Festival International de Jazz de Montréal: Hot Club de ma Rue, Thus:Owls, and The Cat Empire | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Cat Empire, Thus Owls, Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 2013, Hot Club de ma Rue

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal: Hot Club de ma Rue, Thus:Owls, and The Cat Empire, July 2nd, 2013

Jul 03, 2013 Hot Club de ma Rue Photography by Laura Studarus Bookmark and Share

Since the event I’ve been covering these past few days (and will continue to cover through the end of the week) is called a “jazz fest” I decided to kick off the day by taking in some of the titular genre. Hot Club de ma Rue fit the bill nicely. Other high (and medium) lights of the day included Thus:Owls and The Cat Empire.

Montréal five-piece Hot Club de ma Rue play gypsy jazz in the vein of Django Reinhardt. (Think: the opening credits of a Woody Allen film.) Folded in are hints of swing and Chanson Francaise. Even though they were temporarily drowned out by a competing stage, they managed to finish their set with incredible, multi-lingual charm. Not bad for an early afternoon gamble. (Only in festival world can you call a 1pm set “early afternoon.”)

Thus:Owls are in the running for the most interesting discovery of the week. The Swedish/Canadian group performed their first of three shows in the basement of the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal. The band made their entrance from the back of the auditorium, slowly working their way forward, gypsy caravan style. Swedish singer Erika Angell has a powerful, idiosyncratic voice. Against the horns and violins, she sounds not unlike Joni Mitchell fronting Beirut. Their newest album Harbours is a bit more mellow. Think: abstract folk-daydream. Certainly ones to watch either way.

The final band of the evening, The Cat Empire, was a bit of a mixed bag. It’s not that they weren’t talented. The Australian eight-piece throw down with intensity in pretty much any/every genre. (Just a few elements they managed to work into their set: beatboxing, Tropicália, turntablism, Cuban horns, and gold ol’ fashioned pop and rock.) However, when mixed with frontman Felix Riebl’s charmingly bland voice, the whole carefully crafted brew quickly slid towards VH1 territory. Sure it was crowd pleasing (the nearly sold-out house almost rivaled Woodkid’s impassioned audience in devotion). But the band’s attempts to travel somewhere new seem to have them simply circling back around to the expected.

Check out photos from the day here.






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