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Pop Montreal, Day 5

  • 4th Oct, 2005 at 9:03 PM

I had bought tickets to Sunday's Architecture in Helsinki show. I had heard that their van broke down outside of Chicago, so I wondered if the show would go on. I decided to go anyway, and at worse I would have done some walking.

When I showed up to the theatre, there were plenty of disappointed people hanging around outside. I was pondering the refund of my ticket, but then decided to go see the show anyway. They had found another opening act, so I thought I might discover something new.

I got up front and stood right in front of the stage. There, I bumped into Kevin, a literature student at Dawson, who writes for the student newspaper. I recognised him as a writer because he had a big steno pad with him. It was the first time he had a press pass to a concert, and he claimed he had no idea what to put down. I did note that he had filled up a page by the end of the show.

Elizabeth Powell came up on stage with a stool, sat down with her guitar, and introduced herself as Architecture in Helsinki. She then asked if anyone in the audience had a guitar strap before launching into song.

Wow. Her voice is absolutely fabulous: melodic, husky, and soulful. It was her first time playing solo and so you could sense some trepidation. She played unplugged versions of her band's songs and apologised for the lack of energy. At one point, during a bit of strumming, she started explaining, "imagine the band's really rocking here. Distortion!" By the end of her set, she was beaming at how well she was doing. In fact, lots of people were standing right up against the stage.

Brian Borcherdt came on next. He brought up an acoustic guitar, plugged it in, and played it tenderly. I enjoyed what he played, but his voice was slightly broken. He explained that he "didn't expect to be performing today, as you didn't either." Some guy in a flat cap sat down at the piano and played with him. They made an excellent duo. After his performance, Brian lit a cigarette and went off to destroy his voice some more.

Patrick Watson
Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

After a short intermission, the lights dimmed and some people came on stage. That piano player turned out to be Patrick Watson himself. He's quite the pianist and he's got this interesting, reedy voice. He often employs falsetto and glissando while singing. I'm not sure I understand his music, as it's rather complicated, having lots and lots of different sounds.

His guitarist was really busy during the performance, either kicking the sampler often, or playing with strange instruments, or using common household items on his guitar. His bassist actually played a bass at one point in time. So it seems that Watson's music is this synthesis of orchestral and electronic sounds, which I guess I prefer when it leans more to the orchestral because they're less harsh.

The music hall was only half-full because I think a lot of people wanted to see Architecture in Helsinki, and just left when they couldn't. It's pretty sad that Kevin and I were the only ones standing near the stage; there had been some photographers with press passes, but they eventually left. I guess people just didn't find the performance that moving.

After the show, I bumped into Elizabeth Powell and complimented her performance. She blushed about it, and then plugged the band she played with, called Land of Talk. Some other people came up to her, and it seemed that a lot of people thought she should do a solo album. She was thrilled over all this deserved praise she was getting, and had the biggest smile on her face. Apparently, she got called earlier that day by Patrick, asking if she could open for his act.

Although I didn't buy anything after the concert, I'm listening to Patrick's music off his website, and it's got a much nicer quality to it. So it seems like the studio recording irons out a lot of the chaos that live performance put on his work. I think I'll pick up a CD the next time I see one.