Landmark Events held the first round of their annual Showcase Festival on October 23rd, and it displayed the talents of fifteen acts of all sorts of genres and backgrounds.
After getting lost amongst the roads leading up to the atmospheric and comfortable venue that is L’Alize, I finally settled in in time to watch the entire set of the third band who played, The Flows. Of the bands playing that night, they were amongst the best. Their set opened up with “See the Light,” an alternative rock song with a blues undertone and a catchy guitar riff that perfectly displayed Adamo D’Annessa’s strong voice. Right off the bat, the song drew in the attention of everyone present in the room. With hardly a pause, the band went directly into playing “Don’t Have a Reason.” Though they continued to entertain the audience with their music, their stage presence faltered due to technical difficulties frustrating some of the members and drowning out the vocals at times. After an awkward plea to fix the issues, however, the band went right back to playing their five-song set, which was perfect to the very end. They closed off their segment with “Pouring Rain,” an upbeat track with a slight reggae inspiration. The last song also had the members finally looking like they were having fun, which had the crowd engaged and ready with anticipation for the rest of the show.
As more people slowly flowed in, alternative rock band Lunar Trees took the stage. Their set was mildly uncomfortable; though the riff of their first song was catchy, the band’s off-key vocals put off several members of the audience and lost their attention. With their second song came more prominent back-up vocals however, which helped distract from the still off-key lead vocals. What Gillis lacked in vocal prowess, he made up for in stage presence for the first part of their set, dancing around the stage and addressing the audience every chance he got. They finished off their set with a soothing psychedelic song, “Intergalactic Girl” that featured mediocre vocals alongside a perfect riff, reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Unfortunately, the song ended quite strangely, as Gillis got off the stage and approached audience members, head banging with them, a little too theatrically.
Rapper Young Kraze was up next, accompanied by a DJ. Admittedly, rap is one genre of music I know absolutely nothing about, so I can’t give much input on this performance. That being said, the crowd appeared divided by this act; half the crowd payed no attention to him or were offended by his frequent use of the word “motherf****r”, while the other half was completely enthralled, bouncing along to his every word.
Zena Eve Cantave was another hit that night, with her set of covers and originals accompanied by a backing track. Within seconds, Zena had the audience under her spell with her charming presence and soft but beautiful voice. She opened up with an original composition, and then dedicated her covers of “At Last” and “Wind Beneath My Wings” to her grandfather, on his birthday. Rounding off her set was one of her original R&B pop songs, “Everything I Feel.” She managed to get the audience to sing along with the song’s chorus, and it perfectly displayed her broad vocal range.
Unfortunately, I was only able to catch one more act that night, and I cannot say it was a very impressive one. When French duo Br’n’b hit the stage, a sheer feeling of shock resonated throughout the room. Both members wore over-sized wings, giving the impression that the man of the duo was supposed to represent an angel, and the woman, a demon. The vocals were strong, but were also angry and off-putting, having a large fraction of the audience leaving the venue to take walks and have smoke breaks. Even when addressing the audience directly, the singer sounded angry and, though it was obviously a stage persona, had several people squirming uncomfortably in their seats. She commanded the audience to dance and about eight people obliged, while the rest looked around awkwardly. The set was overall difficult to watch.
Though I could not stay for the rest of the show, sources have informed me that the acts became much better afterwards. The acts that made it to the semi-finals include Anthony Shea, The Soft Shoulders, The Flows, Young Kraze, Zina Eve Cantave, Cräckers & Jam, and Jean-Bastien Moquin. The semi-finals are to take place in January.
Written by Franca G. Mignacca
*edited by Kate Erickson