A near-capacity crowd (more on that later) filled L’Astral to take in Bishop Briggs with opening act Foreign Air. After being treated to an amuse bouche last October when Bishop Briggs opened for Alt-J, I was salivating at the mouth for the main course, a headline spot and a brand new full-length album Church of Scars (released April 20th, 2018 on Island Records).
Foreign Air took to a stage awash with electronic samplers, keyboards, and drum pads. The self-described east coast band was playing just their second show on this tour but seemed at ease as they charmed the crowd with some extremely danceable electronic indie bangers. Frontman Jesse Clasen seemed locked in a trance on “Free Animal” as he drifted between his sampler and the crowd.
Foreign Air’s sound grooves a lot like the bands Glass Animal or Portugal. The Man, blurring the lines between rock and dance music. The band also provided a little comic relief, sampling and remixing the viral “yodelling Walmart kid” video into one of their songs, which got a few snickers from the crowd and provided a nice change of mood and pace. Foreign Air’s latest single “Loud Magic” was a standout track for myself and if it’s any indication as to where their sound is heading, I anticipate that their next album will be enormously successful! The set culminated with the band hitting a little sound trouble, Clasen stating that this is his “Black Mirror” moment; though the crisis was averted and Foreign Air banged it out fabulously with a flurry of double drum patterns and pure danceable ecstasy.
My biggest take away from Bishop Briggs’ set was the stark contrast in energy that she employs between songs and during them. As Bishop Briggs sings, she dances around the stage with the fleet-footedness and speed of a boxer or sprinter; if she were not a musician she would surely be going to the fucking Olympics! Then in between songs, she speaks to the audience with such eloquence and humbleness that you’re struggling to believe it’s even the same person! In essence, she imbues the set with a rare human element that is eternally endearing and such a rare thing to witness.
Bishop Briggs opened the set with “White Flag,” as the crowd immediately shifted into a jump up mode, followed by “Wild Horses” and “Tempt My Trouble,” all off of Church Of Scars. Briggs’ energy was kept steady by the metronomic drumming of Beaudry Evans and the slick keys and guitar playing of Taylor Van Ginkel. Between songs, Briggs endeared herself to the crowd as if she really needed to do that, by mentioning that she spent the day figuring out how to say “Montreal” with the French enunciation. She nailed it! “Lyin’” was one of the most powerful moments of the night, a song Briggs co-wrote with Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, who Briggs went on to describe as “superhuman” after witnessing him sing in the studio. But no, the true superhuman was Briggs herself, who apologized in advance to a little girl front stage before one of her songs that has foul language in it! Who does that!?
The set wound down with “Dream” and “Hi-Lo (Hollow),” never losing pace or meandering, everything in the right place. Briggs announced that though there were ten tickets left before the show, someone had just notified her that they ended up selling, making it officially a sell-out crowd! Slow golf clap to you, Montreal! And for the encore, a new song that is only in demo stage “Baby,” which I can’t wait to hear recorded and of course, “River,” predictable if only because it’s such a goddamn good fucking song! What an incredible night! An early candidate for my favourite show of the year!
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Mike Milito