As I stood at the bar, watching the beer pour into my cup, the first band made its entrance onto the stage, greeted by joyous cheering from the crowd that had gathered at the Métropolis for a night of Californian rock. They immediately began playing sounds that made me think ,“Wait, is Tame Impala opening!?” The Australian group had already played the venue a few months back, so I made my way towards the stage to investigate this new band. They’re called Hunny, and they mix musical elements of Miniature Tigers, The Police and Pink Floyd. The frontman delivered a ton of punkish energy onstage, drinking from a wine bottle while bouncing around, singing, playing guitar, and generally being so into the music that you couldn’t help but smile. The audience danced and clapped with the band, led by the frontman’s enthusiasm. It’s worth noting that the whole group put on a fun show, and delivered solid songs that got me moving. The use of effects and melodic layering were great – I have yet to hear a bad mix at the Metropolis, no matter where I stand in the room. The drummer is a powerhouse and the synth player shook the room at times, thanks to some glorious sub-bass paired to some awesome use of tremolo. Hunny is a great band, and their first EP, Pain/Ache/Loving, was just released on October 9th. They played a short, seven-song set, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from these guys soon.
Next was Bad Suns, a quartet that brought us rock songs that sounded like they were written in a dark bar somewhere in Vegas. Frontman Christo Bowman impressed me with his singing skills and brought the audience into the music, dancing wildly and letting us know that Montreal had his heart. Their second song was “Cardiac Arrest,” which I sang to along with a new friend and what seemed like the whole venue. They play catchy songs that are danceable and intense. The main band I can compare them to is The Killers, with their upbeat bar rock that has a four-on-the-floor kind of feel. Both Gavin Bennett the bassist and guitarist Ray Libby were immersed in the music they played, moving to the rhythm and digging in for those moments in the song when the intensity reached its peak. Drummer Miles Morris played interesting patterns that often caught my attention, and the bassist occasionally took over a synthesizer. All bands played in front of a giant screen that night, but it was during Bad Suns’ set that we got the subtle first glimpse of some animated graphics that were soon to come. Near the end of their set, they launched into a jam section that reminded me of “Three Days” from the mighty Jane’s Addiction. They were good, but it was during The Neighbourhood’s set that my mind got blown.
You know a band’s got big fans when they cheer for the band’s technical crew. A few times before The Neighbourhood got onstage, the crowd made noise as a member of their touring team could be seen setting up the band’s gear. When the musicians showed up, the crowd went nuts. I was mesmerized as they began the first song, which was complemented by slick, black and white animated graphics of palm trees and shades of waves on the big screen behind the band. The Neighbourhood are known to play dark, sensual music, and the people gathered at the Metropolis got exactly what they wanted that night. Frontman Jessie Rutherford captured my attention and held it for most of the show, jumping around and singing from atop of his monitor. He was very energetic, sang very well, and was completely connected with the crowd. They played songs from their upcoming album, and consistently recreated the music from previous works to a tee. The music was well played, well structured, catchy, and powerful. At times, the band brought forth hints of Portishead’s “Glory Box” that were complemented by a fuck-ton of soul from Jessie Rutherford, sending shivers up my spine. The crowd sang along to “Afraid” while the band received a bra tossed from an audience member. “Daddy Issues” was next and saw the frontman half-singing, half-moaning out the lyrics, as the band supplied beautiful audio textures for this sensual track. The Neighbourhood have a knack for creating huge moments in their music, while remaining catchy and memorable. The light show was also a lot of fun: sporadic strobe lights, swirling multicolored lights, the giant screen that would occasionally turn off to reveal spotlights built into it… As the band finished the first part of their set, they exited the stage for a minute or two before the frontman returned with auto tune on his mic for a brief rap set he handled solo, accompanied by a backing track. The songs he sang were generally short and melded into each other. It was an interesting break, and brought variety to The Neighbourhood’s set. The band then returned to play the last three songs: “Warm,” “Sweater Weather,” and “RIP 2 My Youth”. All I can say is that, after singing “Sweater Weather” in the subway for the past two years, it was awesome to sing it with the band and 2299 fellow fans. “RIP 2 My Youth” was a great set closer, and culminated with a fourth bra thrown to the stage.
Written by Dave Tone
*edited by Kate Erickson