Festival International de Jazz de Montréal: Camera Obscura, She & Him, Austra | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019  

Katie Stelmanis of Austra

Austra, Camera Obscura, Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 2013, She & Him

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal: Camera Obscura, She & Him, Austra, July 3rd, 2013

Jul 04, 2013 Bookmark and Share


Good news everyone—I have found my equivalent of the American Beauty scene where the plastic bag dances in the breeze. It’s a street performer dancing with, and rolling inside of a large metal hoop, Cirque du Soleil-style. That has to be the closest equivalent. Right? Otherwise, why would I have found myself slightly choked up?

Wimp.

Anyway. Music.

Because good things (well varying shades of good, anyway) come in threes, Festival International de Jazz de Montréal offered three Under the Radar favorites on the same evening: Camera Obscura, She & Him, and Austra.

Camera Obscura opened the evening concerts at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, a large theater located inside of an arts complex. The Scottish chamber pop quintet recently released their new album Desire Lines, so it was thrilling to finally hear a few cuts live. In addition to new material, the band trotted out a few old favorites, including Let's Get Out of This Country classic, “Lloyd I’m Ready to be Heartbroken.” (Cue cheers.)

“I wish we could see some faces,” joked frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell to the rapidly filling theater. “It’s like that scene from Eyes Wide Shut, only it’s just us—we can’t see anybody. We’re sure it’s filled.”

By the time the band played their sweetly sincere closer “Razzle Dazzle Rose,” Tracyanne’s hopes were realized.

Camera Obscura Setlist:

1. Tears For Affairs

2. Do It Again

3. Break it to You Gently

4. Fifth in Line to the Throne

5. Lloyd I’m Ready to be Heartbroken

6. New Year’s Resolution

7. French Navy

8. Desire Lines

9. Come Back Margaret

10. Razzle Dazzle Rose

Also on the road to flog a new album was She & Him. While the course of releasing three albums (and one Christmas disc) has seen diminishing returns for the Zooey Deschanel/M. Ward project, it has greatly improved their on-stage chemistry. Deschanel, an adequate musician, no longer looks at the crowd like a scared bunny. (She now looks like a confident human, albeit an adorkable one.) M. Ward—an impressive musician/performer by any standard—leaves enough room for his leading lady to shine. 

However sweet She & Him’s performance was, it seemed a bit calculated—particular in light of their opener’s rough and tumble charm. Even when making a clear mistake, as was the case when they skipped a section of Karen Chandler classic, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” and had to halt, mid-song, it played like something out of a New Girl script.

M.Ward [singing]: “We should start over.

Z. Deschanel: [faux anger] Whatever Matt wants.

M.Ward: Whatever Montréal wants!”

Z. Deschanel: What does that say about us?

Audience: Riotous laughter.

Perhaps the finest moment of She & Him’s set was their cover of “Unchained Melody,” featuring lush harmonies from Los Angeles scene stalwarts, The Chapin Sisters. Stunning for sure, although one wonders what it means when the best part of a band’s performance is a song that they didn’t write.

Holding down the late hour was Austra over at Club Soda. (Shamefully, it’s a pun that took me a few days in the city to get.) The Toronto band took the stage over a half hour late, which was exhausting. But they quickly proved themselves well worth the wait. Armed with high-heeled boots and flanked by dancing bandmates Sari and Romy Lightman, frontwoman Katie Stelmanis transformed the club into a raging Goth club. The set was largely comprised of songs from their recently released sophomore album Olympia. But it was cuts from debut Feel it Break that truly ignited. “Lose it” felt particularly dynamic—Stelmanis stalking the stage like a disco demon as the flashing lights swirled behind her. Opera may have lost a major talent when Stelmanis picked pop music, but it’s truly our gain. Certainly a set worth making it a late night to see.

Check out photos of Austra here

(www.montrealjazzfest.com)

(www.camera-obscura.net)

(www.sheandhim.com)

(www.austramusic.com)




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