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Milo McMahon at Casa Del Popolo – Montreal Live Review

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Milo McMahon at Casa Del Popolo – Montreal Live Review

Milo McMahon - Casa Del Popolo - December 19th 2013 - Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Milo McMahon – Casa Del Popolo – December 19th 2013 – Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Who: Milo McMahon
From: Montreal, QC/ Dublin, Ireland
Where: Casa Del Popolo
When: December 19th 2013

TOTAL SCORE: 8.6
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Style: Indie Rock

Crowd: The show started later than expected, seeing as some of the members of the main act, The Madafakaz, were playing another show that same night. It was essentially a bad case of double booking, and most of the crowd was most likely at the other venue. Despite the snow, cold and generally dreary Montreal weather, people started coming in around 10:15- 10:30, and kept coming in as the show progressed. There was maybe around 30 people, 40 at most, by the time the show had really picked up. Most of the people were seated and just watched the show. It took them a bit of time to warm up to Milo, but when they did, they cheered him on quite fervently.

Technicalities: Despite the fact that the place was not very crowded, Milo gave it his all. He didn’t let the little things get to him, and still played his heart out. It is also interesting to note that the bass player took a “sick” day from the show. That did little to detract from the show (and this is not a knock at the importance of a bassist). The drummer was there, and Milo was there, and that’s what counts the most. From a musical point of view, Milo sounds as if he came from the record and right up on stage to wow us with his music. He did crack a few jokes, that took some people some time to warm up to, but as he said, “We’ll get there”. Overall, his spirits are truly amazing and they show how much of true musician at heart this man is. Ten people, or a thousand, I think he would give the exact same amount of heart. It’s not often that we get the vibe that someone is a real musician like that, and just plays for the love of music. His energy and “pep” even managed to cheer me up and boost my energy.

Memorable moments: I say this a little bit tongue-in-cheek, but it was definitely memorable when people started showing up at the venue. I honestly felt a massive sigh of relief come out of me, because I was sincerely worried that there wouldn’t be many people. It’s fun to note that Milo’s sense of humour is definitely appealing. He joked that he wrote a song on the way there, and that his drummer didn’t know. In fact, it was a Neil Young cover, and the drummer didn’t know it, so Kudos to Adrien (sorry if I misspelled it) for playing it along! A couple of other moments were quite revealing, when Milo gave a shout out to tree planters (his other job) and asked who had planted over two million trees. Someone actually responded, so a big nod to that person.

Sex Appeal: As I said previously, Milo’s energy and spirits cannot be dampened by anything, whether it be a small crowd of ten or a full stadium, this guy would still give you the same show. His modesty is also truly appealing and humbling. I often forget how awesome local bands are, and Milo really just reminded me of it. He was hospitable from start to finish with me, even giving me a signed copy of his album! Truly an amazing person overall, and I hope that his humility gets him far in his musical career. One last little nod has to go to the T-shirt he was wearing: A wolf shirt (or as the Quebecois call it: Un beau chandail de loup!), and that definitely brought a smile to my face!

Overall: For those of you who missed his show, I am truly sorry for you, because you missed something that was completely worth it! There’s always next time, but try and not miss him. He is someone to watch out for. Also, I would like to give a nice shout-out to the Montreal hipsters who were hanging out in the back of the bar where I was writing down notes: If you’re going to make condescending comments, please, keep them to yourselves. If you’re in a band, and know how hard it is to try and fight your way through the industry, that type of humor is not acceptable. If you’re there for another band and you don’t like the show, please leave. Condescension is something I find truly despicable and unacceptable. No matter who you are.

Written and Photographed by Andrej Ivanov

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The Devil Wears Prada at Club Soda – Montreal Live Review

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The Devil Wears Prada at Club Soda – Montreal Live Review

The Devil Wears Prada - Club Soda - December 16th 2013 - Photo by: Shannon Fong

The Devil Wears Prada – Club Soda – December 16th 2013 – Photo by: Shannon Fong

Who: The Devil Wears Prada
From: Dayton, Ohio
Where: Club Soda
When: Thursday December 19, 2013

TOTAL SCORE: 8.9
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Style: Hardcore / Christian Metalcore

Technicalities: The strobe lights were giving me a headache and made it difficult for photos but that did not affect their performance. The band still delivered a powerful show.

Crowd: When I arrived at the venue, I noticed that it was a sold out show, Inside it was packed on both levels from the front to the back. I had to wait until The Ghost Inside finished their set to be able to make my way to the front.

Not even 30 seconds into The Devil Wears Prada’s set, I got kicked in the head by a crowd surfer. There were water bottles flying, people singing back to the band, and everything else you would expect from a sold out show. The crowd on the main level of the venue was as energetic as the band, if not more. When I looked up to see the crowd on the upper level, it was calmer, but they were still enjoying the  set.

Memorable Song/Moment: They played their new self titled song off of their new album 8:18. It’s a slower, more melodic song than their other ones,  They may not be even remotely the same, but it reminds me of one of their older songs, Louder Than Thunder, which is also slower. they both have a soft and calming effect. I actually enjoyed hearing this song more than the other ones they played.

Image/ Sex Appeal: These guys are just casually dressed in camo jackets, sweaters, T-shirts and jeans. Nothing special, but I always find it’s better to be comfortable anyways.

Overall: I heard that they were good to see live so I went there with high hopes and expectations. Those expectations were met completely and I enjoyed watching and listening to every minute of their set. It’s not my usual interest in music but their blend of the clean and screaming vocals works well for them. They put on a great show. I was unaware that they had a following big enough to sell out the venue but congratulations to them for doing so.

Written and Photographed by Shannon Fong

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The BCASA at 614 Gladstone Ave- Ottawa Live Review

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Who: The BCASA

From: Montreal, QC

Where: 614 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa

When: Friday, December 13th, 2013

Total Score: 9/10

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Style: The BCASA plays sing-along drunk punk jams about old video games and 1980’s pop culture. They bring the goofy fun of
early Beastie Boys with the aggression of Minor Threat. The three-piece band from Montreal plays sick grooves without sacrificing a punk edge.

Crowd: The basement of 614 Gladstone was a crowded mess of dyed hair, spiked jackets and toques. The whole crowd smelled like cheap beer and cheaper liquor. Before the BCASA took the stage the opening band, Average Times from Ottawa, got people moving and almost blew a fuse in the process. There was a constant mosh pit throughout the BCASA’s set with people shouting along while being tossed sideways. Not too many bands can have a guy crowd surfing through a mosh pit in a leg cast while everyone screams “I WANT, I WANT BREAKFAST BURRITOS!” Luckily the BCASA can have that happen.

Technicalities: For writing songs about Mortal Kombat and entire album about Teenage Mutant Turtles these songs do not slack. Each one has a distinct flavour with heavy bass grooves and fuzzy vocals. The BCASA are able to control dynamics and stop and start on a dime. They were even able to keep playing when getting knocked over by the crowd.

Image/Sex Appeal: The BCASA had tour mullets and handlebar moustaches. They look like the goofs you think they are. The BCASA are spastic, shirtless and pasty from too much time in front of TV’s. I would not want this music played by anyone but them. Their image matches their sound perfectly.

IMG_0025Memorable moment: For the last song of their set the entire crowd sat on the floor until the drums kicked in. Then everyone sprung up and started jumping into and on top of each other. It is rare to see well-executed organized chaos. The energy that had been a constant throughout the show peaked with this song. The BCASA knows how to work a crowd and they make it seem effortless.

Overall: The BCASA are the grooviest and silliest punk band I have ever seen. Their affection for The Teenage Mutant Turtles is, as it turns out, great fodder for an entire album of punk tunes. The band does not ride on nostalgia, they just sing what they know and there is a serious appetite for it. I was trying to keep a rough count of how many people hit the floor while they were moshing and I lost it after about thirty. However every person who hit the floor was helped back up right away and jumped back in the thick of it right away. The BCASA have created a strong place for themselves in the Canadian punk scene and it is well deserved. 

Pictures and words by Joe Ryan

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American Hustle – Movie Review

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American Hustle – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

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When tackling a real-life event in a motion picture, elements are absolutely going to be changed for narrative purposes. Those watching a feature film, hoping for a history lesson would be best left watching a documentary on the subject. With a clever disclaimer at the start, David O. Russell lets the audience know upfront that American Hustle is not a 100% accurate telling of the FBI’s Abscam operation in the late 1970s. Names are changed and the characters we witness are definitely caricatures, because the story is too ridiculous that maybe telling a completely true account will seem unbelievable. These motivations work in the film’s favour as this is a smart and funny screenplay with some of the best performances you’ll see in a movie this year.

Watching American Hustle, it’s difficult not to think of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, especially when the narration pipes in and details the life of con artist Irving Rosenfeld and his associates. However, there is nothing wrong with aping another director’s style if the filmmaker can bring his own stamp to the work and still make a strong film. Russell succeeds there, because him and his co-writer Eric Singer take the right approaches in establishing their characters and this wacky operation. When the protagonists in a movie are criminals, they are occasionally made to be likeable even if their actions are hardly worth admiring. However, American Hustle takes the interesting step of making the con artists the heroes of the story and the FBI agents are the unhinged psychopaths.

Irving is made to be very sympathetic and worth rooting for, because he is fully aware of his actions and how they affect other people. Even when arguing with his ditzy wife, every action he takes is to help his son. He is a criminal who the viewer is actually rooting to succeed and in yet another interesting twist, the FBI agent leading Abscam is the most unlikeable character in the film. Stuck in the middle is Irving’s mistress, a flawed individual who is also made sympathetic and the reluctant mayor whose reasons for taking bribes are hardly malicious. This flipping of the script is part of the greatness found in American Hustle and adds to the darkly comic tone prevalent throughout.

The Goodfellas comparison can also be made with the clever editing of American Hustle, which certainly brings to mind Thelma Schoonmaker’s cutting on the Scorsese picture. Again, that’s hardly a detriment of the film, which cleverly jumps in time with the story still holding plenty of coherence. Russell’s trio of editors choose the right moment to cut to one of the many subplots running through the film, without becoming jarring. The film even begins smack-dab in the middle of the action with a funny exchange between the characters that immediately sets the tone. Like Scorsese, Russell also employs an eclectic soundtrack full of inspired song choices and fitting with the characters and the 1970s time period. Michael Wilkinson deserves plenty of credit for fitting this band of scoundrels with the appropriate clothing and the hair department follows suit. While it may seem over-the-top to some, the look of the picture certainly evokes the decade, even down to the cute way the opening studio logos are presented.

Every actor in American Hustle is at the top of their game, continuing to showcase themselves as some of the best working professionals with an impressive ability at reaching into characters far away from their usual personas. Christian Bale seems to transform himself in every role he takes to the point of worrying about the potential health risks. His Irving Rosenfeld is immediately attention-grabbing with his carefully combed haircut and portly belly, but Bale does not let his weight gain and bald head do the acting for him. He is electrifying on-screen with every emotion being believable and it’s not difficult to see why people fall for his acts. Amy Adams is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood today, consistently delivering top-notch work. Her role as Sydney is no different, delving deeply into this smart, but emotionally high-strung individual. The fact that the put-on British accent of Sydney’s fake persona is not wholly accurate only adds to the character as her charm under that guise is completely switched on. Meanwhile, Bradley Cooper is on fire for all of his screen time as he makes no secret about his boisterous attitude and unlike the heroes of this story, we are laughing at him.

Jennifer Lawrence makes the most of her supporting character, creating a daft airhead who never gets on our nerves even when she starts to test Irving. Some of the biggest laughs in American Hustle come from her genuine ignorance at Irving’s whole operation and the most simplistic of household appliances. Despite being famous all over the world as Katniss Everdeen, with her second appearance in a David O Russell film, she has again managed to make us forget about her other work when she appears. Jeremy Renner manages to bring compassion to Mayor Carmine Polito and Russell plays with our conception of politicians to again make us look at this world differently. You never get the sense of him getting involved in these bribes for malicious gain, but rather out of legitimate love for the citizens who vote for him. The most surprising cast member is Louis CK, who has maybe ten minutes of screen time and makes every scene of his memorable. The chemistry between CK and Cooper provides a fantastic minor plot point and the stand-up comedian even slightly tops his co-star in the acting department. With his roles in both American Hustle and Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine this year, he is proving to be a very welcome on-screen presence.

Those familiar with Martin Scorsese’s filmography will certainly spot similarities in tone and style with American Hustle. However, this is a case where David O Russell is using his obvious influence to his advantage and creating a striking, funny and exceptionally well-acted satire on an event too ridiculous to believe. Russell has always brought a sense of humour to serious topics, though, whether it’s the Gulf War in Three Kings or bipolar disorder in Silver Linings Playbook. Here is a filmmaker who has this impressive ability at seeing the comedy in those not-so-light areas of discussion. However, American Hustle is a case where the humour of the situation is already there for him to exploit and have a lot of fun with.

Review By: Stefan Ellison

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Halifax POTW December 20th, 2013 – Two Hours Traffic

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Who: Two Hours Traffic

When: Friday, December 20th @9pm

Where: Marquee Ballrom, 2037 Gottingen Street

Price: $17/$20

 

PEI pop band Two Hours Traffic is calling it a day. Friday is their last Halifax show before a final few farewell shows on the Island. The critically acclaimed band has toured Canada extensively over the past decade+, infusing crowds with their relentless energy and East Coast charm. They announced their pending break up in late October, and recently revealed the cause was the difficulty making a living as musicians. Its a shame to lose talented acts for such reasons, and it’ll be sad to see them go, but music lives forever, and memories of their wicked shows will too.

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