Yesterday I said that the first night of CMW would be hard to beat and with the humidity bearing down I thought I might be in for a long night, but then day two came along and knocked my socks off courtesy four out-of-towners and one hometown hero.
Adam and the Amethysts – El Mocambo, 8 pm
It isn’t a good sign when you’re flagging on the second day of a festival, so I grabbed a triple shot latte in Kensington on my way to the first venue and it put me in the perfect mood for Adam Waito’s blend of atmospheric folk-pop. I’ve been a fan of Adam and the Amethysts for some time but until last night had never seen them live. They lived up to every expectation, down to the lighting across the stage. With a workman’s lamp hanging from the mic stand, a vintage lamp by the pedals and a handful of mason jars wired with tiny lights that imitated fireflies, they couldn’t have set a better scene for this acoustic set. Accompanied by Rebecce Lessard on keys and cello, Waito managed to make the cavernous room felt like an intimate gathering of friends. Though both Lessard and Waito were suffering from post SWSX colds, neither faltered for a moment.
Filligar – Rancho Relaxo, 9 pm
On arriving at Rancho I discovered that the scheduled band, Mister Loveless, had been replaced in a last minute change by a Chicago foursome called Filligar. No one in the room knew what to expect, in fact most didn’t even know the band’s name, but by the time these guys had finished their second song the audience was fully won over, dancing and yelling and demanding more. By far the most high energy act I’ve seen in a long time, at one point the frontman almost danced through the drum kit, Filligar is a fantastic example of the kind of dirty blues-rock that only Chicago musicians can make. They received the first encore demands I’ve witnessed for the festival, but the gents demurred, instead pointing out that they’ll be at the Dakota tonight at 1 am. I highly encourage you to be there.
Modern Superstitions – The Silver Dollar, 10 pm
As I’m sure anyone who can attended a show last night can attest, the only time you could catch a breeze was during those brief moments between venues. I won’t kid, I spent more time than usual lingering on the sidewalks last night, but especially before hitting the Dollar. I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of this venue. Although this year they seem to be running on time and working with a great sound mix, I still can’t get past the awkward shape of the room. No matter where I stand, I always feel awkward. That being said, it didn’t take long for Modern Superstitions to take my mind of those petty concerns. A group of young Torontonians (their label website lists them as teenagers, but based on the fact that they were enjoying some brews on stage, and the guitarist made a tongue-in-cheek quip about Molson M, I can assume they are of drinking age,) this band has a fantastic punk sound with pop influences. Fronted by Nyssa Rosaleen, who embodies that estimable Joan Jett “fuck you” style, Modern Superstitions makes no compromises when it comes to their live show.
Galaxie – El Mocambo, 11 pm
By the time I made my way back to El Mo the main floor was sold out, but since I’d gotten my stamp at an earlier performance I was able to make my way in. Considering that a fair few spots were being held for advance ticket holders who probably only intended to show up for Martha Wainwright and/or The Dears, it wasn’t entirely surprising that despite a large crowd outside hoping to get in, the room itself was only half full as Montreal’s Galaxie took the stage. While I’ve seen the band name around, in particular on the Polaris list, I’d never heard their music and based on the fact that no less than 12 photographers were jockeying for position at the stage during the set, I guess I’m the last to know. Opening with an instrumental tune, Galaxie took no time in establishing a fast pace of hard rock. While I definitely enjoyed the set, unfortunately the sound mix never quite came together. With enough bass to rattle my teeth, it took me two songs to figure out that they were singing in French and while the two female vocalists were able to cut through the reverb, I was never really able to discern the frontman’s voice. Still, a solid performance and an album I’ll definitely be checking out.
Honheehonhee – Rancho Relaxo, 12 am
This is embarrassing to admit, but for a hot second I considered staying at El Mocambo for Martha Wainwright’s set and bailing on seeing Honheehonhee. On paper, it made sense. I’ve seen Honheehonhee multiple times, and there’s something very compelling about a female artist with an album called I know you’re married but I have feelings too. Thankfully, I wised up and headed back to Rancho because, a) You can never see Honheehonhee enough times ,and, b) I’ve seen those guys run bare assed into the Atlantic Ocean in mid-October (you can see our video of this magical time here on the site with our Halifax Pop Explosion 2011 coverage.) I am very sad for you if you haven’t seen this Montreal band before because they take their shows to a whole new level of energy, sweat and tomfoolery. Honheehonhee has an infectious and hook-laden rock sound that will get under your ribs and leave your feet sore from dancing, and the crowd last night at Rancho sure seemed to agree. Many were familiar enough with the songs to sing and yell along, and then the lazer-esque synth intro to A. Is for Animal opened half the room started clapping in recognition. Let’s be honest, these guys have the best dance moves, the best beards, and the most fun. What’s not to love?