Bikes, bikes everywhere, as Montreal entered the weekend of the Tour de L’Ile, an urban bike race/event that makes navigating the city a near impossible task. God bless them though, they’re getting their cardio in. The only cardio I was getting on Friday was climbing the staircase to La Vitrola to catch four up and coming bands on an eclectic bill put together by Vendetta Music Entertainment.
Opening the night to an already buzzing crowd, Kurt Reston lit us up with some accessible, pop-punk melodies and some slight 90s nostalgia. Rangy lead singer/guitarist Kurt Reston registers with a similar delivery to that of Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump. Though Kurt Reston does not tread the emo waters so much as Fall Out Boy, merely dipping their toes in and splashing a bit on their face. They find their stride much more in their blend of 90s alternative and a more direct, radio-friendly rock, think Matchbox 20 or Third Eye Blind. The set was fiery and energetic, “So You Say” and “In My Car” were strong takeaway tunes for me, I hope to see them up on all the music platforms soon. Kurt Reston ended on a cover of the Beatles “I Saw Her Standing There,” a bold move but they absolutely nailed the song. I’m not an advocate for ending a set with a cover, but it did get people dancing! Though if I had to proffer a guess it was probably their moms. Excited to see where this band goes.
Phantom Atlantic (Toronto, ON) brought us to a dreamier, sonically more intense atmosphere. While still rooted in alt. rock, Phantom Atlantic take a more exploratory path, which at times reminds me of Deftones, though they never get as heavy as the Deftones and vocalist/guitarist Kyle Brunet sings with a poppier, more bubbly intonation. This is not a knock on Phantom Atlantic, what Chino Moreno does with Deftones is unique to them and it’s nice to borrow from other bands without seemingly like a blatant rip-off, which it seems Phantom Atlantic have done with their sound. Check out their track “Beneath Your Moment” if you want to hear what the Deftones would sound like if they went more radio friendly. This was an incredibly tight set by four proficient musicians and busting out an old school Radiohead cover, “Just” was soul-satisfying, though they rushed it a bit, “not quite my tempo.” At least they didn’t close the set with it!
Batting third was local act Cinzia and the Eclipse and they came out swinging for the fences with my personal fav “Out of Love.” While clearly the most pop-oriented act on the bill, Cinzia showed that they’re not opposed to rocking it out, sporting a new bassist and drummer with original members Cinzia (vocals/guitar) and Chase Attwood-Steele (guitar) (no relation to Type O Negative’s Peter Steele although his hair would say otherwise). Though the band seems to be still tightening a few nuts and bolts they put together a solid set, let’s put it this way, you would not have known it’s this line ups first live show together, which to me means the sky’s the limit! “Roses” was absolute fire and really allowed for Cinzia to showcase her unique and angelic vocal range. But the highlight of the set was unquestionably “No Matter,” which had the entire crowd singing in harmony, not surprising as the song has nearly 1,000,000 plays on Spotify! What What! The set ended with a cover of Destiny’s Childs “Say My Name,” I’m starting a petition against ending sets with covers.
It all came to a head for Texas King (London, ON), who had to deal with some horrible sound problems right off the get-go but took it in stride and managed to right the ship. Vocalist/guitarist Jordan Macdonald is an indomitable force at the stage front, ripe with assertiveness and hubris. These qualities transcend into Texas Kings live sound and imbue the songs from their debut full-length Circles with high octane energy that remains stoic and controlled. Their approachable, radio-friendly alt. rock is very akin to Kings of Leon and my only knock would be that Texas King, much like Kings of Leon fall into the tendency of creating formulaic rock, albeit only slightly. But these songs could no doubt garner mass appeal; their track “Boomerang” had La Vitrola feeling more like a massive arena. “Circles” was absolutely blistering, a beast of a track as huge as, well the state of Texas. These guys need to be in your daily rotation of rock music, but even more so you need to see them live if you get the chance. It is with absolute certainty that I can say, next time they’re in Montreal they will be playing a larger venue.
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy