by Michael Thomas
How does this not happen more often? Dependable music scene champions Wavelength teamed up with M for Montreal to put together an excellent showcase – featuring acts that start with the letter “M.”
The eclectic lineup began with Toronto krautrock purveyors Moonwood. Now a four-piece, they brought nearly 40 minutes of jams split into two “songs.” Starting with a track the vocalist called “Olivia Chow for Mayor” (it’s not actually called that), it was a full-on assault of keys, electronic flourishes, guitars and drums. Vocals added a touch of mystique to the amorphous music, which could change from minimalist to brutal at the drop of a hat. Concluding with a song not called “Rob Ford Not For Mayor” the band started the night on a groovy note.
Mannerisms felt like a natural extension of what Moonwood did. Here was another instrumental band who played long jams. These guys relied a bit more on two guitars, a bass and drums to form the backbone of their tunes, with keys on top to add that extra layer of goodness. It didn’t take them long to get into a rhythm, and it seemed the audience quickly responded, looking at all the bobbing heads. Their best-sounding songs almost veered in a calypso-type direction and were even more catchy because of it.
Anchoring the middle of the night was Most People, and quite frankly, if you read this blog enough, you’ll get an idea of how wonderful they are. Tonight’s set could be split into thirds: tunes from their LP, tunes from their first cassingle and tunes from their next cassingle. The first cassingle tunes were all 80s synths and guitars, giving the songs an optimistic and perhaps nostalgic feel, only made stronger by the Degrassi scenes that played behind them. Their last two as-yet unrecorded songs were considerably darker, and frenzied enough to get the audience dancing. Throw in the undeniable chemistry between Paul McEachern and Brandon Gibson-Degroote and you had an as always excellent set.
Keeping in line with the “acts who love long jams” theme, Mas Aya, aka Brandon Valdivia, took the stage with his South American-inspired songs. Armed with several effects boards and exotic woodwind instruments, Valdivia quickly whipped up the audience, but his songs took on a new layer when Lido Pimienta joined in with her unique vocal presence. Valdivia eventually started singing as well, and the two very distinct voices became something spellbinding. Forty minutes of dancing seemed to not faze the audience and had there not been time restrictions, they definitely could have gone on longer.
Finally, starting an unheard-of five minutes early, was Mozart’s Sister, the final “M” band of the night and also hailing from Montreal. Caila Thompson-Hannant this time played with a backup keyboard player/vocalist, adding some extra oomph to her already immense talent. While the other bands tonight had complex setup, hers was just two keyboards and two microphones, and with beats and sampling Mozart’s Sister was off like a rocket. Thompson-Hannant has a dynamic vocal range and is quite expressive in her movement, adding a soaring touch to her electronic textures. Over the course of six songs she had the audience dancing and screaming for more. Montreal may be Thompson-Hannant’s home, but Toronto just can’t seem to get enough of her,