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Album Review: Aromanticism – Moses Sumney

Aromanticism is an album steeped in wonder, exploration, and beauty. After touring as Karen Oh’s guitar player, Ghana raised and Los Angeles based Moses Sumney introduces his own voice and vision. His affinity for poetry is clear: the singer’s first album showcases complex lyrics tackling difficult themes. It is a deeply personal and engaging exploration of not reciprocating love, navigating the world while questioning the value of romantic love, and the value of oneself.

In a world consumed by romance, the expectation that we strive to find a partner weighs on every member of society. Sumney explores the complexities of solitude in a unique way as he initiates a dialogue for people to question their own desires, and reject expectations forced on them. As Sumney put in an interview with Stereogum: “I just want people to know it’s OK to be alone. I’m not saying it’s easy or it’s too difficult, because it can be both. I’m saying it’s an option. It’s not a choice that has to last forever either. I just want people to explore being alone if they feel it suits them. There is more to life than who you’re with.”

“Man on the Moon (Reprise)” starts the album off with a choral arrangement that melts into the next track, “Don’t Bother Calling.” The song, as Sumney puts it, is “a preemptive fuck you.” It does not have the same dramatic quality as, say, “Plastic,” or “Lonely World,” which truly grab the listener and force them to introspect, but it does introduce many of the artistic elements present in the album; namely, the focus on Sumney’s voice which seamlessly transitions from low soulful vocals to reaching falsettos, and his experimentation with a wide range of instruments.

“Quarrel,” my favourite track on the album, is a complex, long song with many distinct parts. It is the apotheosis of a turmoil that has been building up from the start of the album, and sees the introduction of darker elements. A deep bass maintains the spine of the track, leaving room for vocals to have a playful relationship with the harp, and drawing attention to the intricate lyrics:

“Quoting this a quarrel

So immorally implies

We’re equal opponents

And we both antagonize”

The tension breaks suddenly to shift to a jazz-influenced bridge, replacing the harp with a synthesizer and keeping the same vocalizations so prominent in the track. The song ends with piano that fades and introduces the first spoken word track of the album, “Stoicism.”

“Lonely World” embodies the purpose of this record– an unapologetic exploration of what it means to be alone in a modern world.

“Lonely, lonely, lonely face under a veil

After all the laughter, emptiness prevails

Born into this world with no consent or choice

Lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely”

Sumney’s falsetto adds to the energy built up in this track, which breaks away abruptly to end off with a whisper.

The album slows down once again for its ninth track, “Doomed,” the lyrics of which beg to be reflected upon: “If lovelessness is godlessness, will you cast me to the wayside?” Sumney asks. “Doomed” is mirrored by “Indulge Me,” the most exposed track on the album and Sumney’s personal favourite. It’s a stripped down number with just a bit of synth, acoustic guitar, and vocals that range from small whispers to falsettos. The vocals are overlain so that it seems like Sumney is duetting with himself. “Indulge me,” Sumney asks of the listener.

Aromanticism is one of my favourite albums of the year, and for good reason. It analyzes uncharted themes and does so in a way that each track is raw, honest, and extremely different from the others. Moses Sumney provokes listeners to grapple with and understand the conflicting dynamics of solitude: both a relief and a challenge.

-review by Ash Rao

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Concert Review: Alvvays @ Club Soda

If you weren’t dancing and singing along at the Alvvays concert on Friday, you were missing the entire point.

The concert was a joyous event. The Toronto indie pop band played almost all of their songs from their latest album, Antisocialites, and some fan favourites from their first album. Fan favourites like “Archie, Marry Me” and “Not My Baby” caused loud singing from the audience, with the audience practically screaming lyrics back at the band. While most songs provided an opportunity to dance, the dancing reached its ecstatic peak during “My Type.”

The most powerful moment of crowd participation came during “Forget About Life.” I’m going to be honest: “Forget About Life” (the last song on Antisocialites) was not a song that stood out to me when listening at home. On Friday night at Club Soda, I got it. When Molly Rankin stood underneath the blue stage lights and sung “Did you want to forget about life with me tonight?” the whole crowd answered her back. This was the rallying call for everyone at the concert. During the chorus, the crowd almost over-powered Rankin’s voice as they sung back:

Did you want to forget about life?

Did you want to forget about life with me tonight?

Underneath this flickering light,

Did you want to forget about life with me tonight?

I have now been playing that song nonstop and can still feel the sense of oneness and camaraderie I felt in that crowd on Friday.

I have always enjoyed Alvvays music, but this concert made me fall in love with them. Their lyrics are easy to sing along to, all while expressing deep, emotional truths. Their melodies are catchy and easy to dance to. Their songs invite (and command) participation.

– Review by Ella Chatfield-Stiehler

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Concert Review: DF EP Launch @ Art Lounge

Montreal-based audiovisual duo DF released their new EP abcdf this past week, marking the occasion with an evening of stellar local music at Art Lounge that featured sets from Justin Lazarus (Look Vibrant) and Joni Void, as well as DF themselves.

I was fifteen minutes late to the soirée; by the time I arrived the huddled audience was already seeped in the wooze of Lazarus’s characteristically idiosyncratic, adventurous songwriting. Lazarus and his two accompanists had a stripped down set up of vocals, sampler, bass and keys that glowed with analog warmth. He took the crowd to chord school, teaching us to celebrate mixing disparate colours in the same song. Whatever emotional arc Lazarus’s songs demanded, he always chose the sounds that were right for them. His set coupled this free-spirited vision with earnestness and vocal abilities bent to his will, making for an unfailingly exciting live experience.

Following Lazarus was Joni Void, who performed found-sound electronic music, backed by projections. For the most part, he kept a filter over the projector’s lens, lightly distorting the visuals so the audience had to recall them from memory. Void began his set with a dusky lullaby of a rarity from his side project, Boy With a Red Cap. Its serene sine blips were spare but not reaching for anything more, twinkling enough that the crowd could lock into Void’s vision. The set’s highlight was a song based on an ambulance siren that flashed before the audience, running to and from opposite ends of the stereo image. During this song, Void showed us video clips of city life, but never the ambulance itself. The siren passed again and again, suspending me in a daily moment I rarely otherwise think about. Off-kilter harmonies formed around the visuals and a discernable beat took me into a bizarre trance, where the sound and visuals of daytime were bent to rhythms typical of nightlife. Joni Void uses an impressively sparse set of sounds to command of the listener’s mind, and in this set he had me captivated.

Headliners DF performed next in front of their own massive light fixture, an array of panels that visual artist Dan Freder puppeteers in pulses and patterns, responding to Dustin Finer’s saxophone. Throughout the set, Freder hopped from dimension to dimension, switching between altering the patterns on the light fixture and projecting various visual mapping schemes against the venue walls. Prior to this show, I had only seen the duo’s music video for “She’s Great and All…,” which superimposes 3D animations against real life footage. When the two played the song live, Freder opted for alternate imagery, casting ripples on a set of delighted dots. Through innovations such as this, DF made sure the night didn’t feel like a playthrough of the EP, and Freder demonstrated versatile imaginations that paired well with his partner’s music.

On the music end of the set, Finer ditched the potential baggage of the solo-instrument-loop-pedal performance by making sure to get the most out of his tenor sax. Digging deep in the sax’s sound, he reached Hammond-organ-like bass tones and created mechanical glitchy percussion by tapping his horn’s keys. Finer had a family of hearty, triumphant tunes ready for the communal vibe, but he also made time to rip freeform solos through a yummy stacked-4ths harmonizer.

My personal favorite piece of the night was the manic “Hobgoblin,” where Finer squealed through his horn as Freder shook a piece of foil against a beam of light. The fact that “Hobgoblin” lasts only one second is further testament to its reckless creativity, and the duo’s broad, promising conception of art. The nature of AV shows demands they be experienced live, so DF are a group you should see for yourselves – and there will definitely be many more opportunities, as this duo’s future has plenty in store.

– review by Rian Adamian

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Album Review: Yoo Doo Right – EP2

The new release from locals Yoo Doo Right is a colourful EP that sees them swerving in and out of frenetic jams. Running below 20 minutes, EP2 is awe-inspiring and fun, hitting an eerie fever pitch while compelling you to dance.

The four piece have a standard rock instrumentation. Bass and drums work hard to hold down a constantly burrowing pocket, complementing the distorted, yet still pleasantly bright and reverb-wet guitars. Additional keyboard and synth lines are simple and tasty. The marriage of these parts results in the band’s dark and mesmerizing soundscape, which lets you choose whether you want to groove on the ground or space out in the sky. Yoo Doo Right presents the best of both worlds stylistically, never sounding like they stretch themselves thin.

This is evident right from opening track “Whilst You Save Your Skins,” a fine instrumental piece. The song begins, and you’re in Yoo Doo Right’s world, face to face with their wall of sound. Awesome bass work defines this track – from the power chords (!!!) to the bounding groove. The song sees the EP’s most serene moment when it breaks for an introspective glow, and the band comes back in from the top down like a feather floating in the air.

“Marches Des Squelettes,” too, sucks the listener in right from the start, getting you happily lost in its repetitions. The bass line collapses into itself again and again; Yoo Doo Right milk this rhythm to optimally introduce spoken vocals. The song breathes heavily between its main vamp and a “tu et moi” chant, culminating in a turnaround that only takes you home to the bass line again. They could go on longer, but instead opt for succinct knot at the end.

These tracks set up EP2’s centrepiece, the trilogy “Apatride.” “Part 1” of the trilogy sees about a minute of ambient wailing before bringing the EP’s tempo to a slow grind. The band shreds its hardest here, taking on the difficult but necessary task of putting pure musical energy to recording, showing an ethos that would merit their participation in a Boredoms’ Boadrum installation. The peak in energy makes “Part 1” a great midpoint for the EP and an appropriate initiation for the remainder of “Apatride.”

“Part 2” finds the snare drum taking lead on the band’s driving, followed closely by a bassline that just wants to have fun. Vocals, sounding almost passive-aggressive, return like a pulse to push the song into excellence. The band comes together to throw two new, vivid chords into the mix, the snare still rollicking underneath. In “Part 2”’s climax, the song grows steeper and steeper, suggesting that the listener might get to finally cut through the guitars’ hazy reverb and reach the place they call from.

Instead, Yoo Doo Right spit you out on a mouthwatering chord change that begins “Part 3.” You may think the ride is over, but you’ve only just arrived at the party. The song instantly becomes a refreshing showcase for cheeky surf guitar. It reaches ecstasy as a verbed-out keyboard line falls from the ceiling, and soon thereafter crashes and fades. The EP ends on a high note, leaving you wanting more.

This ending just reinforces what the rest of the EP has already demonstrated: Yoo Doo Right are magicians of momentum who know how and when to play their cards. As heavy as the sound gets, they pace the EP such that you never need a break. None of the five songs disappoint or lack function, each having something interesting or wild up its sleeve that comes out organically. Yoo Doo Right are fit proponents of classic psychedelic jamming, with a distinct soundscape they can always dive back into. I definitely hope they’ll be diving in again soon.

– review by Rian Adamian

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POP Past The Poster: What To See This Week

POP Montreal is finally here, folks. Montreal’s most massive music festival (say that five times fast) has descended upon the city, promising a week of stellar shows, panels, films and more. But POP’s best feature is also its most intimidating: there’s just so much good stuff. The festival has literally hundreds of amazing artists worth seeing this week, which is both very exciting and very overwhelming. With so many bands, the smaller shows at POP can sometimes be easily overlooked. That’s why we’ve put together a schedule of the less-publicized POP shows – none of the artists below are featured on the POP poster. So, in between Austra and Weyes Blood, maybe I’ll see you at one of these sweet gems this week:

Wednesday Evening:
Naomi Punk // Phern // Mundy’s Bay @ La Vitrola

Start your POP off right with the experimental art rock of Naomi Punk, whose new album Yellow is a jerky, jolting masterclass in breaking down your expectations of punk. Opening up are locals Mundy’s Bay and Phern, whose gazey post-punk and off-kilter smart pop definitely warrant arriving early.

Thursday Afternoon:
Joni Void // Sea Oleena // Desert Bloom // Best Fern // Ohara @ Phonopolis

This lineup (curated by CKUT’s own Underground Sounds) brings together some of the best ambient and electronic artists in the city for what is sure to be an entirely enveloping afternoon. From the calming ethereal pop of Best Fern to the eerie experimental music of Joni Void, this is a lineup to immerse in and drift away on.

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Foreign Diplomats at Mile Ex End.

CKUT @ Mile Ex End: New Festival on the Block

The first edition of the Mile Ex End Festival took place Saturday, September 2nd and Sunday, September 3rd under Montreal’s Van Horne Viaduct. I was excited for the festival because the same space used to host some very fun block parties many years ago – a revival of the Van Horne Viaduct seemed to me like a great idea. As I walked into the festival site early Saturday afternoon, I noticed there were not many attendees there yet, just staff and media. There were three stages, one very large and two smaller ones, food trucks, an art gallery and a kid zone. The atmosphere was relaxed, family-friendly – it felt like an end of summer celebration.

Of the smaller bands playing the festival, local psych rock band Adam Strangler was a clear stand out. They started their set off with a very upbeat and friendly stage presence despite the small crowd on Saturday afternoon, the sound techs cheering them on. Before long, people started to pour in and joined in the applause. Adam Strangler played all the tracks off their great EP, Key West, as well as some hooky songs that were new to me, but very enjoyable to listen to in the Saturday sunshine. Later that day, the young members of Foreign Diplomats also gave a high energy performance, calling on the audience to sing and dance like no one was watching. Their catchy indie pop songs were punctuated with alternating synths and trombone melodies, accentuating the festive atmosphere.

Beyond these excellent openers, Mile Ex End also had some impressive headliners. The crowd was eager to see Cat Power perform Saturday night, filling up the space in front of the smaller Mile End stage long before her set time. A smoke machine (whether intentionally or by accident, I’m not sure) spewed out smoke continuously before her set, shrouding everyone in comforting fog. When Power took the stage – alone, except for her guitar and piano – all lights and eyes were on her. Her first notes caused goosebumps to quiver up and down my body, reminding me just how much her music affects me. The whole set was powerful and emotionally charged – her voice has only gotten more beautiful and husky with time.

Cloudy skies and a weaker lineup made Sunday less exciting than Mile Ex End’s first day. But that evening’s headliner, Montreal’s own Godspeed You! Black Emperor, were easily a festival highlight. They opened with “Hope Drone,” as their notoriously haunting visuals of abandoned buildings and train tracks looping in the background. I wish I could enumerate each song Godspeed played, but they fold so well one into the other that it sort of defeats the point to try and single them out – just being able to experience them in the moment is pure joy. They must have been playing songs off their not-yet-released new album Luciferian Towers, however, because there were definitely parts I did not recognize.

Though they played new tunes, Godspeed certainly haven’t steered away from their old political messages; judging by their frenzied crescendos and violent protest visuals (as well as the titles of their new singles – “Bosses Hang” and “Anthem For No State,”) they’re more enraged with the status quo than ever. After the band’s 2011 revival, it was nice to see that they are still going strong, creating new music and moving people with their uniquely haunting orchestral pieces.

Mile Ex End certainly provided a platform for some really lovely music, local and otherwise. Speaking to a few artists throughout the weekend, I also got the impression that they were very happy with the well-staffed and highly-organized festival. But the festival definitely has room to adjust going forward. The site felt too large for the number of attendees – two alternating stages would have sufficed. Indeed, while Godspeed performed I kept thinking back to when they used to play to cross-legged audiences in dumpy Montreal jam spaces in the nineties, a memory I only live vicariously through my older friends. I wondered what it would be like to experience them in a smaller, more intimate setting rather than on such a large stage amongst so many other humans.

The size of the site might not be such an issue in the future if the festival lowers its prices, which are currently inaccessible for lower-income people, and widens its scope – this edition of Mile Ex End showcased mostly white artists of mostly similar genres. I saw some fantastic rock at this festival, but, despite all the space, I left feeling like Mile Ex End’s first outing was, in some ways, just too narrow.

– review by Nadège Radioskid

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Concert Review: Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas @ Corona Theatre

The cacophony in Montreal’s old Corona Theatre rose steadily this past Wednesday, as the crowd eagerly waited for Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas to take the stage. This was going to be my third time seeing Cult Of Luna, but the first with Christmas, who was added as a featured member for the band’s new album, Mariner. This Montreal show was the third in a series of just five North American tour dates for Cult of Luna, where, with Christmas’ help, they’ve been performing Mariner in its entirety.

The group took the stage in almost complete darkness. Four spotlights were aimed into the crowd and then instantly replaced with heavy backlights, shrouding all the members in darkness and leaving only their silhouettes visible. In all the Cult of Luna shows I’ve been to, I’ve never seen their faces – I wouldn’t be able to recognize them if I had to (but I’m sure they’re all beautiful; they are Swedish, after all).

They began with album-opener “A Greater Call,” starting off with steady post-rockish layers of keyboard, guitar, and drums, and then crescendoing alongside Johannes Persson’s unique growl. Julie Christmas responded to Persson with melodic lines that claimed “we are not conquerors/we float with the tide,” hypnotically repeating the phrases. Her ethereal voice was a welcome contrast to Persson’s, as was her eerie and magnificent presence on stage – Christmas pulled off pieces of her dress over the course of the set, twirling them as she howled before throwing them into the crowd. During “Chevron,” the heaviest song on the album, her demonic lyrics and entrancing headbanging captivated the crowd, Christmas’ hair becoming a rhythmic display against the backlit stage.

Christmas clearly established herself as a tough collaborator to match, but, as always, Cult of Luna did not disappoint. Their intense playing and visuals made the space-themed Mariner into a true journey. “The Wreck of S.S. Needle” best evoked the other-worldly subject matter, with its ominous keyboards and sinister lyrics, ending with Christmas’s enchanting request to “put me down, where I can see you run.” During album-closer “Cygnus,” strobe lights pulsed to the beat of the snare like a high powered camera flash, momentarily disrupting the crowd’s optical receptors; every time my vision returned to normal, it was just as quickly jolted by the next hit, leaving me completely spellbound. This part of the record was heavily influenced by the Star Gate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey, an inspiration that certainly translated live: it felt like the whole theatre was crossing the outer-limits of the universe, about to finally progress into the darkness of the unknown cosmos and disappear, bringing the performance to a satisfying close.

The band exited the stage while Christmas stayed back, shaking hands with the whole front row, creating a connection with the audience that was very un-Cult Of Luna. Leaving the venue, I heard people express how mind-blown they were by the evening, particularly by Christmas’s incredible voice and immaculate stage performance. I had a hard time disagreeing. My only wish was that it had been even louder, but that might just be my ears fading from going to so many shows – a small price to pay for nights like this.

– review by Nadège Radioskid

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Album Review: Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds From Another Planet

“I want it all,” Michelle Zauner coos on “Diving Woman,” the opening track from her new album as Japanese Breakfast. The breathy vocals turn what could be a bold opening statement into a kind of aspirational mantra, something to reach toward.

Six and a half minutes long, “Diving Woman” is an enticing, meandering track that immediately differentiates Soft Sounds From Another Planet from Japanese Breakfast’s last release, 2016’s Psychopomp. That record was short, sweet, and immediate. Zauner put it together right after her mother passed away from cancer, and though most of its songs weren’t explicitly about her mother’s death, the album had a sense of working through fear and pain as they’re happening. That rawness was what made Psychopomp stand out, despite the fact that some of its two-minute tracks slid pleasantly in one ear and back out the other.

Soft Sounds, on the other hand, takes the time to brood, and is stronger for it. Zauner’s guitar is still at the forefront but now shares the spotlight with flitting synths and bells. Her vocals, meanwhile, are lighter than they’ve ever been, creating space for the songs to swell underneath. Soft Sounds is an indie rock album, but the tracks aren’t interested in catchy hooks so much as settling into a good groove and seeing where it goes. This isn’t a departure for Zauner, then, but an expansion.

Because of this calmer tone, Soft Sounds feels simultaneously in-depth and distant, the lyrics often expressing a sense of disconnection and isolation, as if sung by someone looking in on her life. In “Road Head,” Zauner recalls a failed relationship while remaining separate from it, her voice floating as she sings, “‘dream on, baby,’ were his last words to me” – a reference to an ex who told Zauner she wasn’t good enough for a career in music. The airy vocals and synths don’t create a sense of emptiness, but possibility, like the narrator is dreaming herself right past this shitty dude.

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Concert Review: Thurston Moore Group and Jessica Moss @ La Sala Rossa

On Tuesday, July 18 Montrealers lined up eagerly outside La Sala Rossa for the long awaited Thurston Moore Group and Jessica Moss show. For those who don’t know, Thurston Moore is a singer, songwriter and guitarist for Sonic Youth, one of the most influential rock bands of our time, thanks to their unconventional guitar tunings and experimental use of objects like screwdrivers and drum sticks to alter tone quality. The audience that night was full of Sonic Youth lovers who had come to see a living legend.

Starting the night off was Jessica Moss, a local violinist who also plays in Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Black Ox Orkestar. Moss played a single 25 minute piece which told the story of a refugee traveling from danger to safety, her presence majestic as she manipulated an array of pedals with her bare feet and hands. Stacks of echoing loops and distortion on her violin and voice created an intensely entrancing experience for the ears, while Moss’ melancholic repetitions of the words “entire populations” served as a stark and heart-wrenching reminder of the piece’s subject matter. As the layers and signal-bending folded and unfolded, I felt a sense of relief, like one may feel when they finally see land after a long time at sea. With one piece, Moss took the audience on a beautifully haunting sonic and emotional journey.

Thurston Moore Group took the stage next. Seeing Moore live for the first time was an experience I will never forget. I knew he had a unique way of playing guitar, but watching it in real time was breathtaking. Moore used his guitar fully, from the output jack to the bridge and all the way up to the headstock, gently and rhythmically tapping it with his fingers to further distort the timbre of the sound. He wasn’t the only living legend on stage that night, though – My Bloody Valentine’s Debbie Googe was shredding and delivering heavy bass lines in sync with part-time Sonic Youth and current Sun Kil Moon drummer Steve Shelley.

The group played tracks off their new album Rock N Roll Consciousness, a record that very pleasantly sounds like something Sonic Youth could have released. Beyond his astonishing guitar-work, Moore was also as political as ever. On “Cease Fire,” a song off the new album, he denounced guns and empowered love to rule. While introducing the song, Moore revealed that he first played Sala Rossa years ago for an anti-Bush show. “Is there a difference between a corporate take-over and a political take-over?” he wondered aloud. “I don’t think so. Well, we’re here for a free love take-over.”

At the end of the show, the merch table was surrounded by a large mass of fans while Moore signed records. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the last albums and exchanged a few words with Moore about the rise of extremist right wing groups and the need for organized actions, offering him one of my ‘FCK NZS’ stickers. “Yeah I’ll take that!” he responded, “I’ve seen the t-shirts around!” I would be lying if I said I’m not hoping he puts it on one of his guitars. I left the venue that night sonically satisfied, feeling an after-buzz that stuck with me for several days – a free-love takeover, indeed.

– Review by Nadège Radioskid

Beep Test at Casa del Popolo.

Concert Review: Institute @ Casa del Popolo

The July 16 Institute show at Casa del Popolo was solid proof that punk rock is alive and well in our fair city. When I arrived that night, punk lovers from all over Montreal were pouring into the intimate venue, until the show sold out and the sweat started dripping. The excitement and energy of audience and musicians alike was palpable, a comforting sense of camaraderie in the air as friends reunited and encouraging words and hugs were exchanged.

Montreal’s Beep Test started the night off with a short set of synthy no-frills punk. They got the crowd warmed up for Faze, another local group who hit the ground running with their in-your-face-in-a-good-way moshpit pleasers. Faze’s vocalist had a seemingly endless supply of energy, making it hard to look away as he elegantly squatted across the stage, his eyes rolling to the back of his head after a body-shuddering growl. The guitarist’s riveting tweaking of effect pedal knobs only added to the raw beautiful chaos. Next in the line-up was Grosser, a group of Calgary emigrants and Montrealers who addressed local issues on tracks like “Bylaw Compliance” and “Condo Board.” The frontman’s enthusiasm was contagious as he busted out into the crowd, triggering a pulsating moshpit around him. Unfortunately, this was Grosser’s last show before the members move on to new projects.

The room was packed by the time Institute came on, and the Austin, Texas band did not disappoint. They played mostly tracks from their new album Subordination, songs that stick to the band’s anarcho-punk roots but add more depth, distortion and overdrive, making them hard to label as a particular genre and all the more interesting to see live. Institute’s musical skill, smart politically infused lyrics, memorable stage presence, and endearing modesty definitely made for one of the best live punk acts I have seen in years. I spoke with guitarist Arak Avakian after the show and, when asked what he would like to say to the world, he responded that “hard work does not equal hard rock.” After witnessing Institute’s hard work in person, I left the show with the reassuring sense that, despite the state of the world, things might be ok as long as bands like Institute are still filling venues and challenging the status quo.

– Review by Nadège Radioskid