You’d be hard-pressed to find a better venue to host a night of soul, blues, or weird experimental indie-alt-rock-jazz than Quai Des Brumes, which is where I found myself on the 10th of June. All the old-time regulars had been kicked out to accommodate a crowd decked out in stripes, animal print, and lots of jean jackets.
All the show information I found said that they’d be starting at 21:30. Now, I wasn’t naive enough to believe that, but I certainly didn’t think that the bar would start the sound check at 21:30 or that it would last half an hour. Seriously…what the fuck was that? And that was only for the headliners.
Thankfully Future Flight didn’t fuck around. They set up their gear and began their set in earnest, tweaking their sound slightly during and after the first song. This reeked of professionalism, and for that alone I’d recommend them.
Their set started and ended funky. It was pure soul from start to finish. The opening riff to “Toy Doll” sent sexy shivers shimmying up my spine. Singer Nadia Bashalani’s voice filled in those last little goosebumps. They were tight throughout their set, using off-time hits that came a beat later than you’d think. I almost fell off my stool a couple times in anticipation. Bassist Donal Gill was the anchor of the band, albeit a little stiff on stage at times, while replacement drummer Tyson Schallmann (after only one week of practice; it was amazing!) seemed the sea captain, steering the songs with ease. Nadia was the siren, oscillating her voice between the lows and highs, the seas and the skies, while Andrew Joncas’ guitar work was so sharp you could slip off and die.
My highlight of the night was the guitar solo in “Keep On Trying.” Andrew ripped it up like it was an alimony settlement. Also, Tyson: goddamn. He found out he was playing the show a week beforehand, and practiced with the band only once. I couldn’t tell the difference. Did I mention that they’re professionals? They’re heading up to Toronto later this summer for two dates. One on July 31st in Kensington Market, and the second one at the Piston for Indie night on August 2nd. If you’re reading this review and live in Toronto, do yourself a favour and go to one of these shows.
Plajia were the headliners for the night, and the crowd was definitely there to catch them; it was their album launch for Piggie Park after all. They opened the night with “Thank You Trippy Music,” and were greeted with catcalls and cheers when the song was over.
Throughout their set they rocked out on stage; however, it was a little reserved. Their movements were sharp and studded with staccato, like squirrels. You can’t blame them; they are a five-piece band after all, and the stage was rather small. It didn’t stop them from having fun, and that determination bled into the crowd. I was pleased to see more people bobbing along and tapping their toes than to the opening band.
My favourite moment from their set was the resonating low-end of bassist Simon Boivin during “I Dig My Future Self.” I was sitting at the bar, and every time he played on the low E, my beer vibrated a la Jurassic Park. I loved the sound of Frederic Bourgeault’s trumpet in “Piggie Park.” It felt like I’d been transported to a happier version of New Orleans. When the band cut the pop tether and let their inner punk shine during the dueling guitar leads of “Playa Del Rock,” it was truly amazing to hear. Judging by the elated clapping that they elicited from the crowd, I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it.
And then, of course, there were Patrick Pleau’s vocals. They were on key the whole night, despite how much he moved. The bar was exceedingly hot, and I felt my voice being strained just by ordering a beer; I don’t know how he kept his shit together. Kudos to him.
My only beef with Plajia was their songwriting. It sounded eclectic for the sake of being eclectic. Every time I was able to catch the groove and get into it, they’d throw in a changeup. Nothing was straightforward. Each song had about twelve different riffs that came and went without warning, often leaving me scratching my head in confusion.
This is, of course, just my opinion; from the way the crowd sounded after each song, it’s one I’m probably alone in having. So, if you like a song with some ADHD, get out and buy their album or see ‘em live. You won’t be disappointed.
Written by Aaron Deck
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Kate Erickson