This year marks Canada’s 150 anniversary so FME chose the season’s theme as the Spirit: celebrating the indigenous roots, local talent, and emerging musicians from abroad.
An annual tradition at FME is the Bonsound pool party which takes place in a house on the lake, just outside of the Rouyn-Noranda downtown. As the industry folks gathered, standing in the sunny pockets of the yard and sipping on Boréale beer, Duchess Says were setting up by the pool. The band played a show last night and the hype from that set was still spreading across the crowd. We were in for a treat and seriously considering taking bets on whether or not Annie-Claude Deschênes will drop into the pool during the set. Some call Duchess Says punk, but they call themselves moog rock. What really makes the band worth seeing, however, is Deschênes theatrical performance. The band opened with “Negative Thoughts,” seemingly a favourite to many though a good portion of the crowd knew lyrics word-for-word for most songs. Deschênes immediately took on her stage persona, working the crowd, touching people’s faces, throwing red berries into the audience, sharing wine, and pulling stranger’s hair. This set was undoubtedly a memorable one.
On a much heavier note and in high anticipation Brooklyn’s A Place to Bury Strangers took the bigger stage at Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Noranda later that night. Riding a fine line of psychedelic and experimental rock APTBS deffinitly know how to host an impressive show. The stage was lit by multi-coloured directional lights only leaving room for moving shadows. Dion Lunadon (bass) primarily stayed in the same spot, leading the vocals, while Oliver Ackermann (guitar and vocals) was cruising the stage and breaking guitars (3 in total, but I might be wrong). The whole thing felt like The Crow meets the season finale episode of Stranger Things when shit really goes South, and it was awesome.
One of the outdoor stages at FME historically has been a corner of two walls built from old televisions top to bottom, a site to remember as is. AeroBrasil set up their drum set and equipment there earlier in the day but did not go on till shortly after 11 on Friday. The background music stopped, the lights lit up, Sidoine hopped up on stage and begun vigorously beating at the drums. As in many instances, the sound is much more impressive live, the volume and spread of it takes you in. Their music is hard to describe, it is a mix of electronic and instrumental, drawing on retro European sound (see N. Sokolov “Safari”) and new age electronic; sometimes it reminds you of Soulwax and other times of early Air. The band is quite new and only have a self-titled EP out but have already been around Europe and made some solid impressions. Looking forward to what comes from them next.
Mat Vezio is a drummer to a few Quebec performers (Louis-Philippe Gingras, Dany Placard, Francis Faubert) but his solo act is all about voice and guitar. Joined by two backup singers his intimate set at a cafe down the street was a pleasant afternoon delight. It’s the kind of music you can sleep under a tree to or recover from heartbreak, which is likely how Vezio wrote his debut EP Before the Death of the Picked Flowers (Avant la mort des fleurs cueillies).
A switch to world music was made on Saturday afternoon with a performance by Afrikana Soul Sister, a quartet of multi-skilled musicians, lead by Djely Tapa, who make organic-electro-afro-house (have a listen to “M”). Their performance is upbeat and engaging, with band members dancing, swapping drums and spreading their contagious energy with smiles and positive vibes. Afrikana Soul Sister was a free show and drew out families and recovering concert goers out on the street (Friday was a rough night for many), bopping and dancing in the hot hot heat, the one time sun truly came through this weekend.
A few other club performances took place on Sunday night but as the weekend was wearing out and the energies dwindled the evening was mostly a welcome break to bond with newly acquired friends, have drinks, and make plans for post-FME.