* Please note the date for The Madafakaz next show is February 25 @ Bistro de Paris (not March 4th). See you there!

I stood outside Le Divan Orange late last Thursday trying to describe what I’d just seen in a concise manner. Despite my efforts, my first experience seeing the Madafakaz on stage could only be described by a choppy string of profanities that meant to say how impressed I was. In other words, the Madafakaz surf-thrash show @ Le Divan Orange January 28 was solid proof of how true badasses live up to their names.

When I saw three band members come on stage wearing brightly colored pantyhose on their heads, two of which were also wearing volleyball knee pads, I knew there was going to be one hell of a show. The roomful of fans and unsuspecting Madafakaz strangers were quickly won over by their intense energy, musical skill,and unpredictable entertainment.

The band set the ambiance for the night with Crazy Beach. This surf-styled song got the reluctant audience on their feet doing the twist and bush-whacking like you’d see in the musical interlude of a ’60s beach-party movie. The band had just enough of a don’t give a fak disposition to warrant naming “attitude” an official band member on their myspace.

Lead singer Fred “RJ” St-Aubin’s antics were all a part of a captivating performance. During their song, German Girlfriend, an alt-punk tune that showed off the group’s quirky sense of humor, RJ catered to the mix of beach bunnies and metal thrashers wearing a furry German military hat and singing in German-sounding phonetics. Meanwhile, Phil “Phang” Hughes made great use of his knee pads by spending most of the song rocking out with complete abandon on the stage floor. If these guys were fakkin’ your mada, you’d be pretty damn proud of it.

The Madafakaz played for the people, with the people, and sometimes on top of the people among several other places in their healthy two-hour set. They were on the floor, in the crowd, and on top of the bar. RJ would join in on the collection of thrashers in front of the stage, such as during, Yo’re Mama, as the circle of audience members observed the chaos, cheered, and yelled the lyrics.

The Madafakaz didn’t just win me over with their showmanship; they were also stacked with musical talent. Phang, RJ’s right-hand man, channeled what can only be described as a balance between the western-styled fatality of a cowboy duel, the badassness of a rockabilly motorcycle showdown, and looseness of a beach babe’s bikini strings on a hot afternoon. That’s the recipe for something really fakkin’ infectious.

The majority of their mostly instrumental two hour set was made up of Madafakaz’ originals, but one of my favorite moments of the night was the Trashmen’s 1963 hit Surfin’ Bird cover. This is when RJ   sifted through the crowd and proceeded to exit the venue, yelling how “well-a-bird-bird-bird, bird-is-the-word” through a loudspeaker to unsuspecting passersby. All of this, only to be carried back to the stage by a collection of fans to finish off the show like the Madafakaz that they are.

Everything considered, the Madafakaz managed to showcase their talent while maintaining on-stage and off-stage entertainment. If last Thursday is what an audience should expect with every Madafakaz show, these guys aren’t just gonna be a quickie on the Montreal music scene. Cheers to a whole lot of Madafakkin’.

The Madafakaz‘s self-titled album is released this Thursday. Make sure to check it out and come to their show on February 25th @ Bistro de Paris. It’s gonna be wild.

For more photos check us out on Facebook

Photos By: Chris Zacchia

Recently I’ve been listening to CBC Radio 3‘s program Extended Play. The Extended Play program is a non-music podcast that focuses on a variety of interesting topics that deal with cultural events in the public and private music sphere. Each session brings together a unique panel of artists from different backgrounds to discuss and comment on topics, such as Indie’s Done. What’s Next? and Do bands have a ‘best before’ date?. Of course, this listening was all done while cleaning my tragedy of an apartment and cooking a seasonably well deserved meal. And   to be honest, I’m trying to improve my listening skills.

Anyway, I’m getting to a point here (go grab a fresh beer, you’re gonna wanna stick around for this). During, Indie’s Done. What’s Next?, the panel of artists discussed the importance of musicians becoming increasing more independent, learning all the tricks of the ever-changing music industry and scene, while also maintaining their authenticity.

Hmmm… that’s a tricky one right? Because, what happens when you get funding from a record label to produce your music, and as a result, they really “fuck that shit up”? Well, the growing addition of technology to produce music independently now gives you musicians the freedom to do it as YOU want, and us, well…fans, the opportunity to hear what you’re doing faster and anywhere we decided to be on Friday night. So, let’s drop the indie and talk about start talking about transparent rock. Here we go (told you I was getting to a point! Aren’t you glad you grabbed that beer?).

Conversation starts now.

Hooray For Earth, a New York based band, stopped in Montreal to play a show at Sala Rossa last Wednesday evening. Hooray For Earth is a perfect example of all the babble I just said in the two paragraphs above. They’ve got all those hard-working band traits. I mean, the guys are sitting at their own merch table graciously talking with anyone who approaches them and their friend (who appeared to be their manager), who was walking around smiling at everyone. They weren’t dressed abnormally. There was no BS, no attitude, nothing, just simple conversation and gratitude towards everyone at the show. Seriously, these guys are awesome.

On that note, let’s get to the goods…

It’s like this, and that’s the way it is: Hooray For Earth is 90’s grunge mixed with 2011 technology. Noel Heroux and I sat down after the show he explained to me that his influences, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails and others in the era, are what inspires him and the band to make their addictive, yet thrash bubble music.

As they took stage, those trash bubbles began to bust out of the speakers and fill the room with a gritty yet innovative sound as they began, Last Minute. It was the second song in, Comfortable, Comparable, that you could really hear this ‘transparent rock’ I’m talking about. It was also here that we all became enchanted bobble heads. That’s the things about Hooray for Earth, they take the loved techniques and sounds from the 90’s grunge/alternative era and combine it with a tech sound that opens up their songs like it’s a present you’re ripping open. The sound just bursts.

Hooray For Earth – Comfortable, Comparable by morethan4

Their third song, and probably most talked about, Surrounded By Your Friends, lead the way for our heads as we picked up speed and really got a feel for these New York artists. An interesting addition to their show was their cover of The Zombies, Maybe After He’s Gone. How many shows can you say you’ve been too where The Zombies was the cover? Yea, exactly. Something special is happening here.

Cool beans. I only have one request for all you out there about to see Hooray For Earth (request bout to start)…PLEASE, PLEASE get up off your chair, stand up and move. Noel dropped a mention about their last gig in T.O. where every just sat there and how they’re use to people jumping around or at least blinking (okay I added in the blinking part). But really, are we really all dead fishes? Come on, go get out those knee-ripped jeans out, chug some beer and get your bones moving. Have some fucking fun kids!

Thank you.

Make sure to check out Hooray For Earth’s EP, Momo, while impatiently awaiting their May 3 release of their first full-length album, True Loves. I know music is free, but touring and producing isn’t. So pay some money for the music and the earth will hooray for you.

Sweet stuff kids. Come on out tomorrow night come out of your indie cave and come
see Montreal’s The Madafakza @ Le Divan Orange @ 10PM.

Welcome music lovers, the transparent rock era has begun (doo do doo do).

Hooray For Earth played with The Concretes @ Sala Rossa January 19. They reminded me to hooray for music. They reminded all of us to start swimming again. No mention of the environment was made, but they sure are an amazing group of guys. Buy their music.

Photos and video by Chris Zacchia

Watch the live video!

Click the pictures to watch the slideshow

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If Phantogram’s performance last Friday, December 10 @ Il Motore was a novel it’d be the kind that hits you out of nowhere (like that first snowball of the year). You’d be silently reading the introduction, when all of a sudden you’re right in the middle of a lightning storm of direct-awesomeness imagery and you love every fucking flash. Excited? I bet you are. So, let’s get to the goods about this lightening storm (dancing in the rain not included)…

It’s dark. It’s quiet. They’re plugging in and we’re all standing directly in front of the stage patiently waiting for an introduction (because that seems to be the norm). Well, Phantogram seemed to say, “fuck the norm, let’s get right into this, these kids need to dance.”

Then it happened…

The phantom-like presence came to life. The strobe flashes wildly danced around, Josh Carter (guitar/vocals) cued in with deep, heavy guitar strumming, Sarah Barthel (keyboard/vocals) bounced in swinging her knee back and forth towards the keyboard, where her fingers danced and silky vocals poured into our ears. Oh yes. And it gets better. The drummer, Tim Oakley (from The Mathematicians, newly joined Phantogram), starts lightly tapping his drum set; keeping the industrial beat flowing (don’t we all just love it when you jump right into the unknown? I sure do).

For Phantogram and their fans it was all about the strobin’ and dancin’ to the electro-industrial -rock beats that boldly scaled the walls of Il Motore they’ve got the kids dancing again (thank god, because someone had to rip up that fake prescription for Ritalin a zombie audience is lame). Phantogram’s tunes are also somewhat disco-esque (agree or disagree, disco has a new sound). Hear this in your ears and read it with your eyes. Let’s break it down to musical genre sex and the offspring of those genres. If disco, rock and electro-industrial had a threesome, and electro-industrial produced some sort of genre offspring, it would be Phantogram. And you’d wanna babysit it every weekend.

But more importantly, back to the dancing and not the supplementary income opportunity you wish you had.

I feel like I’m getting old, but that’s okay.
Both shows I’ve seen at Il Motore in the past two weeks have been filled with young, fresh-faced, dancing hooligans (okay, not hooligans).
And you know what? That’s fucking rad.
It’s rad because the kids are getting their muscles greased by beats and letting their
feet slide all over the floor. It’s awwwwesome, just like Phantogram.

Even though they just finished their North American tour, and are headed back to Saratoga Springs for the Holidays, they let us know a little secret – they’ll be back in Montreal in Spring 2011 with a new album and some serious, serious beat-grease. Get ready kids.

Cool beans, stay in-tune for the FTB Phantogram video interview.   In meantime download their album, Eyelids and keep up via Indica, MySpace and Twitter.

Phantogram preformed @ Il Motore on December 10. Solar Year started the show. Bad tits loosened our joints and Phantogram helped us let it all go.

Photos by Chris Zacchia

Photo by Chris Zacchia

What I’m about to say is gonna be heavy. Please prep yourself. Are you ready? Okay, let’s start with a question, Do you like Fleetwood Mac? If you answered yes, keep reading. If not, no worries I’m also going to talk about Imaginary Cities and The Most Serene Republic. My answer to the question? I love Fleetwood Mac, and I love Ra Ra Riot (ah, are you seeing what’s heavy here?). Anyway, I hope you’re prepared, here are the goods…

Last Friday, December 3rd @ Il Motore, I saw something I thought I would never see in my lifetime: the essence and persona of the young Fleetwood Mac. I’m not joking and I know it’s a heavy statement (that’s why I asked you to be prepared), but, it’s there and alive in Ra Ra Riot. Ra Ra Riot’s stage presence, mixed with the characteristics you see in each member of the band, reminds me so much of what I’d imagine the young Fleetwood Mac to be live. Of course, they’re not Fleetwood, they’re Ra Ra Riot, and that might be even (a little) better (ooo, heavy and how many times have I said “Fleetwood Mac?”).

All the members in Ra Ra Riot had their own personality on stage and you could see them interacting with each other. They were smiling and winking (and probably some secret code facial expressions/body movements) to make sure they were all on the same page. It was super cute and professional.

The spirit and dedication that went into this show I can’t even describe in words. I don’t even know how to tell you how wonderful this fucking band is live. I completely understand why SPIN.com boldly called them, “the best young band they’ve seen in a long time.” These kids really know their music. When I say they know their music I don’t mean, “They know what’s considered cool music today.” I mean, they know their OWN music; how it clicks together like Lego, how it makes their listeners feel alive and how, more importantly, it makes them feel as musicians (or they’re all just good actors…nope).

Photo by Chris Zacchia

Ra Ra Riot’s ability to transfer their baroque/indie-pop sound almost exactly from their EP’s and albums, to their live performance made you wonder if they’re pulling a Milli Vanilli. But, as you watched the lead singer (Wesley Miles) switch from keyboard and vocals, the cellist (Alexandra Lawn) sway along with the rhythm of her bow and the violist
(Rebecca Zeller) maintaining superb concentration, all while everyone (Milo Bonacci-guitar, John Pike-drums and Mathieu Santos-bass) else was giving it all they’ve got, you quickly realize, “nope, this shit is definitely real.

About two songs in, everyone fell over. I remember looking at the guy next to me, as he looked at me and we both just let our mouths drop open (of course we swiftly moved our heads back to the stage, we didn’t want to miss a note). And then it happened – the Fleetwood Mac reference hit it was over, they had my heart. Of course Ra Ra Riot’s music sounds very different from that of the Mac, but, personally I think it’s this decade’s version of what was and is one of the most memorable and heart-grabbing bands ever (I foresee my potentially-unborn kids listening to them).

Photo by Chris Zacchia

Before Ra Ra Riot grabbed our hearts, Imaginary Cities, a young emerging indie group (also linked with Arts&Crafts) performed. After the show, I couldn’t help but run to the nearest computer where I put on their song Humming Bird (pretty sure I could sing you the whole thing now…along with everyone else who was paying attention). Give them a listen and keep your eyes open for a listing near you. They’re pretty dope.

Photo by Chris Zacchia

After Imaginary Cities, a band who I stumbled upon about two years ago, flooded what we call, “the stage”. Do you know The Most Serene Republic? Well, if not, you’re going to now. I’ve wanted to see this band since I first listening to them (and told them this). So, it was such a nice hot chocolate, marshmallow filled treat (and one I’m so grateful for!).

The Most Serene Republic’s sound is quirky, yet overly intelligent. I’ve mentioned “complex” music in past posts, well, this another band whose music will make your brain work. Live, they’re on the ball. No issues with sound or timing. The lead singer had a great, humorous attitude about each song (doing little dances, funny faces and making playful jokes about Ra Ra Riot); you’d almost think he’s a comedian/dancer on the side. It’s the, “HEY WE’RE HERE AND YOU’RE AWESOME. THANK YOU!!” attitude that many live acts lack. So refreshing!

Cool Beans. Sorry this was so late, life got in the way this week. Stay tuned for a local profile piece of Jordi Rosen, and an interview and review of Phantogram.

Ra Ra Riot, Imaginary Cities and The Most Serene Republic performed @ Il Motore on December 3. We first Imagined the city, after became serene as an entertained Republic and then Rioted until the sound cut out. It will be noted as one of the best reason why I go deaf at 33 (or thanks to Steve Jobs and iPods).

Photo by Steve Ferrara

Journeymen get ready for the real experience. Multitudes is the kind of band that makes the listener loosen their grasp on reality. Their music transcends genre and is best described as transformative. Bending time and space, a song could start psychedelic and dancey. Then it can turn to free jazz, climax as hardcore and settle into a sophisticated noise.

I have always had a strong fondness for three piece bands.   A player can stretch out without having to worry about stepping on another player’s turf. This comes with a big responsibility though as each instrument is quite exposed. What makes Multitudes a great trio are their simplicity to approach, the passion they play with and the virtuosity each player brings to the stage. I really admire that drummer Alex Lambert is front and center in Multitudes’ stage set up. He is right where a lead singer would traditionally go. Lambert has rightfully earned that spot as he is a lead drummer in the band. Lambert is an animal, very versed in the trick of making odd meters feel like they are still in four. At times he is delicate, meticulously caressing the under hi-hat cymbal with a stick for example. Other times Lambert’s sticks appear as two fiercely glowing blurs shining across all four drums and two cymbals at the same time! The entire time his demeanor is calm and meditative. Bassist Brian House plays a great bass line in the parts of the songs where he sees fit to. At other times, his bass screams unforgivingly with the aid of guitar pedals, creating a magnificent array of soundscapes and explosions. Guitarist Pat Foley has great tone. I especially like it when he plays melodies with some sort of octave effect on.   His chord voicing choice is unique and multi-emotional.

Photo by Steve Ferrar

I first saw Multitudes by chance at a loft party in Greenpoint’s Good Yoga. This warm, spacious and well kept performance space was a great place to see Multitudes. There were so many people I could hardly walk through. All around the band there were about half a dozen old fashioned (1980’s) TV’s showing computer distorted images of the performance appeared on their screens as the show went on. It was the perfect effect for Multitudes. I next caught them perform at Death By Audio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The band played great and debuted five new songs. Foley used a slide towards the end of the night creating smoky, drunken like melodies I really enjoyed. These were backed by massively full chords on bass. Death by Audio, on the other hand, is a horribly dilapidated, corner cut club. Despite its makeshift “DIY” vibe, it is devoid of the dive charm of NYC legendary clubs like CBGB. When people said CBGB was a total shit hole it was with a certain nostalgic charm. I personally have many fond memories of the club with no bathroom doors. I felt no such charm at Death By Audio, though I have to say the staff was very nice.

Multitudes released their first record, Ontogeny earlier this year. I briefly sat down with Brian House who told me they plan to go into the studio this winter to record the five songs they debuted at Death By Audio along with seven more to make a 12 song record. The new record, slated for release in Spring 2011, will feature short form songs with more of the band’s punk tendencies compared to the more conceptual Ontogeny. House also hinted at a tentative plan for the band to leave New York for a bit this winter and share their highly original sound with some other cities. Please check out multitudesband.com for tour updates as well as info on their upcoming 2nd studio release.

Photo by Steve Ferrara

I had the privilege of being at Trash Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn last Sunday where I happened upon the power trio Bo-Peep. I know many of us out there have our issues with the live music scene today. In general there is a lack of enthusiasm at shows on the stage and in the audience. It seems that if the current music scene needed a word to coin it, it would be “medium music for a medium crowd.” Bo-Peep, however, sparks a flash back to a time before the Facebook generation, when live music mattered.

Bo-Peep is an all female band from Tokyo, Japan with more balls than every resident of Bedford Ave. combined. Their songs are a raw and savage celebration of life. Though they walked into the club almost completely unknown, Bo-Peep managed to possess an entire room of Brooklynites into breaking the norm: We all got our asses up and danced.

Instrumentally Bo-Peep was magnificently tight but with an ease that allowed them to run around the stage like maniacs. Bassist Kaori Takebayash was all spirit. She jumped, spun and kicked while executing precision bass lines. At one point in the set Kaori made a great save when her bass cable got unplugged. In an instantaneous swoop she re-plugged her bass in and continued the line mid-phrase like nothing had happened!

Shortly after that she out danced the kimono she was wearing revealing a black dress
and a layer of “I’m rock’n my ass off” sweat. Later in the set Kaori chose to jump into the audience and dance with us while still keeping the bass line going and managed to return to the stage safely without missing a note.

Photo by Steve Ferrara

Singer guitarist Mika Yoshimura was completely nuts. For most of the set her eyes were obscured by a mess of hair.
The few times when I did get a glimpse
they were rolled far back as if in a demonic trance. Mika’s voice screams and wails
with passion. She attacks the guitar with a tribal fierceness. In the finale Mika jumped
on top of the drum set and held one hand in the air. This could seem silly in the wrong context but in this room the energy was there. The entire audience was won over and responded by throwing their hands up in the air.

Drummer Ryoko Nakano appears to be the center that holds the band together. Her drumming was steady and hard hitting. Keeping the beat going from one song to the next, I think she may have only stopped playing twice in the set. Ryoko was also the spokesperson on stage, thanking the audience while the other two tuned between songs.

The only negative of the night were all the photographers in the front row. They were killing the vibe and blocking the view. Who were those guys? Was this a rock ‘n roll show in a dirty ass Brooklyn bar or an MTV shoot? If they were going to block the front row couldn’t they have at least taken turns or something?

So that’s basically it. Bo-Peep schooled New York City on its own curriculum. They have that NYC rock ‘n roll sound and spirit down more so then 95% of the bands in the New York scene today.

Check Bo-Peep out at bo-peep3.com or myspace.com/bopeepjapan. They have just released their 3rd album Vibe on the British/Japanese, indie label Flight Path Records. It is available on itunes.