Let’s face it, we’ve had enough of the cold. It’s technically spring (according to the calendar at least), and while those arrogant West Coast-types brag about bike riding and flowers blooming, we Quebecers are still wearing toques and wondering why we aren’t in California. But, for one night at the Corona Theatre, indie pop fans got a taste of warmer days and the upcoming summer music festivals. You could almost feel the bugs and the sun on your face.
As I grabbed one of the few seats in the balcony for Dizzy, I noticed the sold-out crowd was predominately young women in their 20s and 30s. The Toronto-based four-piece began their opening set by apologizing for not knowing French (note to bands: you don’t have to say you’re sorry, we get it), and then played a relaxing set of chilled-out indie rock tunes that reminded me of Fleetwood Mac.
Lead singer Katie Munshaw swayed back and forth to the beat, moving her arms around in what seemed like improvised yoga, while the band—composed of brothers Charlie, Alex, and Mackenzie Spencer—played dreamy pop music. Charlie, the band’s drummer and back up vocalist, had an energetic and engaged performance despite the slow tempo. You could close your eyes during “Pretty Thing” and imagine driving with the top down on a road trip to the beach.
After Dizzy’s set ended, a curtain was pulled back revealing a large glass case on stage. My curiosity aroused by this mysterious box, I wondered if the headliners would magically appear out of the contraption like Houdini. Then, right before Milk & Bone took the stage, the house lights went down and bars of neon light rhythmically flashed around the box, transforming the stage into a futuristic environment like something out of Blade Runner.
Milk & Bone, one of Montreal’s hottest young bands, consists of Camille Poliquin & Laurence Lafond-Beaulne. The duo has two full-length albums and, judging by the crowd, a passionate, mostly female, following. Their set was modern and electronic, but not dance floor-friendly (although their songs would suit an EDM remix). The deep and surprisingly bass-heavy beats sounded crisp and clean behind Milk & Bone’s haunting, ethereal vocals, and undeniably natural chemistry.
Opening track “Coconut Water” was one of the highlights of the show; a sweet and catchy dream-pop tune about girly drinks, the beach, and summer flings. I noticed that their poetic lyrics were in English, but the duo’s native language is French. This being Montreal, of course they interacted with the crowd in French. The title track from the recently released album Deception Bay had the crowd singing along with the melancholic lyrics about heartbreak and loss.
The duo created the deep bass music live, crafting the sounds with synths and drum machines rather than using pre-recorded beats. For the encore they came to the front of the stage to hype up the crowd with one of their most commercially accessible tracks: “Daydream.” Unlike some of their other songs about breakups and loss, “Daydream” is more upbeat and cheerful, with lyrics about romance, crushes, and puppy love.
I imagine that young artists would be nervous on stage at a sold out, hometown gig, but Milk & Bone stayed composed and professional. The local crowd was highly supportive and screamed after each song—even during the quiet parts mid-song. Milk & Bone were obviously humbled by the overwhelming support from the local crowd, and their summery, outdoor festival-friendly sound will go over well before Lorde and Cyndi Lauper at the Festival d’été de Québec July 13th, and at Osheaga on August 3rd.
Written by Rob Coles
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Kate Erickson