Pop Montreal is a great way to get out there and discover new music. The festival has done a great job of promoting local music since its inception, and every year I feel it’s my duty as a Montrealer to go out there and acquaint myself with some of our city’s up and coming talent.
La Vitrola was the setting for a four-band showcase Saturday night. This venue confuses me a little. There’s no sign out front, and no indication you’ve arrived at the right place. Even when you enter, there’s no confirmation until you hit the third floor and see a crude wooden sign over the door. Then you walk in to a sweaty humid room, even on a cool autumn night. It’s oddly laid out with the stage off center, actually just a small platform tucked into the back corner, and another odd stage off the side that seems as superfluous as a third nipple. But then the music starts and you remember the sound is actually fantastic for a small venue, and that’s what really matters isn’t it?
First up was Slight. These guys had some interesting melodies, but ultimately I felt like they were trying a little too hard to be artsy. It sounded forced. Music should sound natural. If they stop forcing it, there could be something much better here. Still, it was a good way to kick off the night.
Mundy’s Bay were definitely my revelation of the night. They picked up the pace and brought a very eclectic sound to the table that blended well with the scene. There were some new-wave tendencies in the rhythm section that hearkened back to the days of New Order, with some heavier instrumentation overlaid with vocal harmonies that reminded me of The Pixies. The band genuinely looked like they were having a blast up there, and that translated into the crowd. “Hope You’re Fine” sounds like it’s ready for radio play, especially on college stations.
Slow Mass snuck onto the bill as imports from Chicago. It didn’t take long for me to think back to the heyday of Sonic Youth; apparently, the house DJ agreed with me when he blasted “Kool Thing” right after their set was done. They had energy for days, and they performed like seasoned veterans. Vocalist Mercedes Webb had a hint of grunge in her voice without sounding dated or like an imitation of a sound that has passed. It sounded fresh.
Headliner Solids have gained some notoriety due to heavy rotation of their single “Haze Away” on local rock radio. This was also a return to Montreal after a tour that saw them bounce around North America and Europe. They seemed very happy to be home, and the crowd was happy to have them. From the second song, the aforementioned “Haze Away,” I witnessed someone run up a speaker and springboard back into the crowd like it was 1997. They played their frenetic brand of rock and brought it hard. It was just rock, no need for other labels or to try and fit in to a specific sound. It was pure, fast, fun, and a great way to cap off the night.
Written by Richard Brunette
Photography by Randy Smith Captura Camera
*edited by Kate Erickson