by Bill Pearis
Thursday night was the first "official" day of M for Montreal (Wednesday was the unofficial start), which had us back at club Just Pour Rire, shuttling between its two stages for a diverse evening of music. From a programming standpoint, maybe a little too diverse. But it is one of the unique aspects of this fest, forced exposure.
The night began with the britpoppy psychedelia of Elephant Stone. Front man Rishi Dhir, who played in High Dials for a while, traded between bass, guitar and sitar, the latter of which is the band's most immediately distinguishing feature. Their songs are good too -- jangly psychedelic pop -- but it's certainly a trip to see Dhir sitting crosslegged on a platform playing this massive, cool intstrument. It's a nice, mellow start to the evening.
Next up was Marco Calliari, an Itallian Tom Colicchio (a musician too) lookalike who spent part of the '90s in thrash metal band Anonymous but now plays Italian folk music not too far off in style from, say, The Gypsy Kings. Calliari is an exuberant performer and his band is tight, but he's out of place of this otherwise electrified line-up. Also out of place: singer-songwriter Jason Bajada who was pleasant enough but didn't leave much of an impression.
Most everyone seemed in agreement that PS I Love You were the best band of the night. The duo from Kingston, Ontario are an indie Mutt and Jeff, kind of like the Pixies with a new wave back-end. Yelper-guitarist Paul Salnier actually pulls triple duty live, playing bass parts too via a Moog bass pedal setup which is pretty cool. Drummer Ben Nelson plays heavy on the high hat a la New Order's Stephen Morris which gives their songs danceability. Their record, Meet Me at the Muster Station, is good but live PS I Love You are a force. As previously mentioned, they're touring and playing NYC next week with Holiday Shores (12/03 at The Rock Shop, then Pianos the next night). Go see 'em.
Bad sound marred the set from Black Feelings who I could tell I'd really like given proper circumstances. Like their name implies, the trio grind out dense, foreboding post punk (PiL, Big Black). They are intense live, but it was like the sound guy forgot to turn the fader up on the guitars and the mix was muddy in general. Not so on last year's self-titled debut (out on Alien8 Recordings, also home to Think About Life, Duchess Says and others). They're also the kind of band better suited to grungy DIY spaces than fancier venues like this one.
Ditto that to Aids Wolf who are a defiantly acquired taste, even for those with adventurous palates. Entirely out of their element, the confrontational art-noise group settle into freakout mode that sound, to casual ears, entirely improvised a la Throbbing Gristle. (Anyone who's heard their records and then seen them live knows these three are insanely tight, serious musicians.) Chloe Lum spends most of the show with the microphone in her mouth. They are not boring but a little goes a long way and most of the room cleared out well before their set finishes. I'm told Gene Simmons, one of my fellow "international delegates" for the weekend, really dug them.
With the "official selection" finished for the night came the afterparty entertainment: Quebec City's Dance Laury Dance. who seemed super-psyched to have Simmons in the house. (He watched sitting from the balcony, like a mafia don, nodding approvingly.) Clad in denim and leather and testosterone, DLD are like Wolverine: The Band, with a sound and schtick somewhere between Motorhead and The Darkness. Ridiculous, but entertaining. Not that much irony here, either. The songs are a little more than riffs and slogans, which is fine, but when the band covered AC/DC their lack of potent hooks became apparent. Still, for pure rawk spectacle overload, they're something all right.
Still to come: Reports from Friday and Saturday. More blurry photos taken by me are below, along with PS I Love You tour dates and a Dance Laury Dance music video.
PS I Love You
Dance Laury Dance + DJ
Dance Laury Dance - Living for the Role
PS I Love You - 2010 Tour Dates
11/30 - Washington, DC - Red Place ^
12 01 - Philadelphia, PA - M Room ^
12/03 - Brooklyn, NY - The Rock Shop^
12/04 - New York City, NY - Pianos ^
12/05 - New Haven, CT - Daniel Street ^
12/06 - Boston, MA - Great Scott ^
12/16 - Guelph, ON - Ebar
^ w/ Holiday Shores