It was festival season in Montreal and people from all over the country flock to the city to get their fix. But although the big stages of Heavy MTL and Osheaga housed some of our favourites artists, it is deep in the city that one will find the hidden gems. The artists who play the cosier venues, who tread through difficult times and drive for miles in order to deliver you their art which they have crafted with their blood and sweat, are those who deserve all your love. This was the case on Sunday night at the mighty Turbo Haüs, home of Montreal’s best delinquents. We had the honour of seeing on stage The Lookout, Hollis Brown and the spectacular Thunderpussy, who showed us that you don’t need a big stage in order to rock and roll.
First on stage was The Lookout, a punk rock band with a flair of thrash metal. They started with a small crowd of five people but ended with a solid audience rockin’ out to their jams. Like most of the bands of the night, they, unfortunately, had a short set but made the most of it. Front lady Martha kicked ass and made sure the crowd was alive and moving. Though the music remains simple enough in terms of punk rock tropes, seeing them have a blast on stage made me forget about all my usual criticisms of the genre. Their energy was infectious and their sound was loud. Musically, I was surprised by the strong bassline and its presence in the room. The solos are where the trash metal (mentioned earlier) came in. I saw some technical playing which you don’t usually see in punk rock, but which fit fantastically with the entirety of the sound. All in all, the Lookout where the perfect band to start out a night of drinking and partying!
Next on was Hollis Brown, a surprising addition to a somewhat electric night. Though they fall in more of a soft rock category (if compared to The Lookout and Thunderpussy), they were nonetheless an amazing act. With the usual four-piece and their respective instruments, the addition of a keyboard player added an extra layer to the music, oftentimes making me think of southern rock legends such as The Allman Brothers. And for once, I could actually hear the damn thing play, so props to Adam Bock and to the soundman for that! Singer Mike Montali had a voice made for soul music, but with the range and rawness, we are used to in rock music. Their song “Do Me Right” started off their show and right away I got the sense that these guys have been playing together for a while. The facility they had with connecting with a new audience (this being their first show in Montreal) showed a great level of showmanship. At the end of their set, they left the crowd calling for more. I’d say that Hollis Brown will always have a stage for them in Montreal.
As the night went on, the hour was late but no one would dare leave before seeing Thunderpussy. My memory escapes me and so recalling how they came on stage is difficult, but I’m pretty sure they just appeared out of nowhere, like if they had jumped out from another dimension. Yeah, let’s go with that. Either way, their performance is not something you forget easily. From the music to what they were wearing, the ladies of Thunderpussy are pure rock and roll. Although they felt right at home in the cosy Turbo Haüs, they definitely needed a bigger stage. Having seen them a few years back open for Black Pistol Fire, I know for a fact that giving these ladies the space to move gives the audience not only an auditory experience but also a visual one.
But because they are who they are, singer Molly Sides couldn’t help herself from running into the crowd and showing us how flexible and how good of a dancer she is. From their smooth cover of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” to their electric song “Velvet Noose,” they never let up. They pulled all the stops, even having guitarist Whitney Petty embody Jimmy Page while she rubbed a violin bow against her guitar strings. I was as impressed as the first time I saw them and hopefully, Thunderpussy will be back with new stuff!
Make sure you check out all these bands out. Thunderpussy is currently on tour so check that out, you might be able to catch them in a city near you. Support the music and those who make art!
Written by Johnathan Robinson
Photography by Jean David Lafontant
*edited by Danielle Kenedy