BSTB Festival: Freak Heat Waves, Homeshake & Un Blonde at Bar Le Ritz
It was a dark and rainy Saturday night, and for someone living in the western part of Montreal, going to Bar Le Ritz is as long and gruelling as climbing Mount Washington in ski boots. Just like reaching its peak, as we open that door, our mind feels as free as it gets. When I arrived, the mood was laid back and a lot of people had already bought their tickets. Some had stepped outside, either to smoke a cigarette or gather around someone who had a story to tell about one of the three featured bands: Un Blonde, Homeshake and Freak Heat Waves.
The show started around 10 when Un Blonde hopped on stage. I had never heard any of their songs before that night, and was surprised by their originality. The lead singer Jean-Sébastien Audet seemed quite eccentric for his attitude on stage and his unconventional clothes, but I found that he was soft-spoken and open for conversation when I saw him after the show. He wore a long-sleeved turtleneck and wide leg pants that made him stand out in a positive way. Originally from Calgary, Audet was dubbed “music phenom” at 16 by the Calgary Herald.
Their sounds were amazing. His guitarist was buttoned up in a checked shirt and played his instrument with a great amount of energy. He moved awkwardly on stage, but in his defense, he really gave it his all with his guitar. With them were a keyboardist and a drummer. Audet often moved his microphone (about three or four times) so that he could keep everyone’s attention. Un Blonde doesn’t sound like your standard indie music (“what’s standard indie music anyway?”, some will argue). More than half of the songs I heard were definitly R&B material. Audet has the ability to switch from one musical genre to another, and still be at his best in each and every one of them. What I mean is that he pushes his limits and manages to not go overboard.
Second was Homeshake who started as Peter Sagar’s side project while he was touring with the person he is too often associated with, Mac Demarco. But let’s make this clear; Sagar’s music has nothing to do with Demarco’s. In the Shower, Homeshake’s latest album, and the only one you can hold in your hands, is something special. It consists of him using his control pad, with which he can deepen his voice or make it sound childish, something he does to address the crowd during his shows, along with a synthesizer that reminds us of Bataille Solaire. Technically, he doesn’t need a band to perform the songs of In the Shower, but as it happened, he had one that night. It brings in a different vibe to his songs, a more natural one, not that In the Shower feels in any way fake. He played songs such as “Making A Fool Of You” or “She Can’t Leave Me Here Alone,” and wrapped it up with “Cash Is Money.”
Homeshake’s music is smooth but will make you want to move. The lyrics evoke his relation with money and his home province, Alberta, among other things. Most of the songs in the album are not up-tempo, so don’t expect to want to hit the clubs after listening to his cd, but rather to fight the urge to kick your feet out of the window and head down to California. Sagar’s beat is dreamy but still realistic, for you can relate to his songs in an unusual way.
Lastly were Freak Heat Waves. Their music can be roughly defined as punk, but the robotic sound feels like retro-pop. Steven Lind, the lead singer, has a deep voice and you sometimes feel that he’s insisting on something. You won’t need much more motivation though; Freak Heat Waves’ latest disk Bonnie’s State of Mind goes by in a hurry. The vocals are not the most elegant, but their musical arrangement does them justice. If you ever listen to them while on the subway train, you’ll probably think you’re heading for another planet, jousting with armoured futuristic soldiers while shouting with a voice that sounds robotic.
The band is currently on tour across Canada. They began their journey in Victoria in early July, and are ending it at the very same place on August 14th. The public’s reactions regarding the band seem to be mixed. Lind is very monotone and redundant in his singing, which even led to my friend asking if he was “telling a prayer?”. On another hand, fans of post-punk electronic music will recognize Freak Heat Waves’ sermon and will stand by it every step of the way.
Homeshake will be at La Vitrola on August 12th with Sheer Agony