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Show Hopping @ Pop Mtl: A Retrospective

Posted by Jer / October 10, 2007

Oh Bijou at The Ukrainian Federation

Pop Montreal show hopping should be an Olympic sport. They could factor in how many shows contestants see and how much distance they cover, with extra points for inebriation. By these standards, my outing last week was a modest effort, barely worth a bronze medal. It was also cut short by a Thanksgiving weekend spent outside Montreal with my folks. Thanks a lot Mom.

Still, I thought some of the shows were worth recapping on the off chance you hadn't come across the hundreds of recaps in newspapers, blogs and on the radio. If anyone else has short little 50 word reviews they're willing to share, please do so in the comments. Perhaps we can compile the world's greatest archive, Wikipedia notwithstanding.

Erin Lang makes music you can bring home to your parents at Thanksgiving. Her songs are a soothing mix of downtempo beats, sparse guitar, and winding synth lines (provided by Roger O'Donnell, former keyboardist for the cure). And then there's her voice. It's breathy to the point of being inaudible. At times she seems to be pushing more air than notes, lulling you in to a permanent state of comfort. Her intimate set at Le Cagibi was somewhat of a homecoming for Lang, who grew up here but has been living in London. Come home more often.

Christine Fellows at Le Gymnase
Christine Fellows makes music for squirrels. It's skittish and quirky. It starts and stops with reckless abandon. An accomplished pianist, Fellows has a knack for carrying audiences through surprising twists in song direction. Her gig at Le Gymnase strayed into Joanna Newsome territory, minus the harp and the 14 minute epics, but ended up in a place that felt utterly unique.

Julie Doiron makes music that's much less polished than you'd expect for a Polaris prize nominee. Her live set was messy and fun. She bragged about not rehearsing much beforehand, but what she lacked in polish, she made up in spontaneity.

Oh Bijou are yet another seven piece outfit from Toronto. I had high expectations, since their first album, Swift Feet For Troubling Times, is a wonderful contribution. Their set at the Ukrainian Federation was undoubtedly overshadowed by the acts that came after them (Basia Bulat and Final Fantasy). Still, Oh Bijou held their own. They seemed nervous and their performance was a bit stilted as a result. But their songs are pretty enough to make even the most static of shows feel warm.

The Most Serene Republic make a lot of noise. There's usually 3 or 4 people singing, and at least as many instrumental melodies going on at any one time. Thanks in part to their fast and talented drummer, their live show reproduces the exuberance found on their discs. They will likely be crowned mayors of Broken Social Scene-town (yes, it exists, somewhere in the GTA. Google map it, you'll see).

Young Galaxy come off better live than they do on disc though their set at Le Gymnase failed to grab me. This is likely on account of the poor sound quality at Le Gymnase, but that's the same place The Most Serene Republic grabbed me (figuratively, not literally) just an hour before, so that excuse is hardly bulletproof. Masters of space rock, Young Galaxy have several stand out songs that aspire upwards, but their set as a whole remained earth-bound.



rrrobyn / October 11, 2007 at 12:31 am
aw, jer, nice recap - glad you got to see stuff. i'm kinda sorry my life's pace has been to hectic lately to have covered pop mtl for midpout and relived the days of yore when i spat in the face of your precious indiepoprockz (winky face emoticon!! haha but yknow my allegiance is to suoni fest), but i did get to see a few shows, all of which were either: 70s-inspired (black mountain - sweet, happily heavy enough, phew), straight-up early-90s rulin' (eric's trip, yaayaay!), a combination of the two (patti smith - dudes, this show... mygod. also, she played her cover of 'smells like teen spirit' whoa see what i mean re: 70s+90s), or awesome noiserockwhatever (health, yip yip, aids wolf, big A little a - small show, big huge times).
all = aaawwwsssommme in so many ways.
Jer / October 11, 2007 at 09:19 am
user-pic good to hear from you. Thanks for taking time out from your big time radio show to visit! We definitely could have used your insano-show review skills last week. I've heard from several sources that Eric's trip was great.

If you ever want to stop by the podcast and drop some science, let me know. We could combine forces.
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