Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Montréal en Lumière | February 20th to March 2nd | Preview


UPCOMING! Montréal en Lumière  |  Worth Braving the Polar Vortex

It’s a known fact: Montreal’s cultural life is rather summer-centric. During that three-month stretch of warm weather, it seems like there is always some sort of festival going on somewhere, to the point where some of them even happen simultaneously (think of Just for Laughs and Nuits d’Afrique, for instance). It would be easy to think that such a reality renders the rest of the year completely empty of any events of the kind.

Well, not exactly.

For culture-thirsty people (such as the Soupe Kitchen cooks), getting a healthy dose of creation is often imperative, even in the dead of winter. Sure, minus forty weather is, in many ways, a GODDAMN CRIME AGAINST PHYSICS, but hey! That doesn’t make any music lover’s ears less eager to be filled with sweet melodies, stout beats, groovy bass lines, and enchanting vocals.

It is probably with such ideas in mind that some highly motivated individuals rally to organize mid-winter music fests. Among them, if Igloofest has undeniably become a local classic, it seems like the prime one remains the glorious Montréal en Lumière. Beyond the well-known Nuit Blanche, that cultural event presents tons and tons of creative productions of all kinds, many of which are musical.

This year again, the selection of bands that are featured is stellar. In pure Soupe Kitchen tradition, let us give you a few suggestions of what we think deserves your attention.

February 21st, 8:00 PM, Usine C
Forêt with Quatuor Molinari

Softly uttered vocals, daft little guitar melodies, and a sprinkle of synths all complement this local act's cleverly written poems in magnificent fashion. This is the kind of indie-flavoured that would be perfect to absorb while sipping a warm soup next to a rain-stained window, with a big woolly sweater on. For that show, the band will play alongside classical music heavyweight Quatuor Molinari, who insist on playing at least one show with a band that has nothing to do with classical music every year (last year, they played that show in a church with country act Avec pas d’casque). Promising.


February 21st, 9:30 PM, Lion d’Or
Speakeasy Electroswing

There is nothing not to like about this local crew’s cup of tea, that is, electroswing. The concept is simple really: any genre of electronic music mixed with swing samples from the 1920s and 1930s. Speakeasy celebrates the fruit of such a colourful mélange flawlessly. Their nights at Sala Rossa have become quite famous now. This is where grimy ravers meet sharply-attired dance duos, where hoodies and green dreadlocks collide with evening dresses and heads of nicely gelled hair. After massive triumphs at events such as Igloofest, Piknik Electronik, Jazz Fest, as well as a crazy, circus-themed NYE party, Eliazar, Khalil, and Touski are back for more. Go. It’s worth your beer money.  

February 22nd, 8:00 PM, Club Soda
Fauve (opener: Pawa Up First)

This French dude’s heartfelt, eloquent, and rather intense slam poetry is thrown at your ears with a blend of boiling rage and tactless honesty. He’s quite big in his home country and likely to please the fans of rhymes-filled conscious rap acts. Spoken word at its finest. Local heavyweight Pawa Up First are there to support.


February 23rd, 8:00 PM, Club Soda
Nick Waterhouse

Old school vibes, astonishing guitar skills, warm horns, and blues-flavoured vibes are all key elements in Nick Waterhouse’s analog-sounding goodness. It sounds like an American jazz bar during the 40s, full of bistro tables and cigarette smoke and empty shot glasses of bourbon. It often veers towards rockabilly and it’s always tight as hell.


February 24, 8:00 PM, La Tulipe
Moriarty & Guests

Moriarty's vocalist is one of those singers whose voice just sticks in the mind, a unique timbre that belongs to no one else. She uses it to sing her little melancholic fables, which she lays it on top of an exquisite sweet-sounding folk. It mostly consists of a bunch of guitars, percussions, and harmonica, with a hint of cello and piano here and there.


February 25, 8:00 PM, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletrier (Place des Arts)
Pierre Lapointe (Punkt)

Chanson française superstar Pierre Lapointe is preparing to tour with another one of his crazy multimedia show, which will namely take him to Paris’ famed Olympia. This Place des Arts show, which will feature no less than 30 musicians, happens to be the Montreal premiere. 


February 25 & 27, 8:00 PM, Gesù
Agnes Obel

In Europe, singer-songwriter Agnes Obel has won tons of awards, and is a well-known name in Norway, Germany, Belgium, and her native Denmark. She sings beautiful ballads in English as she plays the piano, and is surrounded with cello and harp players, most notably. Her voice is entrancing, the kind you’re likely to hear in a dream full of fluffy clouds and delicate waves. She plays two dates, don't miss her.


February 26, 8:00 PM, Club Soda
Random Recipe (opener: Mozart’s Sister)

Mozart’s Sister is an absolutely astonishing vocalist, who uses the power of synth loops to forge utterly soulful indie pop pieces. Her music has its experimental moments, but always feels right, as it is deeply rooted in her mind-blowing vocal chords. She opens for local sensation Random Recipe, a band that plays a blend of pop, rock, hip hop, and soul, using guitars, synths, beatbox, rhymes, bass. It’s catchy as hell, and it’s well-crafted.


February 27, 8:00 PM, l’Astral
David Marin

Above all, David Marin is a brilliant lyricist. But then again, he’s also an amazing composer and musician. Trying to pinpoint which of the two discipline he’s best at would be missing the point anyway, as this man’s music should be taken as a whole. It oscillates between folk – sometimes straight-up country – and blues-infused rock, and is, I repeat it, made unique by the finesse of Marin’s lyrical abilities. He plays with words, but never to the point of affecting the content’s potency, and he finds ways to say things that are likely to leave you in awe.


February 27, 8:00 PM, Club Soda
Basia Bulat

Bulat is a rising star at the moment, with reason. She has an unforgettable voice, one hell of a delivery, and she is the only indie star I know who plays an Autoharp (or country harp). She shows that the combination of these few elements is utterly convincing. It’s gorgeous ballads and upbeat folk songs all around, and it sounds just right.


February 27, 8:00 PM, Metropolis
Thomas Fersen (opener: Theodore, Paul & Gabriel)

In the vast world of chanson française, Thomas Fersen is enjoying a great momentum at the moment. No wonder. The man has astonishing storytelling skills, and is surrounded by a great band who swings between upbeat and gloomy in a pinch.


February 28, 8:00 PM, Église St-Jean-Baptiste
Champion et ses G-Strings with I MUSICI

Is it me, or is Montreal en Lumière trying that “classical music meets modern music” thing increasingly often now? Not that I’m complaining about it, of course! On top of Quatuor Molinari's show with Forêt, this year, I MUSICI is getting involved. The 15-people strong chamber music ensemble is scheduled to team up with local electro-rock sensation Champion, who just released his third LP this year. It’s in Église St-Jean-Baptiste that it happens.


February 28, 8:00 PM, Gesù
Catherine Major Solo

I was lucky enough to see this show, and I weigh my words when I say “lucky”. This chanson française genius (again, weighed word) shines in overwhelmingly graceful fashion, as she nearly gets possessed by her gigantic piano. She’s sitting at it, all alone. Beautiful poems of linguistic perfection (written by herself, her mother, and her boyfriend) accompany her convulsive moments of uninhibited musical interpretation. Yann Perreault’s minimal mise en scène complete the package, namely the well-placed bursts of colourful light to punctuate certain pieces. Anyway. Go see this show.

March 1st, 8:00 PM, Lion d’Or
Dear Criminals

This is the other project of two members of Random Recipe, including Frannie Holder and her gorgeous, almost perfect voice. She brings her soul to that gloomy folk pop initiative. It’s exquisite. Every guitar note has its place, every word is thrown in there just right. It’s solid, almost surprisingly so. The softer indie heads out there, i.e. fans of the likes of Devandra Banhart or the XX, will go crazy for that band in minutes. Just wait and see.
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