English-French avant-pop legends sound as fresh as ever after their 10-year hiatus
After many of us were drenched in the Tuesday rain, Stereolab revived our spirits by playing a sold-out show that later released more tickets to keen fans online with Evenko. Stereolab haven’t performed since 2009, and have recently released a long list of upcoming new shows across Europe and North America.
The music of Stereolab is an enigma. They have been labeled avant-pop, indie pop, electronic, and were among the first to be considered a post-rock group. Emerging in 1990 in London, England, they incorporated 60s pop, krautrock, and French and English leftist politics into scattered, surrealist songs that didn’t receive much attention at first. They later began to incorporate funk, jazz, bossa nova, and lounge into their music, with a cleaner, more danceable sound.
Over the years, the band began to receive recognition for its experimentalism. Lead by Laetitia Sadier of France and Tim Gane of England, the only two members remaining from the very beginning, they still sound fresh today, and are truly one-of-a-kind.
The crowd at Corona was full of many long-time fans, and even some children and babies were attending up on the balcony seats. Although Stereolab tend to play their live shows with a little more reverb and noise, their organ sounds and beeping synths are still pleasant to the ears of all ages.
Laetitia Sadier addressed the audience freely in French, and confidently lead the rest of the band throughout the night, performing songs from their hit albums Peng!, Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Dots and Loops. Sadier’s airy voice hasn’t aged a bit, and every band member was full of energy and passion, making it a timeless experience. Those who wanted to dance along to their swaying sounds made their way into the crowd and weren’t afraid to let out a few shouts of excitement upon their return.
Stereolab played a setlist that was at times mesmerizing, slow and hypnotic, and other times times frenzied with angular tension. They went back and forth between the more energetic tracks like the jazzy “Ping-Pong” to the more droning, reverb-filled songs like “Crest.” The standout tracks included the cerebral “Metronomic Underground,” the frantic and electric “Percolator” and the playful “Lo Boob Oscillator.”
No matter which direction Stereolab went with their setlist, they never failed in locking the crowd into their magnetic grooves. They came back on with an encore of the long-awaited “Brakhage” – one of their most well-known and defining tracks, that is both experimental and relaxed. They then finished with the 16-minute long “Blue Milk,” and their droning guitars and dreamlike synths put us all in a trance.
It was truly a pleasure to see Stereolab back at it again, as professionals continuing to surprise us with their technical and creative abilities. Stereolab are as seamless live as they are on record, and Montreal was so happy to have them.
Photos by Laurence B.D.