I am still recovering from playing an amazing, raucous tape release last night w/ my two dear compadres in Lungbutter, alongside Steve Jr. and Blankets — truly some of Montreal’s finest. Feeling a little sleepy still, but so it goes…
Today was all meetings at CKUT: we’re talking big-picture plans and plenty of awesome schemes courtesy of our board and steering committees — hence the lack of speciality charts and the belated nature of this message… apologies! Back to business next week.
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Alex Williams is back behind the mic reppin’ on behalf of local label Stack Your Roster today on The Montreal Sessions from 3-5pm. Last week they took a good look at some of the label’s biggest influences and for this episode they’re putting the spotlight on their own community. Expect lots from Names, who are out on tour, and a chunk of SYR affiliates.
Alan Bishop is scheduled for a stop in Montreal on his summer tour and CKUT‘s New Shit has the goods to give away that’ll whet your appetite for the special occasion. To be clear, Alan Bishop is Alvarius B. and Alan Bishop used to rock bass and vocals in the experimental American group Sun City Girls. To win tickets and a special 7″, tune in to New Shit today 3-5pm for details on how to catch this mega-show pro bono. Take note, It’s happening over at La Vitrola on Friday August 22 2014 alongside Montreal’s esteemed artist Sam Shalabi.
CKUT is home base for all the reggae happenings in Montreal, and this year we are going to be ALL over the 11th Annual Montreal International Reggae Festival. From 4pm till midnight on Saturday August 16th and Sunday August 17th, CKUT will be broadcasting LIVE from the Old Port with all of your favourite radio hosts. Hosts of CKUT’s Caribbean Programming: Positive Vibes, Butcher T’s Noon Time Cuts, Weekend Groove, Soca Sessions, West Indian Rhythms, Masters At Work, Bhum Bhum Tyme, Roots Rock Rebel, Roots Rock Reggae, Full Circle and New Born Reggae Ting will all be there! Tune in this weekend to hear it live, or better yet – come say hi to us at the festival and chill with the CKUT crew in person.
I went to Heavy Montreal, and here’s a highly subjective description of one of the tens of thousands of unique experiences:
Photo credit: Susan Moss
I made a point of arriving at the beginning of the day in order to catch Monster Truck – but what didn’t make sense is that so many other people were there already. It was 12:15 and the island was crawling with people. The area near the metro and front gates was a zoo. Didn’t all these people realize that Metallica wasn’t going to be on for another 8 hours?
Monster Truck were a good way to start the day. They aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, they just keeping it rolling. I stole that line from Eagle Tears, the band that was coincidentally playing at the same time on another stage. It fits perfectly, though. For a band with only one album, Monster Truck’s set was pretty filled with good songs. If you like heavy riffs paired with inoffensive yarls, they’re the band for you.
Photo credit: Tim Snow
Externally, I looked like this:
Internally, I was thinking this:
After the headliners, Babymetal was clearly the most hyped band of the day. The revelation for me was that the group is not made up solely of three J-pop singing teenage girls – there are also actually four adult men who play the instruments yet always seem to be left out of the discussion (and press photos).
Photo credit: Tim Snow
The size of the crowd for Baby Metal was mind boggling. What’s wrong with you people?
Getting to see Mass Hysteria was a treat, they don’t come to town that often and aren’t a band I’d necessarily expect Heavy Montreal to book (a subtheme of this year’s lineup). I haven’t listened to any of their last four albums and had a fool’s hope that they’d just stick to songs from 1999′s classic Contraddiction. Obviously that wasn’t the case, but it is was fine – the newer songs were all good and they ended on the hits: “P4”, “Furia”, & “Contraddiction” (all from that album).
Here’s 3/5ths of the band eschewing use of the stage:
Also, shout out to Reindeer Guy – by far the most hardcore of every single person at the festival. You ever try wearing a full furry costume all day in 30 degree heat and getting in on the wall of death? Heatstroke’s got nothing on him.
Pennywise were playing at the same time as Municpal Waste, but it was a pretty easy decision to make. Except once the dude from MW said “Aren’t you glad you’re missing Bro Hymn for this?”, it clicked: “Ah shit! I’m missing Bro Hymn!”. Johnny = not glad. Regardless, it was still the most fun set of the weekend. Municipal Waste is always refreshing in that they are actually having fun, not just running through a setlist.
No one has uploading any good videos from their set yet (I’m looking for one that shows the two tree pits!), so in the meantime, here’s a gem from the last time they were in town:
And of course, “Bro Hymn”:
Unlocking The Truth
Curiously, the crowd for Unlocking The Truth was 1/100th what is was for Babymetal. At least these kids are actually playing instruments!
Photo credit: Van Leclair
The last time Whitechapel were in town, I was pretty bored for the first 45 mins or of their set – the difference between their best songs and the rest is huge. At that last show (Club Soda, February 2013), they ended on their best four songs – no surprise there, that’s how it’s supposed to be done. So this time, I smartened up: “They’re on from 3:45-4:30, perfect, I’ll show up at 4:15 and nail it”. Did I nail it? Of course not: I missed “I, Dementia” and apparently they didn’t even play “The Darkest Day of Man” or “Section 8”. That was the day’s biggest disappointment. At least the guy in front of me had an awesome tattoo of a battlefield including some Nazgul and a dragon sieging a castle covering his entire back. It’s better than staring at the stage, right?
Photo credit: Eva Blue
There were 24 bands playing on Saturday. 7 that I wanted to see, 6 that would be fine, 5 neutrals, 3 that I wanted to avoid, and 3 that I knew nothing about. Whores were one the three that I knew nothing about and so missed all but their last song and a half. Turns out it was the best song and a half of the day! Whoops!
Photo credit: Van Leclair
When there are 23 other ‘heavy’ bands playing, it can be pretty tough to stand our as being heavy. But seriously, Whores were heavy. Really, really heavy, and tight, with amazing sound, and actual songs! If you don’t know them, check it:
Thanks to my mistake of missing Whores, I made sure to catch Nekrogoblikon, who I knew nothing about except that they have a goblin in the band. Turns out they fall into my most hated subgenre of music: kitchensink metal. There’s bands that do it worse than they do (see: Unexpect), but seriously, try making it through this:
But for some self-hating reason, I stayed through their entire set…
Like you, eleven year-old me had pretty bad taste in music. I’ll spare you the details, but there’s only one cassette that I still have from then that has survived being thrown out, lost, or taped over and still gets played now and then (it actually lives in my stereo for lack of competition): Smash. I don’t give a damn about The Offspring as a band, but I fucking love Smash. I put it on a few days before the festival and realized that I know almost all the words – probably the only album that I can say that for (hell, I have trouble with “Happy Birthday”). For this show (and tour), they played Smash in its entirety and it was glorious. And since I’ve only ever listened to it on a worn out cassette, it sounded great. Seeing so many other people jam to all the non-hits was super cool. But once “Self-Esteem” was done (they saved it for the end of the album), it was time to bee-line for the Metallica stage, no need to wait around for the encore and the later album singles.
The gimmick in Metallica’s set was that it was ‘by request’. In the weeks leading up to the festival, people could vote on which songs they wanted the band to perform, here are the results. Cool idea, but really, weren’t they going to play all those songs anyway? And wait a sec, I don’t see “Lords of Summer” on there – a new song they forced on the crowd even though no one requested it. You missed the point guys, the crowd only wanted songs that were 23 years or older. Besides that, it was a set without surprises: an insane amount of people, huge screens, tiny band (from my view), good sound (the whole day was nearly windless), awesome riffs, overly-long songs, sweet lights, and “Seek & Destroy” making the perfect soundtrack for a head-banging bike ride home over the bridge. Good times…
Once again, I had the privilege to cover Osheaga for CKUT; here are some of the highlights of 2014. Friday’s pleasant afternoon featuring diverse acts kicked into high gear once London Grammar hit the Green Stage. Vocalist Hannah Reid‘s talents stupefied the sizable crowd from the first track; her clarity and power engaged the audience for London Grammar’s hour-long set of releases from their debut album (selected as Armitage Shanks’ 2nd best of 2013 on Drastic Plastic) that ran the gamut from trance to exuberant rapturous emotion.
Immediately afterward, I strolled by the Tree Stage and was lured into a giddily dancing crowd going ballistic for Bear Mountain. Never having heard this Vancouver band before, I was won over by their sound which I subsequently described to my mates as Phoenix being fronted by Roland Gift (of Fine Young Cannibals).
As Friday evening fell, I caught a nearly two-hour set of Skrillex on the main stage, which any music fan has to experience at least once. Sonny John Moore‘s powerful and clever amalgamation of EDM, hip-hop, R&B, bro-step, etc. truly becomes apparent live, as Skrillex took the festival participants through a musical maelstrom.
I closed Friday night off with Chase & Status at the Piknic Electronik; this London-based trio has put together some of the best dubstep and house tracks appearing in the UK during the past several years (their album No More Idols was selected as Armitage Shanks’ best album of 2012 on Drastic Plastic). Chase & Status‘ 90 minute show fully met my admittedly lofty expectations; I heartily recommend attending their next performance, whether in the sonic-scapes of an outdoor festival or a comparatively intimate club setting.
Saturday first treated me with another new discovery on the Green Stage: St. Lucia. This collective, hailing from South Africa and Brooklyn, created the perfect vibe for a hot, sunny and groovy Saturday afternoon; based on St. Lucia‘s sound, they could well have been the love children from a debauched affair between Duran Duran and MGMT.
The subsequent several hours of pleasant downtime were necessary for Saturday night’s fierce highlight on the main stage: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. While I had twice before witnessed Nick’s Caverne (as featured on the original Osheaga 2014 poster), he was never so frenetically demonic as at Osheaga 2014. Mr. Cave and his cohorts (particularly Warren Ellis) had entered another profane, diabolical dimension Saturday night that took the unsuspecting audience of 40,000 along for the ride. Woe to any small children and grandmothers who were caught up in the infernal torrent of Stagger Lee!
Sunday at Osheaga was the pre-eminent day of the festival. The plethora of quality acts certainly made for some heart-wrenching choices on my part. My afternoon started with The Kooks, who have been a successful act for the past decade in the UK, a long-time favourite band during my featured spots on Drastic Plastic, and doubtlessly a fond new discovery for the enthusiastic crowd that caught their show on the main stage.
One of the aforementioned difficult choices was alleviated by the good fortunate of coming across Kodaline performing a brief acoustic set on a wee stage in the middle of the lush treed section of the festival on my way to see Kate Nash. Ms. Nash’s live set on the Tree Stage was astonishing, as she abandoned her customary clever folk musings for a cracking all-female band, reminiscent of Blondie, that impelled a mosh pit to form.
The quality at the Tree Stage increased further, as cracking new UK band Temples (whom I have been faithfully playing during my segments of Drastic Plastic in 2014) took the crowd back into a psychedelic era that segued perfectly into my other fave new band of 2014, Royal Blood, who performed the next set on the adjacent Valley Stage. The duo from Brighton (who are guaranteed to be massive in 2015) blasted the audience with a torrid assault of intense guitar riffs and melodic hooks that riveted listeners and swelled the crowd to more than double its original size by the time their all-too short set had concluded.
How can one possibly follow up the adrenaline rush of Royal Blood? The only conceivable remedy was to head directly over to the Green Stage to catch Gogol Bordello‘s gypsy punk escapades. Bearing in mind that their previous show several years ago at Osheaga was one of the top-five sets I have witnessed during my 8 years of covering the festival, I was delighted to experience the equally energetic 2014 version of the performance by Eugene Hutz and his debauched band of troubadours.
As Gogol Bordello convinced the assembled masses to start wearing purple, the sun fell and I ran back to the Tree Stage to catch Jagwar Ma. This outstanding band turned in one of the top performances of the festival, breathing new life and nuance into their debut album that was one of my most consistently listened-to treasures of 2013. Overall, this year’s festival (and particularly the Sunday lineup) was such an exhilarating experience that, watching Arctic Monkeys, the night’s closing headliner on the main stage (and one of my fave bands of the past decade), could be best described as providing the perfect anthemic farewell to tide festivalgoers over until Osheaga 2015 welcomes us all back.