The Guy From Hyena Hive Grabbed My Foot

  • Photo Gabrielle Mulholland

A number of local experimental representatives curated a really great weekend showcasing musicians from the states and Montreal for the First Annual Montreal Industrial/Noise Festival. I wish I wasn’t working as much that weekend, as I unfortunately only had time to attend Friday’s show.

The festival ran from Sept. 10 to 12 at Casa del Popolo. The popular Mile End venue—as well as its sibling venues La Vitrola and La Sala Rossa—opens their doors to a number of international and local experimental music acts throughout the year, making Casa the perfect home for the First Annual Montreal Industrial/Noise Festival.

My evening began with Blankets, a Vancouver/Montreal outfit who provided an opening set filled with rich tones and droney walls of fuzzy, tactile noise. Following Blankets, Thames, a Montreal-based duo, used the strength of their two-person dynamic to bring the energy of the space to that fuller, more disorienting aspect of the experimental experience, with their live vocals, pedal effect magic and bombardment of almost dancy, and delirious beats.

Despite these acts, though, I really wanted to go to Friday night’s show to finally catch a set by local heroes Hyena Hive.

I’d heard a lot about them, and still can’t get past how perfect that name is. When all the lights went off in the venue and the bartender was making change by candlelight, I knew my time had come. I bravely approached the front of the stage to find they had relocated themselves to the floor just in front.

Also a duo, one of the two members of Hyena Hive had a pedal set up on the floor, periodically balanced on his knees, began the set in total darkness with some thick and heavy loop-based noise that resonated through the space like an air raid alarm. As soon as it began, I was reminded instantly all the reasons I love industrial in the first place.

That initial deprivation of senses and focus on the sound intensified, until the strobe lights kicked in, and the second member began his harsh vocal monologue while ripping at the strings of a bass guitar, as feedback simultaneously pierced the thicker under growth. In an instant, the overwhelming presentation of the group was in full effect.

I noticed between strobe lights that the pedal fella, on his hands and knees, was thrashing around. He fell to his forearms, bowing in front of his set up and grabbed my shoe, before using the side of his body to push us all in the front row. I kicked him a bit which I think he enjoyed. Meanwhile, our vocalist and bass feedback guy was screaming into the faces of those to his closest proximity, causing one or two beer casualties and some booze soaked clothes.

I know this might not sound very appealing; to be assaulted by two grown men while enduring relentless feedback and flashing lights, but possibly the best part of performances and music like this is when you feel this eerie, unpleasant moment of peace in all of the over stimulation and chaos. Besides having my shoe grabbed by the floor-pedal-man, I also really loved the vocalist grabbing his microphone and smashing it on the bass strings as the set came to a close, leaving a thunderous, repetitive twang throbbing in our ears.

Our final act for the evening, Appetite, from New York City, layered contact microphones inside of mouths vomiting red wine with dance worthy electro beats. They had a slave clad in a bondage mask to whom they fed pink twinkies with their feet.

The festival had a lot more to it than just the Friday showcase I saw, but if this small taste did anything for me it was to revive my affinity for the community and really look forward to the festival’s success.

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