Was the place packed with hipsters or hippies? I don’t know the difference anymore. I’m pretty sure one smells worse than the other. Whatever these people were, on Monday night at L’Esco, they jam-packed the place, selling out the show and blocking access to the shitters. If it wasn’t a fire hazard having that many people at once in such a small venue, it was surely a health hazard (and nose hazard), putting people at risk of pissing themselves because assholes wouldn’t even budge as attendees such as myself tried cutting pass them to use the washroom. As if I give that much of a fuck to stand in front of your stank-ass self.
There was attitude and energy emanating from the stage as Loic April opened the show. It was definitely the closest thing to French pop-punk that I’ve ever witnessed in a live setting, and I was not disappointed. Vocalist Loic had veins protruding from his neck as he yelled angelically with a Sid Vicious-like grimace on his face. Aside from drummer Jonathan Charette going at his drum skins like an Energizer Bunny, guitarist Denis-Paul Mazerolle and bass player Olivier Van Tassel brought a bit more tranquility to the look as they stayed on their respective sides, their bopping ever so controlled.
For the whole night, the sound quality was clean and crisp, and the equalization and acoustics were pretty darn fuckin solid. Not bad for a cave-like bar. Mind you, the lack of breathing room may have contributed to the well-insulated sound. The setup was the same all night: the same dimly-lit red LED lights, same lack of visuals (decor, banners, etc.) The stage was the same plain stage the entire night. What made the environment unique-looking were the old, antiquated granny seats and couches that contoured the stage. Other than that it was plain.
It was very difficult to know the titles of each of the band’s songs since all of them barely addressed the crowd throughout their sets. Bonny Doon was the most interactive; however, it was mostly for comic relief, making jokes regarding the heat and the last time they played in Montreal. Their bass player looked exactly like Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail. Pretty sure Jordan joined Bonny Doon on stage as their bass player…(in the words of Larry David, “Pretty, pretty, pretty…pretty [sure].” ) They were definitely the most “make love not war” act up there that night. They gave off very feel-good energy and all-around positive vibes. Although their songs were played very well and the quality was on point, their performance came off as more of a jam than a spectacle, which is super appropriate and was expected judging by their laid back, nonchalant attitudes. Some of the audience came just to see Bonny Doon, which is not surprising since so many of the crowd looked to be in a daze, nodding their heads up and down in approval, seemingly hypnotized by the set.
Ironically, Snail Mail hit the stage quite promptly. After a trippy overture build-up, Snail Mail belted out their opening track, causing the crowd to react with much delight. Honestly, Snail Mail sounded great. Lindsey Jordan is a fabulous singer and all, but I didn’t really understand why they got such a better response from the audience than the two openers, who actually engaged the audience and were significantly more entertaining. On the other hand, it’s super impressive how Snail Mail could receive such uplifting responses from the crowd just from their music alone. Maybe that’s how you know that some people still listen to and appreciate the words and details in music these days. Snail Mail really just played their songs and did a great job at that. They were solid. Jordan sang beautifully, although most of the people in the crowd were assholes and I wanted to fart in their mouths. It was really quite the experience. Other than running low on oxygen and having to practically taste some big-bearded, ¾ pants-wearing dork’s stench, the thing that bothered me the most about that whole night was that after having played a couple songs on her own at the end of their set without the band, Lindsey Jordan walked off stage without saying shit; no goodnight or nothing. Bob Dylan pulled that pretentious prick shit last year at the Bell Centre – dick.
Written by Keenan Kerr
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Kate Erickson