On December 9th, two Montreal-based acts took the stage at Le National. The quaint venue hosted Canadian singer/songwriter, Leif Vollebekk, along with opener Little Scream. Both acts delivered soulful performances that made for a cozy time on a cold Montreal night.
Little Scream is the stage name of singer-songwriter Laurel Sprengelmeyer. Besides fronting her groovy band of musicians, she has also played on recordings for bands like The National and The Barr Brothers (both of these bands have released new music this year that is definitely worth checking out.) Despite fighting laryngitis, Little Scream and company were able to come together to get people dancing to their tunes and warmed up for Vollebekk. The music was a tasty mélange of folk and pop, backed by the mojo of the old west and delivered with a smooth groove that echoed the likes of Fleetwood Mac.
It was impossible to stay still during their set; feet were tapping and heads were bopping. The set list responsible for such vibes included a few songs from their 2016 sophomore album Cult Following, as well as some new tracks that have been in the works. I picked up a copy of the album at the end of the night so that I can now groove to tracks like “Love as a Weapon” while I melt away in the endless Montreal traffic. Give Little Scream a listen, and keep your eyes peeled for any more local action to get both the live and studio experience of the music.
Next up was Leif Vollebekk with his mellow and peculiar demeanor. I was instantly intrigued by just how exaggerated his movements were behind the keys. It seemed as though every touch of a note sent an electrical shock through his fingers that travelled through his entire body. Despite the squirming and crazy facial expressions, his touch was something to be admired. It could very well have been him sending shocks into his instruments to produce such unique voicing. Check out the video to the song “Vancouver Time” to get a good visual on his distinct vibe. The track was also performed at the show, as it could be found on Vollebekk’s latest album Twin Solitude. The album was shortlisted for the 2017 Polaris Music Prize, which is awarded to the best full-length Canadian album and based solely on artistic merit. The Twin Solitude track list would be a good summary of the music played that night. From songs accompanied by bass and drums, to solo performances on keys and guitar, Vollebekk delivered a versatile set while maintaining a consistently mellow and soulful mood.
He also surprised the crowd with a rendition of “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” by the late, great Prince. He had everyone singing along on that one in a moment that captured the intimacy of the night. Vollebekk took the time to talk to the crowd and tell some stories throughout the show, which helped reel everyone into the performance and hook them as fans. He is yet another Montreal-based artist to explore and keep on your radar. Support the local happenings and don’t let the snow keep you inside this winter! You may very well find refuge at a great show somewhere.
Written by Ben Cornel
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Kate Erickson