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Pop Montreal Day 5: Royal Canoe, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Patrick Watson’s Songs of Darkness, METZ, more

photos by Dominick Mastrangelo

METZ & ‘Songs of Darkness’ @ Pop Montreal 2013
Pop Montreal Day 5
Pop Montreal Day 5

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. After that came How Sad, Valleys, Angel Olsen, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Leif Vollebekk & more, and then Yellowman and Josey Wales, Brendan Canning, Pat Jordache, Secret Sun, Shuggie Otis & more. Day four went like this…

The final day of Pop Montreal was a light one. Everyone’s sleep-deprived, yawns are everywhere and honestly, I don’t know if I’ve been this exhausted at SXSW. The after parties at the church go well into the night. Such was the dancehall celebration the night before with Yellowman and Josey Wales and Sunday would prove to be the same as METZ closed out the festival, taking the stage well, well after midnight.

Before that though, there were still some tasty things on the menu and the day included one last trip to Divan Orange for Royal Canoe, and Fire/Works, and brunch.

I saw Royal Canoe open for of Montreal at Savannah Stopover earlier this year and was excited to catch their set but slow moving buses and traffic along Avenue de Parc – courtesy of a Canadian Football League game at McGill Stadium and a separate protest in Jeanne-Mance Park against the pending Charter of Quebec Values bill – meant I would only catch their last two songs. Still the sextet – who, like many bands at Pop, have a new record out (called Today We’re Believers) – sounded great with two drummers, catchy hooks and enough good time rock-pop to get people moving mid-afternoon on a Sunday.

Then Fire/Works, the Montreal duo of Jonathan Peters and David Lagacé, followed with a much quieter set of folky songs.

A quick trip to Pop Quarters to unload my last drink ticket and then it was off to the Rialto for Patrick Watson’s Songs of Darkness. Going well over two hours, the night was full of haunting, dark songs featuring a rotating cast of Montreal artists including Laurel Sprengelmeyer (Little Scream,) AroarA featuring Andrew Whiteman (Apostle of Hustle) and Ariel Engle, Leif Vollebekk, Lil’ Andy and a lot more.

My first introduction to Watson was his Sacred Sunday on the last day of Pop in 2010 and this followed the same artist rotation policy as Songs of Darkness. It was one of the highlights of that festival and this performance at the Rialto was easily one of the highlights of my 2013 Pop. I kind of wish they were recording these performances cause they were all stellar.

I left at the two-hour mark to make my way to Cabaret Mile End for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. It was my first time seeing them since 2006 and I really enjoyed their set. They’ve weathered being indie/blogosphere darlings and have lost a few members along the way, but the band has a new EP out and the Mile End crowd was ready to dance to old favorites like “Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” and “Satan Said Dance.”

From there I headed over to Casa Del Popolo where the Best of the Festival was going on and caught another set by Thus:Owls which was nice but following the gorgeous backdrop/sunset the night before, plus growing exhaustion on my part, their set came off a little underwhelming.

A quick stop for poutine and then over to the final show of the festival: METZ. I first saw METZ at Il Motore during Pop 2012 (a few weeks before they played the BV-Non-CMJ day party) when a guy thrashed his head so hard he hit the monitor and was bleeding during their entire set. Talk about making a lasting impression.

They took the stage at 2am and as the mosh pit grew in numbers with each song, lead singer Alex Edkins eventually passed down the only rule of the night during a very short break between songs: “If somebody falls down, pick them back up, kiss them on the cheek and pat them on the ass.”

From there it was one song after another – barely a chance to catch your breath between songs they came so fast – the band thrashing about on stage, fans being passed over one another, a dash for the stage to springboard back into the crowd, and a lot of moshing.

It was the home stretch and with a flagging group of festival attendees, METZ duly fired us up and hauled us across the finish line.

More pictures from the final day, below…

Royal Canoe

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