Tag Archives: Metropolis

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Concert Review: Mac DeMarco & Tonstartssbandht @ Metropolis

On May 10th and 11th, Mac DeMarco returned to his old Montreal stomping grounds for two sold-out shows at Metropolis. Less than a week before the shows DeMarco released a new LP titled This Old Dog, yet the May 10th set balanced tracks from DeMarco’s previous albums with his new material fairly evenly. Despite DeMarco’s soft, lo-fi sound and relaxed style, his live performances tend to be quite high-energy. The first of his two Montreal dates was no exception: the concert was fun, exciting, and entertaining enough to live up to the hype.

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Fellow Montreal expats Tonstartssbandht opened for both Metropolis shows. The band is made up of brothers Edwin and Andy White, who also plays in DeMarco’s touring band. Tonstartssbandht played a show in Montreal a couple months ago for their latest album Sorceror, which I also had the pleasure of attending. The February concert was at Bar le Ritz PDB and although Metropolis is much larger, Tonstartssbandht had no trouble filling the whole venue with their dreamy, experimental rock aesthetic. Their set featured energetic percussion and pleasantly slow, psychedelic melodies that harmonized to deliver a chill, groove-driven performance.

When DeMarco took the stage, I felt like I was witnessing the presence of a phenomenon. After all I’d heard and seen of DeMarco’s aesthetic and behavior, including the trends he’s inspired, it was hard to remember that he is, first and foremost, a musician. However, once he launched into “Salad Days,” the title track from his second LP, I immediately recalled the appeal of DeMarco’s sunny melodies and warm vocals. While it was hard at the concert not to think of the countless people I’ve met who remind me of DeMarco, his friendly hipster shtick appears original and authentic when performed by the man himself. Tracks from This Old Dog, like “Moonlight on the River,” “For the First Time,” and “One More Love Song” featured stronger acoustic leanings and a hazy, romantic pop sound. These tracks complimented DeMarco’s popular upbeat songs like “Cooking Up Something Good,” “Freaking Out the Neighborhood,” and “The Stars Keep on Calling my Name,” all of which initiated wild dancing and moshing from the crowd.

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Many fans climbed up on stage during the concert with the intention of giving DeMarco a high-five, taking a selfie, or jumping into the crowd to surf; however, despite these interjections the band seemed set on giving Montreal a true performance. By the end of the show, DeMarco had started refusing high-fives, swatting away cameras, and even pushing fans onstage back into the crowd. As an audience member sitting in the balcony section, I greatly appreciated this dedication to performing, even if it did seem to contradict DeMarco’s lazy style. My personal favorite quote of the evening came from Andy White during DeMarco’s set, who told everyone, “Put your phones away kids; enjoy the show.” It was a valuable reminder for such a raucous, enjoyable night.

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– Review and photos by Celia Robinovitch

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Concert Review: PJ Harvey @ Metropolis

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I’m not sure PJ Harvey has set foot in Montreal since she opened for U2 in the early 2000s — a show I would have loved to see if it weren’t for the fact that U2 was on the bill. At the time I’m sure U2 was trying to give her somewhat stalled career a boost, but this time she returned at a level where many people who’ve barely heard her work since her early ‘90s breakout feel obliged not to miss her. It sold out fast and a second show was added; I heard great things about both, and was quite moved by what I saw at the first of her two Montreal dates.

However, this praise doesn’t mean it was a show for the ages, or even Polly Jean at her peak. While she and her band played an undeniably great set, the lush arrangements didn’t always serve the songs and I was left still craving a song just by PJ at the piano or guitar after the encore.

Yet – it was an important show, sure to make many year-end best-of lists even though we’re not even halfway through 2017. PJ Harvey doesn’t exactly breeze through town each year. Montreal was lucky to be a stop on her 1993 tour, when she played to 100 people or so at Club Soda when it was on Park Ave. Her next visit was a much more expensive ticket at the Olympia in 1995. Although it was just two years later, those were two very different shows. 1993’s raw power trio driven by her outsized wail was replaced with a larger, more composed band and a blues-based set of songs that was surprising after Dry and Rid Of Me.

I was reminded of those shows Friday, not least because Polly Jean moved to a large band format and went back to the blues after forging a more goth-influenced sound. Her latest offering, Hope Six Demolition Project, includes actual samples of blues songs and civil rights march chants. She’s back to mostly singing with the booming voice of her first few albums, though she did (thankfully) play songs from White Chalk and Let England Shake. The new album’s songs, which made up most of the first half of the 90-minute show, include some undeniable gems mixed with some songs that don’t ever seem to quite find themselves. But overall, she’s been on a roll over the past few years and the audience reacted enthusiastically each time a newer song began.

I got the sense that she’s an honest songwriter and performer who put the new prestige and success she’s had in the past few years, including winning the Mercury Prize in Britain, straight back into her music; however, the oversize band cloaked her at times like an ill-fitting suit, a little too clumsy and unwieldy. Some songs, like the unexpected throwback 50 foot Queenie and To Bring You My Love, benefited from a somewhat stripped down arrangement, but I’d have preferred to have just Jon Parish, Mick Harvey and one drummer all through those. But I’m being picky – she actually played 50-foot Queenie and To Bring You My Love!

In the end Polly Jean seemed to be enjoying herself, smiling broadly every time the audience cheered when she spoke a few words in French, enthusiastically introducing her many band members and working the stage like a pro. Hopefully she’ll keep on enjoying it enough to tour a little more often — it’s clear she could sell out Montreal like this every year.

– Review by Louis Rastelli

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Concert Review: A$AP Ferg @ Metropolis

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A vodka-stained shirt, a fight, saving a life, sweat, and bruises summed up a night at A$AP Ferg’s Turnt & Burnt tour stop in Montreal. A very youthful crowd packed Metropolis when doors opened at 8pm, and it seemed as though people weren’t just there for a concert; instead, it was an opportunity to post up with their squads to let others know they were in the building. The crowd flaunted its latest fashions, leaning against walls with one foot up intending to stunt on the kids who think they’re cooler. In a way, the environment was tense, but you knew that underlying this subtle competition was the excitement of seeing A$AP Ferg & Co.

45 minutes after the doors opened, up & coming A$AP Mob member Marty Baller took the stage, performing songs from his newest mixtape, Marty G Raw. His eccentric, animated energy coupled with bass-heavy, high bpm songs enthralled the crowd into a frenzy of shoving, jumping, and pure aggression. That standoffish tone that had been so present pre-show had completely vanished. Everyone was in a sort of unison, moving together as one large pulsing mass. Marty Baller delivered as one would expect an emerging artist to: he performed as if he had everything to prove. After his set, one nearly forgot the show had only just begun. After a short intermission, Rob Stone took stage to face a sweaty, revved up crowd demanding more. His set only added fuel to the fire and the energy was intensified. When it seemed as though his set was over, the stage lights faded out until the venue stood pitch black and an excited confusion filled the air. After a short period of silence, the chilling whistle of Stone’s most popular anthem, Chill Bill, pierced the atmosphere and the crowd erupted. The crowd split into two walls, and at the moment the first bass dropped each side collided with the intensity of two sides at war. Bodies were flying, feet were in the air, and arms flailed. It was survival of the fittest in this pit of ear-splitting, vibrating bass and hostility. Following Rob Banks’s set and another quick intermission, I awkwardly thrusted my way towards the front of the stage in anticipation of the final opener, Playboi Carti. At this point, we all desired more sweat and bruises and Carti gave us just that. Decked out with sunglasses and a winter coat, his image reflected the peculiar, youthful style that was so readily displayed by the crowd before the show. Carti’s energy, coupled with performances of his most popular songs, “Fetti,” “Beef,” “Talk,” “Run It,” and “Broke Boi,” reminded us the show had only just begun and that we needed to go just a little bit harder. Moshing persisted for the entire set and the crowd moved as one in every direction squeezing everyone within. Many people lost their balance and fell, forcing myself and others to help them from being trampled; it was a telling reminder that we were all in this together.

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After Playboi Carti’s exit the final intermission commenced, during which many individuals hastily made their ways out of the crowd for some much-needed hydration. There was a small fight and a drink was inadvertently spilled on me, but it was all part of the experience — not to mention fitting preparation for the show’s conclusion.

A$AP Ferg finally took stage at around 11:00 after what had already felt like an entire music festival. The entire venue was illuminated in purple and pink lights from the stage that created a very hazy, mysterious atmosphere. He opened with “Rebirth” from his most recent album, Always Strive and Prosper. He then performed “Hood Pope” from his 2013 album, Trap Lord, singing acapella at one point. Marty Baller also made another cameo when performing “Telephone Calls” alongside Ferg. A$AP Ferg concluded the show declaring it was finally time to get “burnt.” This worried me. I thought I was beyond burnt at this point. More like pan fried and slightly overcooked then thrown to roast in an oven. And in an instant the high tempo, heavy bass tracks of “New Level,” “Work,” and “Shabba” played back to back, squeezing all of the remaining life from the crowd. Upon the conclusion of his set and the crowd’s applause, I felt a sense of relief walking out of Metropolis. I was dead; bruised everywhere. The sweat that drenched my face was now salt making the commute home in the cold rain more bearable. It was quite nice actually. The undying, almost relentless energy of the show made the experience truly rewarding and enjoyable. Overall, A$AP Ferg’s Montreal stop on his Turnt and Burnt tour was nothing short of “Turnt & Burnt”.

– Review by Nathaniel Bahadursingh

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Concert Review: Courtney Barnett @ Metropolis

courtneyCourtney Barnett has amassed a huge following over the past year with her heavy handed approach to irony-ridden folk storytelling.  Her straightforward manner of songwriting follows her everywhere as she tours with only a three piece band and doodles the designs for all of her merch and album art.  This week at Metropolis, Barnett showed just how fun she can be in front of a rowdy crowd with a deep sense of love and admiration.  The near 90-minute set served as a perfect rundown of her whole career including her newest single “Three Packs a Day” as well as older hits off of her first EP Sea of Split Peas.  Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the night was just how well received her set was.  Having gotten the chance to see her last summer at the Newport Folk Festival, I felt like the massive Metropolis crowd served her music well, with each and every lyric and guitar lick being supported by riveting cheers and rousing sing alongs.

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Concert Review: Ratatat @ Metropolis, September 1st 2015

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Early this month, Montrealers filled Metropolis to see Brooklyn-based rocktronica duo Ratatat. I had never seen Metropolis so crowded. Seriously, in terms of mosh pit density, Ratatat outnumbered previous shows that I had seen there courtesy of Cat Power, the Barr Brothers, Xavier Rudd, and Tame Impala.

The first half of their set provided an enjoyable build up of a whole array of hits from their 10-year discography, climaxing with their crowdpleaser “Loud Pipes” from their 2006 LP Classics, immediately recognizable for its unique use of rudimentary drums and clean synth lines. Playing this track before the end of the set was a smart move on their part for the crowd to quickly experience that music high you get from hearing a song you’ve heard before and love.

Meanwhile, an intense light show of colored lasers and beams fixated the crowd even more on their mastery of live percussions and keyboards.

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The second half of the set had a more “can’t stop moving your feet” kinda feel, leveraged by playing another Classics favorite, “Wildcat,” irresistibly playful with its repeated “roar” sounds, double tempo and high-pitched guitar riffs. “Seventeen Years” and “Gettysburg” were also fun throw backs.

Their show came full circle with tracks from their latest 2015 LP Magnifique, bringing forward some funk-influenced, addictive bass grooves with “Cream on Crome” and “Nightclub Amnesia,” ending the night with the crowd still craving for more.

 

– Review and photos by Jess Newfield

Concert Review: Taking Back Sunday at Metropolis

By: Chris Teti

This winter has been a long one; halfway through March, and we are still seeing snowfall. After a promising week filled with warm weather and sunshine, a few hundred Montrealers piled into Metropolis this past weekend, as yet another snow storm covered the streets with a fresh coat of the fluffy white stuff. Inside the venue’s doors were high spirits and an unmistakable sense of excitement, as the much anticipated performance of alternative rockers Taking Back Sunday was only a few short hours away.

Opening the show was letlive, a post hardcore band reigning from Los Angeles, California. Following their performance was Pennsylvania’s own The Menzingers, whose musical style is much more reminiscent to that of early Taking Back Sunday, consisting mostly of emotionally charged, gang vocal style lyrical melodies and pop punk driven power chords. By the end of their performance, it was obvious that the crowd, a variety of young and old, was having a great time and was genuinely enjoying the acts leading up to the main performance. Despite the balcony being occupied by an older crowd, including myself, the area closest to the stage was filled with young (or the young at heart) fans who set the tone early by starting a mosh pit,  however tamed.

Eventually, the lights went out, and the main attraction took the stage, opening up their set with “Flicker, Fade“, one of the title tracks of their newest album “Happiness Is”, followed by one of their biggest mainstream hits, “What’s it Feel Like to be a Ghost?” The stage allowed plenty of space for lead singer, Adam Lazzara, to perform his signature move; throwing and spinning his microphone through the air while holding onto the XLR cable, although he might have misjudged the size of the venue early on in the show, as I’m pretty sure he hit the ceiling with the microphone. Drummer Mark O’Connell was set up at center stage on top of a huge television screen, surrounded by another two large screens, which displayed video clips and colorful montages throughout the show. Rounding out the remainder of the band’s lineup was John Nolan at front stage right on lead guitar, backup vocals and keyboards as well as Eddie Reyes at front stage left on rhythm guitar. Rocking out behind Eddie Reyes was bassist Shaun Cooper and keeping things interesting was touring group member Nathan Cogen, providing additional guitar, keyboards and back up vocals.

The audience showed their enthusiasm and appreciation for Taking Back Sunday throughout the evening, chanting and cheering at any given opportunity. The best example of this was when Adam Lazzara described the upcoming song on their set list as an homage to a difficult and troubling time in his life and the crowd roared in affirmation. Adam Lazzara even jokingly passed a comment on how ridiculous it was to have people cheering for such an odd reason, but who could blame us? TBS has been a fan favorite of emo kids and alternative pop rock enthusiasts since the early 2000’s. I’m sure many of us never thought that we would still be seeing them in concert over ten years after their inception. The audience was more than willing to show their love for the band that provided the soundtrack of their youth whenever the opportunity presented itself. It was such a nostalgic atmosphere for me personally, running into old friends from high school whom I haven’t seen since Taking Back Sunday had just released their album Where You Want to Be. The lyrics to their songs were still on the tip of our tongues, as it felt like just yesterday that I’ve listened to their music, when it reality, it has been years.

After an hour or so of a whirlwind of classic songs mixed lightly with newer music, Taking Back Sunday walked off the stage, only to come back a few short minutes later in order to finish their show off in style. They did not disappoint, as they closed out the show with a performance of Make Damn Sure, but not without first playing an all-time fan favorite song, Cute Without the “E”, which was the ultimate crowd pleaser. In the midst of a surprisingly large mosh pit and array of crowd surfers, it seemed as though everyone in the audience was singing along to the lyrics “why can’t I feel anything for anyone other than you?,” putting a smile on Adam Lazzara’s face so big that I could see it all the way from the top of the balcony. At this point in time, it was clear that the audience had gotten their money’s worth, and that the members of Taking Back Sunday had been reminded of how much their music has touched the hearts of so many people.

When the show ended, the crowd dispersed and made their way out onto the cold Montreal streets, but maybe this time, feeling a little bit warmer.

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Emptyset + Jon Hopkins @ MUTEK 5/31

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There’s space in the front at Metropolis. Pale lime press necklaces are everywhere. It must be half full but it feels loud with talk. Empty Set take the stage behind huge monolithic chunks of metal spewing wires. Take a bright white triangle and dip it in tar–this is Empty Set’s music. A lot of it is made by pitting the acoustic resonance of natural spaces against bursts of static and sub oscillators. Live, the crowd becomes resonator. Syncopated low end turns your nose into a kick drum, the cartilage into the drum head. Shrapnels of white noise ricochet off illuminated bodies. The whole thing is visceral to the umpteenth degree. “Welcome to MUTEK” it spells out in the charged air.

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By comparison, Jon Hopkins’ set was cozy. Warm bass squiggles and distended piano figures over rolling, interlocking rhythms made for a whole lot of head bobbing. Jon himself doesn’t appear to stop moving on stage, bouncing across his set-up, firing off percussive taps on his Kaoss Pads. When I spoke with him last month, he talked about trying to make “infectious grooves” on his new album, Immunity. Seeing him carry an audience through an hour or so of unbroken rise and fall certainly felt like a proof of concept. Amplified microscopy filled the wall behind him, and it felt good hearing small sounds on a big system.

Take a listen to a tune from Jon Hopkins here and stay tuned for more coverage of MUTEK!