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Pop Montreal 2006

Raising the Fawn, Northern Chorus, Ad Astra Per Aspera & Ghost is Dancing at O Patro Vys

Posted by Scott / October 6, 2006

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This four-act night was the Sonic Unyon showcase at O Patro Vys. Sadly, and with apologies, my accomplice and I missed The Ghost is Dancing because of the Leafs-Senators game, but I recommend checking out their stuff – well worth it – and the band member I spoke to said their set went well.

So do it.

The bands we did see completely ruled.

ad-astra-per-aspera.jpgTaking the stage as we arrived were Ad Astra Per Aspera, a 5 piece from Lawrence, Kansas, playing choppy, smart post-punk. At times the vocals were like Danielson (but thankfully, not all the time), and the singer reminded me of a heavy-set Napoleon Dynamite. Ad Astra Per Aspera totally won the crowd over with this mashups of differing styles and ridiculously huge hooks. Out of nowhere: HOOKS! Their sound is hard to pin down and my accomplice and I decided that when all else fails, it must be art rock. Of note: they played pre-recorded interludes between songs, and their guitarist played through a Roland jazz chorus amp. I don’t know where they are touring but they came off far stronger live than on album.

Next up were A Northern Chorus, who are a six-piece from southern Ontario. I’m a fan of these guys, or as I said to a guy at the bar, “this band fuckin’ kills me.” Their set up consists of violin, cello, double guitars (including a pedal steel at times), bass and drums. Their music is a mix of subtlety and tension, at times fragile (single, whispered vocals) and at others bold (full string sweeps, crashing cymbals). Nearly every song featured 3-part harmonies. They started with a single track of their newest album (Bitter Hands Resign) and then moved into a set of new material from a yet-unnamed-yet-unreleased album - all of which pushed their signature sound a little further. They were warmly received and created an enormously cool presence - bathed in blue light, with pizzicato string plucks and guitar swells. Handsome!

Raising the Fawn were last on the bill. They seem to be Sonic Unyon’s flagship band at this point, enjoying some wider recognition and playing smart, muscular indie rock. They took what seemed like a long time setting up, and then starting their set with some of their more linear material, which I think impacted on how they were received by the crowd. Some filed out. As the band played, however, they spread out a little more, starting songs a cappella and diverging from the recorded versions of things, and the crowd that remained seemed to enjoy it. I certainly did, and think singer John Crossingham has an underappreciated voice. Their live sound of fat low end and double harmonies brought material from The Maginot Line into different focus, and we left O Patro Vys feeling illumined by the three acts we saw.

Discussion

17 Comments

smd / October 7, 2006 at 11:26 am
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The Ghost is Dancing were out of control. From their first chord of crashing guitars, violin, trumpet and accordion to the last jubilant poundings of their way-talented drummer, the only thing tighter than their happy indie rock was the actual band crammed on the stage. At times both keyboardists had to stand on their seats! And they had us on the edge of ours. Afterwards, we all had face cramps from smiling so hard. Out of control awesome.
scott / October 7, 2006 at 03:29 pm
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face cramps! that rules! yeah, i nabbed the disc from the sonic unyon guy, and am looking forward to reviewing it. the stuff i heard on myspace was (again) pretty wicked, and since they're from ontario, i figure we all will have another chance to check them out. thanks for the comment!
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