Bands like Miracle Fortress, Suuns, and A Tribe Called Red served-up some great music that had show-goers dancing.
The CSU has always featured a variety of artists for their orientation concerts, but never has there been this much diversity in music genres. Friday’s show kicked off with shoegaze/dreampop band, Miracle Fortress, followed by the electronic art-rock outfit Suuns, and finally the First Nations electronic dance act, A Tribe Called Red, who have been nominated for the Polaris music prize. The only thing these groups had in common were the pre-recorded backing tracks each band used on stage to fill the room with ambient noises, synth layering, or electronic drum samples.
Miracle Fortress opened the show, and right off the bat, fans of their music would have noticed that the band that started as a four-piece now only had two musicians on stage: Graham Van Pelt on guitar, keys, and vocals, and Jessie Stein on drums. Their set started off with some exciting new material, but then suddenly the fire alarm went off which interrupted the band mid-song. The mics and the monitors had been cut off, leaving Graham Van Pelt in a state of confusion (almost resembling Ian Brown’s reaction during the Stone Roses’ first televised performance that ended in a power-outage in 1989—check that out!) The crowd was immediately evacuated from the venue. Students crowded the streets in front of The Corona theatre for a good 20 minutes before being let back in—apparently someone had been smoking backstage which triggered a fire alarm. Miracle Fortress ended up powering through their high energy set to people who did not seem too familiar with the group’s material. However, the crowd did not hesitate to grab their partners and start shaking about up close to the stage. This provided the band with some positive reinforcement and a boost of morale after being off map for couple of years since their last record, Was I a Wave?, in 2011.
Coming out from the woodworks, the mysterious Montreal based Krautrock band, Suuns, appeared on stage. They played a hypnotic, loud, and ambient set. It is talented bands like Suuns that somehow make Corona theatre one of the most revered and greatest live sounding venues in Montreal. Despite the various percussive and electronic instruments pouring out of the PAs, the band still sounded crystal clear and well-mixed on stage. On a more personal note, I was surprised by how far they could control their sound and volume. Their music was mixed so well that one could clearly discern between each channel of distorted noise, and the repetitive Jacki Liebezeit-style drumming. There is no doubt that they found their sound through groups like Kraftwerk, Can, Public Image Ltd., Swans and other progressive, industrial, or post-punk groups.
Finally, the aboriginal electronic dance act, A Tribe Called Red, came on stage with a lot of their newer dubstep and hip hop-influenced material. With an audiovisual set-up behind the three DJs, and a first-nations dancer who would occasionally appear on stage, A Tribe Called Red provided an exciting experience for eager show-goers. The group’s aboriginal music roots blended in nicely with contemporary hip-hop samples and dubstep. However, the group didn’t dive deep enough into their aboriginal-sounding material that night, and focused heavily on pleasing the crowd with more generic dance music.