Don’t POP til you get enough

Photo by L.P Maurice

Grizzly Bear

A music student’s wet dream. If three-part vocal harmonies performed by musicians juggling several instruments at once doesn’t get you off – I don’t think anything ever will.  Grizzly Bear’s performance at L’Olympia Sunday night left us speechless. Really, we have no words.

Bassist, producer, and back-up vocalist Chris Taylor casually looped in the sax, oboe and flute, Christopher Bear snapped away on the drums, and lead vocalists Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen ethereally breathed life into their melodies, plucking away at piano keys and guitar strings.

The boys are touring in promotion of the latest addition to their musical catalog. Shields was released earlier this month, much to the brava of those that were fans of their earlier, less commercial work. The bandmates took some time apart last year to work on solo projects and develop their own, individual musical styles. Their live show proves that they successfully honed their strengths, regrouped and learned to meld together better than ever.


Unknown Mortal Orchestra

As Grizzly Bear’s openers at L’Olympia on Sunday, Unknown Mortal Orchestra lucked out in playing to a packed house. And there really couldn’t be a band more deserving of the spotlight.

UMO are hardly ‘unknown,’ for they’ve lapped the Pitchfork crowd multiple times in the past year alone, stealing several festival gigs. You really do have to see them live to understand all the brouhaha. UMO performed as a three piece, just a guitarist-vocalist, drummer and bass player. Somehow, the sound that generated from their instruments pumped with all the manpower of a full funk-rock orchestra. This is rock that you can really groove to. Choosing to tag along on the Shields tour was a smart move for UMO, chances are pretty high that they’ll gather an immense following before the end of the year.


An Evening with David Byrne & St. Vincent

On paper, David Byrne and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark may seem like an odd pair. In the Plateau’s majestic church Eglise Saint-Jeane Baptiste, they dropped jaws. The two are touring on the heels of their collaborative effort, Love This Giant, released at the beginning of the month. Clark’s angelic, pitch-perfect voice blended harmoniously with Byrne’s signature Talking Heads warble. And man, can that girl shred; Clark’s skills on the electric guitar are near unmatched by any female rockstar. The evening was a hoot. In between Byrne’s quips and – how could I not mention – a fully choreographed set list, it was truly a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.


How Music Works w/ David Byrne and Win Butler

At the Ukrainian Federation on Saturday night, POP-ers had the opportunity to meet the men behind all their adulation. Yes, David Byrne recently wrote a book called How Music Works, but his talk with Arcade Fire’s Win Butler didn’t really stick to what lies on the pages. It was hardly a lecture. Butler and Byrne exchanged jokes, jabs, and perspectives on success in the music industry. Discussion topics were kept quite light, from ‘what to wear on stage’ to ‘why musicians use choreography in their routines.’ Perhaps the only real insight we gained from the talk was hearing Byrne and Butler’s public realization of the end of music as a commodity. For as internet pirates continue to allow albums to go for free, recording artists look to the live show as the real product.


Born Ruffians

These Ontarians played not once, twice but three times throughout POP Montreal. The indie-pop-rockers are kind of behind in terms of the Canadian music scene. They toured throughout the summer and continue to this fall, but are still relying on old material. Their last album, Say It, was released in 2010. Despite the lack of excitement in their set lists, the Ruffians still put on a good show – they managed to gather large crowds at each of their sets.


Mozart’s Sister

All the hens have been clucking over Mozart’s Sister. Caila Thompson-Hannant has been bouncingaround the Mile End’s hip-but-encouraging music scene for a few years now, but she is finally getting noticed thanks to her Arbutus label mate Grimes. When she performs as Mozart’s Sister, Thompson-Hannant belts it and sexes it up. She made sure to take advantage of the spotlight at her free show at Parc de la Petite-Italie on Thursday and at Eglise POP Little Burgundy on Saturday night.


Rich Aucoin

There is no such thing as a Rich Aucoin ‘show.’ It’s the Rich Aucoin experience. He pulled out the confetti, rainbow parachute and YouTube video memes galore at Divan Orange yet again. Aucoin may be one of the best performers out there; he convinces entire crowds to join him in reciting virtually all of the lyrics to his songs and whips them into a sweaty, dance-induced frenzy. He has toured relentlessly, bringing the ‘experience’ all over North America in the wake of his 2011 release, We’re All Dying To Live.


Mixtape : Canadian Music Week

From March 21 until March 25, Toronto will be taken over by bands from all over Canada and the rest of the world during the nation’s biggest music industry event. The conference is celebrating its 30th birthday this year and will bring together not only a ton of musicians, but will also provide conferences, workshops, a comedy festival and an award show, on top of delivering Canada’s biggest new music festival. The Canadian Music Festival includes more than 900 bands from over 40 countries, performing at more than 60 live venues in downtown Toronto. Unfortunately, as students, most of us either won’t have the time or the money to attend, so as an absolutely incomparable consolation prize, I’ve compiled this mixtape to simulate being there. I’m sorry and you’re welcome, all at once.

Listen to the mixtape here:

SIDE A: Homegrown
1. “Leaves, Trees, Forest” – Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune
2. “Body Parts” – The Pack A.D. – Unpersons
3. “Paddle and Row” – Gabrielle Papillon – The Wanderer
4. “Hope for the Flowers” – Rich Aucoin – We’re All Dying to Live
5. “Tiger” – The Balconies – Kill Count
6. “Seed of Love” – Ben Caplan & the Casual Smokers – In the Time of the Great Remembering
7. “Panorama” – Daniel Lanois – Belladonna
8. “Took a Train to India” – Eight and a Half – Scissors
9. “Fever Stricken Night” – Gloryhound – Electric Dusk
10. “Missing” – Hands & Teeth – Hunting Season

SIDE B: Come From Aways
11. “Make Light” – Passion Pit – Manners
12. “Stay Useless” – Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory
13. “Down River” – The Temper Trap – Conditions
14. “Old Friend” – Caveman – CoCo Beware
15. “Put Some Red On It” – Spoek Mathambo – Single
16. “Travel As Equals” – Joseph Arthur – Redemption City
17. “Young Man Blues” – The Bright Light Social Hour – New Year’s Live
18. “Vampires in Love” – A Great Big Pile of Leaves – Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex?
19. “Drive By” – Train – Single
20. “Lighter Side” – Benjamin Winter – The Wind Blows Way Up High


Cue dream concert sequence

The audience was electric; people were dancing and jerking about as if they were alone in their bedrooms with the radio blasting, doors closed and curtains drawn, not at La Société des arts technologiques.
The venue certainly isn’t small, its warehouse-like rafters and cement floor provides ample dancing room. Rich Aucoin didn’t take advantage of its vastness. Instead he sucked the crowd in, glued people together as if the need to stand side by side was contagious.
About 350 people were grooving in sequence under a rainbow parachute. Their arms, politely flailing above their heads, were covered in confetti. No scratched elbows, tears, or beer spills on new blouses.
Those who fled to rescue their thirst or a leaky bladder were reeled back in, not shunned or given ‘the shoulder.’ This crowd was not your typical concert audience, but more like a gathering of newly initiated best friends on the path to nirvana.
The singer leaped offstage to join the beautiful mess. He swam past the super-fans, clinging to the stage, and sandwiched himself right in the middle of the crowd.
The photographer weaving through the crowd surely caught boys and girls whipping their hair around and snarling like Keenan Cahill to a Katy Perry track.
Rich Aucoin coated SAT in neon Saturday night in honour of his November release, We’re All Dying to Live. Aucoin’s first official release, Dying to Live, boasts the participation of over 500 musicians across Canada and the influence of the Beach Boys and Arcade Fire.
It brims with instrumental build-ups, electronic dance numbers, inspirational lyrics, hundreds of voices, and years of careful editing.
Listening to the album is one thing, but the music doesn’t come to life until you see Aucoin live.
Bringing new definition to ‘adult entertainer,’ he stripped down to a tank top, sampled audio of viral videos live, pumped out bubbles, confetti, a parachute, and a new years countdown, and coached the audience through dance and lyric tutorials before each number.
The music became your personal soundtrack, and the video clips running on Aucoin’s three LCD screens slipped into your mind and ran in sync with your carefree thoughts.
Those with thimble-sized bladders, grumbling stomachs, or hands cemented in their pockets forgot their woes and let loose.
While this night might not have necessarily been unique for Aucoin, he brought music fans the best experience they may have all year, and will continue to do so several times a week.
He does this all with just a synthesizer, microphone and drummer, no sweat.
Rich Aucoin doesn’t perform for a crowd of adoring fans, music snobs, or stiff hipsters. He breeds a new species of concert goers and performs alongside every single one of them.
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