When the large crowd of eager faces walked through the doors of the beautiful Cabaret du Mile End on the night of November 22nd, they expected to see talented up-and-coming musicians perform for the last night of the M for Montreal festival. Little did they realize, that stepping through those doors would actually be like stepping into a time machine. The night consisted of four Montreal bands; Les Deuxluxes, Eagle Tears, Caravane, and The Damn Truth, most of which had a retro flare.
Les Deuxluxes kicked off the night with a completely breathtaking performance. They’re a bilingual blues-rock band with a 70s look and drumming style, and a psychedelic 60s rock quality. If you were to take Jefferson Airplane and turn them into a two piece-band with vocals even stronger than the already strong voice of Grace Slick, you would get Les Deuxluxes. The vocalist, Anna Frances Meyer was energetic and seemed to never stop moving, making the crowd move right along with her. In mere seconds, they had the entire room enamoured by their unique and powerful classic sounds. Though only two people, they were loud enough to sound like seven. Meyer played the guitar while she sang, and Barry sang and played the guitar, drums, and the tambourine all at the same time. The technique of having the tambourine on the symbols was similar to the Led Zeppelin playing style and is one we don’t see often enough anymore. As their set went on, they began sounding like 50s blues artists, with so much soul emphasized in every note. Meyer showed a massive vocal range, able to go from sultry to powerful in moments. With their song “Turn the Heat Up” came a new drummer and a lot more singing from Barry. Meyer and Barry’s voices went along perfectly together and the set was flawless to the end.
Eagle Tears took the stage next, with their 70s-inspired outfits. Their music was a cross of blues-rock and grunge, sounding like Led Zeppelin meets Pearl Jam. Hal and George both had powerful vocals, with Hal sounding almost like Chris Cornell at times. They also had great stage presence with energetic music that had the masses headbanging. Their performance of “Sweet Little Thing” was their best of the night, being a very upbeat and catchy tune. As their set went on, songs became a combination of several genres, showcasing sounds influenced by soul, country, and heavy metal. Though they lost the crowd a little towards the end of their set, it was a strong performance overall.
French punk band Caravane had the most modest appearance of the evening. Their lyrics were mediocre and their riffs a tad too generic, but the vocalist’s voice was more than decent. Their strongest performance of the night was their song, “Maxime”, which was a catchy disco-inspired rock sound, worthy of bands like The Killers and Franz Ferdinand.
Headlining and closing up the show was the spirited band The Damn Truth, with their multi-media set, worthy of a large stadium, that took everyone back to Woodstock. Against a backdrop of colourful skulls stood the guitarist, bassist, and drummer, as they began to play their first song of the set. After the first few chords were played, a dancing Lee-La Baum appeared spreading incense over the crowd and the stage, before setting it down in front of the drum set, singing with a voice more powerful than any other in the history of Montreal music. Before she even sang a word, the crowd knew what they were in for and gave loud cheers that would be a constant sound throughout their entire set. A few songs in, Baum grabbed a few leis and passed them to the audience, in true hippy fashion. Their performance of “I Want You (He’s a Lightweight)”, their unique take on The Beatles song of a similar name, was absolutely flawless, better than words can even describe, and placed everyone in the room under a spell. Unlike most bands, they did not wait until the end of their set to play their hits. Instead, they played them strategically, pleasing the audience whenever they got quiet. Before their encore, they covered songs off of their upcoming album (no word on when that will be released) as well as “Too Late, Kinda Awkward” and their newest single, “Get With You.” When they came back out for the encore, Baum dedicated their first song, “Montreal”, to her mother and to the Cabaret du Mile End for “being there for them from the very beginning”. It was the most emotional performance of the evening, and was a beautiful ode to our wonderful city. Baum then got off the stage as the band played a Mediterranean tune, while a belly dancer danced to it. No one was as fond of this segment, but it was still a charming thing to add to the concert. After making political statements about war, saying “we have to take action”, and playing a few more incredible songs, the set came to a sad end. Though this was the last concert of their tour, we should all look forward to their eventual return to the stage.
All four bands are worth seeing live, and the night was one that was sure to make everyone a proud Montrealer.