Of all the venues in Montreal, Club Soda is among the ones I know the least. I had only been there once a couple years ago, so I was excited when I was on my merry way there Wednesday night to see a very promising lineup.
Kicking off the night were prog-metal band Uncured. Led by brothers Rex and Zak Cox (respectively 16 and 18 years old), they describe their sound as a “combination of technical musicianship, brutal riffs, and beautiful, melodic interludes.” I would describe it as trying to play the most complicated parts possible at the expense of everything else. Sure, those kids are insanely good at playing guitar in weird time signatures, but technicality for the sake of technicality gets old really fast. Their cookie monster vocals and stiff stage presence didn’t really help either. I found myself looking mostly towards bassist Jon Kita’s corner to fight the boredom. At least he was showing a lot energy and really seemed to be enjoying himself!
Next on stage were post-rock masters Caspian, for their very first show at Club Soda. I already saw these guys live a couple times (it seems like they play in Montreal a few times a year), so I knew what to expect. And even then, they managed to blow my (already high) expectations out of the water. They were an absolute blast to watch, even though their setlist could use some switching up (but that’s cherry picking). Illuminated from the back by bright floodlights, they took advantage of the size of the stage, thrashing around, and translating to perfection the intensity of their music into kinetic form. Frontman Phillip Jamieson addressed the crowd a few times in perfect French to say how much they love playing in Montreal. And the sentiment reciprocal, judging by the enthusiasm of the audience.
Last but not least, headliners Katatonia took the stage in front of a packed venue. These guys have been on my radar for a longtime, so I was impatient to finally see them perform live. Defining Katatonia’s sound is not easy; I would say they’re prog-metal with goth and cold wave influences, with a knack for catchy (but never cheesy) choruses and melodies. I tend to think Swedish metal bands have the best sound and lighting (Meshuggah and Cult of Luna come to mind), and once again my theory was proven correct. The sound was crystal clear, as I could judge from the first notes of “Last Song Before The Fade,” from their excellent new album (actually in my Top 5 of 2016) The Fall of Hearts. They didn’t stick to their new material however, and gave us a pretty thorough overview of their discography. From the heavy “Ghost of the Sun” and “Forsaker” to crowd pleasers like “Teargas” and “My Twin,” they were excellent through and through. I even caught myself singing along, as was pretty much everyone around me. Frontman Jonas Renske, despite a curtain of long hair masking his face for most of the show, took the time to chat and crack jokes with the audience between songs: “In Sweden, Wednesday is little Saturday, so have some drinks!” After playing for an hour that went by way too fast, they gave a 3-song encore under a roar of applause and love declarations from people in the crowd.
“Montreal is the world capital of metal… After Stockholm.” Thanks Katatonia, you fucking rock.
Written and Photographed by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Danielle Kenedy