First off can I just say that music is one of the best things about summer? For the first time in months, going outside is not a chore but a pleasure. If you live in a city, wondering the streets changes from an “oh my god how quickly can I get home” moment into a “what can I explore” moment. It is in that spirit that I stumbled upon a very cool little bar in Montreal called Inspecteur Epingle last Saturday night. My reward: an excellent evening of music with three bands that are rising on the radar.
Every venue attended has different perks and drawbacks and before I address the bands, I would like to preface my review by first highlighting how the setting affected my experience of the music. If you’re like me then super huge high-energy crowds make you uneasy at the best of times. This is tragic of course as it limits the enjoyment of large shows and concerts and can turn you away from an otherwise great experience. Yet while concerts may not be the way to go, we can still enjoy live music. Venues at bars become, for instance, greatly improved. Who doesn’t love relaxing with a drink and listening to good music? I was pumped to hear some tunes in a cool place like Inspecteur Epingle. It has a great atmosphere and is one of the nicer places I’ve been to in Montreal. That being said, and I say this only to list a drawback of smaller, more closed in locations: some of the vocals were overpowered by the music. This was in no way the fault of any of the musicians playing, simply the reality of competing sounds in a tight space. So keep in mind those disclaimers. One that note, on with (the review of) the show.
The first band to play was Making Marks. This band from Norway (formally known as My Little Pony) had a sound that my photographer described as “cute”. My first reaction to this was that they were a lot more than cute. However, as I thought on this I came to see the simplicity in the remark. “Cute” in this sense does not refer to anything childish or small in stature. Making Marks capture a sound of innocence and charm in a way that few other bands playing today can accomplish. I dare you not to be won over my the pleasant melodies of this indie pop band. My personal favorite song from them that night was “Hard To Be Good”, I advise you all to check out the link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oig4TIAv-zA. It’s even more appealing when you hear it live, trust me on that one.
Next up I am very happy to congratulate a band from New England (Burlington, Vermont specifically) on their excellent performance. Twee band (which is a more fun way to say indie pop band) The Smittens were without two of their members that night but lacked nothing in presence (thank you very much Canadian border guards – you successfully defended your country from indie vocalists). Their style factored in a humor that was as wonderfully quirky as their music.
My personal favorite that night from the Smittens had to be their song entitled “First Bus”, although it was a hard choice to narrow down. I will provide a link to a version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GAAmSr1KRk while saying that the version I heard had a very different energy to it. Again, one of the wonders of live performance (and why I encourage experiencing it whenever possible).
Last but certainly not least (in fact my favorite band of the night), the Tigercats. There is a lot to say about this rising band from the United Kingdom. They are the youngest band that played tonight although you wouldn’t know it from the harmony they convey. As with the two bands before, they specialize in pop music. The Tigercats convey musical energy in a way that will have even the most unreceptive audience members unconsciously tapping along before the end of the first song. Catchy is not a strong enough word to describe their style. Their lead singer bore a certain vocal similarity to Smashing Pumpkins lead, Billy Corgan (and that is not a compliment I hand out lightly). Last personal favorite of the night, “Full Moon Reggae Party”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UJCNptGNRg (really just check out the entire album, Isle of Dogs, it’s awesome).
Now obviously, if indie pop isn’t your thing then this show is not for you. However, if you’re like me and love relaxing on summer evenings: this is a show to check out. The energy is just perfect for making sure that everyone in the room has a great time. For those out there in Montreal looking for a slightly different indie experience: might I recommend checking out Seb Black at Katacombes this Thursday night.
Tigercats, The Smittens, and Making Marks are currently on tour across the United States. I fully recommend checking them out.
Photos courtesy of Andy Fidel.
Thoughts? Comments? Am I full of it or onto something? Let me know now in the feedback section of this article.