Entries tagged with: Leif Vollebekk
photos by Dominick Mastrangelo
METZ & 'Songs of Darkness' @ Pop Montreal 2013
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...
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...
by Bill Pearis
Montreal songwriter Leif Vollebekk will release his new album, North Americana, on February 19. That's the cover art above and the photo was actually taken by BV contributor Dominick Mastrangelo. Vollebekk spent nearly two years making the album, recording it in Montreal, New York City and La Frette-sur-Seine, France and features violin work from Arcade Fire's Sarah Neufeld. You can stream "Off the Main Drag" below.
We've caught Leif a few times, at M for Montreal and SXSW for example, and he's an engaging live performer. He's got some shows coming up, including one in NYC on February 7 at Rockwood Music Hall, opening for Willy Mason. Advance tickets are available. He'll be at SXSW too and all tour dates are listed below...
by Bill Pearis
The seventh annual M for Montreal festival happens next week (November 14 - 17) in its namesake Canadian city. Previous years, M4M has featured mainly Montreal (and other parts of Canada) artists, being showcased to a group of "international delgates" (talent buyers, journalists, music supervisors, tour agenents and other industry types) in a tightly controlled set of shows, this year's fest expands its scope with nearly 100 performer at 16 venues, giving it more of an actual festival feel than an industry conference that has music showcases the public could by tickets to.
The line-up is much more global this year as well, with musicians from France, Iceland and, for the first time, the United States playing alongside bands from all over Canada. Artists playing the 2012 edition include Death Grips, Of Monsters and Men, Mac DeMarco, Suuns, Mykki Blanco, Sun Airway, A Place To Bury Strangers, Cadence Weapon, Memoryhouse, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Bleeding Rainbow and Blue Hawaii. Full list of performers is below and daily schedule is here and advance tickets to shows and panel discussions are available.
If you want a taste of Montreal this week in NYC, beyond the snow we're currently experiencing, Montreal rapper Cadence Weapon plays Glasslands on Friday (11/9) with Fat Tony. Tickets are still available. Cadence Weapon tour dates are listed below.
by Bill Pearis
There was a smattering of band performances throughout the day Friday -- anywhere they could cram them it felt like at times -- before the night's "official selection." Honestly, I wasn't really psyched at seeing a band at 2 in the afternoon when I'd rather go record shopping or, say, getting lunch but Newfoundland's Hey Rosetta! turned out to be worth the detour. "We're usually a lot louder than this," singer Tim Baker admitted, but the less-electric approach to this performance made it kind of special. Hushed vocals, strings and soaring choruses... the band's sweeping orchestrated sound definitely held our attention. The band's last album made the Polaris 2008 shortlist and their third album, Seeds, will be out in February 2011.
A couple hours later we were taken to the the Chapel historique du Bon-Pasteur for an event called M for Martini where we were plied with said drinks while watching four more intimate-style performances, including the Dylan-esque Courtney Wing, all-girl country band Ladies of the Canyon, and the art folk of Lief Vollebekk.
The only band to really leave an impression on me was Ensemble, the brainchild of Oliveir Alary whose baroque sound is akin to early Broadcast or '60s cult band The United States of America. We only get three songs -- including a brilliant reworking of UB40's 1980 single "Food for Thought" -- and they're maybe the only band of the week whose set I wanted to be longer. Ensemble's new album, Excerpts, is out early next year but you can download its first single, "D'Avalanches," for free if you give them your email address.
After a very heavy, very French meal we headed back to Just Pour Rire (which apparently is closing soon) for what was probably the single-best night of music at M for Montreal. The evening began with Molly Rankin who is descended from Canadian Rock Royalty. (The Rankin Family were folk megastars in the '90s. No those words aren't mutually exclusive. It's Canada.) Backed by members of The Stills, her music is charming, clever, heart-on-the-sleeve pop. A nice way to start the night.
Next up were The Barr Brothers. Andrew and Brad are both also in The Slip but under the family name they are much folkier, but still experimental. Usually when I see an acoustic guitar and a harmonica stand, I'm looking for the exit but they really knocked me back. Brad Barr entered the stage tugging on a string on his acoustic guitar as if he'd broken one on the way out. It was actually a loop of wire, filament, something that worked like a bow, giving the guitar a woozy, somnambulant quality. The band also has a full-time harpist. Most of their set is on the quiet side, but they go full-on Who for one song. One of the best surprises of the fest.
Shuffling over to Just Pour Rire's other stage, we then saw Metz, who kept getting compared to Fucked Up but that seemed more because they're also from Toronto and are making in-your-face noise punk. To my ears it's more the kind of noise you got from Amphetamine Reptile in the '90s. They are loud and spazzy and sludgy and pretty awesome. Check out an MP3 at the top of this post and there's video from their M set at the bottom.
Continuing on, Valleys were next who've played Brooklyn enough times (and I've written about them plenty already) that I should've already seen them but this was my first time. Their debut album was kind of Saddle Creek-y methadone folk kind of stuff, really good, but they have evolved into something louder, more sinister since then. Intense, even without percussion, but when they do break out the drums it's like scream therapy. Check out "Ordinary Dream" from their new Stoner EP which is out now on Semprini.
This flowed nicely into Suuns' set (pronounced "Soons"), definitely the most well-recieved of the night. This was my third time seeing them -- they played the official BV showcase at CMJ you may remember -- and they just get better every time. Singer Ben Shemie is a pretty intesnse frontman, especially when the band locks into a Kraut-y groovy. He bends over, laying into his guitar and leaves the planet.
Final act of the night was Random Recipe who are kind of folk, kind of hip hop, and definitely popular with Montreal locals. Their single "Shipwreck" is okay but overall I don't really get why the crowd is going so wild. I ask a local who shares my indifference. His answer: "Montreal is a really weird place."
More pictures from the whole day and the Metz video below...
words & photos by Dominick Mastrangelo
La pluie. It just wont stop. From sun up to sundown and well into the night here in Montreal the rain continued, making the second day of Pop Montreal (Thursday, September 30th) , and everyone attending, a soggy mess. Buses were crowded, Bixi (the public bike racks that blanket the city) were not an option. It was taxis or hoofing it.
The rain forced the "Pop BBQ" indoors and up Boulevard St. Laurent to the Barfly where Lost In The Trees were first up. The set times were moved up an hour and upon arriving there were maybe 20 people in the bar. Nestled back in the corner the seven-member ensemble performed, without microphones. It had the feeling of a Take Away show with people carrying on quiet conversations, watching the band or sitting at the bar nursing a beer. After playing a raucous sold-out show the night before it had to be just a bit disappointing for the band. But you wouldn't know it by how they sounded.
After hiding out in the Notman House where registration and the hospitality area are, it was back up the boulevard and a fun, hip-hop set by Montreal's Socalled. "Does anybody want to play bass with Socalled tonight?" asked bandleader Josh Dolgin to the rapidly filling up space. (One of the curious things about some of these shows in Montreal is the way a venue will be nearly empty 10 minutes before a set and by the time a band takes the stage nearly packed.) Two songs in a guy came walking up with a bass and joined right in.
While waiting for Greenland's Nive Nielsen to begin at boutique clothing store next to the Barfly, I popped in to see who was on and was surprised to catch Brooklyn's She Keeps Bees killing it to what appeared to be the same 20 people from a few hours earlier.
Then if was off to see the see Polaris Prize-winners Karkwa. I arrived early and caught most of Montreal's Leif Vollebekk. Sounding a bit like the Bowerbirds with a voice that sounded equal parts Ryan Adams and Andrew Bird, his set was the more impressive of the two bands. And their sounds couldn't have been more differennt. If you stripped away the blistering light show, Karkwa's songs come away a bit less impressive. But from a spectacle standpoint it was worthy and the Montreal crowd was very much in love with them.
A dash through the rain and into The National to close out the evening. I arrived early and caught the last bit of the Black Feelings. Women followed and might have been the highlight of the night. Liars capped the evening and were loud, loud and more loud.
Read about the first day of the festival. HERE. More pictures from the second day below...