I was on my way home from The Music Gallery when I stumbled upon a bunch of kids milling around outside the Polish Combatants Hall (no website): a cinderblock structure on a nondescript side street with military uniforms and ancient, yellowing photos in the lobby. I went upstairs, and found experimental folkie tUnE-YaRdS
- who I caught a couple of months ago in Austin
- performing on the wide, curtained stage. Apparently, I'd stumbled upon yet another Over The Top showcase.
After Tune-Yard's set, I grabbed an Okocim and met up with Lauren, one of Over The Top's promoters. She told me this was pretty much the only all-ages festival in all of Canada.
"Have you met Eric (Warner)?" she asked. "He founded the festival seven years ago, when he was
When I told her I hadn't heard of the next band on the bill, Montreal's Think About Life
, she reared her head back and said: "Wow. You're in for a treat. Definitely stick around for them."
She wasn't kidding. Led by Seychelles-native Martin Cesar, they played high-energy, techno-infused Afropop that had the crowd nodding their heads in approval.
"I think I'm in love with each and every one of you in this audience," Cesar said early on.
"Bullshit," replied one young curmudgeon.
"Oh yeah?" Cesar replied. "Why don't you come here and give me a kiss?"
So he did. A big, wet one.
It wasn't long after that they broke through the thick Ontario reserve and had everyone up and dancing. The band would create a slow build, then cut it off just as things were about to climax. It was like sex, only louder.
By the time they came out for their encore, the band had most of the audience up on stage with them: a gimmick I've seen plenty times before, but never has it felt like such a genuine release.
As for tonight, Lauren advised me to check out the Mod Club and Sneaky Dees, both on College Street west. Count me in. (More pics below.)