Sunday March 9th at Le National there was an event that showcased just how proud Montreal should be of its local music scene. The launch show for Felt, the latest album by Suuns, was captivating from start to finish.
The room was totally dark except for the purple shroud on the stage over Security as they played. Their music is is a special blend of industrial and noise rock, featuring big bass grooves with a tone that could bite your face off dance around tribal drum loops. There’s guitar and vocals there, but they almost feel like an after thought; extra dissonance on an already distorted pie. They’re only a duo, but they’re loud enough for a six-piece. It was really cool to watch the way bassist and programmer Elie BF moved along with his grooves as if he was possessed. They didn’t address the crowd at all, save for a small thank you at the end of their set.
Between acts, the conversation that moved throughout the room was based around only one topic: Suuns. Whether those talking were friends of the band or simply fans, the universal respect for the uniqueness of Sunns’ music was loud and clear. The guys didn’t keep themselves hidden; they stood on the stage calmly as they tuned their instruments and checked their own microphones. At one point the drummer did “something” and loud feedback rang through the speakers for a good two minutes. He just kind of sat there and stared at the sound guy with a big grin on his face until the problem was fixed. Everybody cheered.
At exactly 10 o’clock the lights went out, save for a series of red lights along the back of the stage. Then a large backdrop featuring an oil painting was lowered from the ceiling. Then, ten minutes of nothing. Following that, Suuns took the stage without a word and began playing “Look No Further.” A force washed over the room and everyone began to sway. If Security were loud, then Suuns broke the sound barrier. Sexy dance grooves were interspersed between grinding alternative rock. Also, there was a sax player so, you know, bonus points. Their music is a mix of trance, house, and psychadelic rock, and it works so well. Big monster tracks like “Powers of Ten” sat comfortably next to cute little ditties like “Up Past the Nusery.” Vocalist Ben Shemie seemed to have a new instrument in his hand every time you turned to look at him. Sometimes it was a guitar, sometimes it was a pair of triangles. After about an hour, he finally spoke by simply wishing us “Bon soir.”
They really made the crowd work for the encore. People stamped, yelled, and clapped for what felt like longer than usual. It was totally worth the wait, though. We were treated to three more killer tracks and, best of all, the sax came back. It wanted to stay. Shemie actually did take a little more time to thank everyone who worked on the show, as well as the fans for coming out. It was clear that even though he is native to Montreal, French is not his mother tongue. Still, he gave it the old college try. And it doesn’t really matter, because Suuns’ music is a universal language.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson