What’s not to like about Mile Ex End Festival? Two days of incredible music, much of which was local talent, an absolutely beautiful and scenic layout right under the Van Horne Overpass, an extremely affordable ticket price…we are truly blessed to have such cool events in Montreal! This year was the second instalment of the now-yearly festival. The weather was for the most part cooperative, the sound was pristine (I lost count of how many artists thanked the sound people during their sets), and the crowd was exuberant.
Saturday’s notable acts: Holy Two (Lyon, France) played a set of chilling electronic pop tunes, with vocals in both French and English by the duo comprised of Elodie and Hadrien, who play off each other quite well. “Undercover Girls” was a particular favourite of mine and represents the band’s dynamic perfectly. Kid Koala was literally a hyperactive, all-ages, party freak out under the name Vinyl Vaudeville. I’m just going to ramble off a few of the bizarre things I witnessed: giant dancing ostrich puppets sampling beats, kazoo battles, vaudeville dancers, Yo Gabba Gabba singalongs, massive paper airplanes. It was without a doubt the most fun I’ve had at a DJ set.
Next up was an extreme emotional shift to the powerful and alluring Nakhane. His set was without question my highlight of the weekend. Nakhane’s voice is uncanny and lends its supreme quality to songs that are already top notch, as in “In the Dark Room.” During the set Nakhane opined, “You’re here to have a good time. Well I’m about to make you a little emotional, which could also be a good time.” I couldn’t summarize the set any better myself.
The mid-point of day one was a mellow, soothing affair by indie-folk locals Tire Le Coyote. Their latest released album Desherbage (September 29th, 2017) was a focal point of the set as they soothed the crowd with their down-tempo melodies.
Day turned towards night and The Barr Brothers brought out the long, heavy jams. Their set called to mind a band I had seen earlier in the summer at the Jazz Fest, The War on Drugs in its rock and roll grandeur. The stage was littered with string instruments, keyboards, and a fair share of guitars as front man Brad Barr honed it all with an air of professionalism and savvy.
My night peaked with PUP, the uncontested heaviest band at the festival. The punk rockers out of Toronto, Ontario were full of fire from start to finish. The crowd moshed relentlessly as PUP blasted through many songs from 2016’s The Dream Is Over, “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will,” “DVP,” “Sleep In The Heat” all absolutely destroyed us. Vocalist-guitarist Stefan Babcock even dared to crowd surf, mic in hand, as the mass of people carried him over to a boulder where he finished the song. It was an absolutely stunning set.
Sunday’s notable acts: Montreal’s own Heartstreets were a joy to watch. The duo of singers Emma Beko and Gabrielle Godon (who now act as their own DJs, as well) got a huge rise out of a crowd that was just settling into the day. They are currently working on their debut album and featured a couple of songs that will be on there, as well as some already nicely established singles, “Blind” and “Cruising With You.” Heartstreets mentioned that a lot of their writing process involves wine, a few joints, and watching Youtube videos, and I’ll admit I totally feel that from the way their songs are constructed and how they flow. I cannot wait for the album to drop!
Klaus displayed some impeccable musicianship through some lengthy psychedelic jams. All three members are seasoned musicians and have been around the block in other various projects (like Karkwa, Patrick Watson to name a couple). The local super group reminded me quite a bit of Portugal, The Man, but with their own type of unique grooviness, as can be witnessed on the track “Can’t Turn Back.”
Most of the hype Sunday seemed to surround the seasoned veterans of the indie scene, Broken Social Scene (Toronto, Ontario). This collection of musicians have been around since 1999 and proved well that, even almost twenty years later, they are still a vibrant indie rock outfit. BSS played a set that was career spanning with highlights including “7/4 (Shoreline),” “World Sick,” as well as some new material from 2017’s Hug Of Thunder “Protest Song” and “Hug Of Thunder.” The band had taken a redeye flight from Vancouver the night before but were as energetic and engaging as one could possibly hope for. It boggles my mind how a band with so many moving parts (at times I counted maybe eleven or twelve musicians on stage) can be so tight and in unison.
Mile Ex End Festival was a beautiful success! It was a truly unique festival in the city experience. Make it a point to be there next year, my friends.
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Michael K0vacs
*edited by Kate Erickson