Bright lights, gig city: The first two nights of HPX 2016

In which our correspondent digs She-Devils, White Lung, The Yips, Crossed Wires and Not You.

She-Devils' Audrey Ann Boucher and, in the background with his suitcase full of electronics, Kyle Jukka. - LAURA KENINS
Laura Kenins
She-Devils' Audrey Ann Boucher and, in the background with his suitcase full of electronics, Kyle Jukka.

The Art Bar was the perfect home Wednesday night for Montreal’s She-Devils. Audrey Ann Boucher dresses like a youthful version of Xavier Dolan’s belaguered mother in J’ai Tué Ma Mère, and the band plays like a soundtrack, with a smooth while electronic sound ranging from the dreamily droning to the upbeat. Bandmate Kyle Jukka hovers in the back with a suitcase full of electronics. Like being stuck on a film set from an unclear decade sometime in the second half of the twentieth century.

Thursday’s bill of locals Crossed Wires and Not You with out-of-towners White Lung and The Yips is one of the top lineups of the festival, with four loud female-fronted bands.

White Lung is so good I had to see them twice—on the main stage of The Marquee Wednesday, and downstairs Thursday at The Seahorse. The Vancouver punk group put on a loud, forceful performance at both. Vocalist Mish Barber-Way puts a clear take-no-shit attitude on stage, with a snarl echoing The Gits’ Mia Zapata. This band seemed equally at home in a pushy upstairs crowd or tossing microphones around downstairs. Could you jump around the Seahorse’s low-ceilinged stage in boots with six-inch heels? That’s right, you couldn’t.

Ottawa’s The Yips are heavier than their name suggests, with a psychedelic twang underlying the intensity of the post-punk vocals. Vocalist Kerri Carisse knows how to scream. Dark, raw and loud.

As for Not You, I may be biased: This is my editor Stephanie Johns' band, so I was going to love them even if I didn't love them. But having played only about four shows so far, two of them festival appearances, this is already a Halifax supergroup to be reckoned with. With Nancy Urich (Dog Day), Meg Yoshida (Bad Vibrations) and Rebecca Young (The Got to Get Got, Pastoralia), the music brings together the best of everyone’s current and former bands, with Urich’s and Johns’ vocals melding nicely together in an unexpected way. Just go see this band.

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