Santa Teresa Festival Day 1, Friday May 18th, 2018
Summer has officially started for me, as I attend my first festival of the season. The closed off streets in Sainte Therese welcomed music lovers with plenty of places to grab a bite, have a sip or simply enjoy the sun.
I started with a free haircut from Kevin of Les Barbares who did a fantastic job getting me ready with a summer cut. The “tip” money went to charity. Some members of Stars will also be looking dapper on stage tonight, as they took advantage of the outdoor barber.
Stars would open up the festivities, later this evening, from the Red Bull Tour Bus/Stage. Having seen them perform last at L’Escogriffe in an intimate, yet lively performance before setting out on tour, I was sure they would delight the crowd.
The cinq a sept cocktail was next where Julian and his crew welcomed us with some champagne and wine from Vins Balthazard. The Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familia 2014 was crisp and delicious and a steal for only $21.70 at the SAQ.
La Force (Ariel Engle), opening for Feist, started with a subdued set that progressively let us feel the force of her voice. In a church with acoustics such as this, the acoustics can either reveal a mediocre singer or highlight a beautiful voice. Lucky for us, it was the latter. A tight 30 min set was perfect to set the mood for the feisty crowd. You can catch her with her other band Broken Social Scene, but make sure to see her next time around…worth it.
La Force = Star Wars = Pew Pew = church…it all adds up.
The lights dim, applause starts and Feist gets down to business with Pleasure. Starting mellow, but increasing in raw intensity, she rocked the house, something I was not expecting. It reminded me of early PJ Harvey.
I thought I knew Feist, but it turns out… I knew nothing at all. Sure, I knew a few of her hits. I pictured a cutesy set of happy-go-lucky songs. Tonight, I was schooled and Feist showed us just the kind of performer she is.
She was sweet, introducing almost every single song with a French translation of the title. Talk about endearing yourself to a North Shore crowd…most of which are French! Her French wasn’t perfect, but the complexity of what she communicated impressed us all…someone who is not afraid to get out of her comfort zone. That would bleed through the set tonight.
She was funny, her in between song banter was amusing. When the other musicians walked off to let her do the solo part of the set, she said: “Who needs those guys anyways… don’t tell them I said that.”
She’s a rebel! Right after “The Bad In Each Other”, there were three rows of VIP seating in the front. She asked who wanted to sit there, but was denied? She then invited a few to sit on the steps of the stage. A few seconds passed as the crowd was frozen with fear, then a brave soul accepted her invitation, which prompted a mad rush of more and more people. Feist commented that she will probably get in trouble for this…but in this case…she was creating VIFs. Very Important Fans.
This move broke the barrier between artist and crowd and energized the whole room.
One of the only songs without an intro was Sea Lion Woman. Everyone was up on their feet and clapping along, giving back as much energy as was expended by Feist.
After the song, Feist mentioned that La Force gave her a little history lesson about a famous marble statue by Gian Lorenzo Bernini called “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa”, for whom the church was named after. They say Bernini is to sculpture what Shakespeare is to drama. His statues display such vivid emotions, that they seem ready to explode to life.
“This is ecstasy.”, Feist said, motioning to the crowd before her, who did explode into life.
For “Any Party”, she gave us the secret of looking deep into someone’s eyes when saying “I want to leave the party with you.” She joked that because she could not translate this properly…the Anglos would have an unfair advantage.
One of the most powerful songs of the night was “Century” which highlighted Feist in a raw state, like on her fifth album Pleasure. The monologue on record within the song, sung by Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker was done by Torquil Campbell (Stars).
At the end of this energetic song, Feist said this was probably the first time ever a band asked their audience to sit back down and maybe even close their eyes. This song would be the one sung, as we exited our spaceship and arrived on our destination planet: “Baby Be Simple”
Feist then went solo with “Mushaboom” & a very soft rendition of “Gatekeeper”.
Unfortunately, I had to leave to make sure I covered a few of the other bands. Let’s just say I’m a newly converted fan.
Headed over to Le Montecristo for The Messthetics (members of Fugazi). Brendan Canty’s drum kit included a bell, hopefully not stolen from the church next door. Joe Lally and Anthony Pirog closing the circle of this experimental trio. Anthony seemed like he was having fun, like a kid in a candy store, but replace the candy with guitar pedals. The crowd seemed to get into it, but I wasn’t, it was too distant from the Feist vibe I just experienced. I’m sure if I would have stuck around, it would grow on me, but no time with so many bands that begs us to band surf.
La Protestante was a little off-site, but we managed to catch the last half of the Gulfer set. This Montreal band was a surprise find for me! Described as Alternative & Math Rock mixed with some Emo, they delighted the crowd with their guitar prowess. While most people hate Math, these boys figured out a way to make it not only palatable… but dance-worthy.
What a great way to end the night.
As I look back at my day, I got a haircut, talked about touring with a 1-year-old with Evan Cranley of Stars, tried an amazing brut, felt La Force, got re-educated with Feist and hit a hole in one with Gulfer. Not a bad first day.
Let’s do this again tomorrow!
Review – Randal Wark
Photos – Arianne Bergeron