Pop Montreal: Quatrieme Nuit
Night Four of Pop Montreal was meant to be in one place and probably nowhere else. I didn't choose to leave because there was nothing else worth trekking for. In fact, there were so many excellent showcases going on during the Saturday eve of Pop Montreal. The thing is: who would want to leave Akron/Family?
The evening began at Le National (Theatre) with Toronto's rising band of the year, The Born Ruffians. They took the stage to a small crowd, but watched as it packed up to a point where it was hard to move around. Lots of space and plenty of leg-room for the band allowed for room to run, jump-kick and spin around. Loud and fun, The Born Ruffians preached their word with the result of dance and jubilance. The word is starting to get out about these guys. One crowd member from NYC mentioned that their immediate tempo changes were a little difficult to keep up with. This resulted in my reply of "you get used to it." Being unique with a twist of your roots is a fantastic combination required for making solid music. Expect these Ruffians to do some touring with The Hidden Cameras and then into the studio to record some more tunes.
Constantly mentioned by people caught in his output, Beirut (aka Zack Condon) brought his collective into Montreal territory and clearly made a whole lot of new friends. A brand of Gypsy-Folk-Pop, something interesting for our ages, was well-demonstrated and well-absorbed by the attentive crowd. Many girls would tell me to listen to Beirut and hear what they hear. I saw them caught in the swoon as they swayed from left to right, eyes locked on, being serenaded from beginning to end of each song. The band really believed in the use of the trumpet. It was as if I was at a Mariachi concert, but I'm definitely not complaining. Also, a talented minor strings section (cello and violin) assisted plus a fantastic drummer to boot. Although I felt that the songs began to sound the same as the set went on, I could easily praise the talent on stage. The final song involved the majority of the band leaping into the crowd and playing an Arabic folk tune. That was the sort of thing I was waiting for, and so was the elated and satisfied audience.
Akron/Family....AKRON/FAMILY! This band believes in making you happy. They believe it is their objective in life to make sure you have your heart beating joy and any kind of emotion - just as long as you manage to feel something. With the house (P.A.) music playing Michael Jackson's 'Thriller', Akron/Family's Miles Seaton, shirtless 'n all, asked for the houselights to rise up and wanted everyone to join in on the song. This establishes Akron/Family as a band that doesn't just play the harsh tones and soft melodies looking for a tear. Instead, they just want to bring something great out in you. Having the reputation for being a psycadelic dronage band, the band didn't play tunes that went on for twenty minutes (with the exception of the finale) at a time. They invited the Born Ruffians on stage to perform 'Raising The Sparks' and then went on to play more tunes - new tunes. People involved in this mini-tour of the band should consider themselves fortunate to of heard these new songs as they were absolutely stunning. Mitch of the Born Ruffians said he was one of the more fortunate people in the audience as he got to hear them play the same new songs three days in-a-row. One of the best moments of the show was when the audience got involved in the sing-along during 'Running, Returning' that prompted everyone to sway their arms, then clap their hands, then hug. Yes - this sounds like "hippie" talk. Was it great? Of course. However, I had to go see one more band before I flew the Montreal coop.
The Adam Brown are the best stadium rockers in the world. Where did they play? In a tiny 2nd-storey castle-esque cove in northern Montreal. Known for being loud, dreamy and falling to their knees for every single heart-wrenching moment of togetherness, The Adam Brown played for their hometown lovers and friends in the small confines of Zoobizzare. Since Akron/Family kept going and going, I had to escape and rush my way to Zoobizzare as quick as I possibly could (got lost once) in order to salvage a set that I had been waiting since June to see. When I had made it in, they were on their last two songs and I didn't see enough of what I had needed to see. The Adam Brown are probably some of the best people you'll meet in Montreal, and you'll agree when you see them perform and shoot their instruments to the heavens like lighting bolts out of their chests. They are givers. They give you positive reasons to dance, sing along and always always ALWAYS smile. They are loud, but if you give them a chance, you'll realize how much they are worth being around.
My brief review of the festival overall: it was good. Well-run, fairly well-coordinated and covered a lot of ground. The majority of the venues were on one street (Saint-Laurent) and they were all pretty unique. The Future Of Music Policy Summit was going on at McGill University for a few days, staging panels regarding online music purchasing, composition, media news, media blogging, youth in music and so forth. The panels would host certain music and media names such as Talking Heads' David Byrne, The Arcade Fire's Win Butler, CBC Radio 3's Grant Lawrence, and more. As for locals, music-blogger extraordinaire Frank Yang was on a panel called The New Deciders: Metafilters, Blogs & Podcasts. So, yes. Overall, it was a fun festival with after-parties, great people, great bands and a lot of fun to offer. However, a festival with many activities to attend such as Pop Montreal can be even more amazing if you handle it right. You're encouraged to have fun, enjoy the music and NOT TO SIT STILL. Move around, converse, dance, drink, flirt, travel around, and repeat!