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Concert Review: Porches, Japanese Breakfast, and Rivergazer @ Bar le Ritz PDB


This summer, I became acquainted with the music of Porches in a big way. Their most recent album, Pool, came into my life at a time when I really needed some new stuff to listen to, and ever since,  I’ve had Porches’ music on pretty much constant repeat. On Monday, October 3rd, I got the chance to see them play alongside Rivergazer and Japanese Breakfast at Bar Le Ritz PDB, a show that sold out early on in the night and did not disappoint.

Rivergazer kicked the show off at 9:30 – though usually a trio, they performed as a duo with synth and bass fronted by Kevin Farrant, the guitarist from Porches. Rivergazer’s music is mostly synth-heavy love ballads accented with extreme auto-tuned vocals, with the members trading off as lead vocalist accompanied by tight backing harmonies from the other. As someone in the crowd described, they sound “kind of like a sad Porches”, in terms of the kind of heavy emotional stuff found in their lyrics, especially in songs like “Only 4 U”. They were a great opener in terms of setting the mood as a fun-but-not-over-the-top night.

The next group, Japanese Breakfast, is a four-piece rock group from Philadelphia fronted by high-energy vocalist/guitarist, Michelle Zauner. Their vibe was a lot different than the two other bands, playing more straight-up fun rock with an non-self-conscious attitude towards enjoying themselves on stage. I found their music to be a little one-dimensional, and the mixing of the band made it so everything blended together into a muddled wall of sound. Zauner, though, was a powerful presence, driving the show forward despite poor sound quality.

Finally, Porches took the stage around 11:15, and played a tighter set than I’ve seen in a long time. Admittedly, the songs weren’t new to the band – their latest release, Pool (not including the EP, Water), came out in February, so they’ve had plenty of time to get the material down to a science. However, the performance still felt fresh, and the whole crowd seemed to get swept up in the clean grooves they were laying down. Aaron Maine, the band’s frontman, interacted with the audience a little between numbers, mostly to deadpan sarcastically or comment on how much he liked the venue. He seemed to really like Bar Le Ritz. A lot.

Towards the end of the set, the band had to drastically lower their volume due to police complaints, but the turn of events played almost to Porches’ favour. The set ended with two solo numbers by Maine, one being the classic “Xanny Bar”, a melancholy tune he often ends shows with. The other was a new song, which he introduced by saying he’d never played it live before and he was pretty nervous about it. By the end of the tune, the whole audience was singing along.

Loitering outside the venue after the show, the general sentiment was the same: Wow. Porches put on a show that was, on the one hand, entertaining and quirky, with quips from Maine in between songs and coordinated dance moves within the band. On the other hand, some moments were incredibly emotive, particularly in those quiet moments with just Aaron Maine on stage and a whole crowd of fans eating it all up. Overall, an amazing show from a band that came into my life far, far too recently.

– Review by Nora Duffy

wiki show mookell review

Concert Review: Wiki

wiki show mookell reviewOn rue Saint Élisabeth and Saint Catherine, at roughly 11:45pm in the dimly lit atmosphere of Newspeak, two of my friends and I sat for an hour until the first openers for Wiki’s show came out. We waited to get there late since the event had said the show would start at 10:00pm. By 1:00am the first opener finally took the stage of the humid club and tried to hype the crowd for Wiki’s grand appearance. Quebec rap group Les Anticipateurs catered to part of the audience that spoke French but left everyone else confused as to what was going on. The production from the group was powerful and booming but was hard for me and my friends to understand since all the rapping was in French.

Half an hour later, DJ Lucas took the stage with some old and new tracks that he had been preparing to perform live on the tour. As much as the instrumentals were banging, it was difficult to enjoy DJ Lucas as a rapper. At the beginning of his set, a fight at the front of the crowd broke out and the MC had to stop performing for a while to break up the two men disputing amongst each other. After hours of waiting for the main act with two unpleasant openers, Wiki finally appeared on the stage at 2:05am.

Waiting for Wiki seemed like it wasn’t going to be worth it in the end. We were all exhausted for waiting so many hours and sitting through openers that we couldn’t care less about. However, when the New York based MC stepped onto the stage, there was an immediate turnaround in the amount of energy in the room. He opened up his set with the track “3 Stories,” which was produced by local electronic artist Kaytranada. The crowd was full of life and bouncing to the buttery beat of the song as Wiki slammed down some hard bars.

Security was uncomfortably rough at Newspeak; they wouldn’t allow anyone to mosh during the show. As soon as they spotted the slightest act of moshing, they’d grab people from the audience and tell them to stop immediately. It was a buzzkill to say the least; people weren’t able to enjoy themselves the way they wanted. One of the security guards pushed someone from the front of the crowd all the way to the back of the club and the two got into a fist fight. The fight attracted a small audience that was separated from Wiki’s performance with people arguing that the guy being held by security didn’t do anything wrong.

Wiki kept performing for those who were paying attention to his set. “God Bless Me” and “Crib Tax,” among many other cuts from Wiki’s debut LP Lil Me, were played at the show. By 2:45am the set was over and the audience was drenched in sweat. Even with a weirdly short set from the main act, it was still an incredible experience to see Wiki completely turn the tables on what started off as a rough night. I’m going to have my reservations with shows at Newspeak from now on, but if Wiki’s ever playing there again, I’ve learned that you should show up a lot later than you would think.

Review by Michael Eidelson

Updated on November 7, 2016, we apologize for any inconveniences caused by the initial write up for the show!