Mac DeMarco and his girlfriend Kiki
M For Montréal, No Joy, Mac DeMarco, PS I Love You, Young Galaxy, Ain’t No Love, Whitehorse, Folly and the Hunter
M For Montréal Day 2: MacDeMarco, PS I Love You, Memoryhouse, Young Galaxy, No Joy, and More, November 15th, 2012
Dec 06, 2012 Web Exclusive Photography by Kyle Lemmon
The second day of M for Montréal primarily featured more local acts for delegates at intimate showcases. Mac DeMarco, PS I Love You, Memoryhouse, No Joy, Folly and the Hunter, Whitehorse, Ain’t No Love, and Young Galaxy were the highlights of the day.
The indie-folk sextet Folly and the Hunter started the afternoon right at Petit Campus. The band’s second album will be released in 2013, so there was a pleasant mix of brand new material and tunes from the band’s underappreciated debut from earlier this year, Residents. Energetic festival programmer Mikey Bernard described the group as Arcade Fire meets Sufjan Stevens in his introduction. Although the extremely young collective has the multi-instrumental chops of Sufjan’s band, they didn’t have quite the uplift one would expect from Montréal’s biggest contemporary export. That being said, Folly’s tunes have beautiful double (or triple) harmonies and the quiet drums and guitars can get a little stormy from time to time. Songs such as the banjo-led “Folly,” or the crisp, semi-classical “Sur Jeanne-Mance,” were pleasing to the ears and the slightly sleep-deprived crowd seemed to enjoy themselves.
Next on the docket for this Thursday afternoon was the husband-wife duo Whitehorse. Melissa McClelland and Luke Douchet were impeccably dressed as they walked out on the Petit Campus stage. The small crowd assembled in front of them soon realized there was some fiery grit behind their knotted guitarwork, looping riffs, and stomp box percussion. The Spaghetti Western rockers from their new album The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss hit the slowly ballooning crowd like a spur to the side.
Lively R&B/hip-hop foursome Ain’t No Love headlined the Café Campus venue with loads of aplomb. The rapping was fierce and sharp throughout the gig and singer Saidah Conrad had some truly soulful moments. The group was all smiles on stage and that energy kept the audience dancing (or at least tapping a few toes).
After the delegates refueled at dinner, they were ready for CMJ Music Marathon’s psychedelic and garage-rock night-filled night at Sala Del Rossa. There was also some gauzy dream-pop via Seattle’s Memoryhouse at the Bumbershoot stage. Shuttles drove up Saint-Laurent once again to the musical havens.
Shoegaze and grunge revisionists No Joy stormed out of the gate at Sala Del Rossa. Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino championed the group’s fuzzy and reverb-filled tunes a few years ago and her effusive adoration for the group is warranted. These ladies (and man) rocked in front of a video backdrop of a Degrassi Junior High episode, which was slowed down by a third. The ladies’ rough-and-ready mélange of flannel rock and My Bloody Valentine/Nirvana/Dinosaur Jr. worship hit hard.
Young Galaxy, from Vancouver, played afterwards. The band recently wrapped recording their third LP in Sweden with Studio’s Dan Lissvik and we got a foretaste of those tracks. Like 2011's Shapeshifting, there are heavy '80s synth-pop influences at work here and singer Catherine McCandless has an Annie Lennox-esque stage presence that could be felt all the way from the barstools. I’ve always thought this capable group needed more respect and M for Montréal’s spotlight helped reassure that thought.
Hometown sleazy garage rockers Mac DeMarco were the unplanned headliner of night two of M for Montréal. He got stuck in traffic and PS I Love You became the de facto openers. After spending half the year testing out a trio version of the band, they are back to their original duo arrangement of Paul Saulnier on vocals/guitar/bass pedals and Benjamin Nelson on percussion. Saulnier played a large portion of the gig with a double-neck guitar. His yelps and huge loops of guitar destruction made their 25-minute set move by in a flash. They played the best material from Meet Me at the Muster Station and Death Dreams. Also, Nelson pounded his kit like a beast, which was a perfect counterpoint to Saulnier's precise guitar shredding. This new duo configuration is really working for them.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing Mac DeMarco live since taking a chance on his bizarre glam/rock DJ concept EP, Rock and Roll Night Club. Back then he was releasing songs as Makeout Videotape, but now he’s got a full band backing him up. The new material from this fall’s 2 sees him putting his best jizz-jazz foot forward. Belch-speaking, pot smoking, and beer guzzlin’ are part and parcel of any Mac DeMarco gig and his headlining appearance in Montréal was no different. People that just can’t get behind Ariel Pink will take solace in Mac’s focus. Whereas the former can get lost in his schtick, DeMarco keeps a level head even with a cartoony grin plastered over his face. For all his onstage antics, his band plays tight pop tunes that sound like they’re coming from some strange ‘70s AM radio station.
Mac saved the best part of the show for last. His girlfriend, Kiki, made and appearance for the love song, “Together.” She rode piggypack for a spell and then fell into the audience for a double crowd-surf. Songs off the new album ("Viceroy," "Cooking Up Someting Good") are catchy as hell with a fervent cadre of fans singing along with you. And the band managed to breathe new life into older tunes such as “Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans.” All in all, Mac DeMarco stole the show for Day 2.
Before I decided to rest my weary bones for the night, I took in Toronto darlings Memoryhouse. They have certainly changed their sound since The Years EP. The Slideshow Effect tracks certainly pack a bigger whallop in the live setting, but I do miss the gauze and atmosphere of those early singles. Singer Denise Nouvion’s vocals are still top-shelf in the indie world, though. The addition of drummer Daniel Gray lends these gravity-defying tracks a sense of direction and purpose, which is always good for the suspended animation sonic world of dream-pop genre.
Day three is where the festival promoters let the delegates run wild over the city. The choices will be daunting, but big musical surprises await us.