Attended a show last night, didn't really have a choice since I was hosting it as part of my festival, but had I had the choice, I wouldn't have gone - I was just too tired. But I'm really glad I did - and for all the right reasons too.
I got there a bit late, maybe 9:45-ish (start time was scheduled for 9:30), and I was really hoping I hadn't missed too much. At that point, I hadn't slept in nearly 34 hours, and not eaten in even longer, but I caught a shish-taouk on the fly from Amir next door and entered the premises of Quai Des Brumes only to realize soundcheck was nearing its end. All's good. But a guitar player breaks a string, and this night could sudenly turn out much longer than I thought - and I was in no mood for that to happen.
It takes all the way until 10 past 10 for the band to start, but when they do, all's forgiven. Technical Kidman, the most original name in this year's line-up of acts, is well worth staying up for. A three-man unit, they proceed to use 6 instruments (only the drummer sticks to his own the whole time) to produce some of the most melodic new sounds I've heard in a while. If Radiohead, in their Hail To The Thief era, had made an incredible record, they may have sounded this good. Granted, it took singer Mathieu a few effects to get the high-pitched perfection he was going for, but the result was clear as night - perfect. 4 songs, 20 minutes, bliss.
Then followed the computer-generated stylings of Low End Ensemble, two guys making two improv pieces of fully instrumental electronic music, the first piece, a masterpiece, resembling something more industrial, and the second more beat-oriented, less loud, but still quite potent. I meant to purchase their recording (which looked like a DVD), but they left before I could get my hands on hard, cold cash to do so. But that just means 'until next time'.
By now we were well past 11 PM, running over 40 minutes late, only to be caught watching the erection of the stage show that is Natalie Portland, four humans including one lady, two huge keyboards, a guitar, a bass, and a three-story workplace containing what seemed like a hundred effects pedals and a full monitoring console...
While it seemed like they were cutting every song short to make way for the headliner sooner rather than later, each one was a universe in its own right, with added instruments hidden from sight like distorted harmonicas and weird kazoos. Added bonus, the less-experimental final track, where the girl sings, accompanied only by a bass and a few subtle effects, like a modern-day Girl From Ipanema, except it'd take place in a war-ravaged metropolis rather than Rio De Janeiro.
It's a shame most patrons left during or after that set, even if they did get three very good shows - they missed the 'pièce de résistance' - A Devil's Din, a true rocker to wake us up for the ride home.
These guys are the real deal - you can see the experience in their faces, and you can hear the years of rock it took to get where they are today during every second they're playing. At times a bit psychedelic, at times balls-out rocking, this quartet knows their way around their instruments - and definitely turn the volume up to 11.
Quality stuff, all around.