Upcoming, John Legend, at the Mod Club
On Sunday (October 10), the same night his rhyming cohort Kanye West appears as the size of a speck from the back of the Air Canada Centre, honest-faced rising soul star John Legend takes over the Mod Club Theatre in a night so intimate you'll wish you were watching it from a bathtub surrounded by candles.
Legend, a pianist and songwriter and Kanye's go-to guy for R&B hooks in a pinch, has played on songs by West, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, and, as a result, his Used To Love single is currently inching its way up the charts.
While his night will be an uplifting lesson in smoothness, keep an eye out for the opener, another West protege, Consequence , whose fireball-hot Take 'Em To The Cleaners album was snoozed on hard this year.
Montreal goes Pop
From Kool Keith getting inadvertently splashed with beer by a tipsy Unicorn to the Constantines kicking ass (yet again), last weekend's (September 29-October 3) delightfully chill Pop Montreal festival was like a ridiculous house party cum frosh pub crawl with your best friends and those freaky stoners you went to high school with - unpredictable and occasionally out of control but undeniably amusing. An influx of Torontonians hit La Belle Province, including a slew of scribes, and half the local indie rock royalty showed up to represent. As expected, the Three Gut label night sold out in seconds, leaving kids trekking way up the Main all night in the hopes of squeezing into the Cons' 12:30 am set. By the looks of blissed-out fans and sweat-drenched drummer Doug McGregor on the street after a searing second encore, we think the sardine-packed crowd was sated.
Too bad the fest organizers didn't anticipate that the Blocks Blocks Blocks showcase would be a similarly hot ticket - the tiny Casa del Popolo was overflowing all night. We watched through the window and, at brunch the next morning, overheard raves for everything from the Phonemes ' spare pop to the Creeping Nobodies ' jerky jams. Over at the Paper Bag show at Petit Café Campus , an impressively tight Magneta Lane warmed up the crowd trickling in for Controller.controller 's death disco freakout. We hear the Controllers killed, desite the fact they almost didn't make it - they racked up a $120 cab fare after their van died an hour outside Montreal. At La Sala Rossa , shiny-faced kids sat cross-legged on the floor throughout the wistful songistry of local fave Howie Beck , who entranced fans of Magnolia Electric Co , playing later Sunday night.
The coolest stuff at Pop was the off-the-beaten-path outsider shit that few besides festival organizer Dan Seligman and his zany elves would take a risk on. We were blown away by Chasidic reggae-rap star (uh, yeah) Matisyahu , whose dancehall ditties sounded authentic despite his thick Crown Heights accent and payes (the curly sidelocks). Sure, it was disconcerting to see the Hillel kids in the crowd eat up his Zionist proselytizing, but he has the kind of heart lacking in yer average indie rock outfit.
Also on the too-weird-for-words tip: psych-noise throwback Michael Yonkers , whose sawed-off Fender jams were nearly unlistenable but who was clearly tickled to be appearing outside his basement for the first time in two decades.
Best of all, though, was the not entirely spontaneous freak-hop jam featuring Kool Keith and Montreal indie prog squad the Besnard Lakes , playing to a room of red-eyed partiers in a loft at, like, 3:30 am.
Only in Montreal.