Yeah, maybe summer 2019 has been a little mellow so far, but nothing lasts forever… and Montréal’s most kickin’ punk festival is finally back in town and ready to rumble for its third season, celebrating the last 40 plus years of punk rock.
The one-day punk festival, ’77 Montreal, will be going down for its third year in a row once again this Friday the 26th at Parc Jean-Drapeau, with headlining bands Bad Religion and Pennywise as well as many more.
Including an exciting mix of punk groups from far and wide, such as The Exploited all the way from the UK, to Wavves from California, to our very own Montreal punk rock bands like the Gutter Demons and Red Mass, who will all be featured at this year’s ’77 Montréal for a fully immersive punk rock festival experience. You can find the full lineup below.
’77 Montreal boasts an experience for all ages of punk rockers, with free entrance for kids 10 and under and a Kids Zone equipped with crafts, games, and a relaxation area. The festival will also bring out some of Montréal’s staple food and beer vendors, as well as a record and poster fair, the ‘Marché aux Punx’, to anyone looking to satisfy their nostalgic fix through vintage vinyl, posters, collectible items, and other exhibitions.
Dawn McSweeney, who covered the event for FTB last year, made a playlist for this year’s event to get you ready:
Tickets are on sale on ’77 Montreal’s website for $77 plus tax, with a Gold Pass option available for $117. And for those of you who don’t wanna miss out on Montréal’s Heavy metal festival, you can also get the 3 day Weekend Warriors pass for only $225 which includes tickets to both festivals!
To conjure a more perfect day for an outdoor festival, one would have to conjure a cluster of unicorns to fart pastel coloured clouds of glitter and cupcakes. The sun was bright, the breeze was cool, and no one was talking about Humidex. I had a ziplock full of toilet paper, and was ready to rock the day away.
The pre-game ran late, and I started to panic: we must make it in time for L7! There with 15 minutes to spare, I was glad to see so many eager faces and bands shirts (because 3pm doesn’t feel like the epic time slot they deserve, but no one asked me).
They played everything: from Andres, the first song of theirs I heard back in *ahem* 1994, to last year’s fab singles, and singing along with them in the sun on a Friday afternoon, was epic. Drummer Dee Plakas was out with injury, so Motley Mel held down the beats like she’d always been there.
In fact, in my only almost-brush with fame, I swear Jennifer Finch and Motley Mel passed right in front of me at the Sick Of It All stage, but it happened so fast that I didn’t have the chance to make a fool of myself, so it worked out for the best.
Sick Of It All had all the energy you complain that you don’t, and I had to remind myself that brothers Lou and Pete Koller have been fronting the band since 1986. They fired up the crowd, and then hosed them down.
There was a great turnout of cool families with adorable mini punks, so we’re teaching the children well. Bonus points go to those who had to balance small humans over sketchy Porto potty seats and managed not to drop them in the blue. My ziplock of tp proved essential before the sun had even set.
Me First and The Gimmie Gimmies brought the slick threads, and cool classics. They have an endless repertoire, of course, yet I never thought I’d be part of a crowd singing John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads; I was, and I liked it!
They did other improbable ones like Jolene and a super deep cut, a cover of a cover, 60s French band Les Pirates version of Del Shannon’s Hat’s Off To Larry, Oublie Larry.
Fresh of their Thursday night appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, and on a collective three hours of sleep, The Interrupters brought the upbeats, and the hits we wanted to hear.
Rise Against put on a helluva show, which I’M sure didn’t surprise their fans, though I was pretty unfamiliar with them, so I got to be freshly impressed.
There was a neat little food court near the Garden Stage, and I had an awesome kalbi meatball sandwich that I swear was from Lavandaria, but I can’t seem to find any online listing to prove that the reservations only Westmount eaterie was out punking, so all I have is my half baked, sun and beer soaked memory of a damn good sandwich.
On our way out, I had one more stopped planned, and that was for DOA, who haven’t actually stopped doing anything since 1978. It was a pleasure to close out the night with a band that was proudly celebrating their 40th anniversary.
This being my first trip to 77, it’s safe to say that I’ll be back with bells on next year. A shout and and much respect to those who did the three day double fest of 77 Mtl and Heavy Montreal; it’s Sunday night, and I’m still beat from Friday…and still super jazzed, too… and totally typing in my new L7 shirt.
This week we have a very special edition of Shows This Week as I preview the Second Annual NDG Porchfest. After a very successful first year this “community music festival held on the front porches of NDG” will be back this weekend with over 70 performances to choose from over two days.
If you’re unfamiliar with the event you should check out FTB’s preview last year that pretty much sums it all up. Rather than speak about the event as a whole I’ve decided to preview five of the acts that are symbolic of the variety and all inclusive nature of this festival.
One of the more established acts in this year’s fest is St-Henri born blues singer Martin Goyette. The former competitor on Season Four of La Voix will be sharing his “whisky-throated” voice and soulful harmonica playing to anyone traveling down Wilson Ave. this Sunday.
The Blues on a porch just feels right and when you’ve got one of Quebec’s best in Goyette providing the entertainment in this unique setting you should take advantage!
Martin Goyette plays the porch at 4098 Wilson, Sunday May 8th, 12:00 pm, Free Show.
It’s good to see that Porchfest doesn’t discriminate against back porches. According to the schedule, Bluesy-Folk singer Bud Rice will be playing in “the lane between Marcil and Oxford,” I’m assuming on his back porch. Or maybe he’s just going to hang out in the middle of the lane and sing some songs.
Perhaps Bud doesn’t have a front porch. Maybe the acoustics are better in the lane. Does it really matter? It’s a show in a lane, what are you waiting for! To get you in the mood for an outdoor show here’s a duet: Bud and a train. Hopefully Bud will be a little warmer on Sunday.
Bud Rice plays the lane between Marcil and Oxford (closest to 2140 Marcil Ave ), Sunday May 8th, 2:00 pm, Free Show.
In The Name of Havoc
While most of the performers are of the blues-folk variety there are some notable exceptions, best exemplified by In The Name of Havoc. This hardcore punk band just released a five song EP and hopefully they will be brightening everyone’s Saturday on Sherbrooke Street with some of the new tracks.
They’re promising an “acoustic set,” most likely to keep the neighbours happy, making this the most all-ages / family friendly punk show of the year.
In The Name of Havoc plays the porch at 5826 Sherbrooke Street West, Saturday May 7th, 1:00 pm, Free Show.
The Record Breakers
The all-ages aspect of this festival applies as much to the bands as the audience. The Record Breakers are a group of teens from the West Island who write their own tunes and throw in some classic covers to boot.
This rock band might be young but their list of musical influences reads like a history of rock and roll: The Beatles, The Who, Rush, Nirvana, Muse, to name a few. This isn’t one of these “they’re good for their age” things either, these kids can play.
The Record Breakers play the porch at 4073 Hingston ave, Saturday May 7th, 1:00 pm, Free Show.
Blue Monkey Project
For those looking for more of a dance groove I would suggest checking out Blue Monkey Project. With a mix of “funk, soul and rock n’ roll” you can finally dance in the middle of the sidewalk and not look out of place!
Well you still might look out of place but who cares, it’s funk on a porch. Like with everything else in this festival, the conventional rules don’t apply.
Blue Monkey Project plays the porch at 4620 Hingston Ave, Sunday May 8th, 2:00 pm, Free Show.
* Featured image of The Guillaume Jabbour Band playing Porchfest NDG 2015 by Jesse Anger
Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at email@example.com. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!
I remember my first music festival. It was Lilith Fair, the late/mid nineties, and I was around 8 or 9 years old. Natalie Merchant, Sarah McLaughlin, Fiona Apple, Lisa Loeb and soooo many more! All the female power was exhilarating. Less superficial than the “Girl Power” of the Spice Girls (don’t get me wrong, I fucking LOVE the Spice Girls). Free spirited feminists, many with armpit hair, ruled the audience. My eyes were open to a whole world of strength, celebration, and raw positivity lead by real live women. I was hooked.
It wasn’t long until I discovered Riot Grrrl music: Bikini Kill, L7, Sleater Kinney, and Bratmobile being my favorites. Kathleen Hanna is an absolute goddess. I also adore the obviously Riot Grrrl influenced Gwen Stephani of No Doubt, and Beth Ditto of the Gossip as truly kick ass leading ladies. These bands all brought light to the issues of rape, domestic violence, smashing patriarchy, sexuality, racism, and other socially taboo progressive feminist topics. Girls to the front! Fists in the air! Mini dresses and combat boots galore! I was recently at the Dyke March afterparty and was so moved by all of the female bands. Buffalo also has Vaggie Fest, an all female punk music festival.
Unfortunately not all music festivals or music venues these days are as female powered as I would like. I’ve seen several blogs where they remove the all male bands from the poster and it is always depressingly scarce. I wondered why this was happening? Why is the music industry so male dominated?
I sat down with three extremely unique and talented female musicians, Ellen Pieroni, Erica Wolfling, and Lindsay Zasada, and I made them brunch. Over our pink champagne mimosas and a literal meat fest we discussed what it’s like to be a girl in the primarily male dominated music world. These women have proved that they are more then just tits, an ass, and legs.
Ellen is in many bands including The Ellen Pieroni Quartet, The Folkfaces, and Blue Stone Groove.
“Things are happening to me recently where I have been getting gigs solely for being a woman saxophone player. I literally got called by a woman from out of town who has never heard me play before and she hired me for a gig just because I was a woman, I want people to hire me because I’m good saxophone player,” Ellen says.
“The one problem and I always get from everyone is like ‘Oh it’s so nice to see a woman up there playing the sax, I love seeing a woman do that.’ People mean well saying that so you have to take it as compliment because they are genuinely are trying to being nice. Compisults ‘your tone is so feminine’ – the sad part is that most time it’s women who say this stuff. It stems from the general lack of female musicians. I’m the hottest girl in my band – did I mention I’m in a band with 4 other guys? I’m in a few bands with all guys with the exception of one girl, the incredible singer in Blue Stone Groove.”
“I don’t think women should ever be discouraged . A lot of women are afraid to join a band and gig. You must go outside of your comfort zone . Mostly only little boys are being handed the sax and not girls in school. It is discouraging early on especially.”
“Join the army of female musicians! When you see another one you get excited. In Buffalo State College right now there. equal amount of girls playing sax so I hope things are changing.”
We then discussed how women are often over sexualized on stage. They are forced to be the center of attention whether they like it or not. The girls are always staged in front because sex sells. Gotta have that hot stage show wearing tight leather pants and a low cut shirt or the teeniest of dresses. Do I have to dress this way to be successful?
“Just in general I don’t like wearing a lot of clothing, it’s for me not anyone else. I’m not part of the scenery. You can be an incredible musician but still seen as just a sex object No matter how good I get they will always see me that way. Sax is a sexy instrument it’s not my fault.”
Featured photo is a shot of Ellen Pieroni performing.
Erica Wolfling is a singer, songwriter, pianist, and an ice dragon. Her voice is like Regina Spektor and Tori Amos had a baby.
“I don’t sing about sex. I sing about mental illness and sexual domestic violence. Feel things and emotions for the music I sing and write, not about my body. You are putting yourself out there. Here are my emotions and I can’t do it in any other way. I’m doing it in front of a room full of people and all you see is my boobs,” Erica says.
“How people perceive women is the problem. Everyone just puts boobs on their music. There is a sadness when they compliment my looks but not the sound, just dismissing the reason I am up there. It will never end! In my professional life too: A man once said to me that ‘it’s been a business doing pleasure with you.’ I’m not just this cute girl. I’m a smart woman who learned this hard thing that you don’t know. Fucking respect me.”
“I don’t want to be a rockstar with a harem. It’s more like ‘Thanks guys gonna go upstairs and hide now.’ I never take anyone home, I take myself home, thank you.”
“I have this hot mesh and leather dress and a guy outside one if my shows said ‘You shouldn’t be wearing that, you will entice so many men.’ Oh rape culture. Other men say he’s just protecting me and women are enraged.”
“It’s important to wear clothes I can I breathe in. Why did I think it was ok to wear Spanx to perform? Now I don’t even wear a bra half the time because I don’t want boob sweat. Comfort over sex appeal all the way. I’ve never had people treat me like this before. I was a late bloomer. Then, when they whistle to you on stage, it’s creepy. Being objectified is so strange. I’m treated differently after losing weight. ‘You look really good now. You are really attractive now. I would date you now.’ I’m not insecure, just detached from it. It’s all about self projection and being comfortable in your own skin. It takes a long time to get there.”
Lindsay Zasada sings and plays a variety of instruments from guitar, to ukulele, and electric violin. She was once in an all girl band called The Cunning Stunts. Her newest band is called West Side Bike Ride, all females and one male, a little different perspective. She says being in bands with girls is empowering but can also be volatile.
“I’ve never had weird competition due to gender, just people who play the same instrument. It’s important to play unique instruments. Unconventional ensembles… Fuck yea! Women should not be scared to pick up any instrument and play.”
“There is nothing wrong with being sexy! Lindsay Sterling made tons of money selling her body, not saying she isn’t beautiful and talented but the sex appeal is definitely a focus for her.”
“A lot of people think it’s about attention. I’d rather play my music and not be popular. All the guys are like it’s not that bad.”
“Sexism infiltrates all parts of life don’t take music from me too bro! Music is beautiful and genderless, the person who is delivering it to you shouldn’t dictate whether you like it. I just wanna play! It’s not just in my head. It’s good to know we are all having the same experience.”
Going to concerts was the definition of my teen-hood. The feeling of complete freedom and chaos that comes with it is something that still tingles in my bones when I think about my concert-going days.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to partake in that all-encompassing feeling as of the late, (besides Fattal Fest) — no thanks to my ongoing studies and serious lack of funds — so when a friend of mine invited me last minute to go see Julian Casablancas + The Voidz (admittedly not a name I’d heard of before), I just couldn’t reject my teen addiction and inner desire to lose total control in a transcendent mosh pit.
It was 8 p.m. by the time we got there, and the venue was pretty empty. Hoping that the venue would fill up, we ordered shots of tequila at the bar and claimed our spot on the floor, left side as usual (must be some weird ritual at this point). Between them, my friends discussed their excitement about the first band to be playing, an NYC punk band called Cerebral Ballzy. Punk bands always get me going so I downed a beer and waited in a semi-tipsy haze for the lights to go down.
Cerebral Ballzy’s act was a little bit off, but it did contain the magical punkiness I was expecting. First of all, the singer (who admitted on stage that he had a cold) seemed to be on some type of heavy sedative. He was wobbling around the stage and his voice was somewhat incomprehensible. From what I could hear, though, their set was pretty good. If I was in a small, tightly-packed venue somewhere in Brooklyn with unisex bathrooms and some bearded guy to my right handing me a joint, I probably would’ve enjoyed myself more. In all goodness, though, their catchy punk tunes made me want to jump around (and the guitarist had some sick headbanging abilities).
The second band that came on, Shabazz Palaces, are described as being an experimental hip-hop band from Seattle. I couldn’t tell if I was listening to African tribal music, Rastafarian rap or some type of dubstep. The two guys on stage stood behind a table that had an array of musical instruments set up, including a djembe, a synthesizer and a strange instrument that looked like a miniscule version of a guitar’s body. The music they produced gave off a trance-like feel with their echoing voices and the deep resonating bass.
When Julian Casablancas finally came on stage, the venue was packed. My friend and I decided to spare ourselves the agony of standing in place any longer and decided to sit upstairs. Julian Casablancas (or, shall I say, Julian Casablancas + The Voidz) is a side project created by Casablancas in 2013. Besides Casablancas, there were five other members on stage and a wide array of different TV sets with static on them.
Casablancas came on stage wearing a jean jacket and light-wash jeans, his hair cut in what looked like a mullet. “He looks like white trailer trash,” my friend said to me, and I had to agree. Decoration aside, Casablancas’ set blew me away. I had never heard his voice before, so I really had no idea what to expect, but for those who have, you know that the static effect on the TVs works quite well with the vocal effect he uses on his voice.
There aren’t many ways to describe Casablancas’ sound, as it is so versatile and his style switches from song to song. A blend of 80s psychedelic rock and indie, finally the crowd was moving in synchronicity. Julian’s uplifting spirit moved me through different eras — the first few songs had more of a 60s feel (the two guitar players sporting old, vintage-style guitars in yellow and blue respectively), bringing me into a wavy, beach-like feel. It was somehow upbeat enough to promote an energetic, letting-go-and-releasing type of vibe that resonated throughout the venue.
As Casablancas had brought a new, dynamic energy to the room, I couldn’t contain myself and soon rushed down to the floor to become one with all the happy, swaying bodies, smiling in unison. I was excited when I saw the guitarists reach for more rock-looking guitars and performed a song I would have to classify as alternative rock. It was heavy, a bit trashy and oh, so good. The people around me were falling to the left, like one big super organism, and my hair was starting to collect little beads of sweat. Casablancas’ static-y vocal effect allowed the crowd to feel caught somewhere between the 80s, the present and future. How he does that, I have no idea. To evoke so many feelings at the same time was exactly what I had been waiting for.
They played two Strokes songs, including “Ize Of The World” and “I’ll Try Anything Once” during the encore. Shabazz Palaces came on stage to play with them during “Father Electricity”, which promoted their already-eccentric sound. All in all, I left content, energized and excited, wishing I had listened to Julian Casablancas + The Voidz long before so I could truly appreciate the show. That 80s vibe never seems to go out of style, and I can’t wait for the next time they come around so I can sport that trailer trash swag and become one with the static-rock flow.
Photos by Bree Rockbrand. Click on the photo to launch the slideshow.
Amongst the dirt, mosh pits and the pungent smell of stale beer wavering in the air, I found myself in the middle of Fattal Fest. This raunchy punk fest, occurring once a year, is home to the city’s biggest punk community.
I should mention now that I’m not one to frequent Fattal’s punk shows, although I have been to one or two (which, in hindsight, was not at all enough to feel prepared for this festival). I was, in the moment, still trying to attune myself to the whole punk-vibe, which is, more than anything, kind of similar to being pretty drunk among a hundred or two of your shit-faced-wasted best friends who find it fun to push each other into walls (which I did take part in, and enjoyed, minus the bruises).
When I arrived, I instantly felt out of place with my big fancy camera. I got there in time to see the last band of the night perform on the outdoor stage. Fatal Flaw, a Montreal-based band who identify themselves as “Thrashing Crust Punk Fury,” really seemed to catch the attention of the crowd. By the strong presence of their female vocalist letting out her guttural growling, I finally felt grounded and relieved in an environment that seemed to be more or less dominated by men.
The rest of the night seemed to take on a mind of its own. My girlfriend recognized a friend of hers in the crowd and we took it from there. Finding familiar faces brought me to a state of genuine enjoyment.
We ended up in a small red loft, one of the venues at Fattal. While the band was preparing for their show downstairs, we claimed our spot on an empty black couch upstairs. There was a gate around the entire upstairs floor, giving the venue a kind of creepy, jail-type feeling with a hint of MMA-match inspiration (I asked myself if this gate is for decoration or just in case some drunk guy falls off the ledge of the loft’s upper deck).
It was unfortunate that the venue was so small, although I guess that it was part of the charm to see band and crowd become one. The way punks thrash around is very different from what you’d see elsewhere – caught somewhere between dancing, stumbling and street-fighting, there is no way to predict who will be the last man (or woman) standing.
Although there was a definite undercurrent of this violent-esque pursuit of self-expression, I have to note that when I entered the mosh pit and threw myself around like a pinball in a pinball machine, the guy standing next to me was quick to help me up when I fell down. Obviously the members of the punk scene are used to constant scrutiny and judgment, but in this small red room filled with loud music, alcohol and drugs, all of that disappeared. What I was left with was a feeling of community; a certain strength and pride built on the common understanding of what it is like to be an outsider.
(photos by Bree Rockbrand, click first image below to start slideshow)
The annual punk/hardcore/metal festival presented by local promoters Blackdot takes place this weekend. What’s that? Your friends are all at Osheaga but you can’t afford it/are afraid of massive crowds/hate it with all your guts? Well this festival pretty much falls on the total opposite end of the spectrum as far as summer music festivals go.
The opening night of Montreal punk/hardcore/metal festival Rrroooaaarrrfeatures two shows, one at La Sala Rossa and another right across the street at Casa del Popolo. My pick for the night would have to be Oakland sludge metal band Noothgrush.
Blasphemy, a black metal band formed in Vancouver, released two albums in the early 90s and people are still losing their shit. They released a live album in 2001 and have been coasting heavily on their cult-fame status for quite some time. I’m not hating though, nope. I think it says a lot about a band’s influence and staying power when people are still coming out in droves to see them, especially when they haven’t released new material in 20 years.
Mental Abuse were a highly influential 80s hardcore band from Jersey. Rumours that their vocalist, Sid Sludge, was dead had been circling around for years but he finally put them to rest by reforming the band in 2013. This guy is for real. One time, his car broke down in the Lincoln Tunnel so he abandoned it there and hopped on a bus to go hang out with his friends.
I’ll be hitting this show mostly because I never tire of watching Omegas play live and you never really know if it’ll be their last show. These guys are getting old and have moved on to bigger and better things so there’s a huge possibility that they might call it quits any day now.
There’s something about cold places being great spawning grounds for black metal. Revenge hail from Alberta and their sound is so extremely heavy, so brutal and downright barbaric it’s terrifying. This line from a Pitchfork review of their 2012 albumScum.Collapse.Eradication sums it up nicely: “This is black metal ground down to its ugliest, most primal essence, spat out at furious powerviolence tempos and dredged through a filthy morass of down-tuned death metal.”
Who is this grinning young ‘un who looks like Flea’s kid brother and makes music so lo-fi and strange that it makes you want to go running through the streets with a tall can and a lover?
Mac DeMarco is another Canadian (god, we grow good musicians here. Suck it, Slovakia) and probably a result of growing up in the 90’s. All that grunge has trickled down over our souls, giving way to music that is simultaneously full of longing for what’s been lost and rife with sounds that have no name. DeMarco, for all of his twenty four years, is already a force of brilliance, jamming in this sunny, simple way that showcases stiff songwriting skill and a style that is wholly his own. While, sure, there’s room for your garage rock and surf punk and of course, let’s not forget the new staple, psychedelic rock, DeMarco is taking the formula and fuzzing the lines a bit more; he’s really got his fingerprints all over his tunes.
But DeMarco isn’t some serious suffering poet. Or maybe he is. I’ve never even hung out with him, what the fuck do I know? I guess the reason I said that, about the serious poetic stuff, is because of what I’ve read. You know, about how his concerts are described as a “raunchfest” and how he gets naked onstage. Which, while not being serious, could be construed as a little poetic. In my opinion. (And that’s mostly all this article consists of: my opinions.)
Anyway, DeMarco has released two full length studio albums (Salad Days being the latest, released just this year) and with that comes the touring. While it’s a nice sentiment to say that music should only be about music, fans are always interested in more: they want it all, the personal life, the inspiration, the friendship and yeah, the nudity. Bring it on, man. DeMarco’s hitting up Osheaga Music and Arts Festivalthis year (I’ve included him in my Top Picks) and I personally am really excited, clothes or no clothes.
Mac DeMarco performs Friday, August 1 at 9:50 p.m. at the Scène des arbres Galaxie. Osheaga takes place August 1 to 3 at Parc Jean-Drapeau.
An explosion happened in downtown Toronto on Saturday night. Not a bomb, not a natural disaster of any kind, but local band METZ’s show at Lee’s Palace at midnight for NXNE. As soon as lead vocalist Alex Edkins opened his mouth, the place went wild.
METZ is a noise pop/hardcore punk band signed to Sup Pop records and since their inception in 2008, they have been steadily growing their fan base both locally in the Toronto area and abroad. Their self-titled 2012 debut release was shortlisted for the 2013 Polaris Prize.
On Saturday, I got to see what all the fuss is about firsthand. The show was revved up in every possible way. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a mosh pit as crazy as the one at this show. The entire ground level was in a flurry. People were running up on stage and diving into the crowd, often without checking to make sure there were hands to catch them first (a few were dropped, and yes, it looked rather painful).
An amp almost tipped over into the crowd when someone dove off it. Edkins brought an air of danger to the stage. A couple of times he knocked the microphone off the stand while playing wildly. Fans would rush up and replace it for him and then stage dive. He stood on the bass drum towards the end of the set (I can hear a collective of drummers gasping) for a good minute or two, and I swear a couple of times I thought he was so into the music that he was going to smash his guitar to pieces.
The intensity with which he sang and played was definitely infectious. Bassist Chris Slorach and drummer Hayden Menzies complete the band and play with as much vigor as Edkins. Menzies is reminiscent of a tattooed Animal from the Muppets with his long hair and seemingly on-the-brink-of-losing-control style. Far from it though. The band is tight and obviously well rehearsed. And they have a lot of loyal and enthusiastic fans. The place was jumpin’.
It’s comforting to know that a three-piece rock band can make great music without feeling the need to bring in additional members. There’s something special about their raw talent that I really appreciate. Plus, it’s always a blast to go to a mega energetic show and jump around.
The band is touring western Canada, the US and the UK for the rest of the summer but here’s a video to warm you up until you can catch a live show.
Photos by Chris Zacchiam see the whole album on our Facebook Page
Suoni per il Popolo, Montreal’s premier experimental music festival, has been dedicated to showcasing the weird, the fringe, the avant-garde and the just plain out-there for over ten years. Part of their mandate is to dissolve musical borders and genres and to promote a culture of collaboration. The result is a truly diverse collection of performances with some surprising combinations. This year’s festival runs from June 4 to June 22 and includes workshops and art exhibits as well as nightly musical performances.
Today we’re presenting only a small sample of musical acts participating in the festival but you can see the full calendar here.
Crosss — Halifax-born, Toronto-based — blend elements of metal, sludge, doom, psychedelia and grunge. Going over to the dark side can be overwhelming if you’re not already into that but Crosss extend a sweet invitation and gently pull you in. They’re joined by the unabashedly poppy Sheer Agony and new Montreal punk band Shitsu.
It feels like they’ve been around forever but USA Out Of Vietnam will be launching their debut album Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes Thursday. Blending elements of drone, dream pop and psych, the band favours lush harmonies and infectious melodies and takes the time to build them up properly. Toronto garage rock band Public Animal and electronic pop songstress Marie Davidson open up the show.
Montrealer Steve Bates is an audio/visual artist whose work often explores our relationship with time. He also runs The Dim Coast, a space dedicated to experiments with sound. Seijiro Murayama is a Japan-based percussionist who focuses on improvisation and electroacoustic, conceptual compositions. They first played together at the legendary Rhiz club, Vienna’s go-to venue for experimental electronic music. The duo are joined by Sam Shalabi — composer, guitarist and oud player (Land of Kush and Shalabi Effect) — and Stefan Christoff — pianist, journalist and activist. Their work is a mix of Western free jazz improvisation and makam, a system of melody types used in Turkish classical music.
It’s been 12 years since the last Die Like A Dog performance, back when the group was a quartet. This time around, German free jazz legend Peter Brötzmann is joined by double-bassist William Parker and percussionist Hamid Drake.
Omar Souleyman‘s story is the stuff of legends and I won’t do it justice in three lines of description that I’ve confined myself to here. Basically, he’s a Syrian artist whose sound blends traditional Middle Eastern folk music, Shaabi (a form of working-class Egyptian street music) and electronic elements. He built up his fame performing at weddings throughout the Middle East, recording over 500 cassettes in the process. He was picked up by North American label Sublime Frequencies and released his first studio album, Wenu Wenu, produced by Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden.
Jerusalem In My Heart live is a totally immersive audio/visual experience. The group makes modern experimental Arabic music, blending traditional sounds and melodies with contemporary electronic elements.
There are an inordinate number of top-notch musicians that come out of Hamilton, Ontario. So it’s really meaningful when a band from the area earns as much respect as have local heroes Teenage Head. Teenage Head played a showcase at Canadian Music Week, but the following night, May 9th, played at This Ain’t Hollywood in Hamilton.
This show was special for many reasons. Firstly, they were playing in their hometown, so many of their friends and long time local fans were there. Like true rock stars, the band waited until after eleven to hit the stage (doors were at nine). They were busy hanging out backstage with their friends, of course! When they were finally ready to begin, they went full tilt for the entire show, with the exception of one slower tune called “Glasgow’s Cryin’,” a touching and sentimental piece that Venom wrote after his father passed away.
Billed as “Teenage Head and Friends,” the band brought about a dozen notable guest vocalists up to sing with the band (all from the Hamilton area; I’m telling you, there’s something in the water!), a testament to the impact the group has had (and continues to have) since forming in 1975. Ginger St. James, Tim Gibbons, Max Kerman (the Arkells), the Evelyn Dicks (Chris Houston, Lori Yates, Buckshot Bebee), Lou Molinaro, Dave Rave (periodic band member over the years and close personal friend to the band), Brad Germain (Dinner Belles), Melissa Marchese (Weekend Riot Club) are a few of the artists that graced the stage. Each artist brought something special and unique to their performance, as well as recalling the magic of Frankie in the way they lit up the stage.
Watching Teenage Head play live for the first time is one of my most fond musical moments. I guess because these are a bunch of high school buddies who went against the grain by writing truly original music in a burgeoning genre at a time when most musicians were playing in cover bands.
Additionally, back in the time when record labels still had big A&R budgets and played a much different support role for artists than today, the band fostered a do-it-yourself attitude, even making their first EP covers themselves because they wanted them in the European format (North American and European printing formats were different at the time).
They were also highly skilled musicians, well ahead of virtually every other punk band from the Hamilton area — or even the whole of Canada — and boy, did they give the established Toronto bands a run for their money! Best known for their electrifying and engaging live shows, singer Frankie Venom was a natural frontman whose unpredictable, acrobatic movements were a big part of the reason the band drew capacity crowds at their shows. Venom personally inspired many other young performers. Just take a look at Hugh Dillon of the Headstones; he modeled himself off Venom, whose go-for-it attitude undoubtedly inspired Dillon as well as countless other developing musicians.
The band’s career has, unfortunately, been plagued with mishap after mishap. From what some consider to be lacklustre recordings early on (many felt the first record didn’t adequately capture their live sound), to poor management when the labels stepped in, to a devastating car accident that left guitarist and songwriter Gord Lewis with a broken back just when they were on the brink of breaking through on an international level.
The most recent blow, of course, came when Venom succumbed to throat cancer in October 2008, just days before it was announced that Teenage Head would receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hamilton Music Awards. Yes, it’s been something of a comedy of errors, which is why the fact that these guys are still slugging it out is so gratifying. Pete MacAulay has joined in recent years as the frontman, and considering who he’s taking the space of, he does a damn fine job. Gord Lewis and bassist Steve Mahon, the two remaining original band members, are joined by Jack Pedler on the kit, and sound as polished as ever.
The show had an intimate feel, aided by the venue itself that felt like home in a way. I was impressed by the age range of guests. There were the obviously long-time fans, groupies, or whatever you want to call the hardcore bunch who knew every song, every lyric, every riff. There were also young teenagers accompanied by their parents who seemed just thrilled to be there.
The place was packed. It was sweaty and energized, and it was FUN. It was fitting that towards the end of the show, an inebriated woman who could barely stand climbed up on the stage and shook each band member’s hand. Then someone in the crowd OD’d and was taken away in an ambulance. All in a night in Hamilton, and all part of the riot that has surrounded this band since its inception. Never a dull moment!
The pinnacle of the evening came when Lou Molinario — venue owner, one of the guest singers and friend of the band — made a special announcement. He presented Gord Lewis, Steve Mahon and Frankie Venom’s sisters Christine and Dorothy (who were on hand to receive the honour on Venom’s behalf) with Gold albums for the Head’s 1982 release Some Kinda Fun, which officially reached gold status in Canada in April.
The surprise announcement was a perfect way to honour the band and specifically the legacy of Frankie Venom. Chris Houston put it well when he said, “it’s Frankie’s womb, we’re just all living in it.” The best part about the Hamilton music scene other than the stellar music is the supportive community it fosters. They remember and honour their friends. On this night, we honoured Venom and the Head in the most appropriate way imaginable; with a beer in our hands, dancing and singing along to one of the best bands to ever come out of Hamilton.
I should mention that this show was also a book launch for Geoff Pevere’s Gods of the Hammer, released last month. It is the first book dedicated solely to the Teenage Head story and is a mesmerizing read.
Photos by Stephanie Beatson, except black and white featured photo by Philip Kamin.
A new monthly event comes to us from the collective known as Witching Hour Events. To be held every new moon cycle, events feature short works by local filmmakers, performances by local bands of every genre, multimedia activities and visual arts. The event’s creators say it’s all in the spirit of exchanging ideas and information and sharing creative experiences to inspire change.
This version will feature performances by NooM, Light Bulb Alley, Bearmace, and Hoax. Attendees are even encouraged to bring a small instrument or other sound-making device to use during a short jam to honour the new moon.
Dressing like an alien for this edition is also encouraged.
This year, POP Montreal boasts over 300 bands covering the entire spectrum of musical genres. The heavier genres often get ignored and are usually vastly underrepresented at music festivals of this scale. But fans of metal, punk and other forms of heavy music can find plenty of acts to suit their tastes.
If you’re looking for some truly bizarre shit, this one’s for you. Lots of bands get labeled as experimental but these guys put most of them to shame. Like good drugs that sometimes turn on you, El Salvador’s music will take you for a ride. Good trip or bad, it’s the experience that matters in the end.
If you like your punk rock obnoxious and slightly juvenile, this is great stuff. Twangy guitars and vocals reminiscent of early NOFX. Wondering about the weird abbreviated name? They used to be called The Bill Cosby Anarchist Society of America. But you know, legal stuff.
It looks like it’s going to be a record year for Montreal summer festivals. A new punk/hardcore/post-punk festival has joined the ranks this year. RRROOOAAARRR is organized by local promoters Blackdot Presents and features over 40 bands from August 2 to 4.
There are two big shows per night featuring six bands each at Casa del Popolo and Sala Rossa as well as free aftershows and a daytime show/BBQ/record swap on Saturday at Katacombes. For a list of bands and schedule, see their Facebook event page.
A 3-day pass and tickets for individual shows are available online here or at Sonik (4050 Berri), Sound Central (4486 Coloniale), Phonopolis (207 Bernard o.), and Cheap Thrills (2044 Metcalfe). There will also be tickets at the door.
Look for a more extensive preview next week, including some music from some of my top pics.