There are some questions that we might never know the answers to. Are we alone in the universe? Fucking magnets, how do they work? What does the “P.D.B.” stand for in Ritz P.D.B.? That being said, this bar’s poor acoustics, crappy lighting, and out-of-the-way location makes it my one of my least favourite venues in Montreal. They book the best acts though, and tonight was no exception.
I’m pretty used to shows starting late, especially at small venues, so it was a surprise when I learned (too late) that they had decided to move the starting time 30 minutes earlier. I only managed to catch a couple songs of The Appleseed Cast‘s set, and, despite the crowd blocking my view and the muddy sound typical of the venue, I really got into it. Their mix of indie and post-rock, carried by the voice of Christopher Crisci, was a pleasant surprise. I’ll be sure to catch them the next time they play in this neck of the woods.
Taking advantage of the downtime, I made my way to the front of the pit among the (still) very tightly packed crowd. I only had vague, drunken memories of the last time I saw Caspian on stage at an outdoor festival a couple years ago, so I was looking forward to experience their music in a more intimate setting. While they were setting up, I noticed that they had their own lighting gear with them, which brought a sigh of relief on my part. I won’t have to deal with the Ritz’s tungsten ugliness this time!
After opening with “Waking Season,”, seven-foot-tall frontman Phillip Jamieson gave a short speech in near-perfect French, much to the surprise of the audience. “Bonsoir, nous sommes Caspian!”
Tonight was the last date of their five-week North American tour to promote their latest album Dust and Disquiet, and they were going to make it special. They followed with “Echo and Abyss,” during which shit really started to get real. Each of the five members was giving off tremendous levels of energy, headbanging in unison and using the space of the (very tiny) stage. They were rocking out so hard that Jamieson broke his E string during the third song and had to replace it in the dark. (Respect!) The sound was also surprisingly good, despite some voice balance problems that got fixed pretty quickly. Despite their music not being very original, and making use of all the tropes of post-rock (slow and mellow buildups, heavy breakdowns), they’ve become masters of their craft. I didn’t feel bored for one second of their hour-long set.
After giving a very generous three-song encore (including their new single, “Castles High, Marble Bright”) and proclaiming their love for the Montreal crowd, they left the stage under a thunder of applause. Despite the less than ideal venue and some technical problems, these guys killed it. You should definitely check them out if you’re into post-rock.
Written and Photographed by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Kate Erickson