This past Friday the 7th of June was a spectacular example of what it’s like to be a music enthusiast here in the heaven that is Montreal. The very minimum of three different live performances taking place at three different locations, and you the viewer forced to make the choice. Bucketlist photographer Michael Kovacs and myself happened to choose the funkiest of them all for this particular occasion, yielding zero fucking regrets. Our roll of the dice lead us to a visit from a little acid trip known only as Thank You Scientist out of Montclair, NJ.
Opening responsibilities fell solely on the shoulders of Boston, MA music nerds / “the fuck you smoking” specialists Bent Knee. First and foremost, I want to give a special mention to our venue for the evening, as Bar Le Ritz PDB has always been a simultaneous dread of mine, location-wise and heaven-sound-wise. This night was different, and the room truly vibrated with sonic perfection. If you showed up so much as a second late for this performance you already fucked up. Bent Knee sling a kind of progressive sound that truly rewires the brain to smell colour and see sound in a way only avant-garde knows how, with swells of jazz emulsified with connotations of heaviness, all dripping with the sensation of “I’ll never be this good at anything in my life.” Such complex sounds, emotions, and even the choice of instruments can be next to impossible to translate in a live setting, but all were performed in such a baffling manner you’d be convinced these cats all went to fuckin’ Berklee or some shit. Wait, that’s because they fuckin’ did!
Full disclosure here, I first learned of this spectacular act the day of the show, and I was utterly blown away at first contact, but somehow surprised to see that the setlist of this evening included very little amounts of their newest effort Land Animals (a complaint you’ll next to never hear from me). That said, all this means is I’ll just have to obsess over these cats until I catch them playing “Holy Ghost” as I was hoping. And you’ll just have to jump along for the ride, if you know what’s good for your ears.
How can you properly describe the adventure created by the avant-garde champions in Thank You Scientist, without chancing on spilling your brains out of your asshole? The answer is, I have no fucking clue, but here goes nothing. This is an act beloved by a great many Bucketheads alike. They’re completely nonsensical and yet somehow have the workings of such an impossibly unpredictable style down to a science (zero pun intended). What would come off as the smashing of different master level musicians in all the stretches of the instrument world (from brass to string and a few awkward in-betweens) is factually the melding of sound in such a fuckered fashion that it almost takes years of trying to start to fully “get it” (at least if you’re a simpleton such as myself who has been catching these cats since 2015). This time around proved to be no different. Whilst sporting a spectacularly balanced room sound and a variety of unorthodox instruments (real talk: one instrumental tune was played on a fucking shamisen. What fucking paper-thin Caucasian kid from fucking Jersey thinks of that?), the band played a heroic two-hour long set to a half-full room of prog nerds spanning from one end of the age spectrum to the other.
The crowd just devoured anything TYS could throw at them. Classics like “Feed the Horses,” brand new bangers like “Terraformer,” and ridiculous visuals playing on a screen in the background (mostly pictures of the family dogs, which were wildly appreciated by this puppy eyed pundit) were all just a tiny glimpse of what was experienced in what was easily one of the lesser attended performances occurring in my beloved home at the very same time. Every second was flawlessly executed and just goes to show you a crown jewel of a sentiment to live by. When presented with options, take the fucking weird one, even if it means soiling yourself.
Written by Jason Greenberg
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Chris Aitken