M for Montreal 2009

I had the luxury of visiting Montreal AND M for Montreal music festival for the first time last year. An incredible festival in an equally incredible city, I never have a dull time while there.

As Blurt Mag has the review and pics in two different locations, I’ll post everything here so life is a wee bit easier for you! (Gallery Below)

Summer is the time most flock to music festivals. Yet, what about when the sun sets earlier, predictions of snow may be part of your forecast and the holidays are encroaching? This is when M for Montreal (a/k/a M4M), now four years old, pounces. During this time of festival hibernation this little-known musical extravaganza is growing into the must attend indie event. And trust this road weary writer of BLURT, this statement is far from exaggerated. One glance at the eager fans, dancing hipsters, packed venues-and of course the amazing talent showcased-proves this to be true.

The goal of M4M is to highlight Canadian bands – mostly Montreal based acts – and present a format for them to unleash their hell. And they did just that. It was quite obvious that every band had a well established fan base eager for their favorite band to blow them away…their desires were met.

Yet again the fourth edition of M for Montreal ran like clockwork. Alternating sets, almost 30 bands, no act went unseen; and, here are the bands that made the festival all the more exciting.

 

DAY 1

Miracle Fortress

The first day of the festival had the most impressive line up and it began with solo act, Graham Van Pelt. A busy multi-instrumentalist who did double duty at M4M – he is also the guitarist for band Think About Life – Van Pelt performed twice this night. However, before he graced the stage with the night’s main act, and hovered behind two theatrical singers, Van Pelt took center stage with keyboards, drums machines and loops to create his ethereal, dance beats as Miracle Fortress.

Spectators were greeted to a stage with several props (lamps, lights and other like items) when all went black. Van Pelt walked out with a red light illuminating from his heart and donning black shades he pressed a button on his drum machine and the show began. Van Pelt proved to be an eccentric act as he arched backwards, sang in his genteel falsetto and provided his own light show. His vocals could barely be heard over the catchy beats but Miracle Fortress was an intriguing act.

The Rural Alberta Advantage

Following Van Pelt was folk band Rural Alberta Advantage, and as the name suggests, all members of the trio hail from Alberta, Canada. RAA put on an emotive performance as lead singer Nils Edenloff’s sobering voice commanded everyone’s attention. Paul Banwatt’s static, rhythmic drumming made each song come alive as Amy Cole switched between violin, vocals, keyboard and xylophone. A bright surprise and advantageous addition to the evening, even in the large venue RAA’s performance was personable, quaint yet grand. Fans seeking a modern Neutral Milk Motel or a less cheeky Mountain Goats look towards The Rural Alberta Advantage.

You Say Party! We Say Die!

One of the few bands I knew by name prior to attending M4M, You Say Party! (pictured above) did not disappoint. If lead singer’s Becky Ninkovic’s pixyish stature, wing outfit, or adorably coiffed ‘fro didn’t charm you surely her infectiously humble smile captivated you. Making a special trip from their regularly scheduled tour, You Say Party! was warmly welcomed; there were several fans in the room this night. Once on stage the band did not hesitate and quickly leapt into their dance, punk-rock tunes with the dark “XXXX/Loyalty.” Ninkovic’s eerily wailed over the roar of the keyboard and banging drums to an eager audience who immediately jumped and danced to the beats for their entire set.

Think About Life

Well, it was quite obvious why this Montreal band closed the evening. Unashamedly quirky, fun and silly, Think About Life’s dance, pop-rock induced the venue to a sweaty rage. Though some of their tunes proved too immature to my refined taste – sarcasm tone intended – their raw energy was damn contagious; one could not pull themselves away from the quartet.

Singers Martin Cesar and Caila Thompson-Hannant, guitarist Graham Van Pelt, and drummer Greg Napier provided a great explosion of sound. Even members of You Say Party! sat on the rear of the stage and with beaming smiles on their faces watched Think About Life work their magic. A horn section, balloons, beaming smiles, sarcastic quips with the audience, feverish dancing and fans rushing the stage were just a few of the antics that took place. Their exhausting 11pm set, which stretched well into midnight, was nearly over when Cesar called for a friend to join him for their last song, “Sweet Sixteen.” And with the balloons still flying, together they closed the show with a loud bang.

 


DAY 2

Parlovr

Pronounced Parlour, the trio creates a unique blend of disjointed, upbeat punk, pop-rock. Sharing singing duties, Louis Jackson and Alex Cooper with drummer Jeremy MacCuish were yet another band full of smiles and infectious energy. Parlovr made quite a bit of noise with just two guitars, a keyboard and drums. Introduced as “I love these guys, Louis babysat my kid sister…,” the amorous feeling of the evening was set.

Several times Jackson addressed the audience and it was apparent he wanted to share a more intimate moment with his fans. “Who wants to be my human stand,” he asked as eager hands flew into the air. He picked a girl from the crowd, helped her on stage and with her holding the mic, began singing. She tried to hold back her urge to dance as she smiled with bubbling delight.

DD/MM/YYYY and Silver Starling

DMY’s blend of loud punk, noise-rock soared above the realm of constructive rhythmic beats and sailed straight for kinetic chaos and achieved deafening clamor. And though this pleased some-the crowd of near deaf fans who stood front row, center-there were quite a few who waited in the lobby for the next act, I joined the latter. Later that evening Silver Starling, on the opposite end of the musical spectrum, performed their blend of country-alt-rock. Their music was far from interesting and quite archetypal, alternative rock…perhaps I’m hard to please.

Le Matos

Standing in the front of the stage holding a camera to record the bands performance was Ian Cameron, a member of The National Parcs – they performed at last year’s M4M. As we camera geeks discussed our gear a collection of highly eager, young men (questionably pre-pubescent in appearance) gathered and eagerly jumped, drank and rough housed before the music began. And then I saw why. Le Matos. If your life is a rave this electro-trio will most likely provide the soundtrack. Encased in lights and keyboards the members of Le Matos were shrouded in darkness until the music began and their personal light show complemented the music. With mostly lyric-less songs that easily spanned 6-8 minutes in length, the audience and performers alike were sweaty before the first track was over.

 


DAY 3

Marie-Pierre Arthur and La Patere Rose

Well, Saturday proved to be “let’s sing in French and confound those foreign tongued delegates” day. And though my weak French only picked up on a word or two, I was able to decipher that all of the bands had rabid fans in the audience. Marie-Pierre and La Patere Rose shelled out pop drenched rock. While Marie-Pierre music was quite focused and catchy, it was difficult to pin down Rose’s sonic influences. Uber poppy and uber feel good, lead singer Fanny Bloom voice squeaked and squealed over the electro-pop sound produced by her two bandmates.

Automelodi

Not that I am a forlorn soul, yet after the mini pop fest this Blurter was ready for some melancholic grooves. Automelodi came to the rescue. A blend between Depeche Mode and The Cure, Automelodi’s throwback to dark, melodic, ‘80s, synth-filled, dance-rock got the audience moving. Singer Arnaud Lazlaud’s subdued vocals calmly wooed the audience as the cool, electronic beats poured from his synthesizers. Though their sound is far from original, Automelodi was a fine live act and their solid performance made my day.

Geraldine

Well. How to describe Geraldine? A dash of rock mixed with a smorgasbord of crazed, eccentric, electro-noise punk, Geraldine was…unique. They all wore ski masks. She sang into a fan. She chirped adoringly into the mic for a duet. For another track Geraldine screeched incomprehensibly while the band poured out some great, chaotic beats. Definitely artsy, definitely captivating Geraldine made a lasting impression.

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