Register Monday | June 24 | 2019

Pop Montreal 2007: Day three, the afternoon after

Mauled by Grizzly Bear among the Plants and Animals, your drink-sodden correspondent is mistaken for a celebrity.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5 Grizzly Bear, Plants and Animals, and Yeasayer, Ukrainian Federation Taking a hint from the previous night’s exhausting expedition from show to show to show, I decided to adopt a more relaxed pace and take in an entire bill from beginning to end.  The evening’s bill at the Ukrainian Federation, right across from my house, promised to be stimulating without being physically draining or emotionally intense.  It would be nice and easy, a rewarding show I could be thoughtful about and write a measured, reflective review of the next morning. Right. Hoping to pacify the neighbours and avoid late-night noise, the venue staff hewed close to the schedule, and Yeasayer went on stage soon after 8pm to an unconscionably empty hall.  The room’s auditorium seats result in a more fixed relationship to the performers; you’re in one place, at one distance from the band, unable to move around or dance, and therefore unable to communicate back to the band.  Yeasayer threw themselves into a potent set anyway.  With only four people in the band they managed to sound like eight, singing in unison, constantly triggering samples of layered synthesizers and percussion, switching from guitar to rumbling bass keys and back again.  During the show, the singer told us that the band had played a previous all-seated gig, before a polite audience at a Christian college in Michigan, and the effects they mustered wouldn’t be out of place in a religious context.  As good as they were, I can’t shake the feeling that Yeasayer’s preaching was wasted on us. In search of better sound, I moved up to the balcony for Plants and Animals as a more respectably sized audience started to fill the hall.  Plants and Animals were in fine form, quick and exacting.  Guitarist Warren Spicer periodically knelt before the amplifier and dipped his big blond-wood Gibson in front of the speaker cabinet to pick up a moan of feedback and take it back to the microphone with him, like a man lighting a cigarette from a campfire.  Time constraints cut the band short before their intended final number, which (if their usual setlist is any indication) is a cataclysmic song that would have caused patrons from the cafes across the street to come running rapturously into the room. My companions and I still weren’t happy with the sound, so we moved to the back of the balcony and weren’t the least disappointed by the decision.  Grizzly Bear were not so very far away and we were in just the right position to hear them.  Most of their set was taken up by new songs that the band told us they hadn’t yet performed live; the audience seemed a little unsure of what to think at first, reacting strongly to familiar material (most notably the epic “Knife”).  Towards the end of their set, though, the crowd warmed up considerably. So did I; though far less crowded than Patti Smith’s packed opening-night show, the balcony was humid and airless.  Thinking that I would take off a bit early to get some air in my lungs and drop in on a show or two before heading downtown to see Bun B, I made my way out of the room and went to unlock my bicycle, only to be accosted by the Plants and Animals boys, drunk and happy and enjoying a smoke outside on the steps.  We went back inside to get more to drink; the backstage area was littered with empty wine and beer bottles already, we rifled down more scavenged booze, and to top it all off a litre of Jack Daniels was dug out of the couch cushions and rapidly handed around. Dr. Daniels’ treatments are quick and certain: we were soon quite drunk, with the firm intention to keep partying, and open to suggestion. A ragged passel of about a dozen bandmembers, friends and associates made their way east with the vague intention of going to the Jamaica to Toronto event at Club Lambi, or the official afterparty with DJs Buck 65 and Cadence Weapon at Main Hall. I lost track of them somewhere around the intersection of Saint-Laurent and Fairmount; I have memories of being inside the Green Room, where some other friends were kind enough to buy me a drink, and of futilely hunting my pals through the disappointingly thin crowd at Main Hall. There must be a party, the party could not but exist, where was the party? Phone calls were made and information wheedled from strangers, all for naught. Outside the Green Room, a group of lovely young women engaged in Mile-End’s new favorite pastime: mistaking me for Arrested Development nebbish and indie-rock comedian David Cross. Now I don’t look all that much like the guy – he’s far less pale than I am, lacks my wobbly paunch, and has a fleshier nose – and the girls seemed dimly aware of this. However, lacking the genuine article, they subjected me to unprovoked caresses in front of a skeptical crowd of onlookers, clutching at me to mug for cellphone cameras, sending my friends into paroxysms of laughter. A group of us headed down to Club Lambi, only to bounce back north when we found DJ Andy Williams wrapping up his set for a diminishing crowd. On the way, I was handed a flyer for a party at the venerable (and typically empty) Bovril Building, a lovely example of 1920’s industrial architecture that rises over Park and Van Horne, and more importantly a venue that could turn out to be a tower of alcohol, loud music and attractive women. By the time we got there to find a locked door and a few confused party-hounds milling around the intersection like lost cattle, we took a closer look at the date on the flyer: Friday, September 8. September 8 fell on a Friday, but in 2006: we were hoodwinked, plain and simple, by someone who photocopied last year’s flyer in order to play a joke on a crowd of drunks. Poor form.