Concert Reviews Music

 Concert Review: Jean Dawson lights up Le Belmont

 On his first headlining tour Jean Dawson proves himself to be one of the most exciting new live acts

It was 8:45 p.m on Nov. 1. when Jean Dawson took the stage at Le Belmont, dressed in a massive black denim jacket atop an Aphex Twin hoodie, paired with leopard print pants. A black ski mask with a Homer chain hanging from his neck shone bright against his otherwise dark silhouette. The outfit showed a diverse array of interests that Dawson displays quite literally on his sleeve — even in his music. His sound melds hip-hop, R&B, pop-punk and electronic music into something that sounds both familiar and distinctly unique at the same time. 

Dawson was accompanied by a four-piece backing band cramped onto Le Belmont’s tiny stage. The Montreal show was his first in Canada. Despite being on his first headlining tour, Dawson performed as if he had been at it for years. 

The show began with the wailing guitars backing “Dummy” off Dawson’s sophomore album Pixel Bath. What I expected to be a roaring start for Dawson was actually a little bit sleepy. The band was clearly giving their all, but the lead singer had yet to truly warm up. Dawson followed “Dummy” with “PORN ACTING*” . The crowd was getting excited but it wasn’t the high-octane, over-the-top energy I expected. Dawson said later in the show that he was sick, which was also his reasoning for the ski mask.

Once Dawson performed “Devilish,” the show began to live up to the tour name, named after the artist’s most recent album CHAOS NOW*. The mosh pit opened up and it was pretty tough to avoid for the rest of the show. Fans jumped up and down and shouted lyrics into the microphone Dawson would wave over the crowd.

The rest of the performance easily surpassed my earlier expectations of a high-energy show. As Dawson’s energy built, so did the crowd’s. Fans shouted out song requests; one fan requested “Policia,” which shocked Dawson. Considering the song is mostly sung in Spanish, he was taken aback that it would get requested in Canada. While the song didn’t make it into the main set, Dawson and the band appeased the fan’s request by playing “Policia” in their encore. 

Other highlights of the show included “PIRATE RADIO*,” which had the crowd slow down the moshing a bit as everyone sang along to one of Dawson’s slower tracks. The interaction between the crowd and Dawson culminated as he walked into the crowd during “0-HEROES*” leading up to the song’s massive chorus and another extended period of moshing.The backing band also held their own intense guitar and drum solos throughout the show. 

The show concluded with “Power Freaks,” with Dawson finally taking off his ski mask to reveal a head of wild blonde dreads, in an electric final number (before returning for the fan favourite “Policia” in his encore.) Despite a bit of a slow start, Dawson tore up Le Belmont with an electric performance — one that will hopefully be the first of many to come in his career as well as in Canada.

Photo by Evan Lindsey


Fire on the thirteenth floor

Haviah Mighty and Lou Phelps join forces to put on a fantastic show at Le Belmont

The rap scenes of Toronto and Montreal have been at odds for a little while now. There aren’t many collaborations between artists in both cities but the Haviah Mighty and Lou Phelps show at Le Belmont on Feb. 21 proves that talent runs deeper than just the big names.

While the top billing showed that Mighty was the headliner, her and Phelps shared the stage for equal amounts of time at around 45 minutes each. Before them, Montreal rapper CJ Flemings warmed up the crowd.

Phelps arrived shortly after Flemings’ performance to a fairly empty venue. Most people had gathered in the back to sit and grab drinks until the lights dimmed and Phelps’ funky instrumentals started playing. In between album releases, Phelps bounced back and forth from his best hits like “2 Seater” and “Miss Phatty” off his 002/Love Me project and songs from his upcoming album Black Vogue Funk.

Montreal rapper Lou Phelps.

The transitions were seamless but the production on the new tracks sounded like they were hits-to-be. He never quite gave out the individual track names, but the songs seemed ready and Phelps performed them with shining confidence that made up for the crowd’s lack of knowledge of his songs.

The crowd was into it until Phelps asked if anyone loved weed—a question responded to by only a few cheers and claps. Funny enough, when Phelps asked the crowd to sing “Smoke that Shit,” everyone sang along.

Phelps’ performance was great but the crowd was ready for Haviah Mighty. 

When the Toronto rapper got on stage, the crowd got tighter and the breathing room became sparse. Mighty exuded confidence as if she was born and raised on stage.

On top of being a lively performer, Mighty also took plenty of time to speak to the crowd between tracks, shouting out her DJ and a producer from the album that happened to be in the crowd.

During the show, Mighty even got off stage and joined the crowd to incredible results. The audience was cheering, yelling, dancing, and everything in between while Mighty performed songs off her Polaris Prize-winning album Thirteenth Floor.

Toronto rapper Haviah Mighty.

Mighty is a talented and fierce rapper and it shows––especially when she performed “In Women Colour” without a beat before restarting it with the full fury of the production to back her. Even when she sang, it felt natural. “Wishy Washy” is a hidden gem of a song that should have gotten more radio-play than it did. Her sister, Omega Mighty, who was featured on the studio version of the track, couldn’t make it to the show so Haviah opted to sing her verse instead, and it sounded fantastic.

Neither rapper took up too much of the time which allowed for both performances to excel without overshadowing the other. The only problem with the show was that there weren’t enough people at the venue.

When talent like this occupies a small venue, it should be filled to max capacity. Despite this, Haviah Mighty and Lou Phelps put on an excellent show for  their fellow Canadians.


Photos by Ora Bar

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