Lisa LeBlanc, Weaves Dominate Day Two of M for Montreal
Last night (Nov. 20), M for Montreal's music mix was split between a rollicking, folky-punk genre we'd never heard -- but that had one venue here boiling over with energy -- and a showcase of more familiar sounds that featured a couple of really big standouts.
We're still wrapping our minds around what happened in the Club Soda last night. What we saw was a bill of mostly-local, mostly-Francophone acts, including Canailles, an eight-piece veritable orchestra that, with the power of accordions and washboards and banjos and a stomping beat, succeeded in creating mosh pits out in the audience.
That showcase culminated with a set from Lisa LeBlanc, whose mall-rats-meet-the-northern-pines contingency jumped and hooted throughout her set. Like the acts that played before her, LeBlanc's music was kind of like traditional music on crack and the audience reaction (joy) and composition (young) surprised us.
We were familiar with LeBlanc's music, which is driven primarily by her banjo and her full-throated singing, but what we didn't expect was how worked up the band gets on stage. LeBlanc told us before the show that she'd been studying up on her performance skills, taking cues from, interestingly enough, Charles Bradley. Her giddy energy, and whatever she was saying in French up there, clearly lifted her.
Across the street at Café Cléopatra -- a strip club rented out for the evening's sets -- a band from Toronto called Weaves stole the show. Singer Jasmyn Burke stalked the stage like a murderer, eyes in a daze, at times pulling herself onto ledges, and walking through the seating area in the back of the bar, eyes rolled back. Back on stage, Burke makes a Tina Turner face, but instead of go-go dancing, she quivers and jolts, sputtering out lyrics like: "Lays upon me in the middle of the day." Then, she sits cross-legged in the middle of the stage, imploring you to "ride [her] motorcycle." The demanding gesture and the aloof tone together a moment that was both ironic and uncomfortable -- a moment that unsettled notions of cordiality and sexuality.
While Burke sings, often in a kind of suppressed monotone, though occasionally with an arresting soulfulness, her band shudders like an engine, commandeering the kind of precise cartographic rhythms used by Dirty Projectors and Tortoise and laying them as a bedrock for Burke's possessed wanderings. The band could benefit from a bit more harmony -- vocal or instrumental -- to complement the rhythm of the bass and drums and the steadiness of Burke's singing, to ripen the tunes a bit. But this is a band that knows how to command a stage, and we doubt we'll be seeing them on one this small again.
Also noteworthy at Café Cléopatra were Homeshake, the band of Mac DeMarco guitarist Peter Sagar. Somehow, the Eisley Brothers were reincarnated as white Canadian homies, guitar lines clinking like ice cubes in a glass, bass lines dancing down stairwells. It was, obviously, fun to watch.
We also checked out Le Trouble, Heat and July Talk. Check out our exclusive pictures below: