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Bill reports from M for Montreal, Night Two (Beast, Arkells, CLAASS, Misteur Valaire & more)

by Bill Pearis

Beast
Beast

The second night of M for Montreal was easily the best of the fest, with no bands I didn’t like and three or four who were pretty incredible. Like the previous night, we were herded between the two performance rooms at Juste Pour Rire which is normally a comedy club, (Just for Laughs is the translation if you’re French is like mine) but actually had great sound and lighting.

Judging by audience reaction alone, of which there were many locals in attendance, Beast were the most loved of the night – kind of impressive as the band only played their first live show in March. Some have called Beast “trip rock” which sort of works – you can definitely draw comparisons to Portishead or even Moloko, but they are heavier and louder. Most of the adoration, deservedly, goes to singer Betty Bonifassi, who was the main singing voice in the movie Triplets of Belleville, and who has one of Those Voices (Shirley Bassey comes to mind) – smoky, world-wear, yet powerful, enough to cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand at attention.

I also really liked Arkells who are from Hamilton, Ontario and who sounded to me like ’80s heartland rock – both the Bruce Springsteen / Bob Seeger, and Replacements / Soul Asylum varieties. No pretension, just ridiculously catchy songs – I’ve been singing the chorus of their song “John Lennon” in my head ever since Friday.

Also on the bill: Chinatown, who were sort of a melding of The Strokes and traditional French pop with very catchy songs (in French); The night featured two new signings to Paper Bag Records (home of Tokyo Police Club and The Acorn), Winter Gloves and Woodhands. Montreal’s Winter Gloves play keyboard-oriented indie rock a la TPC or Passion Pit and were definitely local favorites. Toronto keyboard-drums duo, Woodhands, were the only band to feature a laser show and were there to make you dance. You may have caught them when they played Studio B in Brooklyn with Crystal Castles.

CLAASS
claass

The night’s “official selection” ended with CLAASS, which is two-thirds of We Are Wolves plus a DJ friend on keyboards, have loads of style — dressing like they were in a ’40s noir film and shrouded in smoke machines. They pump out the kind of dance music I haven’t heard since the heyday of Wax Trax! It’s pastiche, but they do it well and I have a soft spot for this kind of stuff.

Next came the after-party which was free and open to the public. The place immediately flooded with kids, there to see Misteur Valaire, who I’d never heard of before, but are obviously massively popular in Montreal. Shout Out Out Out Out are the easiest comparison, but it’s more musically varied (they’re all trained jazz musicians apparently), more of a seamless dance party. Their album, which is available for free on their website, sounds more like the kind of club music you’d hear in Asian-fusion restaurants (but better) and absolutely does not do justice to their amazing live show. Hopefully they’ll be bringing it across the border soon.

More pictures below…

Beast…

Beast

Beast

Beast

Winter Gloves…

Winter Gloves

Winter Gloves

Woodhands…

Woodhands

Woodhands

Woodhands

Arkells…

arkells

arkells

arkells

Chinatown…

chinatown

chinatown

chinatown

chinatown

Claass…

claass

claass

claass

claass

claass

claass

Misteur Valaire…

misteurvalaire

misteurvalaire

misteurvalaire

misteurvalaire

misteurvalaire

misteurvalaire

misteurvalaire

misteurvalaire

Night one HERE.

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