Tuesday, October 1, 2013

POP Montreal 2013 Day Two

CJLO Magazine's editor-at-large Stephanie Dee writes about day two of POP Montreal. Check out the hashtag #cjlogoespop, and follow @Tweegirl on Twitter and Instagram for up-to-the-minute commentary, video, and photos taken during the festival.

I begrudgingly worked all day, day-dreaming about all the art exhibits and artist talks I wanted to attend but couldn't, and when the daily grind was finally over I headed on up to Quarters POP at 5:30 pm for the Media Mixer. 

Worried that I wouldn't know anyone there, I was so glad to run into Florent and Jesse from the band CTZNSHP, Adrian Warner (who I was with at the AIM LOW show), and Pat No from Bonsound at the event. I also met Steve Jordan, founder of the Polaris Music Prize, who was kind and very nicely dressed. He even knew what CJLO was! I felt like a fish out of water standing there in my jeans and a t-shirt, especially when Daniel Seligman (who I interviewed over the phone on my radio show the week prior) came by and no one introduced me to him. I just stood there awkwardly blushing and drinking my free beers. Ah, the perils of sportswear.

As the mixer started to wind down, things got really weird because at this point I noticed that the DJ was spinning 45s at the wrong speed! Young MC's "Bust a Move" and Sir Mix-a-Lot's "I'll Roll You Up" were playing at what seemed even slower than 33 1/3 RPM. I went over to find out what's up, and I even knew how to fix the problem, but the DJ refused to let me touch the turntables. That was frustrating, but quite comical.

CJLO was co-presenting an event with Blue Skies Turn Black at Théâtre Rialto, so I plugged in my headphones and ran on up to du Parc and Bernard listening to Ty Segall. The theatre was pretty empty when I got there, which made for some pretty sweet Instagram photos.

Théâtre Rialto
Bobo & Chris, sans Chris, opened the show. A solo Bobo had shaved part of his head for the performance, except for the bottom part so he could look like a clown—though I don't think he was dressed like a stereotypical clown, nor was he wearing any clown makeup; maybe he wore a big red nose and shoes? To be completely honest, I can't remember because it was a performance that I desperately want to forget. There were some really weird, echoing, and jarring effects on his vocals, and what I guess was some weird-ass Quebecois circus music. I watched Bobo's ummm... "song" and "dance", complete with a canned applause track, for a grand total of about two minutes, then I sat in a corner close to the CJLO merch table, pressing the earplugs I was wearing deeper into my canals.

I will copy here, some of the Facebook chatter among the CJLO peeps about Bobo the next day:

Lucinda posted: there are only three genres now: proto-Bobo, post-Bobo, and Bobo

Daniel replied: he was terrible
Beansie replied: proto-Bobo is my jam
Lucinda replied: Daniel how dare you (jk I was trying not to cry)
Mobs replied: post-bobo...it's all we can aspire
Beansie replied: bobo tribute band

Stephanie Dee posted: Tonight's #CJLOgoesPOP itinerary [...]

Mobs replied: I personally cannot wait for your bobo review
Stephanie Dee replied: I only briefly mentioned that he was there, but I've only written the first draft...
Lucinda replied: why isn't he the focus of your review just wondering
Stephanie Dee replied: I was trying to forget...
Beansie replied: No one puts Bobo in the corner
Stephanie Dee replied: Bobo put me in the corner!
Beansie replied: that is funny because that is literally what happened.

Beansie posted: Lucinda: In the 1st day of the Year 1 AB (Anno Bobo), I have found your USB.

Lucinda replied: blessed be Bobo's lightMobs replied: bobo is in all of us
Beansie replied: may the body of bobo be with you
Mobs replied: the power of bobo compels you
Lucinda replied: let us pray to the Bobo trinity: the Bobo, the Bobo, and the Holy Bobo
Beansie replied: and Chris, the mother of Bobo.

Well my dear Bobo, you certainly made an impression.

The Rialto really filled up by around 9:30 pm, then the room went dark except for the light from the exit signs and iPhone glow. Tim Hecker (at least I think it was Tim Hecker) took the stage. The pulsating wobble, low hum, deep rumbles, and layered ambient sounds were meditative, and I stood there imagining how cool it would be if, out of nowhere, Tim Hecker busted out a high-string metal guitar solo. Well, that didn't happen but I really enjoyed his music.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Tim Hecker

Up next was bass saxophone player Colin Stetson. Let me tell you, Stetson is one strong, intense, and talented guy. I was in awe watching his performance and stood baffled and mesmerized wondering how, in addition to playing that mammoth brass sax, this solo and seemingly minimalist artist managed to add the percussion and deep howls to his music. The show was very moving, and I knew that Colin was one of my tweeople when he dedicated the song "Among the Sef" to the lonely, misunderstood whale in the North Pacific Ocean that sings at the wrong frequency.

Shout out to the dude sitting at the side of the stage, pencil sketching the performance.

--Stephanie Dee hosts Champions of the Local Scene (Wednesdays, 6-7 PM) and Twee Time (Fridays, 8-9 pm). Follow her on Twitter @tweegirl.

Due to a death in my family, I was unable to continue writing these reviews.

POP Montreal 2013 Day One

After five days of music, film, symposia, and crazy parties, CJLO Magazine's editor-at-large Stephanie Dee reports back on day one of POP Montreal. Check out the hashtag #cjlogoespop, and follow @Tweegirl on Twitter and Instagram for up-to-the-minute commentary, video, and photos taken during the festival. 

The streets of Montreal seemed so quiet and empty on Wednesday evening, but 3450 Saint-Urbain and several music venues in this fair city told a different story. POP Montreal kicked off its 2013 edition at Quarters POP with some amazing art exhibits, presentations, and fun parties complete with drinks, DJs, live music, and yummy cupcakes from Bar à beurre. The first night of the festival offered so many things to do, hear, and see, I wish I could have defied the universal laws of space, time, and direction to experience everything. I'll work on that, but until then, here is a run-down of POP Montreal Day One.

Bar à beurre: The best cupcakes ever! 

British artist (and founding member of indie-pop band Talulah Gosh!) Elizabeth Price visited POP Montreal for an Art POP / Symposium artist talk to give us a behind-the-scenes look into the production of her prize-winning video installation entitled The Woolworths Choir of 1979. The 20-minute video intercuts archival photographs of an architectural choir and sepulchral sculpture from a Gothic church, footage from The Shangri-Las' music video "Out in the Streets", a women's chorus line, and clips from old news reels of a Manchester department store fire wherein 10 people died. Price unifies these seemingly unrelated elements through the repetition of text, clicking and clapping sounds, and the twisted hand gestures of the entombed figures, the Weiss sisters, ladies of the chorus, and the victims and witnesses of the fire. Pretty heavy stuff, and kind of depressing, but I found her creative process interesting in that she assembles hundreds of files into these congested timelines to form a computer-generated melodramatic dance. It was nice to get a preview of the work, which will be available for viewing starting October 9th at la Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal.

I met up with my POP Montreal partner in crime Alex G. and CJLO friends Beansie and Lucy, and we headed to the opening party for some food. DJ Dago from Brazil and funk-disco cover band Fabricville provided the music, and I met some pretty cool people as I ate my fill of cupcakes and bounced around Quarters POP to the tune of "The NeverEnding Story".

L-R: CJLO volunteer coordinator Lucy, CJLO manager Beansie, journalist Alex G. 

At 8:30 pm it was off to Petit Campus to see resident Montreal weirdoes (and the nicest people you'll ever meet) Red Mass. This band never ceases to amaze me. I like to call them Les Créateurs! Red Mass is always writing and releasing new material (10" EPs, split 7" singles, CDRs, and mini-CDs in Distroboto machines), in addition to band members performing with a slew of other bands including Night Seeker with The Deaner from FUBAR, PyPy with members of Duchess Says, and at one point Roy Vucino and Hannah L is Dead were in Kieran Blake's band Hiroshima Shadows. I always wonder how they find the time. "Sleep when you're dead" I always say!

Red Mass live and breathe their craft and they're always trying something different, which is apparent in their live performance. This 30-minute POP Montreal set started quiet with Ariane Gruet-Pelchat solo on violin, then it exploded into an uproar of psychedelic and poppy garage that even included some wicked jazzy saxophone courtesy of Dave Kunstatter (formerly of Glass Passenger). Just when I thought I had heard everything that the band has ever released, they come out with an amazing set consisting primarily of brand new songs. It was super cool that Hannah sang lead on many of them (she has such a beautiful voice), and Pouf the Magik Drummer hit every beat with a fury in his trance-like state. The set ended with the song "Drugs" (about looking for the drugs you lost inside the couch cushions), and they fit in one more tune, the familiar gem "Killer on the Loose" so we could all sing along.

My goth friends have been raving about The Legendary Pink Dots for years, and through my research I discovered that the band has an incredibly large back-catalogue of music spanning over three decades. So I decided to stay at Petit Campus to find out if they lived up to the hype. The Dots were technically and musically on-point, but they seemed to perform without feeling, as if the band were going through the motions of being a legendary band, and not the emotions. The ambient synth-pop sounds did serve to clear the busy thoughts in my brain for a while, but I have to admit I eventually felt kind of bored, so I only listened to the first two or three songs before leaving. Being quite the fan of doom and drone, I can certainly appreciate minimalist experimental rock, but to me the music seemed quite contrived, and I suspect the feeling was mutual because other people in attendance were talking through the beginning of their set. A slight regret entered my mind as I exited the venue, because the song that started when I left was met with cheers from the audience.

I hopped through Carré Saint-Louis, walked up Saint-Denis, and dashed into L'Escogriffe just in time to catch local band Marble Lion. It took a while for them to sound check, and the show had some slight technical issues, which were smoothed over by band member Karl, who engaged in banter with the crowd. Their music had a lot of rumbling, noisy drone and space sound effects, and the bass was a bit high at some points, but I enjoyed their set. The song "Salt Water" had some great percussion and shoegaze-y elements, and it was very melodic and not too aggressive. The kids seemed to dig it, and the venue was packed.
One show left before bed...

#EarsGoPOP! Effects pedals yo!
Local band AIM LOW have added a lot to their act since the first time I saw them in a tiny café on Saint-Denis two years ago, and I'm really digging where they're going. The band members are more animated, there's a new bass player who likes to wink a lot, they've incorporated vocal chanting and anguished screams, the music is louder (loud as hell!), and there's plenty more effects on the guitars. So many pedals! It's also kind of funny when, in unison, the members of the band get closer to the amps and gyrate against them to add even more fuzzy effects to their instruments. That reminded me of how the Peanuts gang danced in A Charlie Brown Christmas. AIM LOW is Charlie Brown's drone/shoegaze band! I mean that as a compliment. Did I mention it was freaking loud? Even with the ear plugs, my canals were still ringing the next day (and now I'm really afraid of the My Bloody Valentine show in November).

I came prepared for the AIM LOW show!

Shout out to a pole-dancing Cedric Marinelli, the dude in the "Grunge is Dead" t-shirt, and Dan from Foe Destroyer who said I was sexy and gave me a free download.

--Stephanie Dee hosts Champions of the Local Scene (Wednesdays, 6-7 PM) and Twee Time (Fridays, 8-9 pm). Follow her on Twitter @tweegirl.