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  • Behind the DJ Booth: DJ Vilify

    • DJ Vilify at Belmont (4483 St-Laurent Boul.) Wed. Feb. 27, 2013

    As my friend told me when I mentioned that I secretly wanted to be a DJ, “everyone secretly wants to be a DJ.” However, most of us end up traveling to the Plateau, Mile End, St-Henri and the like, simply to enjoy the DJs Montreal has to offer, have some drinks and dance up a storm with our friends on a Saturday night.

    Many of us know a few DJs and have a notion what they do. But let’s be honest, most of us have no clue what that is apart from playing with turntables. Behind the DJ Booth will explore the quirky, upbeat, vibrant, at-times frustrating and, frankly, fascinating lives of DJs.

    This series is about Montreal DJs and where they will be playing. So hopefully, between midterms, finals and term papers, you’ll have a chance to squeeze in some performances.

    We start with DJ Vilify, aka Jenny Carmichael. She is one of the few female DJs around and spins at the weekly drum ‘n’ bass night, every Wednesday at the Belmont. DJ Vilify grew up in Toronto, surrounded by many genres of music since her mother plays the violin and her father sings opera. However, by her mid-teens, DJ Vilify was introduced to the world of drum ‘n’ bass, and hasn’t looked back since.

    Her musical influence varies from Marilyn Manson to DJ Premier to Louis Armstrong, and this variety comes out during her performances. With a BA in International Development, she has many possibilities, but has been fortunate enough to thrive off of DJ-ing. She said she “truly feels like [she is] living the dream.”

    With an assorted music taste, DJ Vilify combines tracks which are received openly by her vibrant audiences.

    For this year, DJ Vilify already has many gigs lined up, both in Montreal and out of town.

    “The year is already off to a great start,” she said. “I’m very optimistic about where it is heading.”

    She aims to eventually perform in Japan, and from the looks of her full schedule, her goal is likely not far off.

    DJ Vilify mixes hip hop with drum ‘n’ bass and dubstep undertones, skipping out on the overly-heavy and slow bass that tends to make you feel like your appendix is about to burst.

    Her animated personality and “eclectic style” will carry her up the echelon of the DJ world, hopefully not too far from Montreal. You can catch her every Wednesday at the Belmont for Bass Drive Wednesdays. This upcoming Wednesday, the Belmont is celebrating the 4th Year Anniversary of their drum ‘n’ bass night, with DJ Vilify at the head and a performance by KOAN SOUND.

    DJ Vilify samples

    Belmont website

  • Between Light & Darkness: The Sonia Balazovjech Dance Company

    The Link watched as The Sonia Balazovjech Dance Company ironed out last-minute kinks at their final dress rehearsal of Mid-Winter Night’s Dream, at Canvas loft space in Lachine.

    What followed was a whirlwind of five sold-out shows over the course of three days, ending with a well-deserved and much-enjoyed afterparty on closing night.

    Beyond providing audiences with an evening of warmth, wine and crafty choreography, the show served as an early launch for the company’s next major performance—slated for February of 2014.

    SBDC’s next production will raise funds for, and work alongside, the organization Leave Out Violence. LOVE uses media to promote a message of non-violence amongst young people through artistic outlets such as photography and song.

    “What I really want to do is join forces with the students, because they have produced some incredible work already,” said Sonia Balazovjech, the company’s founder and dancer.

    “I’d like to take their work and translate it into dance somehow.”

    Cameras: Brian Lapuz & Leslie Schachter
    Editing: Leslie Schachter & Colin Harris

  • A Luxury Arctic Survival Experience

    There is an icy oasis at the edge of Parc Jean-Drapeau.

    Getting out at its eponymous metro stop brings up memories of sweltering heat during the Osheaga Festival in August. But for the next two months, there will be no water hose to sustain sweaty crowds. Instead, there’ll be warm liquor—served at an ice bar.

    Inside the igloo, there’s an ice-carved deer head and cross—Jägermeister logo—above the bar. The place is a shrine to the German liquor. You imbibe with matching ice shot glasses, which, after a while, slide easily across the slick surface of the bar.

    The bar is part of a site that boasts half a dozen giant igloos. There’s also an ice restaurant and ice hotel. At the opening party, fellow Fringe Arts Editor Katie McGroarty and I stick close to the servers and ask about igloo construction, while giving ourselves a great excuse to be closer to the thimble-sized hors d’oeuvres.

    “I don’t like it when too many flavours are together,” Katie says, snubbing the creations of a chef flown in from New York.

    The server tells us they made the giant, perfectly round igloos by filling huge balloons and covering them with high-humidity, man-made snow. They cover the balloons, leave them for 16 hours, then pop them. Voila! Perfectly round igloo. Like papier-maché.

    It’s the first day of a mid-January cold snap that freezes exposed skin in seconds. And there is obviously no such thing as a heated igloo. One of them has red light on; for some reason, we take that to symbolize heat, and head towards it. We are wrong. Even the fires that are flickering around the site to create an interesting visual contrast are not real fires. They are cold.

    Katie takes out her camera to capture the ice booths in the restaurant, the beautiful ice bar and the ice sculpture being made outside by an artist with a chainsaw—but her camera is frozen and won’t take a single picture.

    She thinks giving the battery special treatment will save the day and puts it somewhere under her shirt. Twenty minutes later, she’s mumbling about “cleavage frostbite” and the battery reappears. Maybe it’s ready to go.

    I hold up some of our drinks and smile. The camera makes noise but still won’t work.

    Running through a list of potential solutions in my head, I realize all the Jäger has done nothing to me. This has happened before; copious amounts of booze are no match for an instinctive understanding that there is a death risk. If I pass out, I will freeze and die. So I am stuck, stone sober.

    Katie has her own problems.

    “I am very aware that this could collapse on us and kill us,” she says, looking up at the icy dome above.

    While she struggles to put the camera into her wool jacket—hoping to warm up the whole mechanism—the snow village mascot bounces over and gives her a long hug. She nods a bit and breaks away without looking back, like it’s some sort of dodgy, Pee-wee’s Playhouse-inspired nightclub grope.

    Later, fireworks go off and the little igloo village looks beautiful. On milder days, our bodies’ natural response to what seems like impending death might have bowed out, to allow for a more enjoyable experience.

    The visit was novel and memorable. But there was a moment while walking back to the metro where, every extremity frozen and numb, I thought I couldn’t go on. It’s not a feeling I generally agree to pay for.

    Hopefully, with the cold snap over, others won’t be envisioning ambulances coming to save them on the ice when they should just be having a good time. And when I finally thawed, in the metro, the booze did kick in.

    Parc Jean-Drapeau Snow Village (130 Tour-de-l’Isle Rd.) / Until to March 24 / $12.00 to $18.50

    More info on the website

  • The Igloofest Experience

    Visit our Photo Blog for more Igloofest.

    Igloofest is a perfect symbol of Montreal.

    Nestled in the back corner of the old-fashioned beauty known as Old Montréal, and straddling the Jacques-Cartier pier, Igloofest is a pulsing beacon of light beckoning me from the Champs-de-Mars metro while flurries tumble down.

    While I wait for my ticket, an eccentric man wearing ski goggles tells me highly questionable tales of his days as an undercover cop—the fact that I don’t speak french doesn’t deter him.

    My senses are overwhelmed as I enter Igloofest in a way that reminds me of my first Warped Tour as a teenager. The massive throne of the main stage has a psychedelic light show displayed across enormous L.E.D. screens and the huge dance area is already packed despite it being only 8:00 p.m. A techno rhythm emanates from towering speakers and I feel the bass reverberating through my bones.

    Throngs of bundled-up 20-somethings are laughing and boogying, but traditional sexed-up nightclub grinding is impossible in full winter garb. I stroll through the crowds, bobbing my head to the beat, and admire the wacky costumes—I can’t believe Spiderman and Chewbacca are making celebrity appearances at our humble winter festival.

    Bars are in no short supply. I count over half a dozen while exploring Igloofest. It’s my first time trying the Japanese beer Sapporo; I have to say I prefer Quebecois and New England brews to the hoppy saké blend.

    The “Igloofest Cocktail” is impressive, however; I’ll definitely be requesting a Jagermeister and root beer next time I’m on Crescent Street. The simple and sweet blend is delicious.

    Pleasant surprises await me as I venture deeper into the party zone. There are glowing fire pits with free marshmallows provided by the Société de transport de Montréal, with complimentary metro seats burrowed in the snow. As I take a seat in front of the fire, with my sugary treat on a stick, I almost fall over. It feels like I’m on a moving metro – but maybe I imagine that. The STM seats being outside confuse my tipsy brain.

    Amongst the ice sculptures of alcohol logos, in the center of the festival are two air hockey tables. I approach the huddled lines of people at them, only to find they’re actually mini-curling. I stick around to watch a few games. Being American, I am captivated by the strange and foreign sport.

    The Virgin Mobile Igloo is the high point of my night, where I “rage.” In a thick haze of body-heat warmth, the inside of the dome is a bumpin’ venue. An aggressive DJ is getting everyone hyped and a fiery energy radiates through the crowd. I learn all about TrapStep at this party-within-a-party and I wear myself out krumping and Bernie-ing and getting crazy.

    The rest of my night at Igloofest consists of shadow projections, taking pictures at the “Solotech Experience,” warming my hands at the trashcan fires like a hobo, more dancing, more bars, and always more snow.

    I start to succumb to the cold and my muscles freeze, so I stumble up the stairs by the docks to get one last glimpse at the epic party. As I survey the bustling crowds, the electronic rainbows of light, and the nobility of Old Montréal in the distance, bathing in warm golden streetlights, that’s when it hits me: this event is pure, 100 per cent Montreal.

    Event Website

  • CONCERT REVIEW: The Walkmen March On

    The Walkmen are a curious case. The New York City/Philadelphia quintet have been producing solid offerings since their 2002 debut, Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone but sometimes it seems their consistency has let them be lost in the shuffle. With seven studio albums under their belt in 10 years, the band released Heaven last year, which was overlooked despite being one of the year’s best. Despite their records just getting better, their hype has faded a little.

    The band took the stage at the Corona Theatre dressed to the nines and wasted no time capturing the crowd. Their second song was one of their biggest, “The Rat” off of 2004’s Bows + Arrows. From there they dipped into multiple cuts from Heaven, including the retro sway of “Heartbreaker” and the feel-good-moments of “Love is Luck.”

    But it was the album’s opening number, “We Can’t Be Beat,” that had the audience’s full attention as frontman Hamilton Leithauser picked up an acoustic and played a different rendition of the LP version of the track.

    Leithauser’s voice became a lot stronger in the latter half of the show, but the crowd could have probably done without his stories about migraines.

    Paul Maroon’s chops are only getting better, as he remains one of the more prolific guitar players in his circle. He excelled in the evening’s most acknowledged tracks, “Blue As Your Blood” (off 2010’s Lisbon) and “All Hands and The Cook” (from 2006’s A Hundred Miles Off). Drummer Matt Barrick behind his kit, mounted slightly above his peers, remains a big reason as to why The Walkmen are tighter than ever.

    I read somewhere last week that indie rock was dead–just like rock n’ roll, punk and hip-hop have apparently all died. And maybe that’s true; that lo-fi, guitar-driven emotion doesn’t have the same clout it did a decade ago.

    Indie rock now has a nostalgic feel for those who grew up when it was booming. So maybe The Walkmen are sort of a microcosm for indie rock itself–you had to be there when it started to fully appreciate it today.