The Old Blue Last
22 March 2007
For as dedicated as the Quebecois are to their French-Canadian culture, it is a little strange that the recent explosion of the Montreal music scene, as spearheaded by the Arcade Fire, has featured very little French singing. Though perhaps this isn't that surprising when considering the relatively few bands to achieve any sort of success singing in a language other than English. The five men of Malajube aren't afraid, however, and they don't really have any reason to be as long as they keep playing music with as much excitement and energy as was on display 22 March at The Old Blue Last...
Fresh from their appearance at this year's South by Southwest music conference, and sporting the wristbands to prove it, Malajube was here to show what all of the buzz has been about. Drummer Francis Mineau once described their sound as, "somewhere between the sound of a bird singing and the noises you can hear at a metal shop." A more, uh, coherent description of their sound would liken them to Super Furry Animals (an interesting comparison as SFA started their career singing entirely in Welsh) with a bit of a wilder edge.
Lead singer Julien Mineau is a bit of a wild man onstage. He managed to overcome the staggering level of uncoolness inherent in wearing his own band's shirt (come on, friend, this is a basic tenet of performing live) to really impress. My understanding is that his between-song banter was hilarious, but as the majority was in French it's mostly hard to say, though he occasionally let loose with some heavily accented and broken attempts at English. He was, however, certain to express his love for baked potatoes on multiple occasions, by first dedicating a song to them and later encouraging us all to, "stay alive, stay in health, and eat your baked potatoes." Powerful words. Powerful, bewildering words.
Over the course of the set, Julien produced more sweat than any other human being I have personally seen as he poured his all into his guitar and singing. His body did get a respite, though, after he begged the venue to turn off the bright lights and shroud the stage in darkness. By the end of the set, he somehow still had the energy for an extended freak-out prog jam featuring increasingly more alien sounds. While another, more traditional guitarist might eschew practices such as playing a guitar from the prone position with his head or microphone, not so with Julien. Sure it got rather self-indulgent and had to be stopped after a couple of minutes by venue management, but it just further served to cement the image of Malajube as a group of guys with tons of energy and few cares as to how they expend it.
- Kevin Garnett