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Monday, 7 October 2013

Motel Raphael POP 2013

Motel Raphael  |  POP 2013

GOOD VIDES FROM THE VIBRAPHONES  |  KAIVA BRAMMANIS
                                       PHOTOS  |  NEGAR NAKHAI

Sept. 27, 2013 - When Motel Raphael takes the stage, they completely transform the Petit Campus. Dressed in bright red coats and grinning ear to ear, the large group of musicians couldn’t seem more excited. And they have a right to be. Tonight they’re headlining a Pop Montreal show, and the audience is dying for them to start playing. When they begin, there are cheers, and they all glance around, smiling and laughing. They look as if they can’t believe it.

As they start playing, their enthusiasm is channeled into their music, and it’s easy to see why they have the following they do. At first, their sound seems incredibly familiar, but as soon as you try to draw comparisons to anything else, you’re at a loss. At the centre of the band is a beautiful trio of harmonies, but it’s by no means the band’s only asset. There’s also an elegantly bold trumpet and guitar, bass, and drums that keep it from sounding too gentle. They even have a vibraphone  and it’s more than just the token quirky instrument. Of course, everyone loves seeing someone play the vibraphone, but it’s rare when it fits into the sound so well as it does here. 

Their single, “Ghosts,” brings whoops of approval from the audience. It’s a catchy song, with harmonies that build up in a chilling way. Motel Raphael is good at cheerful, happy tunes, but they can also be serious, as they prove with one or two slower, more somber numbers. Each of the three women has a distinct, unique voice; it’s great to hear them sing alone and then wait for the voices to intertwine with each other in gorgeous harmony.

The audience tonight is ready to dance, though, and Motel Raphael is ready to indulge them.  And they’re having fun themselves – they jump up and down, dance around the stage, and giggle with each other. They don’t take themselves too seriously; Motel Raphael couldn’t be pretentious if they tried.  

The band closes the night with a cover of Daft Punk’s hit “Get Lucky.” What is probably the most overplayed song of the summer instantly sounds fresh as the three ladies in the front croon the familiar lyrics. The trumpet shines on this one, too. The crowd is going nuts at this point, and the drums and guitar keep playing and playing, though the song is long over. Everyone is dancing, and one of the lead vocalists shakes her head in disbelief before joining in herself. 

And Motel Raphael comes at the end of a whole long night of good music. The lineup includes Corinna Rose, Wind and the Wild, Emilie & Ogden, and Lakes of Canada. Right before Motel Raphael takes the stage, Lakes of Canada riles up the crowd with a drum-heavy set consisting of their entire new album sung front to back. Wailing vocals are paired with an intense drum beat. The highlight of their set is the last song, when they come into the middle of the audience and sing without any instruments. Accompanied only by hand claps and foot stomps, their sometimes aggressive sound is softened and made intimate without losing any of its strength. 

It’s sad to see Motel Raphael step offstage at the end of the night, but it surely won’t be too long before they play again. Their debut album is in the works, but in the meantime, you can check out “Ghosts” at motelraphael.bandcamp.com. Keep an eye out for any of their upcoming shows – these Montrealers are definitely worth seeing live.


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