Most likely to give you the best performance of your life if he’s in a good mood
This award goes out to Sun Kil Moon, but really only applies to frontman Mark Kozelek. It’s no secret that he has a short fuse on stage; just two weeks ago at the Ottawa Folk Festival, Kozelek was angry that the sound from The War on Drugs’ nearby set was seeping onto his stage, so he retaliated by saying “I hate that beer-commercial lead guitar shit” and jokingly dubbed the next song “The War on Drugs Can Suck My Fucking Dick.” At his Wednesday show I was prepared for the worst, but fortunately, Kozelek surveyed the crowd at the Ukrainian Federation auditorium and liked what he saw, throwing in a “Don’t piss me off” warning for good measure. Accompanied by a three-piece backing band that provided heavier instrumentation than most of the songs on his latest, mostly acoustic record Benji, Kozelek’s hauntingly beautiful melodies left me overcome with awe.
Most likely to help you achieve spiritual enlightenment
Mutual Benefit’s Friday night set was a constant stream of sonic serenity, minus the short transitions between songs that made you remember you were at a Pop Montreal concert and not strolling through a zen garden. Despite the absence of the violin that appeared on the 2013 album Love’s Crushing Benefit, the band didn’t skip a beat in performing its most recent batch of songs. I spent most of the night watching the drummer, who masterfully operated a drum kit that included chimes and djembes. Spiritual enlightenment certainly feels like a possible side-effect of listening to this band uninterrupted for an extended period of time.
Most likely to eagerly return to their festival venue
As Nils Edenloff of The Rural Alberta Advantage acknowledged on stage, his band wasn’t used to playing for so many people, but Cabaret du Mile End was packed on Friday night. They didn’t disappoint under pressure, following their loud, garage-rock opener “P.S. I Love You” with a powerful show of their own that made it feel like there were more musicians up there than just the three bandmates. They also rewarded the fans in the packed venue by playing a handful of songs from their upcoming album Mended With Gold that had never been played live before.
— Max Berger
Most nonsensical artistic crossover
Naomi and Damon are your classic old-school hippies who delved into the underground arts years ago and refused to move on. Arguably the type who believe that being starving artists is the highest reward for dedication, their North American debut of the silent film “Fortune” was a stereotypical medley of high-reaching themes and arcs of symbolism that went over the head of everyone but those who wrote and directed the piece. While the duo, who performed original musical pieces as the film played behind them, is clearly passionate about the fine arts, they should remember: Just because you have a dream doesn’t mean you have a talent.
Most likely to have you nod your head into whiplash
Despite their newbie status of only performing together for a year, Diamond Bones’ performance was well put-together and a beautiful presentation of what synth/punk-pop should be: Not too dirty, not too meek—just a perfect blend of ethereal lyrics and a strong, well-maintained back beat. Beyond its sleek sound, Diamond Bones is undeniably cool, banking on a girl power dynamic in tandem with a punk wardrobe and hipster accessories. The trio established themselves to be just as breezy as their sound.
Most likely to lead a musical cult
To preface, I enjoyed every moment of Bosco Delrey’s performance at Divan Orange. Experimental pop is a genre that will either be terrible or just weird enough to keep you vibing all night long, and Delrey certainly fell into the latter with his electronic back-up band, unintelligible lyrics, and twitchy yet mellow stage persona. The cruxifiction stance he took between driving guitar chords—in combination with his usage of two mics to support his wandering habit—made his performance seem less like a concert and more like a ritual indie sacrifice. Ultimately, it made for a memorable if not overly eccentric performance—I was truly inspired to drink the kool-aid.
— Morgan Alexander