M for Montreal: Núria Graham, Partner & Carnival Youth

Carnival Youth

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A reminder that winter is around the corner hit us all like a roaming charge while travelling overseas. On Wednesday November 14th, 2018, the M in M for Montreal stood for Mind-numbingly cold!

What a way to introduce the boys from Latvia Carnival Youth, whom we interviewed just over a week ago.

M for Montreal is a festival in the sense of having around 100 bands at shows in 15 venues around the city. The difference is that at its core, this is all about showcasing buzzworthy bands and matching them with music industry professionals.

If you are passionate about music and want to have your finger on the pulse of new music…this is the place to be.

The evening, at least for me, started with Núria Graham. It was amazing how the room fell silent as Núria stood on stage with a borrowed Fender Jaguar with a sound that took me to New York, in a little club listening to the female embodiment of Lou Reed. It’s not the voice, her voice is definitely sweet and soft, yet with an aftertaste of life experience and naughtiness. The subtle fragments of her Spanish accent make it all the more captivating.

It’s the vibe she creates. Chrissy Hynde is another association I made (thanks to a friend who listened to the clip I made).

Nuria Graham
Nuria Graham

As she strums her guitar, under those curly locks, her eyes seem to lock on yours. It’s uncanny. You can’t look away.

Núria has an issue with airlines losing her guitars. While hers was touring the Eifel Tower or maybe just going around in a merry-go-round fashion on the luggage belt, she was at Casa del Popolo serenading us with a small sample of her work.

She says she normally performs with a band, but tonight, it would be her and a guitar. With a nervous smile, she reveals to us that maybe this is better because she can do whatever she wants.

I wanted more.

After her performance, we were herded to La Sala Rosa to catch Partner (Windsor, ON) for some indie rock. We arrived partway into the set, in a crowded Sold Out Sala Rosa. There were clearly fans at the front dancing and cheering for their band.


They were having a blast. Josée Caron was quite humorous and skilful on the guitar, even breaking into a little “Sweet Child of Mine” by GnR. Lucy Niles was not deterred by her rented bass that seemed to lose its tune quite easily. Maybe it was the savage playing, but nonetheless, the few songs we witnessed were fun and energetic.

Interesting that the first song sounded like Green Day, while another was completely different in vibe, almost like a Tragically Hip/Blue song.

Since I was a guest of Carnival Youth, I didn’t want to miss their set. Because this is a showcase, sets are short and sweet, leaving us wanting more…hopefully.

What struck me, and the rest of the crowd that wandered back from Sala Rosa, was the light show! Wavy tubes that would burst into different colors, in tune with the music.

Seth Godin talks about being the Purple Cow. In fields full of regular cows…a purple cow definitely stands out and is remembered.

Carnival Youth stood out for more than just the light show. The short set was tight and had the maturity of a band that has been on the road for decades.

Carnival Youth
Carnival Youth

They played a selection of their catchiest songs with “Seagulls on Bicycles”, “Never Have Enough” which features Emīls on vocals from the drum kit and ending with “Surf” where Aleksis Luriņš (Bass) swapped for a guitar with Edgars Kaupers.

Carnival Youth
Carnival Youth

Their manager later told us they flew in earlier that morning and with the 7-hour time difference…it would be like pulling an all-nighter and playing at 5:30 AM! Wow.

Carnival Youth
Carnival Youth

Listening to the vinyl of Propeller the evening after with friends over homemade nachos, it was very well received. Some were reminded of new Interpol sound, others couldn’t put their finger on the sound, but they all enjoyed it.

These boys came a long way to be showcased at M for Montreal and they made quite the impression. I look forward to seeing how far their journey takes them, but judging from the response in this crowd of industry professionals….boys…hope you have some good luggage…you are going far!

Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube.

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