Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Light Company at Casa Del Popolo

Light Company at Casa Del Popolo

Peace by PEACE organizes 3rd Annual "Benefit Show"  | Jesse Creatchman

This past friday Peace by PEACE held their annual "Benefit Show" at Casa Del Popolo to raise funds and awareness of their cause. PxP is a charitable organization run entirely by university volunteers dedicated to resolving conflict in elementary schools across North America. The charity's philosophy is based off of the teachings of professor Dr. Francelia Butler, a professor of Children's Literature at the University of Connecticut, who proposed a new method of teaching negotiation  and conflict resolution skills between young people. The general idea is that through team games children can learn to work together to reach common goals. Founded in 1990, the charity migrated north of the border ten years ago establishing itself in universities of the greater Toronto area and in Montreal. This year marks the "Benefit Show's" third year running.

Unaware of the charity's existence, my motivation to attend the show was the debut Montreal performance of Light Company. A four-piece post-rock band based out of Peterborough, Ontario, the group is fronted by Michael Langiewicz who gave a strong performance at Hot Soupe's Payday performance competition and tipped me off about the fundraiser.

I scurried up St-Laurent to the show breathing in sharp cold air. I was quite alone in the aging northern plateau district heading up a street framed by dimming neon lights encouraging grey faced establishments. As I arrived at the venue, a sign of life! Two middle-aged drunkard musicians reminiscing of warmer days. I hesitated to assume this night a washout, or rather a freeze out. A group of young women approach and enter the bar.

"What are you hear for?" says the inebriated repentant.
"Light Company" says one of the girls with a smile.

I followed into the bar.

As my friend Dan who arrived shortly thereafter put it, "Where do all these people come from?". I see his point. Montreal is a small by city standards, perhaps, but it's not a small town. The herd is scattered and the pasture is sparse, but there is still an overriding scene, a web of many parts that questions the mystery of who will be present and doesn't allow for strong expectations. There is however turnout, sometimes even on the most likely of frigid evenings.  When I entered from the the vacuum of thermal energy that was St. Laurent boulevard, it pleased me to see so many fresh faces inside Casa Del Popolo.

The venue is one half bar hosting to a comglamorate of young and old, english and french, straight and gay, Montrealers who exude a contagious livelihood under warm glowing lights. The other half is a narrow stage room with one hundred person capacity and pretty much the same character types, all kinds minus perhaps conservative suit and ties and certain religious figures.

The room was full of energy, a packed-house from the start. Seattle native Antoine Martel opened up the evening with a five-but sometimes-six-piece band that included a multi-instrumentalist, flutist, bassist, drummer, Roland pianist and Antoine Martel playing rhythm guitar and vocals.

The band started with a gentle, swaying, fingerpicking tune that in Martel's words, "Let (the audience) know that (his band) isn't a rock band. The second song brought out the bands female flutist. It picked up tempo with a two chord rocking, egg-shaking original named "Mary Jane" (not about pot according to A.M.). The bluesy chorus to "Mary Jane" was tight and and while the harmonies sung by the flutist and percussionist were a nice touch, the "weebeedoowops" sold it. You tell they were having a good time.

Antoine Martel's self proclaimed all time favourite band is the Fleet Foxes. His third tune was a stripped down cover of "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song". A good change of pace for the young songwriter who shares a hometown with the aforementioned group.

His single off of his upcoming album, 4 of 5, is a breezy Decemberist-type tune with a cool switch to a rim shot bridge and ensuing stand out flute solo. Keep an eye out for his second album, yet to be titled, on Anoine Martel Bandcamp Page.

Fourth on the bill, Light Company blew the roof of Casa Del Popolo. The stage, the room, the audience, everything shifted as the band took the stage. Preceding the show, I did not take note of a marked headliner, but just like the girl who told that old musician who she was here to see, there were many if not most at the venue who were singularly anticipating Light Company. So the Toronto band somehow managed to build up a reputation for themselves in Montreal previous to any performances. No small feat.

The band, who has been busy in Toronto producing a debut 5-track EP, launched their set with an instrumental composition. Opening with an echoing guitar followed by a spacey electric drum beat, the group painted a hypnotic soundscape that set the tone for the entire set. Thirty seconds in, drummer Adam Langiewicz switches gears by moving to his natural drum set steering the guitar tones with his symbols. A look is quickly shared between bandmates. Confidence and anticipation. A high-hat tends to the down beat as the momentum builds. Titled "Echoes From Home", the four-piece erupts from ominous platform to headbanging proportions, with guitar-Langiwicz keeping the original melody flowing over the patient pulsing adrenaline. It was quite an opening for a relatively new group, very sharp. They come back down and kick it back up with their second song, "Giants and Hammers".

Six songs for a thirty minute set was enough time for Light Company to make an impression. First off, they had a good look. Edgy but clean. Unassuming as they may have appeared, the energy that they conducted was explosive. Each member stood out. Lead guitarist Shayne Ernst was the cool and collected effects-minded guitarist who switched off between lead and rhythm with Mike. As a polar opposite, Lukas Wojcicki was abrasive and attacked with his bass. They balanced out quite well.

Adam Langiewicz is a phenomenal drummer. Their type of post-rock method takes a drummer with the right touch. One who is on the mark when it comes to alternating extremes of intensity and beat. His brother Michael Langiewicz is a humble frontman for the group, communicating well with the audience. Clearly, a band-first type of singer casting out a strong melody.

Hopefully Montreal gets more Light Company in the near future. We'll keep you updated with any upcoming shows.

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