about how we should love each other, and to make our dreams come true. These are things I've always believed in! Pigeon Phat's performance was like the Polyphonic Spree, but Montreal-style: harder and in-your-face. The band filled the room with so much energy and happiness, I wish I could rewind and experience that moment in time once more.

Friday: The Nymphets

I've seen the Nymphets several times over the years, and yet I still can't get over how incredibly twee and punk rock they are at the same freaking time. Although the setup at L'Escogriffe left the vocals a tad muffled, that didn't deter from the band's performance. The show was a perfect mixture of frantic garage-punk and teenage-pop-kid-dreamin' guitar, paired with rock-with-skin-and-bones drumming that left my body shaking and twisting to the beat. It was super cool to hear "(There's Gonna Be A) Borstal Breakout" live for the first time in ages, too. Friday also happened to be my birthday, and I was so excited when Johanna and Jared performed their cover of "Darling Are You Sure", originally by the Bartlebees, and said it was for me (there's a story behind this, ask me about it sometime). Can you say, "Best birthday party ever!"?

I was so lucky that I got to Le Cabaret du Mile End in time to catch the most beautiful band at the festival this year, The Sin & the Swoon. I want to thank Pop Montreal for reminding me of how much I, like my father before me, love old-time country and folk music. Montreal musicians Michael James O'Brien and Michelle Tompkins both played guitar and sang some cover songs, including "Fist City" (originally by Loretta Lynn) and "Loves Gonna Live Here Again" (originally by Buck Owens). But it was their own song, "Josephine", that stole my heart. I was extremely moved by the lyrics, and how the duo played so well in unison, that tears swelled up in my eyes.

Sunday: Lucky Dragons

Sitting on the stage in a medium-size room at the PHI Center were two extraterrestrials manoeuvering their alien light-and-sound device. They were both tall and thin with shaved heads, humanoid, and dressed similarly. The first alien sang along to this strange music in a low-baritone drone, and the second alien surprised me when it took over and belted out a strong contralto. The sound in the room looped and changed as they manipulated their light device, then they shared their technology by handing out compact discs to the crowd. Adults and children alike played along and tried to understand how music could come from manipulating light. At the end only one girl remained with them, then the mother ship took off and the stage went dark leaving the girl (and the rest of the audience) behind. Ha ha, just kidding. They weren't extraterrestrials, and there was no mother ship! Lucky Dragons is an experimental-music group that consists of Sarah Rara and Luke Fischbeck. They use sound recordings, projection, computers, and a web cam. The duo is based in Los Angeles.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Directions to Michael's place

On the way to Michael's

You can go many ways. If you want to stick to Maisonneuve just head west until [street_name] (which is right after [park_name] Park).

Then, keep going down, through a giant stone bridge, keep going straight ahead through the intersection and past the train tracks until you reach ACORN street.

Turn right and keep walking until you see a crooked alleyway that takes you into a valley of punks. Keep walking through this alleyway until you see a set of six stairs to a giant red door. There will probably be a bunch of crust punks getting hammered and burning shit with their babies and dogs and if you have passed a dumpster, you've gone too far.