There’s nothing like a little fire to warm you up in the middle of a Montreal January, especially this January, stunningly frigid as it has been so far. And there most likely will be fire onstage at Casa del Popolo on Saturday night. Admired for his surprising, even outrageous, stage shows, Wax Mannequin has been known to leave a candle burning on his head while he performs. The idea first came to him long ago, when a friend was joking about playing in a band while wearing burning hats, and the idea stuck with him as an evocative image. After doing it during a photo shoot and enjoying the result, he tried it on a whim during a live show: “The candle adhered more than I thought it would. It helped me focus and strangely made me less self-conscious.” Wax respects the right of venue managers not to allow live flames onstage, but he chooses not to play in those venues.
Folk-infused and high energy, Wax’s songs have become more concrete as time has passed. With six albums to his name, and another one in the works that he’s hoping to have out by spring, his sound has changed as he’s learned and grown as a musician, but the songcraft has remained consistently solid. Evocative images and ideas relate clearly tangible ideas often tied to modern forms of societal disruption and social upheaval. Having young children has only made him more keen to think (critically) about the world, and to communicate his ideas clearly.
Wax will be bringing some… wax with him. Perhaps not surprisingly, of late he has become interested in candle making. These aren’t the candles you make for relatives at Christmas, but they should be. Wax’s candles are shaped like Wax’s own head, and each candle houses a piece of machine memory (i.e. some kind of memory stick) that contains his music. How awesome is that, I ask you?! There’s no way that I won’t be walking away with one of those, um, wax mannequins, and I bet you can’t either.
I did make one small song request, in keeping with this year’s crazy climate: I asked if he would play “Weather,” one of his earlier songs. He wasn’t planning on it, but perhaps once he’s here he’ll change his mind…
Be prepared for some audience participation. Wax likes to interact with the crowd and involve people in his show, and always has a few onstage surprises in store. He likes to sing about funny, dark things that everyone can relate to. As he explains, “Over the course of the evening we can all think about the worst parts of life in the best possible light and end up feeling renewed.” What more can anyone ask for in the dead of Montreal winter.
Wax Mannequin is playing at Casa del Popolo on January 11 at 9pm. Also playing are Nick Ferrio and His Feelings, and The Sin and the Swoon. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.