Archive for November, 2013

Machinedrum at SAT in Montreal

November 17, 2013

machinedrum

15 November 2013

Travis Stewart aka Machinedrum dropped by the SAT this weekend to showcase his newest album Vapor City, and he gave us an absolutely intense and amazing live performance. Armed with a guitar, his synths, a drum pad, a MIDI controller, a laptop running Ableton, and a live drummer, Stewart took Vapor City to new heights with loads of bass and reverb and the volume cranked to twelve.

I don’t know where he found his drummer, but the guy played non-stop for over an hour and pounded out drum ‘n bass beats at 120 to 192 bpm with no sign of ever wanting to stop. He was ridiculously tight and his on-stage energy was infectious. When the set began and I saw Stewart strap on a guitar, I was a bit worried it might not sound right, but he quickly proved me wrong with the first strum of “Center Your Love”, one of my favourite tracks off the new album. “Infinite Us” came next and they played a near twelve minute version of this song, extending sections and building the track to an incredible intensity that had the crowd pretty much going bonkers. And by the time they moved into the massive “Gunshotta”, empty cups were flying, some dude was crowd surfing, and the threat of a mosh pit started up in front of us.

Stewart also did a great job on vocals, looping and manipulating his vocal hooks seamlessly in the tracks. Watching him on stage, you could tell he’s been doing this for way longer than a minute – he was a straight up professional, operating several instruments at once, and doing it in style. They played the deepest cuts from Vapor City, including a down right dirty version of “Eyesdontlie” and a super tight version of “U Still Lie” that was reminiscent of M83 when the synths reached their deafening crescendo. I went to the show not really knowing what to expect, figuring that if I heard “Gunshotta” super loud in a club it’d be worth the price of admission, but instead Machinedrum blew it up big time, showing us he really knows how to throw down live.

We left the SAT and our ears were buzzing, and when I woke up in the morning with the chorus to “U Don’t Survive” in my head they were still ringing. A stellar show and a stellar album. If you haven’t heard Vapor City yet, I suggest you check it, because it’s gonna be on many a best of list in the coming weeks. Peace.

Photo cred: A. Rad Photo

Loscil at Usine C in Montreal

November 6, 2013

loscil

25 October 2013

Scott Morgan aka Loscil brought his soothing brand of ambient soundscapes to Montreal on Friday night, and played to an intimate crowd at Usine C, as part of the 5th annual Akousma Festival – a concert series that explores the diversity of electroacoustic music.

Usine means “factory” in English and the venue was indeed once a factory that produced strawberry jam. Morgan played in the converted theatre area, an open space lined with red brick walls and speakers strategically placed around the room. Loscil is arguably my favourite ambient artist, I’ve been listening to his music for a decade now, and this was the first time I’ve seen him play live, so I was pretty stoked to finally get the chance.

And he sounded fantastic. Manipulating the many speakers in the room to his advantage, creating swirls of sound and rhythmic bass. My only complaint, his set was too short. So often when I go to see ambient musicians play live I get antsy, restless, but that wasn’t the case here, with Loscil’s set I felt like I could have settled in for a much longer journey into his world of sound – because it was just so damn calming.

Ben Vida played afterwards and ruined that calm vibe pretty quickly with his harsh analogue attack. He sounded like a touchtone telephone malfunctioning over and over again for 45 minutes. But Loscil, he tapped into something really nice, and I wish he’d have played just a little bit more of it. Come back soon Scott!