As the weather gets more and more pleasant in Montreal, Quebec, music fans from all walks of life start to emerge from their hibernation. Friday, May the 3rd, was a great night for The Mountain Goats to show off their talents accompanied by the ever lovely Shana Cleveland.
Being more a part of the hardrock scene in Montreal, I’m always pretty eager to see people in other scenes: what they look like, how they act with each other, and how they respond to the live music in front of them. It’s a very scientific process, as you can see, and can be extremely titillating as an undercover reviewer. Well, one thing was seriously obvious upon entering L’Astral, which is a lovely venue with a lot of great potential for hosting a variety of different situations; the fans weren’t of one kind. There were hippies and hipsters, office working folk, parents with their children, families coming together, and even a couple biker dudes (whom by the way, were quite entertaining as they often made me smile with their enthusiastic cheering).
Opener Shana Cleveland appeared with her keyboardist and proceeded to melt my heart and gain a forever fan over the span of ten songs. With Shana’s impressively consistent and sweetly soft voice, the duo let us into their world of freshly picked flowers and 70s tinted feels. The most impressionable part was how harmonious they were together; Shana was so smooth, in her fingerpicking and nuances, in her speaking to us, and in the total delivery of their set. I couldn’t tell if she had performed and played music for many lifetimes or if she was the best at hiding her nervousness, because everything about her was so calm and made everyone else feel calm too. As they strummed the last chords to “Invisible When the Sun Leaves” from her new album Night of the Worm Moon, the audience cheered so loudly for them, you could hear their pride and admiration in everyone’s applause. I could feel every parent in the room beaming at them with smiles as if they had just watched their own child grow up and fly away. It was incredibly lovely, to say the least.
When it was time for the main act, The Mountain Goats arrived onstage, ceremoniously, each adding their sounds one by one to “Done Bleeding,” and eventually, the group was complete. I was so glad that the band obviously understood what crowd interaction can do for live music; the singer told many stories of the band’s life, and his own life, tying them to their most intriguing tunes that include “Insurance Fraud #2” and “Cadaver Sniffing Dog.” Everyone seemed pleased and engaged, with many bopping heads and tapping feet all around. I believe the biggest party spot in the room where the harder drinkers in the back, who seemed to be having the best time. No matter what you’re seeing, when you spot happy jiving groups at concerts, there’s no way it won’t give you some warm and fuzzy feelings inside. These people were obviously very much looking forward to what they got to see, and that’s just such a happy thing. As I wrap up my ideas here, I absolutely CANNOT forget to mention the most memorable aspect of The Mountain Goats live show, Matt Douglas. Multi-instrumentalist (flute, saxophone, clarinet, guitar, keyboard, and vocals) and total badass, his sax solos will have me weeping for more until the next time I get to catch him live again. The man is a talented dude, and he makes me wonder what he sounds like off stage too. Huge hat tip to Matt!
Written by Talia Plante
Photography by Marc-Antoine Morin
*edited by Danielle Kenedy