One of my favorite musical experiences of the summer was the Emerging Music Festival (Festival de Musique Émergente). It was fun, it was exciting, and most of all it was new, just like the music it showcased.
When it comes to music, no prior knowledge can be a blessing and can lead to some pretty incredible experiences. Aside from a few select artists, most of the names in the festival’s lineup were unknown to me. Rather than be deterred, I became thrilled at the prospect of the new music I was going to discover. Here are a few of my favourites:
Sometimes it pays to know people who are in the know, and that was definitely the case with Dear Criminals. The Montreal natives were the super special secret show of FME’s Thursday night, and I have to thank the festival’s publicity team for giving me the heads up as their set was not to be missed. Dear Criminals put on a show worthy of FME’s reputation of combining music, artistry, and scenery. The band built a makeshift screen out of reclaimed wood and projected stunning historical film and photos of Rouyn-Noranda, the slow, deliberate music a perfect companion to the floating black and white images. Comparisons to Timber Timbre were not unfounded, but where T&T take themselves far too seriously for my taste, Dear Criminals know how to make beautiful music while still having fun. Along with songs from their albums Weapons and Crave, the biggest treat were the band’s fantastic covers from their Woman EP. From Britney Spears to Inner Circle, Dear Criminals’ sense of humor shone right alongside their musical prowess, making for a great performance and a lifelong fan out of me.
Les Hay Babies
The first thing that drew me to check out this band was the adorable name. It exuded femininity, quirkiness and most of all a definite country twang that I find irresistible in music. The band proved to be all that and more. Hailing from New Brunswick, the female fronted band charmed the audience with their Acadian accented French peppered with just enough English to be understandable to Anglophones and francophones alike. This served them well as the Babies stage banter was just as entertaining as their music. Between cracking jokes about the perils of band life (broken down cars and intraband romance being the most laughter-inducing topics) their music mesmerized the packed house at Rouyn’s dark and hazy Legion hall. Vivian, Julie, and Kat wow’ed the crowd with their incredible harmonies (in English and French), instrument switching, and overall outstanding performance. And if being talented as hell wasn’t enough, the ladies of les Hay Babies proved to be very down to earth, intelligent, and just plain cool. Check out my interview with les Babies here:
Comprised of members from Red Mass, CPC Gangbangs, and Duchess Says, PyPy were lauded as the French Canadian supergroup you couldn’t leave FME without seeing. And let me tell you, the hype was well deserved. Singer Annie-Claude Deschênes shocked us all when, after nonchalantly blending into the crowd pre-set, picked up a mic and unleashed an all mighty scream that death metal vocalists would envy. From that moment on, our ears, eyes, and souls were assailed by the loud, sweaty, thrashy psych punk onslaught that is PyPy. Veteran musicians in each of their own rights, Deschênes and company tore up the stage, the singer herself stealing the spotlight with her insanity-inducing vocals, serious crazy eyes, and zombie-esque movements. Here’s hoping they make their way to Toronto at some point, but until then, I have their album Pagan Day to tie me over.
This discovery came as I was waiting to interview les Hay Babies, when I met Mentana’s charming and handsome frontman Robin-Joel Cool and beautiful and equally charming frontwoman Viviane Audet…who also happened to be his wife. No, this is not a badly written Alanis Morissette song, it’s just my life. My moment of romantic disappointment passed as quickly as it came, as I made a mental note to check out the band’s set the next day. The music was just as charming and engaging as the band’s frontcouple. Their gravelly folk sound evoked images of frontier life and the working man’s struggle from another time, that still remains universally understandable. That Mentana’s music felt especially cinematic was no coincidence; Audet and Cool, the band’s main songwriters come from acting backgrounds, and have lent their talents score Camion, a French Canadian film, and two Mentana songs were featured on its soundtrack. The Legion hall was once again filled with faces in rapt attention, captivated by Mentana’s beautiful performance. Another discovery I was glad to make, thanks to FME.
*photos by Nadia Elkharadly