Road Blog: Saturday May 21, 2016 - Montréal, QC
May 21, 2016
We had a long drive northeast to Montreal yesterday afternoon. Gabe was at the wheel to the soundtrack of Superchunk, Joni Mitchell, Rush, Sweet, and more. It was a beautiful day and great to finally be liberated from Toronto traffic, though we had a great time there. We checked into our AirBB, which was just on the east side of the city center, and headed into town (with The Nils blasting on the stereo) to hit a couple record stores. Montreal was alive with people out and about everywhere, enjoying a beautiful afternoon. It’s an incredible, beautiful city.
Our first stop was Cheap Thrills where I caught up with the owner Gary, who I’ve known for many years through my pal Woody from Magwheel Records. Gary’s always been supportive of our music whenever we’ve passed through and he has a great store. I picked up a copy of Accept – Balls To The Wall, though not the original German pressing I’ve been looking for, and a Fastway 12” single with 2 unreleased tracks. Great find! After Cheap Thrills we looked for Primitive Records – another great store, but were sad to learn that it had closed.
A few blocks up Rue Saint Denis we found a parking spot in front of the venue – The Bistro De Paris – and went in to scope it out. The soundguy Justin and the lovely bartender greeted us warmly. We left the truck where it was and headed off on foot for some dinner. A pal from Trois Rivieres (thanks Sylvain!) recommended a Poutinery called Frite Alors a couple blocks up, so we headed there and took some seats. They had a great menu and beers from one of my favorite breweries from Shawinigan, Quebec - Trou du diable (The Devil’s Hole). I’ve had some poutine in my day so I tend to go for the odd selections rather than the traditional, and I close the General Tao. Patty got the pork and Gabe got the Montreal (smoked meat). It was pretty damn good! We each agreed that Gabe probably got the best one, finished our dry stouts, and headed back to the venue to load in.
The Might Ffud was soundchecking while we carried in our gear and ordered drinks. The Bistro De Paris is a long narrow room with the stage backing up to the front window facing the street and a long bar up one side. In the back there’s a couple rows of slot machines that were being fed loonies by sad old men all night. After TMF were done we set up and ran through a couple tunes, dialing in our stage volume and the monitor mixes. Justin is a happy, bouncy guy and perpetuated our experience of Canada having the friendliest sound engineers! Mark (from TMF) picked up a couple Portuguese sandwiches for us that were amazing, but with bellies full of poutine, they were stowed away for our post-show meal.
We hit the stage around 10:30 to a thin but very enthusiastic group. We threw a couple different tunes into the set and revved it up a bit, as this was the last show of the run and our May tour. It sounded great on stage and we had a good time, though it was as hot as Hades up there. Some people call it Hell, I call it Hades. I’ve got a bad pre-amp tube in my head that needs attention, but she held up ok for most of the set. The Mighty Ffud played after us and they sounded fantastic again. They threw in a couple of cool covers at the end including Glad Girls by Guided By Voices, and Shakin’ Street by the MC5, which they dedicated to us. A little taste of home! Super fun. We sold some merch, had one last drink, said our goodbyes to the staff and our friends, and loaded out. Designated driver Patty got us back to our AirBB. Even at 2am Montreal was alive and bustling with activity. It’s a beautiful city, and always one of my favorites. I wished we had an extra night off to explore and party. We saw on Facebook that our pals Miski and Nicholas and their band City Mouse were playing across town. Strange to be so close to them so far away from home. Too bad we couldn’t hook up! We just listened to City Mouse yesterday on the drive over.
This morning we got showered and on the road early with a daunting 10 hour drive ahead of us. We’re somewhere east of Kingston right now, with Patty at the wheel, me navigating, playing the Chewbacca to his Han Solo, and Gabe in the back. The Vandals are tearing it up on the stereo and it’s another beautiful day in Ontario. Our Canadian run has been a blast and The Mighty Ffud and everyone in London, Toronto and Montreal have been wonderful hosts to these yanks from Michigan. Just a few hours of the 401, Toronto traffic, and US customs to get through before we’re home.
This brings to an end the May Tour, after three short runs covering upstate New York, the Midwest and Canada. We had a couple mild downers – playing in a godforsaken mall, a rough night Madison, and a couple pretty good hangovers, but we had plenty of great times too – Buffalo, Dubuque and Toronto leading the pack on each run. Overall, a good run, and we’re going home feeling content and satisfied. We’re living the dream here. Be good to each other folks. Thanks for reading – `till next time!