The day dawned to a sprinkling of snow on Friday 17th November, as if providing a blank canvas before the array of events ahead at M for Montreal.
It is a music event which seems to flourish as it progresses – with more opportunities unfolding every day, blending genres and professions for a fine array to pick from. Here are just some of the highlights:
Travelling Showcase/Mikey’s Tour
Signing up for an event without being fully sure what it is can either be unpleasant or enchanting. This experience was certainly the latter as attendees were taken on a musical-sightseeing mash-up tour of the city, led by event organiser Mikey (aka Mikey B Rishwain who is programming director and a key personality of M for Montreal).
It began with the serene sounds of Jean-Michel Blais playing classical piano in the 19th century Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, before all boarding a vintage yellow school bus for a trip to Mont-Royal, the three-peaked hill after which the city is named. On the bus there were soulful acoustic tunes from Beaver Sheppard followed by a final stop-off at the inventive office space which is 160, rue Saint-Viateur Est – an array of designers, companies, creators and makers. It was in various studios here that three artists performed – Jessica Mitchell bringing atmospheric singer-songwriting skill to the art lounge, artist respectfulchild creating finger-plucked layers of haunting violin loops upstairs and finally a grunge-tinged gritty performance on guitar and vocals from solo artist Common Holly. Events culminated at the offices of legendary music company Bonsound.
Selling-out the venue of MTELUS (a concert space in the Quartier des spectacles area of the city) – this electronic music duo from Seattle serve up satisfying, body-swaying beats. ODESZA – consisting of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight – are apparently named after a sunken ship, and their sound does strike and plumb at mystical depths and subtle currents. As for the live experience – they still manage to combine that crafted intensity with inspiring levels of vocal harmony in a type of genre some may call ‘chilltrap’. Yes, this is the art of bringing ‘chill’ to the floor and still managing to hold a whole audience captivated – layers of lush calm soothing the crowd from an age of acceleration. This is a duo certainly deft at making an impression, following on from the recent success of their third album ‘A Moment Apart’ released earlier this year.
A serene slice of Canadian (from Toronto) indie pop was served up by the colourful, creative five-piece Alvvays at Club Soda. Their latest album ‘Antisocialites’ combines dream pop with more driven hooks and sounds of synth – and it is evident live too, that their latest material has plenty of depth. The pace varies, the mood moulds from melancholia to influences of gutsy garage rock and power pop. Proof of a band bringing a varied crowd and an array of tastes together – highly enjoyable.
A group of lads from the South London bringing unashamed post punk, youth and anger into hard-hitting, powerful pieces which combine irony with driving melody. Their debut album ‘Songs of Praise’ is out next year and they are touring too – testament to a band bristling with energy, thickening their delivery with a kind of fury. ‘Concrete,’ with its rasping, rallying cry for ‘No more questions’ seems almost barked-out in brilliance – a key track for sure. After all, lead singer Charlie Steen is not even into his twenties and is joined by Eddie Green and Sean Coyle-Smith on guitars, Josh Finerty on bass and drummer Charlie Forbes – turning out tunes with energy. Playing at L’Escogriffe, this was already set to be a performance that wound-up the crowd and created a stir – and rightly so. They deserve to go far and give guitar-driven guts which are so significantly refreshing compared to so much of the manufactured content being turned out today.
Photo Credit: Vivien Gaumand
For more information on M for Montreal, visit their Website.