FringeBlog

What’s your scene? Lit, food, arts, music, theatre, find out what’s happening in the city of churches.

  • What’s left to Love? A review of Tantalus’ Adoration at the Fringe Theatre Festival

    Upon finding my seat in Mainline’s intimate theatre and taking in the set, I felt as though I had found myself inside the mind of the artist. Loose sheet music covered the floor and musical measures were broken up along the back wall.

    The chaos of the mess created a familiar image, that of the mad and messy creative. This was contrasted sharply by the order that the sheet music represented.

    The pre-show music was played by a live solo violinist, Violette Kay, who bounced between various sheets on the floor and played them as she saw fit. Kay was the source of all the music in the show, as well as Adoration’s playwright.

    In Adoration, two former violin students reconnect after the suicide of their mentor, Konstantin Treplev. Though what was unexpected of this play was how little of the content actually covers Konstantin’s death or discusses suicide at all.

    It felt as though the focus was instead shifted on why the students cared he was gone, how the music made up their lives and what could one use as a barometer for success or failure. This is not to say that Konstantin’s death was trivialized, but simply that the music that composed his life was of a much greater importance, as one could clearly see the ripples of influence in the lives of those around him.

    Skyler Clark and Nils Svensson-Carell both excelled as the young prodigal students trapped in a real world. Vanessa Ashley-Schmoelz and Nick Fontaine contrasted each other perfectly, as two instructors with differing approaches and priorities.

    Adoration’s sound design was done by Kate Babin and recorded by sound engineer Bradley Tanguay, who both lived up to a play based around musicians and an adoration of sound. The newly composed variations of Borowski’s Adoration have been uploaded for streaming at tantalusmtl.bandcamp.com

    Adoration wrestled with the costs and benefits of bringing passion into the professional sphere, showing both the sublime love and purpose these artists felt as well as their despair and doubt.

    Refreshingly real and not overtly cynical, the characters of Adoration held one common thread over all of their quirks and difficulties, and that was the idea that music must be lived up to, and not brought down.

  • The LOUVE Project Closes Les FrancoFolies de Montréal Festival

    Imagine 16 musicians each performing their own unique compositions until at the very end, everyone comes together to sing the last song in a beautiful mesh of sound. Les FrancoFolies de Montréal festival transformed that imagination into a reality.

    Les FrancoFolies ended their 29th edition with the LOUVE Project at the Bell Stage in the Quartier des Spectacles. The project consisted of the gathering of 16 Montreal-based women musicians performing onstage, exposing the audience to a variety of musical genres including pop, rock and techno under the musical direction of Ariane Moffatt.

    As part of the official program for Montreal’s 375th anniversary, each of these musicians performed a one hour set, giving the audience a taste of their own musical compositions.

    Before the LOUVE project took to the stage, local musician Philippe Brach played his own hour long set at the Ford stage on Ste. Catherine St. Since being discovered by the Radio-Canada team in 2015, Brach stirred up a pot of engaging melodies including some slow ballads, energetic rhythms and a touch of random yelling in his pieces.

    The piece that the audience was most engaged with was called “Bonne journée.” Brach sang while clapping along continuously.

    This piece got everyone in the crowd to sing an entire song by heart without any musical instruments to help back up the melody, clapping along to the beat that Brach created.

    Brach ended his set with a soft continuous ballad called “Crystel,” a song about being in an unhealthy relationship.The melody for this song included a slow shuffling drum beat, lightly incorporating the snare drum and the tomtom accompanied by the mellow strum from an acoustic guitar.

    After his performance ended, the LOUVE project invaded the Bell stage. Among these musicians were Ariane Moffatt, Marie-Pierre Arthur and Salomé Leclerc. One by one, they all emerged onto the stage and began their set with a song called “Les filles,” which began with a soft piano melody on the synthesizer.

    As the song progressed, the background vocalists gradually increased their volume until the electric guitar created a loud distortion appearance, followed by the repetitive beat coming from the snare drum and Amylie Boisclair’s soft voice.

    The song that gave a great punchy rock feeling to this whole collaborative performance was “Motel 1755” by The Hay Babies. The dynamic fast-paced drum beat paired with the loud repetitive chord progressions from two electric guitars and one acoustic guitar made for a fun and aggressive tune, which ultimately blew the audience away.

    The Hay Babies really engaged themselves in this piece, having each band mate show off their rock and roll capabilities by having their guitar tones elevated to the maximum. Each chord that was strummed delivered an electric vibe to the audience, energizing them for the upcoming performance.

    The final song of the performance for LOUVE was “Tout arrive” by Les Soeurs Boulay, made up of the sisters Stéphanie and Mélanie Boulay. This tune captured the essence of the formation since each of the 16 musicians collaborated in this final song, delivering the message to celebrate the greatness of music. Each musical note created a relationship between the artist and the crowd.

    This song was a great way to end the show since its quiet ballad allowed the audience to hear the background vocals and the guitars without any electric instruments to overlap the soft sounds. Limiting the song to just two acoustic guitars and background vocals kept the piece simple, ending the show with a light touch.

    Ending the performance with this group of musicians captured the whole idea of the performance since it was specifically designed to celebrate the 375th anniversary of Montreal and also the 29th anniversary of Les FrancoFolies de Montréal. This powerful collaborative show not only created a special moment in the history of Les FrancoFolies, but for the city as well in terms of music.

    The 29th edition of Les FrancoFolies de Montréal ended on a beautiful melodic note thanks in large part to the performances in the LOUVE Project. No doubt that the organizing team must have already begun their preparations for next year’s edition of this musically charged festival.

    LOUVE Project // Philippe Brach // Les FrancoFolies de Montréal // francofolies.com

  • Oscar Wilde Comes to Life At The Montreal Fringe Festival

    Montreal company Creature/creature’s latest piece OSCAR Girl Gone Wilde certainly filled its seats. The one woman showing starring Johanna Nutter is a 45-minute ride through a simple, personal, and thoroughly enjoyable retelling of three Oscar Wilde fairy tales.

    Before the play begins, the intimacy of the show is recognizable. The room is set up into a semicircle of chairs squished closely together. Pre-show chatter feels public, and immediately it becomes obvious that this show will be a group experience.

    As the play begins, Nutter enters in darkness, grabs herself a beer from the fridge and enjoys singing along and dancing to some loud music over the radio. As the audience starts to feel relaxed—recognizing a wind down from a long, hot day at work—Nutter launches into the topic of her childhood love of Oscar Wilde’s stories. Her joy in the tragedy and beauty of them is what brings the play into a gracefully simple bare bones performance of these three tales.

    It is in the presentation of these stories that OSCAR finds its greatest strength. The play works so well because it is entirely reliant and focused on the root of theatre—storytelling. The passion and love for these stories is entirely apparent as Nutter transforms the small space into a world of giants and talking statues with nothing but her performance and a few basic props.

    As she moves through the stories of “The Nightingale and the Rose,” “The Happy Prince,” and “The Selfish Giant,” Nutter’s talent shines through the simplicity of the piece. There are no extra frills or shows of flashiness to this play. It is simply a woman dancing around the room, a beer in hand, beautifully telling her favourite stories.`

    The play’s one weak point is subtle. Transitions between stories feel awkwardly long, though moments of them may produce laughs and be enjoyable in and of themselves—Nutter breaking to go to the bathroom as she begins one story got a particularly strong reaction from the audience. Still, these in-between pauses break the flow of the show that the storytelling creates.

    The good news is that the show returns to the Wilde stories and wastes little time immersing the audience in them. A touching, live phone call to bring in a special guest to help Nutter through the final story wraps the play up on a sweet and sentimental note.

    Despite minor problems, OSCAR Girl Gone Wilde remains a strong and entertaining play. No one should be surprised if it finds its way off of the Fringe Festival and into a theatre company’s season in little time.

  • Bernhari Adds a Touch of Distortion to the L’Astral Stage

    Musicians who overuse the distortion effect to create a loudness in their music are usually the ones who want to make sure that their melody travels and stays in the hearts of their audiences. Montreal-based musician Bernhari manages to pull this off.

    This past Saturday, Bernahri performed at the L’Astral concert hall for Les FrancoFolies de Montréal festival. For this performance, he and his backup musicians turned up the volume on their instruments, transmitting waves of electric melodies to their audience.

    Opening for Bernhari was a group named Fishbach. For the first time in North America, this France-based band fuses different musical genres such as rock and pop to purposely re-create a 1980’s sound.

    Drum pads and a bass with a clean electric guitar tone were fused together to create a continuous thumping beat, giving the sound a small dose of rock. At the same time, the use of synthesizers provided fuzzy tones.

    Fishbach began with a song called “Tu vas vibrer” that began with a mysterious echoing sound on the synthesizers followed by the humming noises from the background vocalists.

    The electronic drum pad slowly worked its way in to create a slow-paced rhythmic pattern. Once the tempo reached its climax, the electric bass created a continuous thumping sound that changed the melody into a funky beat.

    The song ended with the clean tone from a Fender Stratocaster, strumming a fast and loud repetitive chord progression.

    Another piece that this opening band performed was “Night Bird (Petit Monstre).” The loud sound of the electric bass was the heart of this track; it constructed the foundational beat that other instruments followed to complete the melody.

    The song began with the echoing sound of feedback from the electric guitar, followed by a heavy repetitive beat from the bass drum on the drum pad and the thumping sound from the electric bass.

    The tempo of the song changes to a fast-paced melody, ending with the echo-y feedback effect from the electric guitar that was heard at the beginning of the song.

    After Fishbach’s performance, Bernhari and his accompanying musicians emerged onto the stage. The group began their set with the song called “Bouquet final”, which started off with the synthesizers creating looping effect out of several musical notes. The synths were quickly joined by the joyful sound of the piano keys.

    The beat began all at once with a repetitive distortion melody on the electric guitar, followed by the loud picking of the bass, the depth sound from the acoustic drum set and Bernhari’s soft mellow voice.

    As all the instruments slowly quieted down towards the end of the song, the tempo changed and turned into a funky fast-paced beat, repeatedly hitting the snares and the cymbals.

    Another song that Bernhari played was “Aime moi.” This song incorporated several transitions, which made it interesting to follow the melody since each rhythmical pattern was different. The transitions opened the audience’s musical horizons allowing them to discover all the impossible rhythms that can be worked into one single song.

    The piece began with Bernhari’s soft voice as he played a gentle melodic key on the synthesizers. This was accompanied by a stomping drum beat that paired easily with the bass, followed by the electric guitar repeatedly strumming a muted chord.

    The rhythm changes to a fast-paced beat, wherein the drummer continuously hit the snare, cymbals and hi-hat cymbal as fast as possible.

    The electric guitar takes on a heavy solo with the distortion effect giving the audience a chance to rock out, followed by a fast-paced thumping noise from the bass to end the melody with a touch of rock.

    The band concluded their set by replaying their song, “Bouquet final.” Each of the parts remained the same until the end when the band decided to take a different approach by uplifting the melody to a funky and rock-like drum beat that transformed into a free for all instrumental jam.

    The heavy distortion on the electric guitar solo allowed the audience to absorb the hard rock melodies. The electric bass was picked as fast as possible and the fuzziness tone offered from the synthesizers and the loudness from the drums invited the other instruments to raise their volumes.

    The loudness coming from each instrument intensified the track to the point where you’d think that one of the musicians may have busted their volume components.

    The dynamical energy from each of the band members created a loud melody that would stay in the hearts of the audience for a long time.

    Bernhari put on an energetic and electrifying performance and the loudness that came from each of their instruments amazed the audience. The dynamic energy from each of the band members created a loud melody that will stay in the audience’s hearts for a long time.

    Bernhari // Fishbach // Les FrancoFolies de Montréal // francofolies.com

  • Richard Séguin Uplifts the Crowds at Les FrancoFolies De Montréal

    A musician, singer and songwriter whose imaginative lyrical messages are rooted with meaning about the human life. Accompanied by the outset melodic patterns drawn from folk, blues and rock music, Richard Séguin is that musician.

    The fourth indoor show for Les FrancoFolies de Montréal festival was with Séguin this past Friday at the Cinquième Salle in the Place des Arts concert venue. For this performance, he took some new spins on some tunes from his most recent album Les Horizons Nouveaux, but revisited some of his acclaimed classics.

    The first part of the show began with the song called “Les vents contraires.” Séguin began the set strong, using his powerful vocals as he picked away at his acoustic guitar. The volume pitch in Séguin’s voice enabled him to deliver strong emotion behind every one of his lyrics.

    The melody maintained a consistent tone with a stomping drum bass that was created using the drum pad, the light sound of the piano being played on the keyboard and two acoustic guitars strumming a repetitive chord progression. All of these sounds worked together to build the song’s melody.

    One of the more emotionally driven songs that Séguin performed was “Sous les cheminées,” not because of its beautiful sound, but for its nostalgic message that described springtime in the east-end of Montreal during the 1960s. The sounds of kids laughing and playing in the streets, some fathers getting ready to work the night shift, and others who were just returning from their day shifts.

    The repetitive tune began with Séguin singing with a soft voice while picking a simple chord progression. The sound of the cello made its way into the melody followed by an acoustic guitar and a mandolin made of aged wood that gave a nostalgic touch to the melody.

    The first half of the set ended with Séguin’s tune “L’ange vagabond.” Coming out of the harmonica were the sounds of blues and folk music being mixed together, followed by Séguin’s rough strumming of an acoustic guitar.

    The backup guitarist picked a musical pattern on his own acoustic guitar with a clean tone that sounded like an electric guitar, followed by the drawn out sounds of a cello and the electronic drum pad creating a stomping melody.

    The second half of the show began with a tune called “Le manteau” which recounted an old tale of a worn out jacket that had gone through different situations such as break-ups, first crushes and building solid friendships.

    The ballad began with the harmonica accompanied by two acoustic guitars strumming a repetitive chord and the thumping sound from the electronic bass drum pad.

    The tune developed an engaging mood wherein the audience clapped along and ended with Séguin’s blues-y harmonica solo followed by his background musicians.

    The show came to an end with “Rester debout,” one of Séguin’s classic hits. The melody kicked off with the constant strum of the guitar followed by background vocals repeating “rester, rester debout.”

    This lyrical repetition developed a powerful meaning that one must stand up for themselves and be strong at all times, with the electric guitar strumming in the background and the melodic piano effect on the synthesizer to help deliver this strong message.

    At the peak of the song, Séguin’s acoustic guitar was strummed hard, while he engaged with the audience to sing the verse, ending things with an acoustic jam.

    Overall, Richard Séguin proved to the audience that he will always be one of the most acclaimed musicians, singer and songwriter in Quebec for his engaging, meaningful ballads and melodic tunes.

    Richard Seguin // Les FrancoFolies de Montréal // francofolies.com