The year was 2013. It was mid-March, and the weather was uncharacteristically warm and rainy. I was with several of my bandmates, and we were being introduced by our former drummer to the bands Scale the Summit and Intronaut, who were playing a co-headlining show at Montreal’s Il Motore. Il Motore has since closed down and reopened as Bar Le Ritz; Scale the Summit’s drummer was replaced (as was ours); and Intronaut have become one of my absolute favorite bands. So almost three years later to the day, here we all were, back under the same roof for the exact same reason. Time is a funny thing, ain’t it?
Back in the day, Il Motore was an oddly shaped little venue that was uncomfortable pretty much anywhere you stood. What the new owners have done is switched the stage from one side to the other, so that it’s much bigger and there’s much more room in front of it. The lighting is also much better, with the walls now a strange amalgamation of bright colors which make me think of a Lego building.
I must extend my deepest apologies to the boys of Karnon. They played early and I showed up late, so I missed them. They’re a local band who make some pretty awesome noise, and if you haven’t checked them out already, you should probably do that.
I did catch most of North’s set, and they were killer. Frontman and bassist Evan Leek and guitarist Matthew Mutterperl rocked the stage in a Metallica and a Portishead shirt respectively, and both of those influences seem relevant to the band’s music. Though they unfortunately share a name with an Australian boy band, they infuse a healthy dose of melody over simple yet flushed-out doom metal compositions. On a side note, is it weird that I found it refreshing to see a four-string bass and a six-string guitar in a post-metal band in 2016? Yes? Ok, never mind then. Anyway, their set was short (only four or five songs) but it was on point. They definitely managed to capture the attention of at least of a few of the discerning metal heads in the packed room.
New drummer J.C. Bryant makes all the difference for Scale the Summit’s live show. With as little disrespect as possible to Pat Skeffington, his tendency to play everything at max levels really bogged down this instrumental band’s otherwise extremely nuanced and varied sonic tapestry. Bryant instead brings these elements to the forefront, and I have never heard the boys sound tighter or more focused. To illustrate this, opening number “Blue Sun” from their latest album V (not to be confused with the inferior Maroon 5 release of the same name) was accompanied by a projection of that song’s music video, to which the band played along in perfect time and execution. The rest of the set was a solid run of standards which included “Atlas Novus,” a personal favorite of mine from their 2013 LP The Migration. Each song was accompanied by its own graphic animation on the projector, and Mark Michell’s blue light up six-string bass is always great to see in person.
Drummers, right? Intronaut’s wasn’t there though, as he was detained at the border, so obviously the band didn’t play. Just kidding. Faced with only two unappealing options, Intronaut opted for the show to go on, and performed a slew of new material, which included latest single “Fast Worms”, to pre-recorded drum tracks. The result was extremely admirable, if unfortunately muddled. Though bassist Joe Lester is a monster of a rhythm section in his own right, Danny Walker is arguably the heart and soul of Intronaut. Having Walker’s odd grooves and quirky fills only present as background noise for music as sludgy and technical as Intronaut’s was a strange experience. His absence also meant that the set was considerably shortened, and usual standards like “Killing Birds With Stones” or “Core Relations” were missing. Still, the band are metronomic and the remaining three members are still so good at what they do it’s mesmerizing, so that helps. Co-frontman Dave Timnick ended the show not with another song, but with an apology, and a promise that the next time Intronaut return they will be in full force and ready to play the night away.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Stacy Basque
*edited by Kate Erickson