It’s Friday night. You live in a suburb of Montreal and there is nothing to do unless you’re headed to the city. For the residents of Laval, this is a normal beginning to the weekend, but on September 12th 2014, the fine people at Scene 1425, I Love Neon and Blue Skies Turn Black decided it would be a great idea to host the MRCY Le Block Party, an outdoor event held in the parking lot of the Montmorency College parking lot with hopes that people would come out, listen to good music, have a few drinks, eat some good food and be merry. Genius. But, how did it turn out?
So after a rigorous day at work, it was time to make my way to Montmorency metro station where, steps away, the event was taking place. As I got closer, I could hear some music playing. I was not sure who it was, but it sounded refreshing and soothing all at once. So, as I entered the grounds, I noticed that this place was like a little pop up village with a stage at the far end. Who was on stage? I asked myself. I could see there were two girls on stage who was singing, one of which was playing a horn. Yes, a horn! It was unusual for me to see a horn being played, but I can tell you she could play it like a champ. They were FOXTROTT, a last minute replacement for Sky Ferreira. They did a good job of entertaining the folk that made it to the event early. It was evident that the crowd was not yet in full motion. These girls were talented and are great at what they do. I look forward to hearing more from them.
Since I was hungry, I decided it would be a good idea to get some food. The organizers had set up the grounds nicely; the merch was set up just inside the entrance, and event attendees were greeted right away with a free Coke to drink. As I wandered in, there was an area that I can only call the enchanted forest, a beautiful park area illuminated with purple lights. Past the park were the food trucks and beer tents — everything you need for a successful party. I decided to finally check out the Au Pied de Cochon food truck. I ordered their famous Foie Gras Poutine which was good. I realized, though, that I am no fan of foie gras, but their boar with cheese was very nice. Anyway, back to the music…
Next up was the experimental folk band The Barr Brothers, playing in support their forthcoming album Sleeping Operator, due to be released October 6th, 2014. The band came onto the stage looking like they were ready to rock. I was underwhelmed to say the least. Despite their talent as musicians, their stage presence was lacking other than a few facial expressions from singer Brad Barr and some slick moves from the bassist, though, unfortunately, he was stuck behind the harp so we didn’t get to see him much. Musically they were spot on, but their tone was just a little low for a live show. Mellow can be really good, but I would like to have seen a bit of a change in pace throughout the set.
I didn’t have to wait long for a change of pace as Death From Above 1979 was next to take the stage. They kicked it off in high gear with “Turn it Out” and kept it going throughout their set to the great pleasure of the fans in attendance. These guys came to rock and made sure they brought us along for the ride. The Mississauga-born singer/drummer Sebastien Grainger decided to show his French chops to the crowd by telling stories about his dead grandfather and eating poutine which delighted the crowd. They had a strong set which was highlighted by the performance of a new song, “Government Trash”, from their newly-released album The Physical World. The duo was a force to be reckoned with, especially when it came to guitarist Jesse F. Keeler, whose transparent guitar was electric.
Following DFA79 was indie rock/ psychedelic folk band Neutral Milk Hotel. They are one funky bunch, let me tell you. I wish I could show you some pictures from their time on stage, but the band does not allow press to take pictures of them, nor do they want fans taking snaps with their cell phones. They made this clear with a PA announcement minutes before their performance. While I like the idea of no cell phones in the air blocking people’s view of the band, I don’t think this helps with the band’s image, or, shall I say, lack thereof. Anyway, the bassist was a hoot to watch as he was all over the place, from falling down to playing the saw…this guy could do it all. Musically, this band just didn’t have my buy in for most of their set as it was slow and weird. The highlight for me was hearing “Two Headed Boy” performed solo by singer/guitarist Jeff Magnum.
Finally, Toronto’s Metric took to the stage with a crazy light show. Unfortunately, it seemed like Emily Haines might have been having an off day, but we can forgive her. Their music was good as usual, but nothing from this performance stood out. It was my first time seeing them live, and I was looking for something special, something that never came. However, most importantly, the fans that were in attendance seemed to be digging it, and that is all that matters.