The Stills Top Mount Real

WRITTEN BY
Simona Rabinovitch

Locals done good was the accidental theme of Pop Montreal day two:fellow Canuck turntablist DJ A-Trak dropped beats at Club Soda whileweirdo violin genius Final Fantasy brought out a packed house ofsimilarly-afflicted fans. But the night (Oct. 4) surely belonged toArts & Crafts' latest roster addition, the Stills. The handsomeQuebecois fivesome, who are currently putting the finishing touches ontheir currently untitled third studio LP, showcased some of theirbrightest pop gems yet. Yep, everyone's growing up; locals and touristsalike felt like proud parents, that is, if proud parents partied withtheir kids until 3:00 A.M. Get ready for it: here's Pop Montreal partdeux.

A sold-out crowd of art snobs and hipster tushes went completely mute as London, Ontario-bred pop folkie Basia Bulatmade a stunning introduction at the Ukrainian Federation last evening.Bringing her pearly blonde locks, huge smile and even bigger voice tothe church-styled stage, Bulat offered highlights from her currentalbum, the delicate pop stylings of Oh My Darling. Playingacoustic guitar and accompanied by a small band, the 24-year-oldchanteuse channeled a drop of Tiny Vipers with a dab of Leslie Feist ontunes such as "Before I Knew" and "Birds of Paradise." "This is aclap-along song," she cheerfully proclaimed to the audience beforetapping into the resilient string-laden number, "I Was a Daughter." Andclap along they did, mesmerized by the gospel of Ms. Basia Bulat.

Next, a skinny dude calmly marched onto the empty platform to pick up a violin -- meet Final Fantasy,a.k.a. the remarkable violin and vocal project of Toronto native OwenPallett. From the opening lines of comical teaser "He Poos Clouds,"Final Fantasy's violin flew through earnest melodies and moods,especially on tunes like "Flare Gun" and the jagged edges of "Song SongSong." Really, the perfect playmate to the strings is Pallett's voice,which ranges from childlike to mournful, crisp and searing as a knifethrough brie, and fans roared when he screamed dramatically like acomic book character caught on the wrong side of the mirror. Definitelya favorite fantasy of this festival run.

Across town at Le Gymnase, local indie pop darlings Young Galaxywarmed the cavernous bar stage with their dreamy, psychedelic-layeredsonics. "If my vocals sound like shit, it's 'cause I can't hearmyself," said guitarist/vocalist Stephen Ramsay, who alongside gal palvocalist Catherine McCandless captured the scenester-centric crowd'sattention with the gorgeous "Sun's Coming Up and My Plane's ComingDown."

Booze flowed freely, time slowly disappeared, and well after midnight Montreal boys-made-good, the Stillshit the stage hard with an energetic version of "Oh Shoplifter."Dressed in black, frontmen Dave Hamelin and Tim Fletcher shared leadguitar and vocal duties while bassist Olivier Corbeil, drummer JulienBlais, and keyboardist Liam O'Neil were all smiles as the Stills seguedinto fan favorites "Still in Love" and "Logic Will Break Your Heart."Honestly, the dapper-looking crowd of proud, drunk, and appreciativetownies was falling in love with this band all over again.

Thoughpassing around a bottle of Jameson, the band's energy didn't wane asthey launched into four new tracks from their upcoming LP. From theclangy jam-fest "Rooibos" (named after tea introduced to them by fellowMontreal musician Sam Roberts) to the hook hungry "Being Here," theStills still have that refreshed kind of desire that made Logic Will Break Your Heartso great. But the real standout was "Eastern Europe," a sexy, moreminimal number with a punkish Cure-like bassline that's about people'sobsession about traveling through -- you guessed it -- Eastern Europe.Show closer "Lola Stars and Stripes" had the entire audience singingalong like showgirls, leaving Corbeil to leap up on a bass bin (almostsmashing his head on the low ceiling) in excitement. When all was saidand done, the band wished their producer Gus Van Go a very happybirthday, thanked their friends, and took final bows before joining theparty. Awww, Montreal, your favorite rock'n'rollers are all grown up now.

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