This was my first Pop Montreal concert that I caught the entire show. And it was quite a good one to see it all!
This was day two of the festival, September 30. The venue was O Patro Vys, a small rectangular room, no larger than 25 by 60 feet (7.5 by, 18.2 metres for the fine metric folks! Myself included, but I know feet better in some cases, one being baseball!) with a bar at the end, and a few tables at the front along the left wall.
The only act I did not know beforehand was Led to Sea. I did however check her out the night before to get an idea. She is a for the most part a single person act. Her MySpace states how she is sometimes accompanied by a percussionist. For this performance it was just her.
As a solo performer it is just her (Led to Sea being Alex Guy), and her violin. She played the violin, and also used a pedal to create some loops that would accompany her playing. She sometimes played by tapping her finger (style?!), this would sometimes create the backing loop. She has a very good voice, and seems to have very well crafted songs that work well for her.
The Watson Twins were of course The Watson Twins, Chandra and Leigh Watson, and they also had Kip playing keys. I really had not heard too much from them aside from their collaboration with Jenny Lewis on Rabbit Fur Coat. They swapped instruments a few times, going from electric guitar to acoustic. Their sound is very laid back and mellow, however with the incorporation of vocal melodies from the twins, very pleasing. Alt country/folk/singer/songwriter to name a few genres.
They played their cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” which appears on the True Blood Season One soundtrack. When Basia Bulat performs, she ends her performance with a song sans any accompaniment, or amplification. The Watson Twins played their song “Give me a Chance” without any vocal amplification, their instruments were still plugged in. Impressive none the less. They also covered Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”, and did a respectable job at that.
Laura Veirs and the Hall of Flames, then took to the stage with her current touring musicians. Composed of Led to Sea (Alex Guy), and Tim Young.
Her set was composed of a good mix of tracks, however they were limited to what her backing musicians were familiar with, as she noted towards the end when someone requested a song. My highlight was the traditional song “The Cuckoo”. To entertain the crowd, they played a couple of games, one, that they recently invented on the road, composed of naming the opposite of a band, and having to identify the band/artist based on that. For example “no” equals Yes, and “zxwx” equals ACDC. The other was singing along, and see what city did the best job. Leading was Toronto, the last city they played, however Montreal took the lead! Not like they’d say Toronto was still better though.
Anyway, the musicianship was high, as was the whole set. If that was not a given, at one point when they could not play the requested song, they played a track Alex and Tim did not know, however they played along as if they did, taking cues from Laura on a couple ocassions when the song switched to minor. They ended with a three song encore.
I mentioned at the start that it was quite the show to see in its entirety. Reason being they are all very good acts, and genre wise work very well together. Also they are all touring together, so they know eachother, and eveything seems to click. For example, Tim played guitar during a Watson Twins song, and just walking in on the show at that point, one would not be able to tell he was not actually normally playing with them.
Very good show. Very much worth checking out any of the acts on their own.