M for Montreal 2012: day 2 review (Mac Demarco, PS I Love You, Young Galaxy, No Joy + more)
by Bill Pearis
Mac DeMarco @ Sala Rossa, 11/15/2012
"Nobody look up my girlfriend's skirt, okay?" Mac DeMarco asked the audience at Sala Rossa as he began his final song. His girlfriend, Kiki, was riding piggyback. She'd was dragged onstage a song earlier to play a game of "catch" where they held onto each other as Mac tipped them into the audience for a double crowd-surf.
So goes a Mac DeMarco show these days, where the onstage antics almost threaten to upstage the music. But, despite all the belch talking and other things, it never does. Mac and his band have toured most of 2012 and all that playing has done wonders for them -- they are tight but lythe around the groove. Songs off the new album ("Viceroy," "Cooking Up Someting Good") sound great and ones of his first album have a life to them than you don't hear on the recordings. And, like at CMJ last month, the Salla Rossa crowd loves him.
PS I Love You @ Sala Rossa, 11/15/2012
Mac was the unintentional headliner of night 2 of M for Montreal which, like the first night, took place at Sala Rossa, a club perched above a tapas restaurant (both of which are owned by some of the Godspeed guys). He got stuck in traffic and PS I Love You, nice guys that they are, switched into undercard slot. After spending half the year trying out a trio version of the group, they are back to their original duo arrangement of Paul Saulnier on vocals/guitar/bass pedals and Benjamin Nelson on drums. Playing most of the show with a double-neck guitar, Saulnier yelped and shredded through their 25-minute set of the catchiest material from the band's two albums, plus a couple new ones (I think). Nelson is a machine behind the kit and the way he hammers on the hi-hat gives the band a New Order-ish backbone which offsets Saulnier's more rock instincts. While I enjoyed seeing them as a trio, it's clear the chemistry is between these two.
Young Galaxy @ Sala Rossa, 11/1/2012
PS I Love You's Paper Bag Records labelmates Young Galaxy, from Vancouver, played before them. The band just got back from Sweden recording their third album with Dan Lissvik of Studio and we got a bunch of those songs last night. Like 2011's Shapeshifting, there are heavy Big '80s influences going on (Simple Minds, Tears for Fears) and singer Catherine McCandless has an emotive stage presence that is viewable from the cheap seats. I couldn't really make any judgements on the new material but Shapeshifting standouts "Cover Your Tracks" and "Peripheral Visionaries" sounded great.
No Joy @ Sala Rossa, 11/15/2012
Starting the night at Sala Rossa were No Joy, whose love of the '90s would've been evident even if you were deaf. Singer Jasamine was wearing a vintage Nine Inch Nails t-shirt and the band played against a video backdrop of a Degrassi Junior High episode that was slowed down by a third which made it seem extra portentious and creepy (the episode was about a pervy teacher). Add to that the band's sludgy shoegaze -- straight outa the J. Mascis School for Volume -- and you have a perfect storm of 1993 miasma rock. They've got catchy songs too and I thought they were great.
Cosmetics @ Casa del Popolo, 11/15/2012
Also like the night before, M had us shuttling across the street between Sala Rossa sets to see bands at Casa del Popolo. Cosmetics made minimal synth a la 1981 that sounded terrific and had the look to boot. It would've sounded better at 1 AM in a dingy club with fog machines and strobe lights, but sometimes you just have to use your imagination.
Memoryhouse @ Casa del Popolo, 11/15/2012
Memoryhouse were the other band playing Casa and I'm not sure what to think. A fan of their dreamy early singles, they have peeled away so much of the gauze from their sound these days that, at least last night, seemed a bit ordinary.
Tonight, M for Montreal expands from a more industry-based conference into a multi-venue festival where I am going to have to actually make choices, though I am excited to see PyPy which is a new band from Choyce of Red Mass/CPC Gangbangs that also features Annie-Claude of Duchess Says... that will be interesting if nothing else. There are also day shows and hopefully today's will be better than Thursday's (nuff said).