Monday, October 9th, 2006

Pop Goes The World – Day 4

Though there was still Pop Montreal programming on the Sunday night – albeit a limited schedule – it seemed most other punters I knew headed home after Saturday night. My initial plans had involved The Constantines’ free show at Main Hall but I ended up staying at Casa Del Popolo the whole night, even though headliner Carolyn Mark had to cancel for reasons unknown. What ended up transpiring was as follows:

Relief Maps @ Casa Del Popolo – Hearing of the cancellation, Matthew from I Heart Music seized the opportunity and got this band from Ottawa on the bill and in a car en route to Montreal and arrived just in time to open up the evening. Though the odds were somewhat against them – the 11th hour notice, the fact that they were loaded down with Thanksgiving turducken and fighting off the effects of tryptophan and that their new bassist had rehearsed with them for the grand total of two hours, they still pulled off a respectable, compact set. Their sound is raw but promising, and if they figure out how to best balance out their singer’s smooth vocals with the band’s spiky post-punkish attack they could well be onto something. But in the meantime, an act to keep an eye on and more evidence (along with the evening’s defacto headliners) that something’s brewing in the nation’s capital.

Photos: Relief Maps @ Casa Del Popolo – October 8, 2006
MP3: Relief Maps – “Stamp Out Fatigue”
MP3: Relief Maps – “Pattersicle”

Schooner @ Casa Del Popolo – In town all the way from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Schooner piqued my interest last week as I did a casual cruise of the unknown acts playing Pop Montreal. Blending sweet boy-girl vocals, some ’50s doo-wop and ’60s baroque pop influences (not heavy, but there) with the college rock skronk of their hometown in the ’90s and some timeless power-pop hookery, the five-piece didn’t disappoint on the promise of the brief samples I listened to while hastily filling out my schedule. Which is to say that they were quite good and I was pleased to see that by the time they took the stage, a decent crowd had filled out the club – it would have been a shame if they came all this way and played to just myself and the bar staff.

Photos: Schooner @ Casa Del Popolo – October 8, 2006
MP3: Schooner – “Carrboro”
MP3: Schooner – “Ominous Bird”
MySpace: Schooner

The Acorn @ Casa Del Popolo – People have been telling me for a while now I should listen to The Acorn. Well I finally got a chance to hear The Acorn and damnation, they ARE good. Combining some killer songs with an engaging (if awfully-lit) live show, The Acorn impressed and proved that I should listen to other people more often. Like The Soft Disaster, who I saw on the same stage on Thursday and with whom they share a member, there’s something about The Acron that just sounds like Ottawa. Though more extroverted than their colleagues in The Soft Disaster, they spun out pop songs that were similarly plaintive, open-hearted and epic-sounding under down comforters. It seems somehow fitting that this sound is emanating from our nation’s capital because there’s something quintissentially Canadian-sounding about it all, but without being cliched, Take that, Tragically Hip.

Photos: The Acorn @ Casa Del Popolo – October 8, 2006
MP3: The Acorn – “Blankets”
MP3: The Acorn – “Plates & Saucers”
MySpace: The Acorn

Prefix and BlogTO wrap up their Pop Montreal coverage with a fine Saturday night in Beirut (though I will maintain that I still saw the better show that night). And that was my Pop Montreal. You may note that I didn’t take in and ungodly amount of shows – fact is, I needed to take this trip to decompress from a breakneck past five weeks and simply didn’t have the energy or motivation to club hop. The fact that the venues were more spread out (at least from where I was) than I’d originally expected also helped put the kabosh on heavy-duty showgoing. But what I did see was generally quite good and I’ve enjoyed reading the reports on stuff that I missed from other attendees. While it wasn’t a patch on the insanity of SxSW, my only other real frame of reference for festivals, it still offered a very good batting average for quality acts – not something that bigger and more scattershot fests like NxNE and CMW can necessarily say. The Future Of Music summit was also quite enjoyable and educational, both as an audience member and participant.

I didn’t do much sightseeing either – a little trekking around the Plateau on Saturday and down to Old Montreal and Downtown on an unseasonably warm and sunny Sunday afternoon were about the extent of it. I’m sure this city has far more to offer and I certainly hope it won’t be another 30 years before I come back. But I’m pretty happy with how the past week has gone and am also happy to be heading home.

But to debunk one of the more popular assertions made by Montrealers who move to Toronto… St Hubert’s is, in no way shape or form, better than Swiss Chalet. QED.

By : Frank Yang at 10:05 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. J Mac says:

    Of course, real Montrealers will tell you that only places to get chicken in the city are the handful of Portuguese grills that dot the Plateau and Mile End — forget St. Hubert, man. And, also, I note that my blog, Midnight Poutine (a kissing cousin of BlogTO), and its small army of writers covered a ridiculous amount of the Pop Mtl. festival. We’d love y’all to have a read.

  2. David says:

    Swiss Chalet and St. Hubert are pretty even, but what always put St. Hubert ahead in my books was their sauce just destroys the supposedly famous Chalet sauce. Not even in the same ballpark imo.

  3. iozs says:

    Relief Maps myspace:

  4. Frank says:

    right, I didn’t explicitly put it under the MP3 links because I linked their band name up above to the MySpace. But thanks.

  5. stanley birge says:

    Rich kid band Schooner from North Carolina visit Quebec in a naive attempt at self-promotion, parasitically endeavoring to affix themselves to the limelight surrounding the Montreal music scene.
    At one time there was a rumor of Montreal existing as little brother to the Seattle episode of the early nineties; that candle quickly snuffed, though, by the majority of Montreal artists who seemed disenchanted by the whole idea. Montreal artists had viewed the disastrous result of such renown, the Seattle music epicenter metamorphosing into some giant parody, a monstrous trend burning itself to a crisp with "grunge aerobics" and the corporate prank of costly tattered outfits available at the The Gap. Thereafter, every band with a modicum of savvy from the United States linked themselves to the Montreal name, chastely believing that notoriety would flourish, simply, via a link to the word ‘Montreal.’
    Schooner (consisting of band members Reid and Kathryn Johnson, Tripp Cox, Billy Alphin and Megan Cultin), recently performing a wearying forty-five minute set at Casa Del Popolo in Montreal to an audience of perhaps thirty Montrealers, seemed mesmerized by their own existing grounds; judgement based on an exhaustively redundant mention of Chapel Hill. Dull from the initial passionless note to an extended eight minute finale of supposedly ‘psychodynamic’ guitar masturbation and at best a sad facsimile of Sonic Youth’s melodic endurance, the rich kids from North Carolina apparently forsook the most important aspect of a pricy history of private school instrumentation…to not suffuse ego with creativity. Yes, we Montrealers perspire in our admiration of the Chapel Hill music scene, so much so that the guilt of selling our souls to a location causes us to stay home and consume alcohol.
    So apart from being fluffed to tears by the genuine repetitiveness of North Carolina’s Schooner, one is forced to hear about them at every turn, father’s golden credit card slowly depleted in purchasing space on this plastic plexus for promotion everywhere and anywhere. Additionally, this sychophantic Schooner band has the audacity to persistently associate itself with Montreal…we wish you the best of luck. In the meantime, consider that we already have a band called ‘schooner,’ that OUR ‘schooner’ have rendered smoldering crater of local dive for years…that selling one’s soul is not an option. But who knows, with the trend-imbued stolidity
    of ‘Brains and Mistakes,’ perhaps we will register your ”haunting sound” in the elevator of some Montreal office building, and perhaps we will smile a little, understanding the misguided effort.

  6. Kathryn Johnson says:

    Whoa. Let’s just take a step back, now, shall we? First of all, I’d like to apologize on behalf of the Chapel Hill band, Schooner, for being from Chapel Hill. That we went to school in Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas of Chapel Hill, and then decided to stay in Chapel Hill to play music in Chapel Hill must have, now that you mention it, all have been in the interest of having access to the proprietary use of the words "Chapel" and "Hill." For street cred, you see. And I would like to personally thank one Stanley S. Birge for pointing that out. You remind me of a girl I used to know in middle school. It’s interesting, too, that from the dizzying heights of slanderous self-loathing, the very same Stanley Sleuth-Shumaker could detect the royal blood of Sir Schooner. This is also something of which I was not aware, and will rush right over to beat the truth out of my teacher-parents’ golden credit cards. How dare my padded parents allow us to incur those unnecessary debts traveling to Montreal to play music upon the hallowed grounds of a self-depraved "music critic" and his minions. Until today, Montreal stood in my consiousness as a pillar of positive energy, but this Stanley has thankfully sullied it up a bit. Given it that deserving hateful edge. And try as I might to let it flavor the city’s brilliance with a urine-caked abhorrence, I cannot. For the critique of said Stanley S. Stansonberry is just too absurd, too permeable; and the city’s luminosity too exceptional to be blighted by a cold north wind. But the pointed daggers that lace the astute Stanley’s assessment of the Chapel Hill band, Schooner, do give way to love and understanding. Piercing the surface of our precious swollen egos, we are left to self-reflect. In retrospect, we must be circumspect of the things we try and protect. So thank you for that little gem of a review, Mr. Stanley Birge. Though I’d have to say that you’re really more of a dirge. One needs not be too inundated by waves of such revulsion; but if one is unable to stray, it is better to pose a structured argument for opposition than a less-credible slander-fest. People will be more likely to believe you that way than to feel pity for your journalistic misfortune. Good luck to you in your future endeavors. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. Sincerely, Kathryn-Schooner

  7. partygirl7# says:

    so tired of shit music.