The Ember Glows help reignite the city’s indie scene with a rousing return to live shows

Montreal rockers return to the stage with support from friends and fellow local indie artists

The Ember Glows return to the stage after an ease in COVID-19 restrictions brings live music back to life. Courtesy Bryan Gagnon

The Ember Glows, a Montreal-based quartet whose sound is rooted in the moodier side of 80s new wave music, performed live Saturday, Sept. 11 alongside supporting acts Boar God and Murmure.

Despite requiring guests to present vaccine passports and socially distance, the event was a triumphant return to live music for Montreal’s indie scene. 

The concert was held at l’Hemisphere Gauche, a live venue well equipped for rock acts. Artists performed on a stage plastered with stickers from past acts and events, and the bar’s tiered layout ensured its intimate setup could safely house the crowd of several dozen. 

Many audience members arrived well before the doors officially opened at 8 p.m. and more poured in as the evening progressed. The atmosphere was one of high expectation and excitement for a long delayed reunion of a reinvigorated community.

Martin Saint, lead vocalist for The Ember Glows, told of the band’s excitement to finally be performing on stage again alongside their dynamic supporting acts.

"The scene was very much on hiatus for a long time now, so everything is starting from scratch so to speak. It's a time when we're just starting to kickstart things," said Saint. “Everyone is so eager to get back into it, whether to play or just attend other band’s shows.”

Formed in 2019, The Ember Glows were only able to perform live together twice before the onset of the pandemic. Despite this lengthy absence from the stage, the band has been anything but inactive in recent months.

“We all think we bring something different to the table, but there’s enough common ground to hold it together so it’s coherent.” — Martin Saint

This past March, The Ember Glows dropped the Passerby EP; a tight collection of songs that showcase the band’s capacity to write catchy tracks steeped in the dark sounds of 80s and 90s indie rock. Passerby is expected to be released physically by month’s end, and the band has continued to record new material throughout the year.

“It was difficult but productive in lockdown,” said the band’s guitarist Richard Bunze. “We had to distance jam with masks on and everything, but it turned out solid. The jam space to us is like a kitchen. We all bring our own recipes and see what new dishes we can cook up.” 

Saint agreed that each bandmate’s different interests and influences contribute to The Ember Glows’ success.

“Me, I’m more into strong singers. I love poetry, I love lyrics. I come from that side of the genre,” he said. “We all think we bring something different to the table, but there's enough common ground to hold it together so it's coherent.”

The Ember Glows were supported by fellow Montreal bands and good friends Boar God and Murmure; acts which draw heavily from noise rock and shoegaze respectively. 

The first act of the night, Murmure rose to the audience’s expectations by delivering a high energy performance. Bandmates danced, laughed, and messed with each other’s equipment as the set progressed. Audience members reacted enthusiastically as songs with light ethereal intros erupted into volcanoes of textured sound.

Montreal rockers return to the stage with support from friends and fellow local indie artists. Courtesy Bryan Gagnon

Between sets, members of all bands gathered eagerly in corners to share drinks and catch up after long stints apart. Lengthy discussions of music ensued, and praise for all the acts was given by band and audience members alike.

“This is actually my favourite lineup I've ever been a part of really, and they're all friends too!” said Bunze. 

Second on the bill was Boar God, who’s notoriously loud reputation prompted several audience members to don earplugs in eager anticipation. Their set was composed of lengthier, psych-rock inspired songs which flooded the venue with rich tapestries of shuddering guitar and flowing currents of bass. 

After their set, Boar God’s bassist Sabrina Coté-Poitras told of the band’s joy at being back on stage and the excitement that has accompanied their upcoming projects.

“Boar God was always about creating something weird, unusual, and interesting,” she said. “We were in the studio just last week and have been writing lots. There’s new stuff coming out as well as a music video we just finished. Something that’s more noisy, and hopefully more tight.”

After an appropriate amount of fog and coloured lighting was added to the milieu, The Ember Glows took the stage for the night’s cumulative performance. 

Their set consisted of tracks from Passerby in addition to new material recorded over recent months. The band bounced effortlessly between compact singles such as “New Wave Drive” to more experimental ventures like the new track “High fever.” Much of the crowd took to the dancefloor, and cheering intensified as the set progressed.

“We’re finishing with a song called “It’s Been Too Long” because it has indeed been too long, thank you everyone for coming out!” Saint said before launching into the set’s climactic finish.

The Ember Glows Passerby EP is available now on Bandcamp and Spotify, and will be launched as a physical release over the coming months. The music of Boar God and Murmure can be enjoyed on Spotify.


Read more: Techno duo Wake Island shows us hope is more than a pipe dream

Read more: Music video from local musician questions social realities in the digital age