Pop Montreal Day 3: How Sad, Valleys, Angel Olsen, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Leif Vollebekk & more (pics)
photos by Dominick Mastrangelo
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan & Angel Olsen – Pop Montreal Day 3
Back before Montreal was in NYC for CMJ, NYC was in Montreal for the annual Pop Montreal festival which we began by seeing DIANA and Empress Of followed by The Dodos, Braids, Suuns, Patrick Watson & more. Day three continued like this…
Pristine, cloudless blue skies, temperatures in the 70’s . . . Indian summer in Montreal. It’s officially the best weather I’ve experienced in any of my three trips to Pop Montreal. All five days would be exactly like this. How appropriate, then, that I would see How Sad at Friday’s Passovah-sponsored day party at Divan Orange, as their new EP is entitled Indian Summer. Their infectious, buoyant pop, including the title track, was a lot of fun and as people got off work for the weekend and filled up the space. The end of their set was almost full-on dance party.
The earlier part of the afternoon at Divan featured Valleys, Mori, Michael Feuerstack, The Highest Order and more. Valleys impressed as did Mori, who I saw two nights earlier opening for DIANA on the first day of the festival. The hushed folk of Michael Feuerstack provided a welcome pause between the louder full-band sets performing on either side of him.
Rewinding a bit, my afternoon started at Little Italy Park with a nice set by Toronto’s GROUNDERS (who are in NYC for CMJ) followed by the rootsy pop of Katie Moore.
For the evening part of the program I opted to catch several artists I’d seen before (though I skipped Local Natives, Wild Nothing, and Majical Cloudz).
First off was the trancy, glitchy Solar Year who I saw open for Julia Holter and Tim Hecker at last year’s Pop, followed by 2012 Polaris Prize-nominated Yamantaka//Sonic Titan (who play a BrooklynVegan CMJ day party TODAY – 10/18). Dressed in a strictly adhered black, white, red color scheme their sound overpowered the tiny Breakglass Recording Studio (much like it probably will at Arlene’s Grocery tonight.) These were epic, theatrical songs that are meant for bigger venues. The floor-level stage meant nobody within the first several feet of the sold-out show could see the band or the handmade, cardboard props that were placed about the stage.
I ducked out halfway through their set to get over to the Ukrainian Federation for Angel Olsen and Leif Vollebekk. Angel’s set was a predictably assured performance. I’ve seen four of her shows – all at Glasslands – so it was great to hear that arresting voice of hers echo about the much bigger Federation venue, one of my favorites in Montreal.
And then it was Leif’s turn. He was my big discovery at my first Pop in 2010 and I was happy to see him headlining his own festival slot this year.
He and his band, which featured brass and strings, worked through material from his new record, “North Americana.” Gorgeous versions of “From the Fourth” and “A Wildfire Took Down Rosenberg” were lump-in-the-throat moments and his cover of The Killers’ “Read My Mind” made the original sound very ordinary.
Begging off the late-night portion of the festival (because there was scant chance of anything else topping the previous few hours) I went in search of food with some new friends. And, being so close, we ended up at the excellent burger joint, Nouveau Palais, where the DJs were spinning classic hip-hop. Three excellent days in Montreal down with two still to come.
More pictures from Day Three, below…
The Highest Order
Yamantaka Sonic Titan