Along with my badge, M Pour Montréal gave attendees a canister with containing earplugs.
“Smart!” I thought, since it seems every time I forget my earplugs, that’s when I wish I had them. In desperation to stuff my ears with anything available, I once ripped off part of my socks. I pulled out that canister a few times as a slipped in and out of many showcases at M Pour Montréal. I’m grateful for this souvenir, but also for the incredible shows with Quebec artists.
The night began with Emma Beko at Club Soda. I missed most of her set, but enough to catch the vibe of her sad-girl rap. So much of rap is posturing and announcing one’s toughness to survive and make it, evidenced by the gold around one’s neck and the designer clothing on your back. Not so Beko. Beko sings of pain, self-loathing, and uncertainty.
After Beko, SLM channelled Beyonce. Accompanied by two fly girls and a DJ, SLM prowled the stage like a tigress in her black thigh high boots and bodysuit. Her long braid whipped behind her, creating that front-woman aura of sexy, classy, and defiant. While large acts rely on a great production team that makes a spectacle of costume changes, dancers, and lights, SLM’s smaller team allowed the focus to be on her music, which has a lot of emotional punch.
Finally, third act at Club Soda came Lary Kidd, (from Loud Lary Ajust). The crowd doubled in size as hip hop dudes sporting bucket hats and Tommy Hilfiger shirts packed the floor. Their devotion to this local indie fave and his raps about drugs… and uh… other drugs… also debauchery is religious. And um… you know… Ahuntsic represent! When someone sings about the city right outside the door, everyone feels included.
If anyone grabbed the industry folk by the balls, Ariane Roy took hold with both hands and did not let go. On the modest stage of Cafe Cléopâtre, Roy delivered a festival-worthy performance. Of all the performers I saw, Roy has something special. Most acts invite comparison to another established artist, but not Roy. She’s a great guitarist and singer, and hits a perfect sweet spot blends rock, garage, and disco. Maximum plaisir.
Also at Cafe Cléo was Kamikaze Nurse. Outta BC, this dreamy punk/garage outfit plays art as much as music. I especially thought this when the lead singer began to scream into the microphone “I hate you” over and over again. It was like a 7th grade fantasy being enacted by actual musicians.
Wandering up St. Denis to the l’Esco, I walked in on the set of Velours Velours. The sound was soft, soothing, and sensual like a hug from a muscular man smelling of leather bound books and candles. It was no surprise the audience was mostly adoring women (and a few men) whose drank in every crooned word.
Last act I caught I was EV Bird. While I didn’t quite get hip hop or math rock out of his act, I did get the sense of a solid rock act of a veteran performer. The sound was mature and complex, the songs touched by indie angst and grief that finds beauty in live performance.
All in all, the night was a fantastic, Alice in Wonderland like journey through the contemporary music scene in Quebec (and Canada) today, from rap to rock. Even if the songs are sad, music is always a cathartic reminder that it’s good to be alive now.