Live Review: Kikagaku Moyo + Year of Glad @ The Ritz Bar, Montreal

Previously when I would see a chair on stage at a rock gig, I would assume an injury in the band. It’s very hard to convey a significant amount of passion when the majority of your body weight is rested on your keister. Or so I thought. Montreal natives, Year of Glad, while seated, gave a high-energy performance that deeply moved anyone in attendance whose heart was made out of anything slightly more malleable than stone.

Year of Glads bio explains the band as the brainchild of frontman A.P. Bergeron. Bergeron plays with such intensity the music could only be considered his soulchild. The young Tom Hanks look-alike, rolls his eyes back in his head and howls into the heavily beaten microphone that I can only assume was damaged when he bashed his head into it during one of his regular on-stage music euphoria induced spasms.

The rotating cast of instrumental characters tonight included both cello and violin, although at times it was difficult to distinguish between the timbre of Bergeron’s inhuman ability to sing powerfully in octaves most dare not tread and the stringed instruments. The crowd all stood in awe of his vocal ability, which went up to whale song territory and all the way down to punk rock screaming –usually within the same song.

Their carefully crafted mix of post-rock, experimental folk – sometimes dark and ambient, sometimes soaring and anthemic was an interesting pairing for what was to come with the main event, Kikagaku Moyo. While both acts have a heavy experimental side and lean away from becoming associated with any specific genre, this is where the similarities stop.

Coming out to a bare bones stage, Kikagaku Moyo paint their own scenery in your mind with their intertwining melodies hidden under more long black hairs than you’d find on the floor of Big Foot’s favourite barber.

While their name translates to ‘Geometric Shapes’ there is nothing rigid about Kikogaku Moyo’s music. While they play heavily with time signatures, the groove always comes first. From the moment they unexpectedly exploded into their first song, the whole crowd couldn’t help but move along, even finding a way to dance over the polyrhythmic jams of ‘Streets of Calcutta’.

Dressed as if they came straight out of a time travelling Volks Wagon van from the 60s, their sound was much more than just an homage do a defining period in rock. Bringing in elements of modern shoegaze and wearing influences from bands like The Oh Sees on their floral sleeves they were not afraid to extend sections and jam out on their own songs.

After what seemed like a very short set of only four (albeit very long extended jams), Kikogaku Moyo made their thank yous and left the stage. It wasn’t clear if they were planning an encore but there was definitely no way that they could avoid it as the cheers and screams from the audience made the quaint venue seem like stop on a stadium tour.

The highlight of the show was their return to play ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ from their 2014 album Forrest of Lost Children. The quiet arpeggiated guitar opening soon developed into the roaring, jazz-fusion inspired juggernaut that had everyone shaking on the spot trying their best to dance along to the sections with more obscure time signatures. It’s not easy to dance to three bars of 5/4 followed by one of 6/4.

If you are ever in a position to check out Kikagaku Moyo, I could not recommend them highly enough. They’re a powerhouse of old-school rock sensibilities borrowing elements of experimental folk and psychedelia. Most importantly they put on an inescapable live performance. You will hear more from this group as the rise of energetic psychedelic music continues.

 

 

Thanks to Blue Skies Turn Black for putting on so many great shows such as this one.

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