Written by Jane O’Faherty
Finding one’s way to The BOG can be tricky, but no more so than on April Fool’s Day. Hidden away in a non-descript apartment building in Saint Henri, the venue’s secret location may leave someone feeling like the butt of a practical joke.
Following the distant, promising thuds of drums and cymbals on entering, you could easily end up in someone’s sitting room. One such apartment down the corridor knew this only too well, with a note in block caps reading: “We are not the BOG! Don’t bother us.”
Once you find your way to the cellar, however, any previous disorientation is worth it. On April 1st, the pay-off was seeing four great performances in the intimate, subterranean venue.
The night began raucously, with a set from Montreal natives March of The Worm. Fresh from releasing their single, Seep/Spider, three months ago, Benjamin Levitan and Timothy Lippiatt whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a sparse sound, drawn from guitar and drums. The result was an urgent, fast-paced set, with more than a few nods to Thom Yorke and Radiohead.
Among those headbanging in the crowd was Lucas Ciampini, bassist with The Fiers, who later took to the stage with even more boisterous energy. With Matthew Dessner on drums and guitarist and vocalist Lu Trespalacios, the band leapt from funk to punk to metal and back again. It created a symphonic, if sometimes a little confusing, sound. But the high point for The Fiers came with their performance of “Retirement”, a highly danceable number that highlighted their latent talent and their potential.
The nervous energy laid down by the first two performances reached its peak once Animatist arrived on stage. Commanding the room with both their musical prowess and bold physicality, the quartet from Brampton, Ontario recalled the best of math rock and jazz, while creating something completely of their own.
It was also one of those rare performances where all members of a band were brilliant in their own way, but the band deftly avoided becoming a one-man show.
Danielle Fernandes’ compelling saxophone bounced off Ian Hinds’ sophisticated drums, while Brent O’Toole’s frenetic guitar strumming was balanced by more measured bass from Steve Cook.
Taking to the stage well past midnight, The Tender Threads psychedelic and folk-infused sound may have seemed worlds apart from the acts that just left the stage.
But the Montreal-based group, fronted by Sandro Manzon on keyboard and Liam Welch on guitar, succeeded in captivating an audience that was still recovering from more strident acts.
Almost counteracting every performance that had gone before them, the band had a restrained yet wonderful sound, with one foot in Western folk ballads and the other in Asian compositions. It comes as no surprise that Manzon and Welch’s travels in Vietnam and further afield.
While showcasing some new songs, highlights from this performance included tracks from their album, bl:ndness. Pastoral opener “Into The Spring” established a lush soundscape from the outset, along with “Prelude for A Seabird”. The final song of the night, the punchy, trombone-driven “Asphodel”, was a further reminder of what this promising band are capable of.
Some have compared The BOG to a “secret dungeon”. With that reputation, one could think the venue could be reduced to nothing more than a particularly pretentious basement. But there is something about it that sets it apart. It is one place where you can hear both cutting-edge music and Wham’s Greatest Hits between sets, and it doesn’t feel jarring. The welcoming atmosphere is wonderful for both up-and-coming bands and audiences.
So when you find yourself wandering around an otherwise boring corridor in Saint Henri, know that the end result will be worth it.