Pop Montreal day 4
David Byrne on the bench at Pop vs. Jock, photo by Susan Moss
Well, daytime rain put the kibosh on Audioblood’s Cult MTL-co-sponsored showcase, Bonsound’s Ubisoft rooftop gig and the Arbutus BBQ (did Kids Pop get cancelled too?), but at least the latter two were moved indoors and there were cool bands playing at Divan Orange, not to mention basketball accompanied by DJ Kid Koala and a sasquatch-costumed Régine Chassagne on organ and a two-song halftime set with David Byrne backed by members of Arcade Fire at Pop vs. Jock. (The jocks won, just barely. Win Butler totally bitched out the ref.)
Here’s what Lorraine Carpenter, Erik Leijon, Darcy MacDonald and Emily Raine got up to at Pop Montreal after dark:
I caught Devon Welsh play the post-Arbutus BBQ party at a dingy apartment (apologies to the owner) in parts unknown. It was a short, five-or-so song set, and the sound was nothing to write home about, but to paraphrase what local synth shaman D’Eon had said earlier in the day, it felt good to return to one’s house party roots. The intense Welsh spent most of the set lying on the floor in his underwear, never breaking character even as people rested beers on his stomach, patted his bald head and cuddled right up next to him. Extenuating silliness aside, I came away enjoying the rawness in Welsh’s vocals and desolate beats. (EL)
David Byrne & Win Butler
Believe the hype. The hotly anticipated public chat between two rock giants was everything you’d hope for: both were funny and engaging as they discussed their creative processes, the rigours of touring and their intersections with other musical cultures. Byrne didn’t show too many of his slides, which seemed a shame as it looked like there was some cool shit in there, but Butler and moderator Sean Michaels did an admirable job of keeping the conversation going, and the question session at the end was blissfully brief (and hilarious). Byrne’s charisma was enough to make me barely notice that I’d been sitting in a cramped little ball at the back of a packed venue listening to three dudes talk for two hours. (ER)
Ain’t No Love, photo by Darcy MacDonald
Ain’t No Love
It’s tough to be elegant, but tougher still to pull off a musical marriage of those adjectives. Ain’t No Love ain’t worried ’bout it. Somewhat awkwardly tasked to bridge the modest, sweet glitch-soul of opener Akua with headliner and Idol fallout victim Jacob Lusk’s R. Kelly All-Star ignition, they also faced some serious competition out there in the rest of Pop-land on a Saturday night ’round 11.
But friends don’t give a fuck about that type of thing. Post-hop party futurists Ain’t No Love, five deep with secret ingredient Fresh Kils in on the party, hit the stage bouncing, smiling, singing and rapping to inject the crowd with a mega-dose of energy.
Their cool factor might be the tunes, or it might be their aesthetic (they’re a buncha sexy muthafuckas) but really, one of the most tangible aspects of their presence is their obvious affection for each other, which seeps into the crowd and creates a full-circle atmosphere of fun.
Ain’t No Love? I beg to differ. (DM)
Jacob Lusk & the R. Kelly All-Stars
I only managed to catch the latter part of the American Idol singer’s one-time-only set, but I caught “Ignition (Remix)” and “I Believe I Can Fly,” so as a perfunctory fan of Kells, I’m golden. Jef Barbara had vocal duties on “Bump & Grind,” which perhaps was a little too raunchy for the cheery former American Idol singer. Lusk can obviously belt ’em like a pro, but he’s a fun galoot to watch in between songs as well, whether he’s messing up his bandmates’ names, extolling the virtues of the festival and our city or doing a few pelvic thrusts (ie. not your average prime-time TV stuff). The packed crowd lapped up every minute of it. The experiment was a complete success. (EL)
Goose Hut, Rich Aucoin
I could spend my space accusing show openers Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt of stealing some of Rich Aucoin’s gimmicks, but they’re hardly alone (cough, Born Gold), and doing it as Aucoin’s sweat act suggests that it was either consensual, or extremely ballsy. So whatever dudes – take it back home to Nashville and school those new-country creeps in showmanship. Next up was Montreal’s own Goose Hut, a trio that has grown since I first saw them in the same room (Divan) a year ago. Their set is still packed with sweet pop anthems like “(Hold On) Throw It at Your Dad’s House,” but they’ve ditched the costumes (at least until Halloween) and their new shit shows that they stepped up to the next level. Can’t wait to hear that record! And despite feeling like death by the time Aucoin jumped up on stage (the Pop bug has hit me hard), his motivational, life-affirming opening video montage and glitter cannon-fire defibrillated me enough to stand up and cheer. Amid all the big tunes from We’re All Dying to Live, he too previewed some new party-starting material. What will that next record be like? Well, no one was thinking about that in the circle pit last night. It was just nice to be alive. (LC)
Big King, Remembered in Time, photo by Darcy MacDonald
Really, when was the last time you heard of a hip hop show that started early? Mississippi’s younger King was slated for midnight at Club Soda, so imagine my shock when I arrived at 10 past to find out there were five songs left in the set.
Walking in to the end of a dope show is bittersweet. Though Soda was nowhere near the rafter-packed capacity of Friday’s Lil B concert, the few hundred faithful had clearly had a blast. I caught a couple of bangers, still. Reflective rap jawn “The Vent” got every hand impassionedly raised to the sky. “Country Shit” was just straight bananas good. And for gully anthem “I Got This,” K.R.I.T. came right down into the crowd (anchoring himself on my shoulders to do it – bonus!) and jumped around with his people, with the mantra-like hook “Fuck these haters and fuck these hoes!” chanted full-blast.
So while I can’t run down the entire experience, I could see it had a profound effect on the sweaty, satisfied fan faces that streamed onto Ste-Catherine and home at…12:30?!? Maybe hip hop is maturing. (DM)
It was only the second performance ever for teenage R&B singer/producer Alex Fleming, but despite the London, Ontario kid’s inexperience, Atlass already has his gloomy R&B motif down pat — and it’s sure to turn heads in the near future. I imagine it would be difficult for a lanky kid with oversized sunglasses to maintain the mysterious aura of his recorded material in the flesh, but with the stage dimly lit and his movements kept to a minimum, his understandable nerves were offset by the minimalism of the operation. The music was pre-recorded and played by an on-stage DJ, except for “Paris” which was performed by Fleming on piano. The comparisons to the Weeknd are undeniable, but Fleming’s restraint makes him perhaps a more interesting character moving forward. (EL)
James Irwin & the Moment, Adam and the Amethysts
Compared to the stripped down sets he’s often performed in the past, James Irwin has pulled a Bejar with his new material. Irwin played keys, while the sound was fleshed out by the Moment, featuring Adam Waito, Jessie Stein of the Luyas and Nick Scribner from Clues on guitar and former Hootie and the Blowfish drummer Jeffrey Malecki. It was a fun, lively set tinged with funk and yacht rock — it even culminated in a little light crowd surfing. Things were much calmer as Adam and the Amethysts closed the night. With blue and red lights dimmed low and the band largely cast in shadow, the Exploded Folk showcase at the Plant was the perfect place to stretch out and listen to dreamy pop after a long week of bacchanalian rocking out. It was a lovely set that included a sweet cover of “Islands in the Stream.” (ER)
Jimmy “Bo” Horne
CANADA!!! (EL) ■