The first night of POP Montreal kicked off with a spectacular evening at Il Motore on Wednesday, Sept. 25. With both the opening band Radiation City, and main act Typhoon hailing from Portland, Ore., there was an undeniably homey feel to the night.
Il Motore has but a few sparsely spaced chairs, which were occupied by avid fans as early as 8 o’clock. The night started off slowly with a steady stream of people constantly finding their way inside. However, by the time Radiation City had played a few songs, the venue was packed. Cameron Spies, Elisabeth Ellison, Randy Bemrose, Matt Rafferty and Patti King brought the audience to their feet, drawing them in with Ellison’s dreamy, female vocals. The band enraptured the audience and kept their undivided attention for the full hour they were on stage. They blurred the lines between alternative and folk, with their soothing yet emotion packed songs. After several songs, they sought validation from the crowd, asking if “it’s OK” that they play a few more songs. The audience members replied with a positive uproar and the band dove into the first single off their latest album Animals in the Median.
Radiation City is the type of band you want to take your time with, savouring every note. In fact, their catchy but soft setlist set the tone for an intimate and welcoming evening.
They ended their set on a high note, that was full of emotion and sincerity proving that they could easily have entertained the audience for another hour.
Technical difficulties plagued Typhoon’s entrance onto the scene, which caused a 10-minute delay. They emerged onto the stage as an impressive orchestral collective of 11 members and more than made up for the technical blips with their opening song. Three trumpets blaring, a multitude of guitars and bass as well as two drummers made for a roaring introduction to the band. With a name like Typhoon, the band was exactly what you would expect. In fact, the size of the stage at Il Motore made it difficult to accommodate all 11 members. The two drummers found themselves off the stage facing each other, which only added to the intimate vibe of the evening. Lead singer Kyle Morton cracked jokes between songs creating a dialogue between the audience and the performers. Notably pondering why Canadians had collectively voted to nickname the dollar coin the looney. Laughter from the audience was met with a “I’m just kidding, don’t answer that” and a roaring segue into the next song. Scratchy yet soothing vocals weaved their way through each song with undeniable rhythm and style.
With some minor technical problems along the way—notably some painful amp feedback—Morton dove into the aptly named “Morton’s Fork,” a violin-infused track accompanied by one member playing theirs like a ukelele. The singer belted out the lyrics with a soft and at times broken voice that allowed audience members to immerse themselves in the symphonic nature of the set.