I would like to begin by being perfectly honest. I had absolutely no idea that Juliette Lewis had a music career. Being a fan of her diverse film roles, I was intrigued when I found out about it and had to see her myself. I caught her Montreal show on Friday, August 5, and what happened next is hard to describe.
San Diego alternative rock band The New Regime kicked off the night at Theatre Fairmount, playing to a nearly full house. It was the band’s first time in Montreal and they visibly enjoyed it, giving off positive energy as they played.
They caught the audience’s attention with “Say What You Will,” a song with a catchy rhythm that allowed Rubin (of Nine Inch Nails fame) to show off his wide vocal range. The song itself was played well, but the sound levels in the room made it difficult to hear Rubin at times. As the show went on, the sound got better and so did the band. “Don’t Chase It” introduced a more 80s sound to the stage with the use of a synthesizer. The track was the perfect marriage of dance music and angst, as though New Order and Pearl Jam had birthed a beautiful love child. The song was stripped down, making each of their individual skills shine.
Between songs, Rubin stopped to address the audience, even making an effort to address the far left and right of the room. There were mixed reactions as Rubin became a stand-up comic momentarily, pointing out two people in the front row who were laughing and staring at their phones together. He described their actions as, “So rude, for a second I thought you two were American.” Though the two didn’t take it well at first, he explained that it was just a joke, and quickly jumped straight back into playing, handling the situation well.
The band chose to leave their best for last, playing “Tap Dancing in a Minefield” to close their set. The previously non-responsive crowd got up on their feet for this one, banging their heads and dancing. The track was reminiscent of “Green Grass and High Tides” with its fun pace changes and longer length. Hands flew over the guitar and drums in a flurry as they pumped everyone up for Juliette Lewis.
As lights dimmed and Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” started to play over the speakers, faces gathered closer to the stage in anticipation of the main act. Her band entered the stage to the echoes of loud cheering that somehow managed to get even louder when the star herself leaped onto the stage. She nearly jump-scared the crowd with her entrance, clad in an eccentric feather shawl and Rambo-style headband, shouting, “I feel like we got every Rock and Roller in Montreal over here.” She seemed ready for battle, and was unpredictable in her movements across the stage. He voice was just as raw and rough as her movement, but it was her lack of perfection that made her set so refreshingly flawless.
Her words to the audience ranged from poetic to enraged. As an introduction to her performance of “American Boy,” she began to shout about the current American election race, “Who the fuck should we vote for? The culture-deprived blue-eyed American boy, is that who we should vote for? Or the corrupt politician, is that who the fuck we should vote for?” The introduction could not have been more fitting, and their performance was so powerful the song played on a loop in my head for the rest of the night.
The theatricality of her personality came alive on stage as she did everything from laughing and whispering mischievously into the mic to rapping. Possibly the most surprising moment of the night, was when she seductively removed her t-shirt during her performance of “Hard Loving Woman.” Pretty soon her entire band was half-dressed, revealing a sea of tattoos. She finished the song off by singing the chorus of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”, and words can’t begin to describe just how incredible it was. It was as though her voice was made to cover that song, and it would’ve been cool to see her do a full-length cover of it.
Her cover of CCR’s “Proud Mary” was just as impeccable, starting out nice and slow and working up to the energetic track that it is. She was insanely close to her fans the whole night, and knew exactly how to put on a show. It was almost as if her presence was too large for the venue at times. She said at one point that, “Music is the celebration of life and love and the release of pain,” and she proved that well with this show. We can only hope that she’ll be back in the city soon.
Written by Franca G. Mignacca
Photography by Stacy Basque
*edited by Kate Erickson