On the first of March, a Sunday night when the majority of people were busy mentally preparing themselves for the terror that is Monday morning, a large crowd gathered within the black walls of l’Hemisphère Gauche for the CD release of Montreal garage band The Maxwells.
The night started off with Juliana & Jesse who played their entire set with only a few people standing by the stage, the rest crammed at the back toward the bar. Juliana’s voice lends both blues and jazz influences to the songs she sings. Though the band was charming at times, their stage presence was a tad awkward; Juliana only smiled twice throughout the whole set. Their stage presence improved slightly during the song “Drink it Up”, which is a rockabilly ode to coffee, with a bit of a country music undertone. This song was the best performance of their set, and it had the audience moving. They followed that up with “Jaded Memory” and “Ain’t Got Time”, as well as a great cover of Jason Mraz’s “Geek in the Pink”. They finished up their set with a fun mash-up of “Indigo Blue”, and a cover of Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk”, which was perfect to get the crowd’s energy up for the rest of the night.
Blues band, The Rumps took the stage next and played a set that was much better than the first time I saw them in concert a few months back. Their opening song was soulful with strong vocals from Eddie Lamhaf and a great stage presence from the entire band. That being said, Lamhaf was awkward when addressing the audience between songs. Also, the backup vocals were distracting as they were a whispering echo uttered after every few lyrics of the song. They made it hard to take the song seriously. The band then played a reggae-influenced song called “Green Man” that showed Lamhaf’s vocal range, but was too repetitive lyrically. Throughout their set, Mitchell Caluori kept the crowd entertained and expertly switched between playing the synthesizer and piano. They finished up with two more tracks, one of which was “Dreams”. By this time, the audience was more than excited for The Maxwells to start playing.
As began their set, they were immediately greeted by the loud cheering of a large audience that had finally crowded around the stage. They played each song off of Heart Attack in the order in which they appear on the album. Released that night, the band sold a number of copies of the album. They began with an energetic performance of “Heart Attack”. The band blew everyone away with Joseph Sardelli’s unbelievable vocal range, and the band’s overall stage presence. Before playing their hit song “Superglue”, they gave a nice shout out to Bucketlist’s own Eric Brisson for directing its music video. The crowd joined them in cheering his name repeatedly. Several members of the audience sang along to the song, as well as to the next few songs they performed. Their tribute to George Orwell, “Room 101”, was beautifully done and had the crowd feeling mellow, singing and swaying to its beat. The rest of the songs they played ranged from soft and soothing to loud and angry, and all were a hit with the audience. They ended by performing “Illusions”, a song they had never played live before, something that wasn’t at all apparent. Everyone in the band was at their best and it left the crowd hungry for more; the audience was disappointed that the set was over, and begged for an encore. Though the band seemed reluctant at first, they gracefully accepted the audience’s request by playing a song off of their demo.
The Maxwells are a band that all fans of blues, alternative, and garage rock should see live first chance they get.
Written by Franca G. Mignacca
Photography by Eric Brisson Eric Brisson Photography