M for Montreal @ CMJ 2009 – pics (Think About Life, Duchess Says, Parlovr, Beast, Malajube, We are Wolves, Silly Kissers)
I said it a few time throughout CMJ week this year: Montreal just tries harder. I’m not saying the city’s artists make better albums than everyone else, but as far as giving their all on stage, band-for-band, Montreal groups are much more likely to entertain you than one from another city. Maybe that’s just the one’s they’re sending us, but there was plenty of evidence to support this theory during CMJ 2009, and no place more concentrated than at the M for Montreal showcase at Arlene’s Grocery on Wednesday (10/21) where there were six of the city’s bands on display.
The night started early with a sampling on Montreal’s most famous drunk food, poutine, and a set by up-and comers Parlovr (pronounced “parlour,” if you’re wondering) who made an impressive, shouty racket. The manic trio feature two guitarists (one of whom also plays keyboards) who take turns on vocals and flipping their hair around, while their bearded drummer walloped away.
Silly Kissers had most NYers in the audience looking around uncomfortably — we’re not used to synthpop bands who wear mime make-up — and maybe here’s a MTL band trying a bit too hard in that department but their songs were kinda catchy and a group of girls in front of me were dancing nonstop and singing along.
Then came BEAST who took most of the crowd by surprise, and won most of them over by the end of their set. As I said before, singer Betti Bonafassi is a magnetic performer, and when she sings off-mike for the opening of “Ashtray,” the power of her voice becomes instantly apparent. The rest of the band are no slouches either. Drummer and co-songwriter Jean-Phi Goncalves occasionally picks up a megaphone and starts rapping in French, guitarist Serge Pelletier lays down Morricone-like leads, and it’s hard to miss Jonathan Dauphinais’ instrument — a bass/keyboard combo that looks to have been fused together MacGuyver-style. (BEAST also played a great early set three days later at our Saturday day party at Pianos.)
By the time Think About Life took the stage, Arlene’s Grocery was packed and the crowd was ready for fun. As good as they were playing a very, very early opening set at the Brooklyn Vegan showcase at Music Hall of Williamsburg the night before, the band clearly is fueled by the audience and the crowd was eating it up. It was easily one of the top five sets I saw at CMJ this year. It doesn’t hurt that their new album, Family, is awesome — loaded with stick-in-your-head jams, including “Sweet Sixteen” and “Young Hearts.” Also, adding singer Caila Thompson-Hannant (of Shapes & Sizes) gives frontman Martin Cesar someone to play off of, which just makes them all the more fun.
At this point I had to exit, but there was also We Are Wolves and Malajube, followed by the awesome mayhem that is Duchess Says, who also played our Thursday day party at Pianos. By the looks of these photos, and from reading people’s Twitter feeds, Duchess Says’ show at Arlene’s was wild (when people wrote they “destroyed” Arlene’s, it was more literal than most “killed it” CMJ tweets). The band clearly won over the Pianos crowd too (NY Times included) and anyone who has been within 20 feet of singer Annie-Claude in performance mode will never forget it.
Video of Parlovr, Think About Life and Duchess Says, plus lots more pictures from the M for Montreal showcase (and one set from Pianos), after the jump…
Parlovr @ Arlene’s Grocery…
Silly Kissers @ Arlene’s Grocery…
Beast @ Pianos….
(pictures of Beast from Arlene’s are HERE.)
Think About Life @ Arlene’s Grocery…
(pictures of Think About Life @ MHOW are HERE)
We Are Wolves @ Arlene’s Grocery…
Malajube @ Arlene’s Grocery…
Duchess Says @ Arlene’s Grocery…
(pictures of Duchess Says at Pianos still to come)
Parlovr – “Archy & Mehitabel” @ Arlene’s Grocery
Think About Life – “Young Hearts” @ Arlene’s Grocery
Duchess Says @ Arlene’s Grocery