Apparently, Montreal’s Ausgang Plaza is totally a big deal and like the place to be. At least, that’s according to this article that, like, couldn’t even about the fact that they were changing their name from Artgang Plaza. I’ve never heard of it before which is how I know I’m getting old.
Another way I know I’m getting old is the fact that I, like, couldn’t even with the fact that Smokey Joe & The Kid’s event hosted there started at 10:00 PM. That’s thirty minutes before bedtime. And, of course, because this place is all hip and cool and stuff, they weren’t even letting people yet in at 10:00 PM. When they did start, it was only a small group at a time. Gotta keep it exclusive.
Once we did make it in, things actually got pretty cool. The opening acts were Montreal’s Speakeasy Crew and Dj Noyl. I’m not sure who was who because people kept jumping on and off stage during their collective time slot, but they were all pretty good at making people dance. There was a white DJ with a hat and a scarf, two white DJs with no hat and no scarf, and a guy in a beret who was awesome with a clarinet. And he had multiple different sizes of clarinet. They stood atop a flat platform stage in front of a simple but elegant projection of their logo. When the members weren’t on stage, they were hanging out at rotating spots in the crowd.
As the crowd trickled in (and the drinks trickled out) people started to get more loose. The music was all groove; big electro-swing jams sprinkled with classy hip hop and gypsy jazz interludes. When the beats dropped, they dropped heavy. By the end of the set, most people in the mid-sized venue were dancing.
When the crew finished, we were informed that it would be a five-minute wait before the headliner took the stage. True to their word, Smokey Joe & The Kid started their smooth jazz not too long after. They rocked a real electronic drum kit, a real electronic keyboard, and a real real bass that was full of chunky jams, courtesy of either Smokey Joe or the Kid. Their visuals were also much more elaborate than anything that came before them. They cycled through various cityscapes and other trippy backgrounds. They addressed the crowd (in French, being from France, which made everyone pretty happy) and let us know that it had been six years since they’d last been in Canada.
The boys held it down solo for a few tracks and then Whaali joined them on stage and immediately stole the show. His charisma, coupled with his versatile flow and delivery elevated the silky-smooth beats to a new level. Also, they did a medley of classic hip hop tracks which included Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” For the kids, this was one hell of a party. Of course, my muscles hurt the next day, and that’s how I know I’m getting old.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy