Urban life is all about carving out a small oasis. Mile Ex End Festival did just that, under the Van Horne bridge. They turned this no man’s land into a small city filled with food, art and most importantly: incredible music.
I caught the tail end of Adam Strangler (Mile End Stage) with some psychedelic pop. The setting of a stage under the bridge made a deep first impression.
Aliocha (Mile Ex Stage) made me feel like I was on a perfect summer day. A mixture of mellow and indie rock delivered with a maturity of stage presence. Having opened up more than a dozen times for Charlotte Cardin, she was invited to the stage to sing a cover of “Dust in the Wind”. Definitely someone I want to see more of.
Tire le Coyote have us some French country flavored rock. Not really my thing, so I took this time to visit the site, specifically the pop up shop filled with indie vendors featuring lots of original jewelry made here in Montreal. It was great to see all the creativity Montreal has when it comes to clothing, jewelry and art.
Megative (Mile Ex Stage) started with some freestyle as the crowds made their way to the stage. What followed was some good time summer dub infused jams. The familiar voice of Tim Fletcher (The Stills) with the stage antics of Gus van Go (remember the legendary Montreal band Me Mom & Morgentaler?) was quite entertaining. Sipping on a Mile Ex Cocktail of Gin and Kombucha, this might be the best summer day I’ve had.
I tore myself away from Megative to see Partner on the Van Horne Stage. This pair are gathering some serious attention, especially after being called “Best new band in Canada” by The Globe and Mail. Although I was enjoying their garage rock jams, I needed to get into a Megative mood so back to the Mile Ex Stage.
Busty and the Bass (Mile End Stage) was up next. I stayed for a few dance-funk songs but my stomach was getting louder than the music. Fear not, a wide selection of food trucks to the rescue. Seems I chose the ideal time, no sooner had I finished my dumplings than the lineups started to intensify.
I could sense energy from the Van Horne Stage and Foreign Diplomats pulled me in. High energy and passion was on the menu, which is a combination that is medium rare for many bands.
I was curious as to who Matt Holubowski was, so I returned to the main stage to catch someone very much in the same vein as City and Colour. Matt was on “La Voix” in 2015 which launched his career. By now, the crowd is filling in as the suns sets at the crescendo of his set. With the sun going down, the cool breeze started to come in, reminding us that autumn is just around the corner.
The kids who have been in the warm sun playing with the giant bean bag toss or jumping on one of the giant inflatable dinosaurs are starting to run out of steam. Yet, as more guests start to stream in, the energy of the youth gets transferred to these new arrivals and those that have enjoyed this beautiful summer day in this urban oasis are getting into concert mode.
The big acts are just around the corner, but I can’t help but think this festival is already a success. The organization is top notch and the layout is simple with a good flow. Plenty of bathrooms and plenty of shady spots scattered throughout the site. The kids seemed to be amused with space for them to run around in safety. It’s nice to have kids soaking in the music and learning about up and coming bands. Who knows how big these will be by the time they grow up, and their parents can say: “You were there when they first started!”
Cat Power packed the Mile End Stage with her haunting voice. The towering Gus van Go joined the crowd to catch her and we all enjoyed her set.
Meanwhile, the City and Colour stage was slowly building a population of fans wanting a prime spot for tonight. This was also peak food truck time judging by the lineups.
When Dallas Green and the rest of City and Colour step on stage, the crowd has filled the largest area, but comfortable with enough space between us to move a little.
Dallas was last here in Ste-Thérese d’Avila (read the review) and I still get chills down my spine thinking about that show. Dallas and Matt Kelly took us on an intimate journey of the songs we all know and love. Tonight, the rest of the band would join Dallas giving this show a more rockin’ vibe, but still highlighting Dallas when he performed solo with his acoustic guitar.
We start with “Sensible Heart” from the Bring Me Your Love, for which we will hear 4 more tracks from that 2008 album. The soft strumming starts with a mood that Cat Power ended with.
For Waiting, Dallas tells us that this is a song about death, but not in a bad way. We all die eventually, so enjoy your life while it lasts. He invites us to sing along if we know the words, or if not…just mumble.
If I Should Go Before You would give us 6 songs tonight, including the title song. Things were going to get upbeat quite quickly when Dallas said: “Everybody got their dancing shoes out there?” “Wasted Love” started us dancing and who can resist singing along to City and Colour!
“Here is an old one with a twist”, Dallas says as he starts into “Hello, I’m in Delaware.”
“Lover Come Back” evoked some country charm and “The Girl” started slow but wound up into a fast country song complete with a giant sing-a-long.
The set ended with “As Much as I Ever Could” whose romantic sentiment prompted the couple in front of me to kiss. I’m sure they weren’t the only ones moved by the song.
When Dallas returns for the encore solo, he jokes this was just to let him go pee, which was quite the task as he had to navigate backstage to the trailer to relieve himself and make it back in time.
He performed “Little Hell” solo as well as “Comin’ Home” which turned into a crowd favorite “This Could Be Anywhere In The World” from his other band: Alexisonfire.
Tonight, it’s Dallasisonfire. The band joins him for a powerful rendition of “Woman” which shoots the energy to 11 to end the night.
City and Colour was a mixture of the rich layers of their songs that make us dance and sing along with some riveting solo songs that feature the incredible voice of Dallas Green.
Even Dallas commented at one point that he was soaking this all in, this night, close to this bridge with busses flying out of the stage like fireworks, it seemed. Yes, today was amazing day of art, food and music.
What will tomorrow bring? Apart from a 90% chance of rain, we will have Kid Koala, Suzanne Vega (remember Tom’s Diner?), Charlotte Cardin, Patrick Watson and finally Godspeed You! Black Emperor which will close out the night.
C’mon Montreal…show us what you are made of. Don’t let a little rain dampen your zeal for live music. See you there, stay waterproof, warm and don’t forget to bring your dancing rain boots.
Get your tickets here: http://mileexend.com/en/billets
If I should Go Before You
Hello, I’m in Delaware
Lover Come Back
We Found Each Other in the Dark
As Much as I Ever Could
Comin’ Home/This Could Be Anywhere In The World
Photos – Kieron YatesShare this :