Kudos to whoever was in charge of the music before and between sets Monday night at L’Astral; it was a cleverly thought out preview of what we were in for during sets by Venus Furs and the Horrors. Kraftwerk, David Bowie, and Iggy Pop got the crowd digging that late seventies post-punk vibe, a theme that would be present throughout the entire night. The venue change (the show was originally scheduled for the Corona Theater) proved to be another shrewd move as L’Astral, a slightly more intimate venue, was packed and seriously amped up.
Hailing from our fair city of Montreal, though much more akin to English post-punk and shoegaze bands in style and sensibility, Venus Furs took to exploring the stage sonically and not physically. With a stone cold, blazé demeanor, the trio led by guitarist-vocalist Paul Kasner glided through a set of dreamy, melancholic noise. “Friendly Fire” was a nice gem early on in the set that had my ears burning, although most of the crowd seemed to have their interest piqued when Kasner would rip into flourishes of noisy guitar shredding, causing a palpable buzz in the room. Kasner’s vocals have a striking resemblance to Dredg singer Gavin Hayes, who both sing with a high-pitched etherealness. Noisy, abrasive songs with light and airy vocals provide a one-two punch that will have me on the floor in ecstasy every time. The set came to a close with Kasner distorting notes on the guitar with a drumstick as I pondered how a three-piece could make so much noise! Venus Furs are in the process of mastering their debut album , so put that down in your reminders as I did and be sure to check it out.
Faris Badwan of The Horrors took hold of the stage, wielding his mic stand like a weapon, clad in leather pants, leather jacket, and a black fishnet shirt.He claimed the stage front with the confidence of a frontman that I haven’t witnessed in years! Opening with “Hologram,” the lead track off of their latest album V, the Horrors pulsated on stage with their take on the synthesized, danceable rock made popular about thirty years ago by New Order. The Horrors were intent on much more than making people dance. “Machine” quickly changed the pace into some heavier, gothic electronic that reminded me of Orgy. Badwan also uses an effect on his voice very similar to that of Orgy frontman Jay Gordon. The Horrors were all business that night; Badwan said next to nothing between songs, and his thick British accent made what he did say difficult to pick up. Badwan was communicating a message with his ultra-confident stage demeanor, something I truly haven’t witnessed probably since Marilyn Manson. With a little more crowd interaction and showmanship he could be the total package.
The Horrors mixed some older songs into the middle of their set, like “Mirror’s Image” and “Endless Blue,” but their primary focus was V and with good reason. It’s a brilliant fucking album! The groovy and laid back “Press Enter To Exit” simmered down the audience just before an encore that featured the uplifting, insanely danceable closing track off of V, “Something To Remember Me By.” I implore you to find a better song to close out a set with! The crowd was swept up in the magic of the moment and the Horrors went out on a high.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Kate Erickson