The other night I hit up Bar de Courcelle, one of my favourite bars for free shows, to see Bird’s Eye View and Guidestones. It was Bird’s Eye View’s first show, but their set was surprisingly tight and dynamic. Well, it was surprising until it was pointed out to me that their lead singer is a veteran of Montreal’s metal scene, something he has in common with members of Guidestones. While a taste for heavy music certainly found ways of sneaking into both of their sets, I imagine anyone checking out these acts as fans of their member’s past work would be in for a bit of a shock.
Bird’s Eye View opened the night with a mix of light country-folk and super groovy, occasionally heavy blues-rock. The members’ history of playing music was apparent considering how polished their set was despite it being the band’s first. With the exception of one song, their sudden tempo changes, further evidence of an interest in heavier music, were smooth and kept the audience on their toes. Both guitar players made attempts at typical “cool guy” stage moves that seemed corny in such a small setting but would’ve been exciting in a larger one. This corniness found its way into the band’s lyrics as well. None of their songs seemed to move away from the typical “I’m so in love” and “I’m so heartbroken” tropes. Hopefully, as they evolve as a band, their lyrical range will as well. That being said, their vocals were gorgeous. Mostly melodic and powerful, sometimes the latter would tip the scales and they’d enter a rough almost screaming territory.
“We Used to Dance” was the catchiest song of their set and the closest thing they have to something that sounds like a stereotypical hit. “Get Yours” was the last song of their set and its sheer volume, groovy funk influence and aggressive vocal phrasing made it the most exciting song of their set, an excellent foot to finish on.
Guidestones had a similar sound, an important thing to consider when there are only two bands on the bill. Diversity is key when lots of bands are on a show, but when there’s only two, I find its more important to create a specific tone to stick with. Guidestones had more of a country vibe than Bird’s Eye View, particularly in the swagger of their vocalists. Their tight harmonies were a staple of the set and one of the band’s biggest strengths.
Their set opened with a sample from a blues song and the band’s confidence and charisma miraculously produced a successful rhythmic clap from the audience, a rare achievement for a small band so early in their set. The band’s stage presence was less serious, goofier and charming than Bird’s Eye View and it was a pleasant change of pace. That’s not to say Guidestones was any less badass. That first song featured a noisy breakdown and an interlude thick with indie rock flair. The final song of their set, “Ways of Old” managed to mix their slow and pretty country tendencies with a chaotic crescendo that hinted at post-rock influences that I wish the band incorporated into their music more.
Overall it was another classic night at Bar de Courcelle. There was good music, good beer and I ran into some friends who live in the neighbourhood and attend the bar frequently. It was interesting to see bands with members who clearly have a love of heavy music branch out and write music that is more melodic, occasionally subdued and certainly contains a more nostalgic, classic vibe.
Written by Brian Charles Clarke
Photography by Angie Radczenko
*edited by Danielle Kenedy