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Thursday, 29 August 2013

MEG Festival 2013

Montreal Electronique Groove  |  MEG Festival 2013

ATTACHE TA TUQUE, MON SALE  |  SEAN ZUMBUSCH
                                 PHOTOS  |  NEGAR NAKHAI

Montreal Electronique Groove is an electronic music festival that takes place in several venues around the city. I went to a few shows, and was a little unsure of how these events might look. In my mind, I always see electronic music events as being full of people wearing furry boots, those fake butterfly wings, and goggles amongst other such similar kinds of clothing. Much to my dismay, most of the shows that I attended under the MEG banner were attended by people in casual (or slightly fancier than casual) wear. What a complete and utter disappointment that was, because people should dress up for shows more often. Oh well. My one hope is that, one of these days, an indie show that I am covering gets crashed by a brigade of cybergoths mid-show, leading to nothing but utter chaos and madness. I would pay good money to see an indie rocker dude’s beard get tousled by somebody with neon-coloured hoses in their hair. A lot of that initial disappointment was eventually made up for the fact that I saw some pretty good performances.

UN gave one such good performance. They played at Divan Orange, and they were an all-female two piece band of a drummer and keyboardist/vocalist. This band’s set was centered on hypnotic drum beats, thumping synthesizers, and swirling vocal loops. I was particularly interested in the vocals in this group, as the vocalist looped her vocals on a looping pedal and then proceeded to place a delay effect on the loops. It was interesting in that it gave an organic sound like the human voice a very otherworldly feel. The drummer also infused some innovation as, instead of a snare, she decided to use a sample pad for snare-esque noises. The crowd was into the vibe that they were giving off and everyone danced along to the music. I found myself giving in to the pulsing noise that was this group. Highly recommended.

Human Human also played at Divan Orange, and they are a group of four young gentlemen that really like to dress in bright white Canadian tuxedos (jeans and jean jackets, for the ignorant among you). They play rock songs with synthesizers over the rock, and they have drumming that drums. The drums were actually a high point for me, as they were skilful and tight. Their staccato basslines offset the indie cock-rock guitars throughout the set, and I liked the passages when they went for a dual-synth attack. The vocals were smooth, graceful, and had the right amount of grit. The crowd felt good about them, and so did I. I would give Human Human a report card with a scratch & sniff sticker of a smiling banana on it if I was able. 

Complications played at La Salsa Rossa, and they were the bee’s knees. They are a two-piece of a guitarist/vocalist and a drummer, and they let everyone at the venue know what was happening with their when they crossed out the “groove” portion of the MEG logo and replaced it with a sheet of paper with the word “grunge” written on it in big, bold letters. It was a gritty set, as evidenced by the fact that they eschewed most of the stage lights with the exception of one dismal light bulb attached to a power cord. The drummer would bat the light around between songs. The guitarist’s rig was a beast of amplification. He used a both guitar and bass stacks to amplify his guitar, and his guitar head was the almighty Ampeg v-4. It made me drool a little bit. Their songs were growling pieces of sludgy, post-rocking grunge. The guitarist played heavy, down-tuned riffs that invoked images of the rising and falling of long-forgotten Neanderthal interstellar empires. There was singing, too, and it was grand. This band was awesome.

Duchess Says, however, blew the doors off of La Salsa Rossa. I was not quite prepared for the utter madness that this band brought to the stage, but they did so anyway. They entered the stage as triumphant headliners, as they decorated the stage with props, posters, and the whole production. I admit that I did not know who I was seeing before they came on, but not long into their set I recognized a number of their songs such as “L'ordre des secteurs” from my days of folding t-shirts at a clothing store. It was a nice surprise. I was quite taken by the fact that their keyboardist uses a Nord Lead 3. I’m not going to BS you with some line about “this guy did stuff I can’t imagine coming out of that thing,” because I know the Lead 3. I know how powerful of a machine it is, and this guy knows how to get amazing sounds out of it. He speaks Nord Lead 3 as a second language. Either way, Annie-Claude Deschênes was Godzilla on stage. She is an absolute maniac as a front person, and got the crowd to follow her exacting demands. When she told everyone to sit, everyone sat. For the last few numbers, she broke away from the stage and proceeded to sing to everyone in the crowd personally. This band made me feel good about the world. They kicked my ass when I did not expect it to be kicked. Give them your money. All of it.







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