It was a cold night in Montreal last Thursday as I headed to Casa Del Popolo on St-Laurent. The venue is a little on the small side, but I have seen some interesting events there in the past. Other than experimental metal and/or punk, I wasn’t sure what to expect for this show. I had seen Squalor a few times in the past but the opening and closing acts were completely new to me.
One interesting aspect of the show as a whole was that there were no live vocals. Each act used some sort of device to play their samples (I’m not knowledgeable enough with tech to tell you which device). Put simply, “I used to be with it, but then they changed what “it” was. Now, what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s “it” seems weird and scary to me,” to quote the wise words of Abraham Jay-Jedediah Simpson.
A duo calling themselves Clangkryllics were up first. This band consists of Dave S. and Carolion K. I’m not sure if they’re really new or what, but I wasn’t able to find any other info about them. The show started later than expected and I think maybe that’s why they played a short set, only about fifteen minutes long. Dave was on drums and Carolion was playing the keyboards and samples. They were certainly experimental, and I won’t even venture to assign a genre. They played about four tracks, and one of my first thoughts was, “I can imagine this music being played at a circus in a not too distant semi-apocalyptic future.” For only two people, there was a lot going on. I was able to discern a variety of instruments on top and below the keyboards and drums. The set was unique and interesting to say the least.
Next on the stage was Squalor. This band has been around for awhile and has played with some awesome bands. The group consists of four gentlemen playing six instruments; Shawn on drums, Reüel on guitar and trombone, Charly on bass, and Neb on the trumpet and electronics. These guys are also experimental, but in the realm of metal. They have a way of being technically sharp but produce a sum that is somewhat gritty. You can tell they love what they do, slowly building up the sound, pace and tempo, ’til it inevitably explodes in your ears. I was impressed with Reüel’s guitar, he has a great command over it and at one point I swear he was making the guitar talk like Peter Frampton, except, of course, Reüel’s is speaking a whole other language. I really enjoyed their set; they do a great job of incorporating the brass instruments. They played an encore that was just insane. Heavy and fast, it was a whirlwind of organized sound that had an abrupt end which felt like hitting a brick wall. I’m sure I’ll be checking them out again in the future. You can give them a listen on Bandcamp, or pick up their albums and merch at soundcentral.
The last act of the night was Snapdragonia, a one man orchestra of experimental madness. And, unless it was a twin dressed the same, the one man was Dave S. from the first act. But this time he was playing the bass and handling an assortment of pedals and electronics. It was loud, very loud. It reminded me that I need to start wearing ear protection. Dave’s bass playing is heavy, brutal and the sound he was producing with it and the electronics was.. well, I’m not sure how to describe it. On the event page it’s tagged as “No wave-digital hardcore/ Doom metal/ Blaring serene/ Experimental ambient/ Instrumental-noise-math/ Other.” I think the “instrumental-noise-math” bit is appropriate.
Overall, the show was a tad messy but that’s one of the reasons I, and others, love live music so much – to see and hear an authentic presentation of sound with blemishes and all. A studio finish can be amazing, but to see someone’s work unfold in front of you is almost always something special.