For night two of Pop, I was drawn to the Mile End in an attempt to see John Cale and take full advantage of my Pop-Hopper pass for the late-night activity. In spending time at the heart of the festival, it was clear that Pop Montreal holds a certain command over the city. Where Osheaga establishes a capitalist regime at Parc Jean-Drapeau, Pop Montreal spreads its wings, sponsoring events at every venue imaginable, some of which even the most dedicated concertgoers have never heard of. Admittedly, night two was a bit more hit-or-miss than the first (a few too many Nirvana+Joy Division+Radiohead bands), but luckily I stuck it out all the way until the punk legends known as Fet.Nat took the stage at Club Lambi.
Here were my top three acts:
It’s nice to see that John Cale is still a weirdo. In a time when Axel Rose is allowed to continue his awful rehashings of the classic rock sounds of the 1970s, the 74-year-old punk grandfather refused to pander to anyone at Pop Montreal this Thursday. Throughout the set, Cale was accompanied by bizarre, ambient sounds and electronic beats that combined for hypnotic groove states and droning soundscapes. Perhaps Cale does still manage to fall into some of the old-timey rock star traps. His vocal styling has seen some better days and his drum machine sounds lack the cutting edge bite of more modern art rockers, but it’s clear that Cale won’t be starting a bland jazz standards act anytime soon.
Vallens touch upon some of the moods of gothic rock and metal with a bit of shoegazy guitar guiding each instrumental break. Their set was quite engrossing in the way each song droned on with repetitious riffs gaining more momentum into roaring climaxes. The noise never completely stopped, making for a lot of cohesion as each song melted into the next. It wouldn’t be entirely fair to categorize their sound as overly derivative; however, the band still needs to define themselves a bit more. Although the music enveloped me quite a bit for the concert, it could be easy for them to get lost in the mix with other alternative rock and metal bands. Nonetheless, Robyn Phillips has a clear knack for songwriting and the group has a lot of potential.
It seems only appropriate to bookend the night that John Cale kicked off with a younger band of misfit punks who are viciously different and extraordinarily creative. Fet.Nat is one of those groups where every member deserves some mention. The loose, collective playing style is somewhat guided by drummer Olivier Fairfield, whose minimal kit is made maximal by active percussive work. A chaotic backdrop is set by the sampling and guitar playing of Pierre-Luc Clément with sax player Lindsey Wellman and vocalist JFNo sharing the spotlight with their full throttle screams. Jumping on stage after midnight may have hurt the size of their crowd a bit, but the group did not seem to be bothered as each of their wacky grooves were gushing with anarchic energy.
– Review & photos by Donovan Burtan