Pop Montreal officially kicked off on Wednesday night, including a mesmerizing performance by Sun Kil Moon, but the sheer glut of shows really kicked into high gear starting Thursday night. We caught some great shows across town on Thursday, including sets by Wand, Holobody, Mozart’s Sister, TR/ST, and Ought, all of which you can check out below.
Stay tuned for more Pop Montreal capsule reviews, as well as an interview with The Gaslight Anthem, who played with Against Me! at Metropolis on Thursday.
Wand @ Casa del Popolo
Los Angeles’ Wand delivered a face-melting, late-night set at Casa del Popolo, to about 30 fortunate folks. The band served up a potent dose of pop-tinged psychedelic rock, which routinely degenerated into a fuzzed-out, pulverizing sonic attack.
Wand are a true force on-stage, with vocalist / guitarist Cory Hanson’s Beatles-esque melodies providing a great contrast against the band’s massive riffage. Their latest LP, 2014’s Ganglion Reef (Drag City), was produced by Ty Segall, and his grimy fingerprints are all over the band’s sound. Definitely a contender for the loudest band at Pop Montreal this year – the ball is now in your court Whirr. (Gabe Sigler)
Holobody @ Le Cagibi
Upon first listen, it was difficult to tell if Holobody, the moniker of Montreal-based musician Luke Loseth, were performing a sound check, or in full swing of their live set. His bass guitar hummed quietly, accompanied by the subdued strums of a faint ukulele, softly resonating over the chatter of the cozy crowd.
Loseth cooed into his microphone, his sound growing lusty and lucid, demanding presence over the audience. There was a graceful energy between himself and his female counter-part; their tacit glances during songs were palpable. They encouraged one another, guiding each other through the textured mosaic of melodies. She sang tenderly, with a mellow murmur that connected with the layers Loseth was building. Towards the end of their short set, she took a seat on the stage floor, taking hold of the bass Loseth was previously playing. He switched from bass to guitar, and took control over the final few songs. The audience was completely subdued, hushed, and captivated by his restrained yet robust refrains. Holobody’s live show might have been brief, but it was magical, as usual. (Amanda Harvey)
Ought @ Cabaret Piccolo Rialto
Montreal’s art-punks Ought drew a huge crowd to their headlining set in the recently-converted basement of The Rialto. A large, cavernous space with exposed beams overhead, the venue doesn’t look like much, but the packed and excited crowd more than made up for the potentially bland setting.
Ought’s blend of 90’s emo and angular, off-time post-punk is not necessarily an easy sell, but vocalist / guitarist Tim Beeler imbues the off-kilter time signatures with a heavy dose of hooks, which manage to stick in your head from the first time you hear them. Beeler was an electrifying presence on-stage, waving his arms and gesturing wildly at the crowd throughout the set, who responded in kind by dancing wildly, even breaking out into a full-on mosh pit at one point, unexpectedly slamming the crowd in front of the stage right into the monitors.
It’s hard to fathom that Ought’s debut LP was only released this year. Their Constellation Records stamp of approval obviously carries great weight in this city, but after witnessing their hero’s welcome for this set, it’s safe to say that Ought will likely be well-past the basement stages soon enough. (Gabe Sigler)
Mozart’s Sister and TR/ST @ Le Late Night Little Burgundy
The church basement was dark and dank, reminiscent of high school dances gone by. DIY bars were set up at each side, turquoise paper lights, sticky floors, and no windows. A place to feel nostalgic, warm and at home. Mozart’s Sister’s performance was perfectly paired with the venue. Calia Thompson-Hannant’s seafoam green quaff fluttered along with her feathery, delicate voice. She sailed around the stage with an energy that was animated, animalistic, and bold. Particularly memorable was the track “Lone Wolf” from her latest LP Being. She was ethereal, maintaining composure while controlling the various sounds that seemed to sprinkle and splash in every direction. She seems to be a woman who can do it all. Another gorgeous individual, who controlled samplers and synths, accompanied Thompson-Hannant on stage. Together they transformed the venue, their bubblegum reverb echoing, bouncing between walls, inspiring the crowd to jump and sway. Mozart’s Sister created an alternate universe that felt close yet far, familiar and liberated, while still intangible and forbidden.
The crowd grew in scope and breadth during the build up to Toronto-born TR/ST. Robert Alfons wore all black, a ruler in disguise, ready to dominate the unwashed masses with his moody bellow. Alfons’ vocals evoke a dark, deep spot rarely visited, symbiotic with the subterranean setting. He gripped the mic tightly, slithering around the stage with fervor and purpose. TR/ST’s music is claustrophobic. The ceiling seemed to sit a little bit lower as Alfons mumbled, his voice floating on their gothic dream-pop sound waves. A blonde bombshell stood under bright lights behind him, seemingly handling the musical score. It can’t be denied that Alfonse himself is the spectacle. He commands the crowd, and they willingly bow down, drunk on admiration, alcohol, with stars in their eyes. “Bulbform” from their self-titled LP, drove the audience near hysterical, wild and drooling with elation. Technology failed TR/ST twice, the sound cutting clean out. Looks of devastation read on the surrounding faces, but the problems were promptly dealt with, and TR/ST were able to continue their reign. (Amanda Harvey)