It’s add-drop season, so before profs start slamming students with endless readings, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Musicians Collective gathered in La Vitrola on Jan. 10 to kick off the Winter semester. The Plateau/Mile End vibe was strong that night: Blundstones, Radiohead, and cheap beer were plentiful.
Founded in 2010, the SSMU Musicians Collective connects independent musicians within the McGill community.
“We initially started as a club of jammers, but since we got SSMU funding a few years back [in 2012], we’ve been able to expand,” President Michael Kalman told the The McGill Tribune.
The first performer, Elliot Sinclair, better known under his stage moniker Alright, Lights, began the show with his solo act. Standing alone onstage, Sinclair quickly proved his capabilities as both a lyricist and guitarist. Reminiscent of Bahamas and Jeff Buckley, Sinclair breezed through his lovely “Infatuation,” into an alternative take on D’Angelo’s “Greatdayndamornin'/Booty.”
The SSMU Musicians Collective also saw the last performance of McGill band Matty Parker, as frontman James Parm is leaving for Asia. Backed by Michael Abraham, Ethan Cohn, and Greg Kustka-Tsimbidis, Matty Parker is a self-proclaimed “nothing band that will likely split up soon due to internal conflict.” Matty Parker draws heavily on Radiohead, the Pixies, and Sparklehorse. Standout tracks included originals “Drinking in Denial,” and “Stolen Stuff.” Each song bellows and contracts; crescendos are followed by both restrained emptiness and triumphant sounds..
Besides creating a performance platform for student musicians, the Collective organizes various open mics and workshops. They also plan to host bi-monthly jam sessions in the Collective’s space located in the sub-basement beneath Gerts in the SSMU building. This same space can be booked out for up to six hours, no charge, for private use. Kalman also hinted at workshops this semester, including an electronic music production workshop in the upcoming months.
The Corks played last, with a bluesy rock sound that occasionally teeters towards funk. They brought a well-needed bolt of lightning to the venue. Singer Sacha Gubany, all curly hair and unrefined enthusiasm, led the four-piece along with Jonathan Verreault on the drums, Philippe Moison on guitar, and Vincent Lambert on bass for an altogether energetic set. Songs like “Take Me Home” proved to be not only excellently crafted and performed, but insanely catchy.
Near the end of the night, the crowd had gathered together near the front of the stage, begging The Corks for an encore. They obliged. If anything, Wednesday’s concert highlighted the extensive musical talent that is often forgotten at McGill. More than just an academic institution, there is a huge pool of musical capability that, with the help of the Musician’s Collective, is reaching a broader audience. This semester, dare to venture out of the conventional music scene and take a peek at what your classmates are creating. Who knows, maybe the guy behind you in your chemistry lecture has a wavy dream-pop band. Check it out sometime—you’ll be surprised.