Why we should choose local musicians and smaller venues
With the season of countless music festivals looming closer on the horizon, evidenced in the recent unveiling of the star-studded lineups for Osheaga, Rockfest, and HEAVY MONTREAL, it’s getting tough to ignore the big names that will shortly be gracing the province’s main stages. It’s no secret, however, that Quebec is home to an impressive arsenal of local musicians. In fact, the flourishing local circuit offers an experience entirely unique from anything an international touring band at large venues can hope to accomplish.
Playing locally and regularly acts as a golden opportunity for lesser-known artists’ personalities to shine through, onstage and off. Although touring bands do often mingle with fans before and after shows, there’s a constant divide between being a ‘fan’ and being a ‘friend.’ Local bands have the ability to bridge that gap, reaching out to the audience on a level much more intimate than their out-of-town counterparts.
Montreal-based band Apache Kingdom boasts a killer indie sound backed by a sweeter-than-sorbet collective personality, engaging regularly with audience members on a familiar level.
“In an over-saturated market of artists, musicians and creators,” states guitarist and frontman Jesse Smith, “bonding with your audience on a personal level is one of the only ways to concretely make a connection with them that transcends your medium.”
Apache Kingdom’s flawless hospitality, paired with their charming versatility and bevy of earworm grooves, makes them easy to love and harder to forget.
In most business ventures, location plays an insurmountable role in the overall splendor of a local show, baiting music fans out of the Bell Center and into Montreal’s most cozy and charismatic venues.
Garage/soul sextet Killawail frequently haunt the well-hidden and expertly crafted M-Bar located in Montreal’s Latin Quarter, and bring down the roof with a larger-than-life horn section and some downright groovy beats, mimicked in the bar’s signature laid-back and classy, if somewhat unconventional, décor.
Those on the other side of the fourth wall, a.k.a bands that live and play in Montreal, such as brilliant rock’n’roll collective Café Racer, possess an unquestionable home advantage.
The band dishes out a wide variety of tracks, keeping the set list as vibrant as its style. Frontman Myles Hildebrand, having performed a patchwork quilt of gigs away from home as well as on his own turf, acknowledges the allure of the local scene, “playing a local show is always the best, you just can’t match the energy your friends bring to a show.”
This vivacity never fails to manifest itself in Café Racer’s performances. After all, the band is notorious for putting on some pretty sanguine and spirited shows. “We certainly feed off a rambunctious crowd,” adds Hildebrand.
The home advantage of Montreal also translates into a larger selection of opportunities for up-and-comers. Homegrown pop-punkers Emborne Drive recently opened for YouTube darling Alex Goot, to the pleasure of their rapidly-expanding fan base.
“It means a lot to have people from Gatineau coming to Montreal for shows,” says singer and guitarist Cameron Ramsay. “It definitely offers some encouragement.”
With an EP in the works and a deal with Outbreak Management under their belts, members of Emborne Drive are poised for success, and are quickly becoming a permanent installment on the local circuit.
Of course, concerts always come at a price, literally, but it warrants mentioning that local shows are notoriously pocket friendly. Not only are the tickets themselves way cheaper than those of most big-time touring bands, booze and merchandise are actually affordable. For audiophiles everywhere, more pocket money translates into more outings, a huge plus for concert-goers.
To put it frankly, those who belong to the music-crazed fandemonium, those who are constantly on the lookout for the ‘next big thing’, need look no further. With a cultural scene as rich and abundant as Montreal’s, the greatest concert experiences are often right under our noses.