The Born Ruffians were anything but ruff during their Wednesday night POP Montreal show
Wednesday, Sept. 16 was the opening night of the 13-year-old Pop Montreal indie music festival in numerous venues around the city such as La Sala Rossa, where Ultimate Painting, Weaves and Born Ruffians played a medley of music genres. Ultimate Painting’s nonchalant demeanor cooled down the fans in the chandelier-lit room. The square-shouldered James Hoare, who was wearing an army coat, sang the verses along with his partner in crime, Jack Cooper. The men flawlessly performed songs from both of their albums, the self-titled debut Ultimate Painting and Green Lanes, including “Out in the Cold” and “Ten Street.” You can’t expect anything less than crisp singing, catchy guitar riffs and unexpected solos from these British pop singers. There were no elaborate costumes or decorations on stage, but their edgy blandness was surprisingly enjoyable. Their set was a bit shorter than the one they played at Bar Le Ritz last February, but POP Montreal was an unmissable opportunity for Cooper and Hoare.
Second up were the bizarre yet appealing Weaves. The Toronto-based quartet—lead by singer Jasmyn Burke—seduced many who were in the crowd. Burke bemused the pop music enthusiasts with her flirtatious remarks and gestures throughout her performance, prompting her bassist Morgan Waters to sarcastically twirl his finger next to his ear as to say she was out of her mind. With the stage’s back wall donning Sala Rossa’s red curtains, Burke’s movements on stage could have been mistaken for a school musical comedy. The band sounded similar to Un Blonde: like robotic, jerky rock. Tunes such as “Motorcycle,” “Buttercup” and “Take A Dip” were played as the band presented their EP and sounded better than their recorded versions.
Last but not least were Born Ruffians. Formed in 2004, they sound like a Billy Talent indie-rock reincarnation on their latest albums. Lead vocalist Luke Lalonde’s vocals are similar to Ben Kowalewicz’s nasal voice and is accompanied by upbeat, long-haired back vocalist Mitch Derosier. Born Ruffians have a definite Canadian feel to their songs, like “I need a life,” having a foot-stomping vibe. The latter really got the crowd going—because it’s a sing-along. Lalonde and Derosier alternate, with the first singing lines such as “the sun is shining but we stay inside” or “we put curtains, block out the light” and the second answering with “oh, but we go out at night.” By the end of the song, the audience was leading the way, singing louder than ever. Born Ruffians also honoured their Canadian heritage with acoustic songs that have a heartland sound and an unlikely country music feel.