Entries tagged with: CLAASS
by Bill Pearis
The first night of M for Montreal was a light one. Especially after Duchess Says had to cancel, due to singer Annie-Claude cracking a rib last week after a particularly spirited performance at the record release party for the band's new album In a Fung Day T. (And anyone who's seen Duchess Says knows she's already pretty damn spirited.) Get well soon Annie-Claude!
So we got four bands at club Cafe Campus. Two of them were from France, brought to us by magazine Les Inrockuptibles. Concrete Knives are from Caen, France and make a kind of energetic dance music that is maybe the indie equivilant of the mullet: party in the back (disco rhythm section) business in the front (fuzzed out rock guitars). Ok that doesn't really work either, Concrete Knives are basically a party everywhere and singer Adriene Lepretre is skilled at an early age in the art of working a crowd. (And jumping into one.) Some of the songs are a little samey, but they're young and have a lot of promise.
The other French band was Anoraak who have toured the states a few times. As they've become more of a real band and less of a studio project, their sound has changed too with the more overt Italo disco influences being drowned out by the guitars and drums. It's still very '80s but live Anoraak are closer to Friendly Fires these days, by way of the Drive soundtrack. Pretty good.
Wearing actual anoraks were Montreal's CLAASS (featuring a couple members of We Are Wolves) who played the first M for Montreal I attended in 2008. Fog machines and amplifiers were set to 11 as the band cranked out pulsing, gothy dance music poised somewhere in between gothy minimal wave and house music. Standout song "Run" was kind of soulful too in a TV on the Radio kind of way. My favorite band (and the crowd's too) of the night.
The night ended with Creature who were also on the dancey side of things and had style, skill and energy to spare but it was a little slick for my tastes and definitely lacked in the song department. Maybe in a couple years.
Three more days of M to go. A few more pictures are below
by Bill Pearis
As I mentioned briefly yesterday, I'm heading out to the M for Montreal festival which happens tonight through Saturday (11/16 - 19). This is the 6th Edition of the fest, and the fourth that I've attended. Once a showcase for up-and-coming Montreal bands that the festival organizers deemed "export-ready" and that took place primarily at one club (the two-stage Juste Pour Rire), M4M has expanded to include other parts of Canada in the last few years.
Juste Pour Rire closed shortly after last year's festival, so this year has expanded to other venues while also widening in scope. They've partnered with other international festivals (Osheaga, CMJ, SXSW) and have more bands than ever (including a few not from Canada). Bands this year include M83, Karkwa, The Barr Brothers, Active Child, Bran Van 3000 (remember "Drinking in L.A."?), CLAASS, Misteur Valaire, Anoraak, Random Recipe and the debut of Absolutely Free, the new band from 4/5s of DD/MM/YYYY. Full line-up is here.
In total there's nearly 60 bands playing, which might not seem like a crazy amount for a festival. But M for Montreal is designed with little to no overlap, so if you attend the whole thing you see all the bands. It's going to be a busy week. Look for more coverage (including my lovely point-and-shoot photography) coming later this week.
by Bill Pearis
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.
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...