Recording Arts Canada, Montreal’s school for Sound and Music Recording, presented its third showcase arranged and organized by the talented Joey Langlois. The purpose of the showcase is to expose artists from RAC and have media in the music industry recognize the artists. The chosen bands that got to play this evening were facing a contest; judges from the industry and the school based their votes on the following metrics: stage presence, songwriting, technical, and set arrangement. The chosen performance would win a recording session at the school.
The showcase began with country-folk beauty Stefanie Parnell, backed up by a four-piece band which included the violin. Her stage presence was absolutely lovely despite some pauses to tune her guitar between songs. She entertained the crowd with small talk, and got the crowd chuckling. Her charm, beautiful voice, and amazing back-up band really stole my attention. I watched the crowd, and everyone seemed mesmerized by how adorable she was. I was especially excited when she played the Civil Wars cover “From this Valley.” The song that stood out for me most was her folky, hip hop song “The River,” which began with some pretty violin then the folky rhythm kicks in as the song progressed. She had vocalist David Hodges join her on stage and backed her up as he rapped and sang along. It was the first time I heard some country folk music blended so perfectly with hip hop.
Next up was Foreign Diplomats. I checked out these guys briefly online before the show and I knew I would love them. They have somewhat of an 80s new wave sound that is very similar to Echo and the Bunnymen. Élie Raymond, lead vocalist and guitarist, had a very similar voice to Ian McCulloch; such young talent with such a strong voice. The band as a whole played a very intense, yet danceable set and had a special request to the crowd to get their dance on. They drew in quite a big crowd. They’re danceable side came close to sounding like OK-GO. These high energy young lads also have a crazy trombone/synths/tamborine player, Thomas Bruneau Faubert, who was sporting a flashy shirt and jumping around while he played some amazing trombone that backed up Raymond’s guitar. My only issue was Raymond sang way too close to the mic, sometimes causing feedback and it hurt my ears a little.
During intermission and set up for the next band Eliza, the DJ played some dance beats to keep us entertained. The crowd was very peculiar as it consisted mainly of parents, friends, and school staff. Eliza is a prog rock band that has been compared to Radiohead and Jeff Buckley however one of the bands main influences is Roy Orbison. They released their first EP in 2012 titled The Chocolate Box and performed a total of 50 shows in Montreal. I was totally impressed by these guys’ performance. They performed a very intense set starting out with vocalist/guitarist Philippe Cengarle banging so hard on a bass drum breaking his drum sticks to pieces and they went flying; his voice loud and compelling while the other dudes danced around and swayed to the music.”Closing Time” off their The Chocolate Box EP is my track of choice; it combines my favorite acoustic guitar, Thom Yorke-ish vocals, with amazing backed synths, bringing a beautiful artistic song together.
Last but not least, Amasic ended the night with their pop-punk performance. They played fun catchy songs such as “History” with lyrics like “I’m gonna make hiiiissttooorrryyy” that stuck in my head. The guys had a great stage presence – with some admirers/dancers/fans in the crowd. Amasic is very radio friendly, and having opened for bands like Simple Plan, they have a fairly large fan base that singer/songwriter Janick Thibault expressed with such pride during their performance. He mentioned how they have 23,000 likes on their Facebook page and 47,000 views on their YouTube page.
It was overall a great night. I was impressed most by Stefanie Parnell’s performance. She entertained the crowd, was absolutely adorable and her voice was dreamy. She also introduced her band, was very communicative with the crowd, which I felt the other bands all lacked. They did not introduce their band members, so for someone like me, an outsider, that is something that needs to be worked on for future performances. La Sala Rossa once again brought amazing sound to the stage giving each band a crisp clear sound, and a successful RAC event once again. The winner of the night was Foreign Diplomats – and I totally guessed it. As much as I felt Stefanie rocked the house, these guys were absolutely fantastic. Congratulations guys, well deserved.
Written by Liz Imperiale
Photography by Eric Brisson Eric Brisson Photography