This year’s third annual Festival Anachronik took place from May 5th to 7th and featured vintage cars and vintage bands from all across the board. The bands played Montreal’s Quartier Latin in venues as small as Frite Alors and as large as Club Soda.
I kicked off this year’s festival Thursday evening with a show at Frite Alors where Bilingual bluegrass (or as they refer to themselves, brewgrass) band, Damn Old Brew, played two sets. Unfortunately, despite my asking to be seated somewhere near the stage in the nearly empty diner, I was seated behind a pillar due to the lack of standing room in the venue, so, I did not get a good glimpse of how the band looked when they played. The show starting at 6:00pm also meant it was time for the dinner rush, and as more people piled in, the band could hardly be heard over the loud chatter and the clamour of utensils and dishes.
That being said, those seated closer to the stage appeared to enjoy the show and were tapping their toes. A toddler in the crowd danced around and played air-guitar (or perhaps air-banjo). The few times that I could hear the music, I enjoyed the energetic combination of their voices with the fiddle, guitar, bass, and banjo. They played a full set before taking a break and then played another set which they kicked off with “She’s Got Those Eyes.” The sound got a little louder for the song, and the harmonizing of their voices was just perfect; they sounded similar to vintage Mumford & Sons. They would’ve been fun to watch at a venue where their music would have been the main focus.
The festival ended on Saturday, where I caught a show at Club Soda. Three bands took the stage that night, each of them pleasantly quirky in their own way. The Hazytones graced the stage first with their 70s-styled long hair and beards. They got the audience into their music almost immediately; shredding on their guitars, and sounding like a cross between classic metal and the psychedelic 60s. The singer’s voice was strong and mesmerizing, at times similar to that of James Hetfield, and at other times sounding reminiscent of Raine Maida. Everything from the way they looked to the way they moved oozed vintage, and I found myself having to look around and see the cell phones to remember I was in 2016. Halfway through their set, they addressed the audience saying, “On s’en va dans la vraie vie, on change de guitares,” which basically translates to “We’re entering the real world. We’re changing guitars.” They then continued to play songs off of their upcoming first album and the set ended with such theatricality; I half-expected them to smash their guitars à la classic Pete Townshend.
Montreal French band, Les Marinellis, took the stage next with their eccentric performance. The lead singer stood on the stage in his very sparkly outfit and started to belt out “L’Indienne,” a rock track influenced both by Quebec folk music and Mediterranean tunes. In both his appearance and his interesting vocal range, it was similar to watching a modern day Freddie Mercury on the stage. He switched out his tambourine for maracas, and they brought the audience into the 60s with their next track and continued their fun set with “Deux Pour Trois,” “Entre Ses Pas,” and “Quand Elle Marche,” for which the lead singer sensually crawled around the stage. They had the whole audience dancing in no time.
Highlighting act, The Black Lips¸ followed with an equally provocative performance. The once almost empty room was filled with excited fans as they anticipated the arrival of the Atlanta band. The crowd hung on to their every word as they played their first track, and began crowd surfing as soon as their second. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen security guards appear on a stage so often, as crowd members jumped the stage throughout their set. Several audience members sang along by the time they played “Drugs” and “Dirty Hands,” a track that sounds like the perfect marriage between The Beatles and Nirvana. The drummer wowed as he never missed a beat and still maintained powerful vocals on the songs that he sang. Taking a break from jumping around the stage they decided to, “Slow it down a bit,” with a performance of their hit track, “Boys in the Wood.” The crowd surfing and drinking only increased from there as people swayed to the rhythm of the guitar, fully enthralled in their music. It was at this point that the band began to throw rolls of toilet paper into the audience. Spectators had fun throwing the rolls to each other from across the room, and wrapping themselves up in it.
When they played “Sea of Blasphemy,” each of them took turns screaming into the mic, narrowly avoiding toilet paper rolls to the head and riling up the crowd even more. When their set finished, audience members only had to wait a few short moments before they came running back out with an incredible three-song encore performance. As people walked out in their toilet paper clad shoes, there didn’t seem to be a single person in the room who didn’t enjoy the show. Whether you’re into good music, or into everything vintage, you should keep an eye out for the next Festival Anachronik.
Written by Franca G. Mignacca
Photography by Melissa Martella and Stacy Basque
*edited by Danielle Kenedy