Cousins at the Khyber. Not my cousins, but maybe yours.

Greetings Haligonians,
I've hauled myself up to Montreal to witness this year's Pop Montreal festival. This year's headliners include everything from the Butthole Surfers to Jay Reatard to Sufjan Stevens to Buffy Ste-Marie. It's patently impossible to see everything one wants, so I'm just aiming for most of it. The Halifax music scene is well-represented with appearances from Dog Day, York Redoubt, a Youth Club Records showcase (with Fall Horsie, Omon Ra, Cousins and Play Guitar), Ghost Bees, and a whole slew of ex-local bands as well.

I got in late last night and just went to check out my friend Charlotte Cornfield's show. She released her second EP in the spring, toured Canada and the States over the summer, and has been getting lots of well-deserved attention, and mentioning her name to any Montrealers always seems to elicit an "Oh yeah, she's fantastic!" She had a mostly-brand-new band joining her last night and sounded great.

But before that, I noticed a lot of weird-looking characters filing in to the club (Club Balattou, a former strip club).

These characters were Sean Nicholas Savage and entourage. Backed by an assortment of musicians dressed in some sort of gothic-folk attire, including raccoon-eyed twins (or possibly just two girls trying to appear as such), Savage waltzed out in a suit and delivered a succession of songs that were part dark and poppy, part some kind of 1960s folk-ballad revival. They would be right in place at a party in The Nightmare Before Christmas. An Edmonton native, Savage appears to have a sizeable cult following here, as most of his cult trailed out after his set, and I'm still not sure whether I found the whole thing totally fascinating or totally stuck-up.

Sean Nicholas Savage (image Arbutus Records)
  • Sean Nicholas Savage (image Arbutus Records)

Tonight I'm seeing shock-punk gross-out artists the Butthole Surfers, who are all fiftyish now, so I'm curious to see how their live shows play out these days. Some other things I'm pretty psyched for are Lydia Lunch's no-wave band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks tomorrow, Krautrock-electronic-art legends Faust on Saturday with Black Feelings, and two other acts tonight who I've never had the chance to see live, Toronto electro-rockabilly act Slim Twig, and Montreal-Toronto indie-rock-jazzy-ukulele group Sister Suvi, whose album came out in the spring and has been on regular rotation at my house since.

The Butthole Surfers.  Gibby Haynes is wearing a shirt from the company my dad worked for in the 80s, so all my drawing paper as a kid had the same logo on it.
  • The Butthole Surfers. Gibby Haynes is wearing a shirt from the company my dad worked for in the 80s, so all my drawing paper used to have the same logo on it.

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