Enticing a Montrealer to leave their house-shaped cave and actually do something – anything – is a feat in and of itself during this particular time of year. With the warmth of summer still at the forefront of our memories and the promise of only colder, drearier weather to come, added to the semesterly apocalypse called midterms that most twenty-somethings are currently struggling to survive, the sheer volume of people who made it out to Katacombes on Thursday night was telling of the talent that would be gracing the stage for Medusa’s EP launch.
Powerful females having been a huge theme of the night, acoustic grunge songstress Jenn Fiorentino of Markham, Ontario set the tone immediately with her thought-provoking lyrics and complex six-string compositions, garnering the top spot on my list of personal favorites of the night (not to sound super self-important or anything). Each chord progression was well thought out and stylized to its full potential; her picking was intricate, delicate when it needed to be, and oftentimes overwhelmingly passionate. Her set being the only acoustic one of the night, she definitely held her own; her material substantial enough vocally, lyrically, and musically to carry itself among the three and four pieces that followed.
Dead End Trends, a local ska-punk quartet, ushered in the amped portion of the evening with style. From track number one, their high-voltage, intensely physical style of performing took almost as much energy to watch as it clearly did to perform. After taking a seat onstage near the end of the band’s set, vocalist Toge, belted a song from the ground after informing the audience that his heart hurt. This, however, did not make them come off as a group of dudes who were underprepared to rock the fuck out, but rather some pretty stellar musicians who weren’t hesitant to give it their all. As is the case with all good punk, their set was a ton of fun. Their playing was tight, and collectively as a band, these dudes were obviously made for each other.
Up next were the men and woman of the hour, Medusa, who played an amalgam of songs off their brand new EP, all the while breaking in their equally brand new drummer, Li-Syn, who kicked ass. The first striking component to a Medusa performance is the heavy reliance on theatrics. The makeup and the general hyping up of the crowd is mainly what I am referring to, and these guys are pros at it. Their undeniable stage presence makes them seem like well-versed professionals when it comes to their onstage demeanor.
Front woman Kayla Whynter’s deep and raspy vocals were nothing short of impressive, and her ability to keep everyone in the room at attention was commendable. Their parents must be feeding them something special, because her brother and bassist Izzy clearly shares the same knack for performance, moving around while playing and even jumping into the crowd to keep everyone pumped.
Showmanship aside, something that kind of rubbed me the wrong way was the general attitude about the band offstage. Before their performance, whenever a band member would make an appearance at the bar or in the crowd, their faces would be draped in towels or large hoods as if to keep them from having to deal with the recognition of their fans. They were also nowhere to be found once their set had finished, not even giving the other acts the courtesy of support. Not to mention, this was their own EP launch.
Carrying on with the badass ladies of the soirée, DEATH PROOF, an all female three piece that doesn’t need any coaching in terms of being cool, brought a unique blend of punk, metal, and rock to the table. Donning some of the best looks of the night, these chicks are living proof that it is, in fact, possible to be the raddest people in the room while clad in a tutu. A perfect mix of upbeat thrashers and slowed down intensity, their set held a truly awesome scope of catchy punk riffs, seemingly stoned and droning basslines (in a positive way), and a refreshing take on genres that don’t usually get to be sung in the higher registers as used by bassist Stefiction Sista, and Kat-Astrophy Cordos, the group’s drummer. I particularly enjoyed their sense of humour that translated into their songwriting; for instance, building up a song titled “Jennifer Lopez” as having been inspired by Slipknot (lol, am I right?). The fact that they all looked like they were having the best time of everyone in the room added to their musical magnetism and secured my inclination to catch another one of their shows.
Drawing the curtain on an insane night, The Lovely Haze delivered an unparalleled performance in the way of seriously gritty grunge. Hailing from right here in Montreal, the band had a comfortable air about them while onstage, bantered amply with the audience, and, most importantly, played exceptionally. Emily’s vocals could be qualified as a falsetto Courtney Love, but one with the actual chops to play live. Specializing in quick tempo ditties, TLH had the crowd moshing by the time they were two songs deep, something that hadn’t fully come to fruition during anyone else’s set.
And so, with my belly full of beer and my ears filled with killer music, the night came to an unfortunate close. I can’t remember the last time that I enjoyed a local show this thoroughly, and I’m stoked for the next opportunity to see any of these guys and gals do their thing. I would suggest that you catch any of their shows as well, if not for the love of their music, then for the sake of supporting your homegrown talent.