Thursday, October 4th, 2007
Pop Montreal 2007 I
How is it that Boulevard St-Laurent, one of the main drags in the Plateau area that’s hosting most of Pop Montreal, is an even bigger mess of construction than it was last year?
I managed to avoid having that be an issue for the first night of the festival by skirting St-Laurent entirely – I started off quite a ways east of there at La Tulipe, a beautiful old converted theatre that was hosting Caribou, though I didn’t stick around for the headliner. I was there mainly to see Miracle Fortress in their hometown. I’d seen Miracle Fortress as the solo act at last year’s Pop and as the band a times this year, though neither performance particularly dazzled or measured up to the wonderfulness of Five Roses. The third time, however, was the charm. The band appeared infinitely more comfortable with each other and the material this time around and Graham Van Pelt has really grown into the frontman role. Songs were stretched out and reinvented beyond their recorded structures and though their set was far shorter than anyone on this side of the stage wanted, it was still very satisfying to see the band coming into its own.
With La Tulipe being as far removed from the rest of the clubs as it was and no one I absolutely had to see in that time slot, I opted to let inertia do its thing and stuck around to catch Born Ruffians. I was commenting earlier in the evening that I think I like Born Ruffians as much as I’m going to – the likes and dislikes balance each other out so that my overall opinion is positive, though tepidly so. On this night, however, everything I did like about them – their musical tightness, creativity and general goofiness – was out front and I really enjoyed myself.
I had an ulterior motive in catching The Cape May next – namely I wanted to check out the room that would be hosting my show tonight. Thankfully, the Calgarians would have been worth seeing even if I wasn’t casing out the joint. Their dark, slowburning dustbowl rock was haunting and hypnotic and deserved a far larger audience than the dozen or so of us in attendance.
I finished the night off with the closing act of the opening Bleating Heart Show, assembled by Said The Gramophone, as Brookyln’s Ola Podrida were making their Canadian debut in the upstairs of Le Gymnase (very similar to the downstairs though slightly better appointed). Though they let their inner rockers out for a couple of numbers, they mostly kept their set on simmer while evoking sunsets in western skies and the days after bad days.
So obviously I’m a bit preoccupied with tonight – god willing everything will go well and a wonderful time will be had by all. Fingers crossed. And those of you back in Hogtown, don’t forget that The Brother Kite – headlining tonight’s soiree – will be at the Tiger Bar in Toronto tomorrow night with Fjord Rowboat. How good is it going to be? eye named it their best bet for Friday night, that’s how good. Be there or be somewhere else, but be there. And if you’re in Montreal, be at Le Gymnase (first floor).