Concert Reviews Music

 A sold-out Psychedelic Porn Crumpets frenzy at Bar Le Ritz

PPC constantly flirted between playing perfectly on-beat and nearly losing control, keeping audience members in a satisfyingly hectic musical limbo

Montrealers were treated to a heavy set of acid-dosed tunes on Oct. 17, courtesy of Perth rock outfit Psychedelic Porn Crumpets (PPC) and supporting alternative rockers Acid Dad. While it’s still not quite clear what a “Psychedelic Porn Crumpet” is, the band name does at least serve as a spot-on description of their music.

PPC are very much a product of Australia’s gold-standard modern psychedelic rock output. While the scene’s bigger names like Tame Impala and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard may be filling larger venues, PPC proved that the smaller acts can still set crowds ablaze.

The band’s set exploded with a particularly bumping rendition of their hit single “Tally-Ho,” immediately turning a sold-out Bar Le Ritz into a human wave pool like some kind of magic trick. The song’s jumpiness can be attributed to the riff-heavy nature of the track, as looping fuzzy guitar riffs proved good contrast with frontman Jack McEwan’s signature soothing vocal style. These kinds of guitar-based songs like “Bill’s Mandolin” were the highlights of the night, as crowdsurfers levitated above the packed audience below.

But PPC proved to be about more than just heavy riffs played in front of psychedelic video projections. The five-piece also often broke out into seemingly impromptu jams, stretching and pulling their tracks way beyond what you’d hear on-album. 

As McEwan led the band into these chaotic moments, guitarists Luke Parish and Chris Young noodled over the backing beat created in tandem by drummer Danny Caddy and bassist Wayan Biliondana. PPC kept pushing the musical envelope during these wilder instrumental sections, flirting between playing perfectly on-beat and nearly losing control, keeping audience members in a satisfyingly hectic musical limbo where it seemed like anything could happen.

This ability to “jam” is really the testament of a good psychedelic rock group. Many bands can adopt the flower aesthetic but only few can create that sense of chaotic yet controlled concert experimentation that gets to the root of what psychedelic rock can attain as a genre. While contemporary acts like Tame Impala can feel somewhat stiff at times, PPC’s more fluid chemistry really contributed to the quality of their live show.

Graphics by James Fay @jamesfaydraws


The Damn Truth and Po Lazarus revive Corona Theatre

It was the first show at the venue since the pandemic began

The Damn Truth and Po Lazarus breathed life into the Corona Theatre Thursday night, playing the venue’s first concert since the pandemic began.

The show was part one of a two-night headliner at home for The Damn Truth, who are currently wrapping up a small stint around Quebec before embarking on a European tour in December. The hard-rocking Montrealers have been inching towards greater stardom for nearly a decade now, opening for behemoths like ZZ Top, Styx, and the Sheepdogs, while also securing legendary Metallica and Mötley Crüe producer Bob Rock. However, before they hit the stage, folk-psychobilly rockers Po Lazarus, also from Montreal, had the pleasure of warming up the crowd.

While most attendees paid their fare to see the radio rock headliners, those who had the curiosity of showing up early to catch Po Lazarus’ set (which most did) were in for quite the surprise. Frontman Joshua Carey commanded the stage with what can only be described as an ominous vulture-like enthusiasm, as he mixed his softer melancholic vocal notes with animalistic yelps and shrieks.

“In the moment you’re like ‘Am I doing too much? Am I doing too little?’ but no, we’re having a good time and we’re just dancing to the music,” Carey said while reflecting on his performance after their set.

Po Lazarus are truly an act easier shown through a video than described over paper. The sextet pack their output with seemingly contradicting sounds; some tracks based around punky electric guitar riffs and others better described as folk ballads. However, the one consistent factor between all is Carey’s singing style; somewhat similar to the sporadic vocal nature of the Cramps frontman Lux Interior, or perhaps Sebastian Murphy, commander of the Viagra Boys. Through his meaningful yet nonsensical lyrics and sometimes soft, sometimes yelping vocal style, Carey adds a melancholic and satirical layer that permeates Po Lazarus’ sound — an aspect necessarily grounded by the five musicians who play with him.

“I know that the band behind me is the best it’s ever been and they’re just way better musicians than I am, way better people than I am,” the frontman said. “And thus it just makes me elevate.”

Carey’s phenomenal bursts of energy were equally met with more heartfelt moments, like on softer ballads with violinist Mackenzie Myatt, with the two interchanging vocal duties. These more subdued yet comfortably driving tracks contrasted nicely with off-the-top psychobilly anthems like “Despair, Too,” the band’s newest single.

“That was a huge risk to play some of the slower ones tonight because of the people who are coming to see The Damn Truth,” Carey said. “You gotta represent the band correctly on-stage.”

The headliners then followed, wafting burning incense around the stage before their set, presumably in an effort to cleanse the air of quirkiness left by the opening act. The Damn Truth showed their true colours as they walked on-stage, sporting flowers behind their ears and floral-patterned shirts as opening anthem “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane rumbled through the speakers. While The Damn Truth’s vibe screams nothing but late ‘60s psych rock, with frontwoman Lee-la Baum’s voice often compared to that of the talented Janis Joplin, their sound is much heavier than anything from the flower power era.

Lead guitarist Tom Shemer delivered repeated sonic attacks via an arsenal of interchanging guitars, quickly riffing on licks and wah-ing out in front of the crowd. These harder-edged solos, coupled with Pierre-Yves Letellier’s grounding bass playing, created a groove that got heads bobbing along for the ride. These elements were fused together in ultimate harmony by Baum, who delivered a driving vocal performance through the band’s back-to-back hard blues anthems. Baum sang with real soul, clearly bringing it all for the many fans in the audience who hadn’t been to a live show since April 2020.

The chemistry between Baum and Shemer was arguably the fiery highlight of the group’s performance, as the two frequently enjoyed getting inches apart and locking eyes on centre stage, Baum chanting into the microphone and Shemer doodling on his guitar. At one point, the frontwoman even dropped to her knees in front of the guitarist during one of his passionate solos, inciting an audible reaction from the audience.

These pure human moments were a healthy reminder of what music fans lost as a result of the pandemic. While the crowd seemed somewhat more subdued than usual, perhaps due to the ever-present indoor mask mandate, seeing musicians get hot and sweaty on-stage and putting on passionate physical performances was immediately refreshing. Whether you’re more of a fan of Po Lazarus’ unique approach to songcraft, or if you’re more into The Damn Truth’s harder radio-geared rock, it doesn’t really matter. In the end, musicians got the chance to do their thing in front of a live in-person audience, and that’s a victory for everybody involved.


Photo by Catherine Reynolds

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Black Lips – Sing in a World That’s Falling Apart

Black Lips take a walk on the twang side

Sing in a World That’s Falling Apart might tell the wretched tale of ashes falling and corner girls balling, but in a contrary fashion to the subject matter at hand, this album sure is well put together. Blending acoustic rock melodies, alternative music, and a sweet Southern drawl (with a little bit of trash thrown in there for class), The Black Lips kind of do it all here, while at the same time doing nothing new with this one. There’s keyboards, great drum work, and the vocals are right on point, which all combine to form a very specific country rocking ballad sound. But while the Black Lips hit the nail on the head when it comes to the tangible aspects of this album––the songs, cover, and overall vibe––there isn’t enough variation present for this record to stick.

Ultimately, the overall work leaves the listener wanting more. Firstly, most of the songs on the record are three-minute bops, more or less catering to the same flow; and the songs with more variation tend to feel more like a novelty than something you’d spin again. For the forty minute runtime, despite the songs being executed well, the album feels too repetitive.

Rating: 6/10

Trial Track: “Rumbler”


Bringing Mongolian throat singing to North America with The HU

Mongolian traditional music outfit tour in support of new album The Gereg

L’Astral recently hosted world-famous Mongolian throat singing quartet The HU on the first stop of their North American tour. No, this isn’t a revival of the ‘70s English rock band, although the venue did enjoy playing “Who Are You” by The Who before The HU came on. More on the name later.

The band are currently embarking on a multi-faceted world takeover, playing venues across North America and Europe over the next few months. They are touring in support of their debut album, titled The Gereg.

While the legend of Genghis Khan and his brotherhood still lives on, The HU are resuming this ancient conquest by bringing rhythmic beats and cultural tunes to the masses, rather than war and pillage. The hype surrounding this band revolves around the new sonic mix they have created by blending traditional Mongolian music and classic rock and roll beats, making for a culturally energetic spectacle, to say the least.

We met with lead throat-singer Jaya before the show, who was accompanied by a translator, as none of the band members speak English. They did, however, use the little English they know to scream “let’s rock!” between songs. Of course, the crowd responded to this in the universal language of ‘scream as loud as you can.’

The band name derives from the Mongolian term “Hunnu,” an ancient local empire known globally as the Huns. Traditional Mongolian values, such as adopting the role of a strong warrior, are implemented within the band’s music through inspiring lyrics (which are all written and sung in Mongolian, of course).

“Our message is to inspire others with courage,” said Jaya. “We don’t want to be just playing rock headbanging or melodic things, we want to combine everything. Most of the time the message we are trying to share with the world is to love and respect our elders, honour this Earth, and protect it.” The Gereg also discusses modern values, such as a global respect for women.

Concert-goers were undoubtedly fully immersed within the Mongolian serenade that occured on the night of Sept. 19. The HU packed a punch with a mini army – a lead singer, two guitarists, a bassist, one morin khuur (horse-fiddle) player, a lute player, and two percussionists. For stage aesthetics, each member wore a slew of traditional Mongolian garb, sporting long flowy robes, tribal tattoos, hyde mountain shoes, and even special leather water canteens. The scene is exactly what you’d think a Mongolian throat-singing band would stereotypically look like.

The concert experience was incredibly powerful, unsurpassed by any previous acts I have seen. First off, the crowd was diverse: you had your metalheads in full leather, long-haired stoners, young popheads, and even people that seemed like this could have been their first concert. Regardless of character type, The HU’s tribal rhythms got everybody’s heads bobbing.

The room was pulsing with an indescribable sonic energy, akin to that of a swaying heartbeat pumping its way through the crowd to the beat of synchronized drum hits and Mongolian fiddles. Song after song, the packed crowd moved at the fingertips of the brotherhood before them. It was a mesmerizing performance.

Jaya ended the interview on an inspiring final note which confirms the power behind the band’s lyrics.

“Everybody has struggles in this life, whether you be facing financial struggles, facing cancer, or anything else,” said Jaya. “We wanted to help those people through our music to awaken the fighter in you so you can face it, accept it, then come out of this as a winner.”


Photos by Hunter Walwaski


Avatar invades Corona Theatre

Swedish metal/hard rock outfit tour in support of new album Avatar Country

Sweden’s Avatar recently took over Corona Theatre on Notre-Dame Ouest street in Montreal. Armed with punishing songs and vocal bullets, as well as opening invaders Inspector Cluzo, and noise-punk duo ‘68, attendees sure were rocked on the night of Sept. 10.

The Gothenburg-based band’s aforementioned takeover was not only a metaphor for their venture from Scandinavia. Their most recent album, Avatar Country, is a concept release based on a medieval-themed land dominated by a noble kingdom, ruled by The King.

In conjunction with this North American tour, The King, who appears onstage in the form of lead singer Johannes Eckerström, once saved a dry, destitute, and uninhabitable piece of land with the incessant heartbeat of rock and roll. The long-standing tale describes a horse-rider troop who scoured the Earth far and wide in search of a land to call home.

Upon arriving at a group of starving settlers, one horse-rider produced an electric guitar, and strummed a long, bone-vibrating note, which summoned a crash of thunder and lightning. This spell caused nearby land to be infinitely fertile, and henceforth the guitarist was named The King by the now-saved settlers. This is Avatar Country, and The King has arrived in Montreal.

Avatar’s music is crafted for the stage and not for the studio, which is undoubtedly apparent if you’ve ever been to one of their shows. Unsurprisingly, this played out in real time in the Theatre Corona. Emerging dressed in black colonial garb accented with gold highlights, attendees were immediately consumed in Avatar Country as the band began their first song.

While the elaborate costumes were a nice touch, Avatar brought a slew of other stage props to make for a cohesive vibe. From the huge electric flashing band logo which spanned stage-right to stage-left with ease, to the various flags and banners strewn about, I had no difficulty transporting myself to the mythical world of Avatar Country.

The band recently released a live album, The King Live in Paris, to critical acclaim. Lead singer Eckerström stated that he was happy with the result of the release but, ultimately, “Every live show should be worthy of a live recording,” unabashedly citing Deep Purple’s infamous album Made in Japan as inspiration. This sentence resonates within me, especially after seeing The King live in performance, as his claim materialized in front of the audience that night. The energy was unsurpassed once Avatar was present.

Although the group’s sound is hard to define due to the excessive variance between album tracks, they blend elements of groove metal, black metal, melodic death metal, and even country music. One minute the listener is indulged in proper headbanger material, while in another they are subjected to the mellow forces of folk interludes. This translated extremely well to a live setting, as there is an inherent sonic variance present at all times. This ensures that the heavy and melodic portions both hit hard in their own right with a healthy balance between the two.

“The essence of metal music to me is that it needs to be a physical genre,” Eckerström said about the success of live music. “Hence the volume, hence the speed, technical level on many things. It can be slow, simple, a bunch of things. That makes it physical, and our performance needs to be physical as well. When performing metal, you need those moments of being out of breath, it’s a very visceral, physical thing.”


Photos by Cecilia Piga


Uncle Acid in the Graveyard

The Deadbeats and Graveyard flood Corona with smoke

Long hair. Leather. A fascination with the occult. House lights dim as a smokey haze rises.

Someone spills beer on your shoe. Riff-driven sonic psychedelia bounces from wall to wall, very noticeably travelling through your ear canals on its supersonic yet sluggish coma-inducing journey. Welcome to the stoner rock concert.

Local consumers of all stoner-related sounds converged at the Corona Theatre this past

Friday for an evening of European psychedelic madness. Gothenburg hard-rock outfit Graveyard delivered an eclectic show, assisted by British act Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats and English alternative-rock openers Demob Happy.

The timing was nothing short of perfect. With Trudeau’s recent green legalization still fresh to the city, its effect on the stoner rock culture could be seen in full force that night. From the sea of synchronized bobbing heads to the venue’s questionable air quality, this concert was very much a celebration of Canadian freedom and local drug culture. While the signs said to keep it nine meters from the door, I’m not sure people understood that didn’t mean towards the venue’s interior.

While Demob Happy’s daunting flavour of alternative rock served as a worthy competitor to Graveyard and Uncle Acid’s massive sounds, unfortunately they served only as an enjoyable prelude. It wasn’t a fair competition though, as with stoner rock, volume often triumphs over quality, and we all know that the sound guys turn the volume up a notch on the soundboard each time another band takes the stage.

Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats conquered with their grooving southern/desert rock sound. Despite sounding fairly similar to contemporary acts such as Kyuss and Orange Goblin, with Black Sabbath influence oozing out of their performance, Uncle Acid’s constantly-rumbling tone was used to full effect during this show. All of their songs seem to be built around these groovy riffs that could entertain on repeat. Unfortunately, the keyboardist in charge of delivering the band’s ominous vibe could not be heard over the incessant guitar riffs and percussion hits, rendering him fairly useless. It’s a shame too, as it looks like they brought in a session keyboardist for this tour.

While Uncle Acid and his rag-tag gang of long-haired bandits engaged in ceremoniously worshipping the riff for a little over an hour, Graveyard succeeded with longer song compositions, all ultimately detonating at their well-teased conclusions. Starting at a mellow pace, building up through song progression, and finally leading to an intense sonic culmination seems to be Graveyard’s bread and butter formula.

The general rule is that live performances usually sound better than songs in-studio, especially with how loud these bands get. Graveyard was no exception. It was one of those incrementally-surprising evenings. I haven’t been to a show in a few months, so the familiar air and concert atmosphere got me pumped up during Demob Happy’s performance. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats followed suit; most people seemed to be enthralled in the group’s incessant riffing. I thought that was the night topper, but of course Graveyard stole the show in momentous fashion. This is not a tour to miss, and I don’t even smoke. Imagine what a stoner would say.


Killitorous invades Piranha Bar

Headbanging sextet keeps metal lighthearted and collaborative

Killitorous—both a band and a tongue-in-cheek play on female anatomy—is currently touring in support of its forthcoming album, AfterParty. The technical death metal outfit has certainly been making rounds within the extreme music community, as a result of both their place of origin and unique thematic presence.

Unfortunately, Canadian metal bands are few and far between, at least in comparison to the United States. Due to our country’s sparse major cities and extreme weather, bands trying to tour and make a name for themselves often struggle and end up remaining underground. Killitorous, however, have been seeing steady career success since their first EP, titled Pretend to Make Babies, dropped in 2010. Standing the test of time, the band is currently headlining a North American tour, with one of their last dates being at Piranha Bar in Montreal.

Photo by Gabe Chevalier

The band’s lighthearted aesthetic is representative of their mentality. Within the current politically-charged sphere, people will try to attach some sort of meaning to bands like Killitorous. However, Aaron Homma, the band’s only original member, stated that Killitorous is a freeing project, not one that puts them in a corner. “Metal has always been about brutality, but we’re just not brutal guys,” he said. “This band allows us to do all the things we want musically, we’re more free.”

Killitorous’s demonic blend of technical death metal and grindcore offers a viable platform for the band’s humorous drive. From songs like “George Costanza’s Father’s Son,” to “It’s not Stanley, It’s Stan Lee,” the band’s unusual take on the genre make them nearly incomparable to any other metal act. “We actually come up with our song titles first, and then build the song around that,” Homma said. He further expanded upon this, describing how Killitorous’s music has and will always be a group effort. They come up with everything from track titles to complete songs as a group. “I love the collective mentality of the band.”

Photo by Gabe Chevalier

The group’s live show certainly lives up to their aesthetic. Comprised of six members, the band crowded the Piranha Bar stage, but this blended well with their chaotic music. The sextet was one of the liveliest bands I’ve seen live, with their stereotypical headbanging and frontman Mark Phillips’s deranged composure. The combination of smoke effects, seizure-inducing lights and lively attitudes were three of the strongest aspects of the show. Killitorous’s music also transitioned well in a live setting, with their interchanging song sections going from blazingly fast to crushingly slow. They were, by far, the highlight of a night with three other bands.

Killitorous has a handful of dates left on this tour. The band plans to finish recording their upcoming album, AfterParty, in the coming months, as it is set to release mid-2019.

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