Sunday, May 15, 2011

J'aime Montreal

On Thursday I drove up to Montreal. Its not the first time I've been to the city, in fact over the last number of years I've visited a few times, including once to do some passport/visa stuff which involved Frankie, Hamish, and I missing a summer school exam and writing a bit of a bullshit excuse in the lobby of a McGill University Dorm building. Happy days they were. Radiohead played Montreal a couple of times over the last number of years and I caught both of those gigs. Every time I came away from Montreal the city failed to live up to the hype.......until this time.

Since I was going to see Moonface (Spencer Krug) on my own I figured a cheapo hotel near the venue would suffice, and given that the venue was about 5km outside of the city the place could have been in any type of neighborhood. Either way it didn't bother me. The trip was about the music not the place I'd be resting my head for 7 hours. As luck would have it, the area was AWESOME. Located on the opposite side of the hill that McGill sits on, away from the city and the tourists, this was real Montreal. Wine Bars, Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, and great shops littered among apartments and low budget lodging, all inhabited by students, artists, transient folk, hipsters, locals and everyone in between. No one chose to speak English but they were cool if you said you didn't know French. It was like being in Europe and only the money told me I was in Canada.

Terry and Carly Shea suggested a pub to me. It was a place they visited when they traveled to see Sunset Rubdown in the same venue. I got the address, typed it into Google, and its location popped up around the corner from my hotel. 5 minutes later I am sitting at the bar drinking a Double IPA explaining to the bartender how important it was for me to travel up to Montreal to see Spencer Krug perform a solo show. He was totally into it (or at least let on he was) and welcomed me in with open arms (and lots of beer samples). I was the only person in a packed bar that wasn't speaking French.
A few pints later and it was off to IL Motore for the gig. The venue is located about 2km up the road and the weather was beautiful so I strolled passed the numerous bars and coffee shops in the Latin Quarter and wondered why in all my times in Montreal I stayed down town. Il Motore was not what I was expecting. The Paradise Rock Club or at least the Middle East was the kind of place I was looking for. What I found was basically a store front of what may have been a clothes shop at one point. Inside the venue had capacity for maybe 150, a small bar and no seating anywhere. Awesome. I felt like I had just been invited to a private party. And I thought to myself that I really wished Francine was here because she would have been in her element. Spencer and Camilla mingled with the crowd like they were fans of a band about to take the stage as opposed to being the band that I traveled from Boston to see. I chatted to both of them briefly before the gig.

Moonface is one of the many side projects Spencer Krug is involved in. It is his "solo" moniker.  However for the live show he had a Percussionist named Mike Bigelow(formerly of Wintersleep) who rocked. He reminded me of the dude on percussion for Jonsi,  completely in control of so many sounds and loops, making no mistakes. The opening act, Sean Nicholas Savage were a lot of fun and created a really nice laid back atmosphere before Spencer took to the stage.

Anticipation levels were very high when Spencer started setting up his gear. After the last Wolf Parade show in Austin I wondered when I'd see any performances by the guys again. I've was treated to a Handsome Furs show in April and now this. Spencer is my favorite of the Wolf Parade singers and his style of music and lyrics really do it for me. I only wish I had Frankie there to experience it.
The music is amazing. Lots of synth and baseline loops played by Spencer mixed with Mikes percussion which included marimba. Everything was looped and sampled over each other creating a very intense, primal, and truly emotional mix finished off with Spencer's voice, the most important 'instrument" in the show. Only 6 songs were played, each lasting about 10 minutes. The closing song was a track by Swan Lake called All Fires. Camilla (Sunset Rubdown) joined Spencer on vocals for the last 2 tracks including All Fires and it was beautiful. Some reviews from the previous Brooklyn show were really down on this version but I was completely taken away and I begged for it not to end. Alas, one hour after it started the show was over. Epic and powerful. Like sitting in someones apartment watching one of my favorite singers perform new music that makes me so happy. The lights came on, the bar was still open and most people left. I had a beer and chatted to Camilla. She gave me a high five for being an enthusiastic customer. I've never been one to hide my emotion or feelings when seeing my favorite acts perform so it is nice to feel appreciated. I told Spencer that the experience was incredible and very moving. He joined his hands as if in prayer and bowed with a very gracious thank you. We spoke briefly about a potential tour but he was reluctant to say for sure, opting to smile, take a deep breath, and say maybe. Good enough for me. I floated down the road, had a nightcap at a dodgy bar housing a few dodgy characters speaking French, then retired to my very comfortable bed in the 11/2 star hotel. A near perfect night.

Peace and Love,


The video has really bad sound. My kodak couldn't handle the mix coming out of the speakers but you'll get the picture.

No comments:

Post a Comment