Last year, we were welcomed by rain on day two of Mile Ex End Festival. This year, history would repeat itself, although not as bountifully. As we entered the festival grounds, we hovered under the overpass by the picnic tables as the rain fell around us.
Emma Beko & Gab Godon formed Hearstreets, as friends with a passion for freestyling. During some of their sessions, some of the rhymes became songs.
Emma brings the MC rap, while Gab brings the 90s vocals, both creating a sound that is fun as well as refreshing. The message is positive and both Emma & Gab play off each other like a perfect recipe. Each brings different ingredients to the dish, but we are left with something that tastes so good.
Emma could not wipe her smile as she explained that this is their 6th show during an expected storm, but somehow, the weather conspires to let them play dry.
As the clouds held back the downpour, Heartstreets had the biggest opening band crowd of the two days.
Eddy De Pretto
There was an air of excitement from fans looking forward to seeing the second artist to hit a stage, Eddy (France).
The bare stage highlighted a drum kit, Eddy on the mic and his iPhone on a wire to play some sound clips during this performance.
The crowd was overjoyed, much more than I was, but like I mentioned in the last article…it’s not all about me.
Eddy sings personal songs, about the challenges he faced in the first quarter century of his life. Maybe that’s why his message resonated so much with the crowd, which included teens to parents with their kids.
Two songs into his set, a computer glitch caused them to stop completely. Computers have a lot in common with a bandmate that has a drug problem. They can be unreliable. After a small stint in rehab, the computer came back to life and the show continued.
This was to be his only stop in North America, so those in attendance witnessed something special.
What happens when Joe Grass (Barr Brothers, Patrick Watson) picks up a guitar, Samuel Joly sits at the drums and François Lafontaine (Karkwa) assembles his keyboards? You get an indie supergroup called Klaus!
Samuel on drums was absolutely brilliant. His arms seemingly floating across this drum set, hitting everything in sight, but keeping such tight timekeeping, he could be a human Metronome.
Joe Grass has equally dexterous fingers, dominating his Fender Jaguar, the same model Kurt Cobain used as a leftie. This guitar had more wear and tear than the bathroom at a Mexican restaurant on burrito night.
François must have found a free espresso machine backstage, as he was bursting with pure joyful energy. He would jump up at any given moment, hitting those keys with wild abandon, but yet with accuracy, using a combination of 3 sets of keys to attain that perfect sound.
Even a swig of Romeo’s Gin from the bottle he brought on stage did not dampen his enthusiasm.
The result of these musicians exploring new territory defies a genre. It could fit in the broad indie category, but add some jamming sessions mixed in and you get Klaus.
Klaus also managed to bring sunlight to the festivities, a welcome relief from the occasional rain.
The last thing Michael Milosh (Toronto/LA) wants to discuss is the first thing you notice as air rushes through his vocal chords into the microphone and enter your ears. His voice, or as some have argued, could it be her voice!
Mike hears a man’s voice, so we will go with that. We won’t mention Sade either, just to be safe.
One thing is clear…he’s the new Barry White of modern make-out music. I know this because a couple just beside me fell under the spell of romanticism that the songs brought as they locked lips in a loving embrace. My gaze went back to the stage, giving them a moment of privacy within a tightly packed crowd, under the bridge.
The set started off slow, but as it progressed, it really picked up and finished, making everyone with a heart, a fan of the romance that Rhye evokes. Rhye really is a smooth operator.
If you ask Helena what we should call her music, she will respond with “sincere pop.”
Last year, this same stage introduced me to Dizzy, and this year, my favorite discovery is Helena Deland.
Despite a heavy downpour, a good-sized crowd did not this heavenly gift of bottled water, without the bottle (nature is so eco-friendly sometimes) dampen their spirits.
Helena performed like a seasoned artist, sound heavier in person than on her released tracks on the streaming media of your choice.
She will tour a few surrounding cities before heading off to Europe but will be back at The Fairmount on November 16th.
I’m looking forward to hearing that voice raise more goosebumps but in a less wet environment.
It was totally worth it, getting soaked.
Broken Social Scene
This Toronto collective is the who’s who of some amazing bands. Ariel Engle (La Force) and Amy Millan (Stars) shared vocal duties, along with various other members of the band, like founding members Kevin Drew & Brendan Canning. While Amy is a powerhouse in her own rights, I liked how she let Ariel take the lead, and fully supported her.
Seeing BSS is like getting invited to a private house party with the most talented musicians in Canada. It’s a camaraderie that fuses each one’s sound into a melting pot of sound.
Even with a little rain here and there, it was a packed house.
Christophe Dubé (Montreal) is making waves in the Montreal electronic scene, mostly because of his music videos.
For the live events, he tries to incorporate more than just a dude hitting play on a fancy CD player with more buttons than an airplane cockpit. His elaborate gear surrounded him in almost anonymity, joined by a guitarist jamming to the beats in a dreamy sort of way.
I quite enjoyed the sound, at least a first. In the end, it felt like one long song stretched over the whole set. To be fair, we are at the crescendo of a two-day festival, and it does take a lot out of you. I was starting to check out, mentally and my feet were ready to revolt and simply stop working in protest. Finding a suitable giant deck chair, perfect for a tiny family, I reclined and let the sounds of CRI filter in. It was relaxing, even with a pounding beat and I took in the experience. The bridge, ever so generous with providing shelter from the weather, and the strands of lights crisscrossing the space, illuminating the feasts from the Food Trucks.
Many of the small children are sound asleep in their beds by now, but a few late night rebels remain, taking in the sounds and collecting dirt on their clothes like a beggar looking for quarters.
I’ve come to really appreciate Mile Ex End Festival, Osheaga’s baby brother of festivals. Something for everyone and some visitors from faraway lands joined by local musicians allowing us to discover new dishes in the buffet of music served over the course of two days.
While I was ready to call it a night, a crowd swelled under the bridge to call it a party.
Montreal hip-hop artist Loud is in the house tonight…or rather…under the bridge. Making waves like a small Tsunami, some fans came only to see him tonight.
When loud played an afternoon show during Santa Teresa Festival, I noticed that people were dancing, but there was an eerie silence between songs that seemed out of place for such a show. Tonight, it was the audience that was loud.
The fans of this French hip-hop danced, sang and cheered.
It is clear that his popularity is rising, as his MTelus (Nov 17th, 2018) show is sold-out.
I guess I’m not as hip as the crowd, so I hopped on out of there and left the event having had a musical Smorgasbord of bands over two days.
The festivities are not over, day three will feature comedy acts.
This year, the event was smaller, having no large stage, nor VIP lounge under a tent. It is an incredible value for the money and the selections are eclectic enough to please just about any music lover with an open mind, and open ears. You might not like everything, but that’s OK…you can stretch out on the various chairs, inflatable cushions and simply spread out a blanket on the grass and enjoy the last few days of summer.
Let’s hope we have a 3rd edition…I know I will be there.
Review – Randal Wark
Photo – Kieron Yates