Published Aug 17, 2018The crowd in the backyard of Blanc de Blanc was transfixed by three delicate, stripped-down sets on a night that brought together the best of summer in Montreal: an intimate show between friends taking advantage of when it's warm and sunny outside.
The show was part of the Backyard Sessions put on all summer by KickDrum at Plateau café / laundromat Blanc de Blanc. As local artists Alexia Avina, Year of Glad and Eric Séguin played, the canopy of leaves above rustled as the sounds of chirping birds were replaced by crickets while the sun set, windows from the surrounding homes illuminating one by one throughout the evening.
Alexia Avina sat cross-legged on the stage with her pedals around her, looping and effecting her voice and guitar as we drifted from one song to the next. She played new, yet unreleased songs, though sounds of the neighbourhood fluttering in and out through the set gave it a texture familiar to "I Don't Want All Your Money," the opening track off Betting on an Island, her record that came out earlier this year.
She sat in a trance-like state as we took in her ethereal arrangements, her layered vocals acting as both the foundation and centrepiece as her guitar wove it all together.
Year of Glad's Alexandre Bergeron (pictured) was also performing solo tonight, moving in an instant from his falsetto to a ghost-like whisper as his songs built up and back down again, pushed forward by the strumming of his guitar. His head shaking and eyes rolling back as each track hit its high point, it felt like he was singing in tongues as his voice went through its metamorphosis.
The intimate "Josephine" was followed by "Dryheavens," given a lush quality by Alexia, who joined him to harmonize. His set ended with Eric Séguin playing along with his lap steel.
Starting things off was Eric Séguin, accompanied by his fellow Raveen member Stokely Diamantis on bass. He professed he hadn't played guitar in a while, and that he was trying out songs he had only written in the last two weeks. But he managed to captivate the crowd, singing over Stokely's accompanying bass parts, which at times were adding rhythm, and at others adding texture through heavily-effected crescendos.
The songs had a soft, beautiful quality, including a cover of Moses Sumney's "Doomed." At other times, the music took on a more Americana feel (Eric said these songs had been written in a cabin), adding the twang of his lap steel over looped guitar.