Register Sunday | June 16 | 2019

Pop Montreal 2007, Day One: Scary genius

Noteworthy bills from tonight's shows.

Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra + Tra-La-La-Band
[BAND SITE]   [HYPE MACHINE]   [YOUTUBE] Patti Smith understood the possibilities inherent to the emotional trajectory of a pop song better than any of her contemporaries in post-1960’s New York, and is still illuminated by the same light. There are few people alive today who can more delicately and confidently compel the power of poetry and guitars to “wrestle the world from fools”, and her work rushes at your face in a fury of wild hair and long fingers, a storm that you lean into instead of fleeing. Similarly, Silver Mount Zion always give one the feeling that they control fires that could end the world at any moment; no other working band can invoke a horror of late capitalism in quite the same way. Smith will be reading her verse over their music tonight, appropriately enough in a building that has subsisted through successive acts of faith: built as a church, remade as a synagogue, and remade again as a community hall. The combination of volatile ideas promises to be so potent that it should be covered with warning stickers in five languages. ¡PELIGRO! Leave work early to get tickets, camp out outside the Ukrainian Federation with sandwiches, do whatever you must: go see this, as the lights of the city will shine brighter afterwards. Bring: Your mother, and someone you find asking for change outside of Berri metro. Seat them next to each other, so that they can hold hands when they cry. Pere Ubu [BAND SITE]   [HYPE MACHINE] 1970’s Cleveland was the Stalingrad of industrial America, a smashed shell soaked in volatile chemicals. From this socially toxic hellbroth of failure rose Pere Ubu, who wielded dissonance and considerable technical ability in order to grate rock music into shreds. Singer David Thomas has remained the hub of Ubu through various lineups and excursions, a mountainous presence with a keen intellect and a piercing howl. This is a band with a defined set of protocols, fronted by a person who can credibly declaim that “Culture is a swampland of disinformation, superstition and abuse. Words are weapons owned by the liars.” Also on the bill: Thundrah!   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   is a thumping, churning, dark outfit that performs propulsive songs. Just when you think that Montreal is occupied entirely by quirky pop outfits, Thudrah! shows up and becomes one of the best bands in town. Don’t forget the exclamation point; they’ve earned it. Bring: Grad students, who will be driven to whip their sweater vests around and around over their heads. Magnolia Electric Co.
[BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   [HYPE MACHINE]   [YOUTUBE] When he first came to wide notice in the mid-1990’s, Jason Molina caught hipster sneers for sounding like Will Oldham. And some Oldhamisms were in full effect: warbly voice, intimate recordings, and expansive tunes that weren’t country music so much as they were songs jutting out from country music at odd angles. For the past few years, however, Molina’s Magnolia Electric Co. has toured as a southern-rock outfit, and while he isn’t the most gripping performer, his songs stand up well to beefier arrangements. Also on the bill: The Watson Twins  [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   are actual twins, and their precise harmonies accompanied Jenny Lewis on 2005’s well-received Rabbit Fur Coat. Now that Lewis is back at work with major-label altrock outfit Rilo Kiley, the material from the Twins’ overlooked Southern Manners will hopefully come to greater notice. On a potentially low-energy bill like this, Montreal’s Queen of Country ™, Katie Moore   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   may well steal the show. Bring: Your roommate from university, who listens to little else but Neil Young. He needs to get out more anyway. Other acts of note: Caribou   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   started out as a love affair between a man and his sampler, but has blossomed into a remarkable act that keeps two drum lines chugging along. At this show, the music nerd with an affinity for exacting instrumental math-rock and the shaggy-haired Animal Collective fan will finally be able to return one another’s gaze and cross from opposite sides of the room to embrace.  Les Chauds Lapins   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   chop up various farm-raised French musics and make a charming terrine, and any act that audibly aspires to the diction and tunefulness of Charles Trenet has been spending their time wisely.  Sister Suvi   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   are roundly underappreciated by Mont­real audiences, despite coming home from recent small-scale tours with their clambering pop shamble sounding impossibly precise. Featuring an unreasonably good drummer and a ukelelist with an enormous voice, they will be fresh off a US tour and in top form.