1. Perchten @ Katacombes + Hémisphère Gauche
The first time I saw Perchten, a black metal duo composed of a guitarist and a drummer-singer, I was on the verge of tears in a way that’s usually reserved for Sigur Rós. The second time I saw them, I had a smile glued to my face the entire time. Either way, no artist made me as happy in 2014 as Perchten did.
2014 turned out to be the last year for Thee Nodes, one of the best live bands to come out of Montreal these past few years. The two shows I caught at LOUDHOUSE especially stood out, particularly one that had me a bit scared. While singer Mr. Node usually builds up his performance throughout his set, this time he began by taking off his suit, revealing red lingerie underneath. He would put himself in suggestive positions while repeating phrases such as “Fuck me.” As someone who had seen the band multiple times, I knew what I was in for, but one could not say the same of those who hadn’t and I could feel the tension rising in the room. I feared an altercation, yet Mr. Node kept pushing, repeating “Fuck me,” and just as it seemed like things might get physical, Mr. Node launched into his set and managed to win the crowd over with his highly energetic performance. Of course, the negligée proved too fragile for his corporeal intensity and Mr. Node ended up naked (as he often does, but) this time long before the end of his set. Their show with Nudes had me tweeting, “Tonight will go down as one of the sexest nights in Montreal punk history.”
3. Dawn of Midi + Nils Frahm @ Metropolis
“[Dawn of Midi regarding their] compositional process: we just stood in a room and danced for two years and at the end of it we had this album and no more girlfriends.” After seeing them live, I understand what DOM mean; I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another band whose performance was this dancy. I don’t mean by this that the musicians move a lot (the fast-paced, highly repetitious nature of their music rather ensures that they don’t) or that it’s the kind of music that would get the audience dancing. I mean that the music itself is dance. I can see it clearly. It’s choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. It’s like a cross between Fase, four movements to the music of Steve Reich, and Rosas danst Rosas. It’s amazing. I embarrassingly tweeted, “I’m afraid that if I said how much I loved Dawn of Midi out loud, I would sound like a very hungry woman,” followed by, “I feel like Nils Frahm is proving to me that human beings are fundamentally good.”
4. Tim Hecker @ Musée d’Art Contemporain / MUTEK
If you want to go on an astral voyage, there are probably few things as good as Hecker's ambient music to help you along. That the concert took place in a fog that made it so that you could only see a few feet in front of you probably didn't hurt either. Tweeted: “The world would be a better place if people took Tim Hecker as their god.”
5. Perfect Pussy @ La Sala Rossa
I saw Perfect Pussy twice this past year. They were already great the first time, but somehow managed to top their performance the second time around. They dragged out their finale, each musician leaving one after the other, some even then coming back to take their instruments apart while others kept the music going and a visibly spent Meredith Graves remained sitting directly on the floor, thereby cleverly avoiding the dreadful ritual of the encore.
6. (Two Crosses + Dervish + La Riposte @ Death House)
As far as I know, this concert didn’t even happen. I don’t want to say too much about what did happen because I’m not 100% sure myself. What I will say is that I didn’t mind losing my 5 bucks. It was more than worth it for what turned out to be one of the most compelling pieces of theatre I witnessed this year.
7. Dissension @ Café Chaos
I’ve been in a lot of weird places in Montreal, but this night was definitely one of the weirdest. There was a woman with a live albino snake. You could take pictures with it. (The event was a fundraiser.) A man I don’t know and who turned out to be one of the members of Dissension told me, out of nowhere, “Dude, this place is packed!” (It wasn’t.) In what is a recurring theme in my life, I felt like I was in a Gregg Araki movie. At one point, the hostess of the night said, “Free shot glasses! They’re empty, but they’re free. Happy Valentine’s Day, folks!” without a detectable ounce of irony. Oh, and did I mention that, in between two metal bands, there was a shirtless man twirling a baton? What’s most important though is that I got to discover Dissension that night. They showed me the most fun time I had all year.
8. Death Vessel @ Divan Orange
I went to see Shearwater but it’s Death Vessel who ended up blowing me away. Their music makes me feel connected to the land and to our ancestors. I’m not even sure what that means, but I don’t think any other music has ever made me feel that way before.
9. Milanku @ Turbo Haus
Tweeted: “If I ever fall in love, I want it to be scored by Milanku. That’s what love sounds like to me.”
10. SOHN @ Il Motore
It’s ironically thanks to a straight friend that I ended up at the gayest concert I attended this year. It’s so rare for pop music to translate well live, but SOHN made it happen.
11. Wapstan @ Cabaret Playhouse
Wapstan had already impressed me with his noise a couple of years ago, but this time around his physical performance followed suit, turning an aural experience into a spectacular one.
12. Gashrat @ La Vitrola
I’ve had a crush on all four members of Gashrat for a while, but it’s with this show that they truly won me over. There’s just something refreshingly democratic about how they switch instruments between almost every song, as though experiencing the many might be more important than mastering the few.