Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Luyas at Divan Orange | Review


The Luyas  |  Divan Orange


I’ve never heard a band that sounded so much like Montreal.

Sure, there are bands and musicians that are always thrown out as the official delegates of The Montreal Music Scene. Grimes. Arcade Fire. All the big names. But these bands have never completely captured what this city sounds like to me.

The Luyas do. They’re not my favourite band, and I don’t know all the words to their songs. But sitting at Divan Orange, listening to them play, something just slips into place.

Hearing the music live is essential; the sound is something that envelops you. Much of my music listening is done mid-commute, while waiting for the bus or walking home from the grocery store. And although there’s nothing like getting lost in a great song while shivering your way home on a frigid Montreal night, hearing it live is so much better than listening through headphones.

The Luyas’ sound embraces and embodies everything both beautiful and devastating about Montreal. It’s dark and mysterious; it’s cheerful and playful. It’s emotional and not-giving-a-shit at the same time. Ornate but not flashy. It’s equally good for dancing and getting lost in a daydream. It has both the chill of a thirty below zero night and the warmth of a July afternoon in the park. It doesn’t command too much attention. It knows it’s good; it knows you will love it.

The Luyas’ sound is also a unified one. No one instrument or musician stands out; rather, they all whirl together into a layered, textured piece. Jessie Stein’s wispy vocals slide in between guitars and drums, and Pietro Amato’s French horn adds elegance, class, and notes of longing. It could easily be totally dissonant, but it makes sense and fits together in a funny sort of way.

It’s a full crowd at Divan Orange, and even if they don’t show it with loud whoops and hollers, they are loving the show. “Too Beautiful To Work” brings more people to their feet and bopping along to the catchy tune. It draws in even those sitting at the back of the bar; the sound seems to wash over everything in the room. It’s experimental and surprising, but there’s something familiar, reliable, and comforting about it, too. It makes you want to give up any attempt at categorizing it and just give in to how it feels.

Montreal is often romanticized as this beautiful European utopia, with charming spiral staircases and endless summer festivals. But to me, this is Montreal:  a dimly lit room, a full crowd, and music that makes me instantly feel at home.
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