Just as the massive heatwave that swept Montreal was dying down, I decided the best way to spend my Sunday on July 21st was to spend it cramped in the crowded Bar Le Ritz P.D.B., sweating profusely, to catch a glimpse of punk legends in the making.
The show began with a false start, as Dish Pit prepared to play, but were delayed by a broken guitar strap. To pass the time, guitarist Nora Kelly regaled the audience with a story about how her pet baby rats escaped from their cage and shat all over her room. As a fellow rat owner, I’ve had reoccurring nightmares of that happening to me. Once a replacement strap was found, the trio launched into their set. Having seen the band through different phases, I wasn’t familiar with the first handful of songs. The songs sounded slower and more spacey, with Kelly ominously murmuring over the music. Bassist Brianna Stein’s bubbly personality was on full display as she cut in with operatic screeches to signify a shift to the harder parts of their songs. The combination of Kelly’s and Stein’s vocals was most effective in the second half, with their songs becoming grungier and surfier, like their single “Trash Queen.”
I was struck with a sense of déjà vu when Pale Lips went up on stage, having seen them play the same venue exactly a month ago. But this time around, they didn’t have to share the bill with five other bands, allowing them to squeeze more songs into their set. And now that they were the middle band, they were able to play to a bigger crowd, raising the energy levels a lot higher. Seeing them again gave me a chance to concentrate on different aspects of their performance, rather than being seduced by Jackie Blenkarn’s dance moves. I paid closer attention to the backing vocals of Jamie Rae and Ilona Szabo, who ooh’d and ah’d in songs like “Hiding From the Moon.” They closed with one of my favourite tracks off their first album Wanna Be Bad, “Rock n’ Roll Dipshit.”
Eager audience members were staking their place near the stage, not wanting to miss out on Melbourne, Australia’s hottest new act, Amyl and the Sniffers. Staying true to Australian fashion, guitarist Dec Martens and bassist Gus Romer sported intense mullets. But all heads were turned when singer Amy Taylor stepped on stage wearing a black leather two-piece, a smart choice of wardrobe, considering how boiling hot it got in the room. Her bandmates eventually stripped down to their skivvies to cope with the heat. The pub rockers pulled songs from their recently released self-titled debut album, with such sing-along bangers like “Starfire 500” and “Got You.” Taylor dove into the crowd, who enthusiastically held her up high above their heads. During instrumental segments, Taylor shadow-boxed, fighting off an unseen foe, exuding a powerful energy that hasn’t been seen since the late great Wendy O. Williams. The audience responded in a chaotic frenzy, violently pushing each other, throwing red streamers up into the air and spraying their drinks across the room. By the end, the disco ball was dripping with beer. It was the sweatiest, wildest show I’ve been to in recent memory.
Written by Chris Aitkens
Photography by Jean David Lafontant
*edited by Mike Milito