M for Montreal Days 3 and 4

The Music Team assesses the many hits and occasional misses of the M for Montreal music festival’s weekend shows + a photo gallery by Cindy Lopez


Suuns, photos by Cindy Lopez (scroll down for the full gallery)

As the M for Montreal music fest rolled full steam into the weekend, the air was filled sound, light, dry ice, business cards and so many tweets that Twitter nearly collapsed. Here’s our take on the bands that played Friday and Saturday night.

Suuns

Openers Memoryhouse created a mellow, chill environment in la Sala Rossa, one promptly shattered the moment Suuns unleashed their wall of tight, restrained and menacing noise on the room. The set previewed the band’s sophomore album, Images du Futur, out in March 2013. Drummer Liam O’Neill locked the band into a tense groove, providing the perfect foundation for their moody metronomic rock punctuated by steely riffs, while singer Ben Shemie’s snarling vocal delivery and fierce guitar squall would give me the willies if independent research had not already determined that the man is a mensch. Yet again, Suuns prove themselves to be one of the most compelling local outfits and strong contenders for the city’s next big breakout band. (Emily Raine)

Aim Low

I never thought I’d get to know the sound of robots fucking while the world around them falls apart until I saw Aim Low’s set. The trio used two guitars, a bass and their heavily processed voices to present a slow, plodding set full of peaks and valleys, going from restrained quiet to sheets of cascading white, swirling noise in a few scant moments. Beautiful dissonance at its best. (Brian Hastie)

Young Lungs

The Montreal trio pounded out a set of urgent anthems to a delighted crowd at l’Escogriffe just after midnight, with over-fuzzed guitars and intricate drumwork reminding me of the best parts of my fave post-punk bands. Playing a smattering of (as yet unreleased) material as well as tracks from their year-old seven-inch, they managed to get a few pogoers going while yelping through a satisfactory set. (BH)

Dig It Up

Dig It Up managed to give the crowd what it wanted: no-frills punk rock with strong, melodic hooks and intricate dual guitar work reminiscent of U.K. punk squad Gallows. Singer Mike Rokos spent a considerable amount of his set time in the crowd, much to the delight of those seeing the band for the first time. They ended their set with a one-two punch of “Missing People” and “Cops on Horses,” the last number finding their bassist leaving the venue mid-song, presumably for a celebratory post-set smoke. (BH)

USA Out of Vietnam

You’d be hard-pressed to find a sludgier (and more intriguing) band at the M For Montreal fest than these TL titans. The musical collective offered up a bass-heavy set that shook the venue walls, locking into a groove and pounding out an unrelenting series of artsy weirdo pop tracks with great vocal harmonies. Their near-majestic riffing kept the crowd entertained, with enough interesting twists and turns to bring a refreshing sense of originality to their music. (BH)


Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, photos by Cindy Lopez (scroll down for the full gallery)

Death Grips

Though the Grips have roughly five times as many fans in their clutches since last they seized Montreal, crowd energy left something to be desired. Nonetheless, baldhead brothers in ballistic science Ride and Zach Hill blistered the paint at Corona with a militarily executed exercise in keeping up with themselves and their pre-recorded samples. Their set was way too short — as in not-worth-nearly-20-bucks-too-short, given that overhyped opener Mykki Blanco completely sucked. We don’t care where delegates need to be next, M — we want proper shows, not teasers. All said, though, an evening with Death Grips still feels like a history-of-rock kinda experience, even if Pop did it up better the first time. (Darcy MacDonald)

CTZNSHP

This local act wasn’t in top shape when they opened the Saturday night Sala show, at least according to singer Jesse LeGallais. He announced his sickness at the top of the show and proceeded to sing in a lower register (“Ian Curtis-style,” he said) and take swigs of cough syrup between songs. Of course he could have been covering up a secret vice, ’cause he and his bandmates sounded great. I love this band’s guitar sound, and even though it’s early days, they have produced some pretty great tunes. (Lorraine Carpenter)

Bleeding Rainbow

I overheard an interviewer speaking to this Philly four-piece after their set, asking whether they were named after Reading Rainbow, the old kids’ TV show. It was this very (recurring) question that inspired them to change their name from Reading Rainbow — the shift also coincided with the addition of two band members and a musical evolution from a kind of foggy rock to a super-’90s alt-rock with shoegazer streaks. This band is news to me — good news. (LC)

A Place to Bury Strangers

I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen such an over-the-top light show at la Sala Rossa. A dim strobe flicker cut through the fog of dry ice and sweat, an unsettling complement to the heavyweight noise of this New York post-punk act. Though it was as brief as any of M’s showcase sets (25-30 minutes), the combination of gothtastic spectacle and musical muscle was more substantial than some 90-minute shows I’ve seen. (LC)

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

If you know this local art punk/neo-rock-opera act, you know that they’re performance artists first and songwriters/musicians second. But hey, it works! Their deadpan kabuki/KISS look and clatter-boom-bang sound is hot enough to make you wonder whether they’ll one day attract the kinds of fans who’ll go to their gigs in matching facepaint (ie. not hipsters). (LC)

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