The key word for the MEG (Montreal Electronic Groove) festival is simple: party. It’s the “groove” part of that equation, and at that it does its job fairly well – just as long as you know which night and venue are the ones to float your (MEG) Boat… ahem, so to speak…
In truth though, that’s the part that’s not always the most obvious. With such a broad spectrum of genres on hand – including, quite counter intuitively, some straight-up indie rock – it can be tricky to narrow down your own personal MEG.
On a two-hour circuit that led from Divan Orange over to Salon Officiel, back to Divan Orange, and finally through Quai des Brumes, I was treated to live-instrumentation electronica, synth-pop electro, put-a-bounce-in-your-step house music, and finally some rock that had little electronic about it. A peculiar thing really, for a festival of its name…
But let’s not get bogged down in analyses here: The MEG festival (for the most part) might not be blazing any trails, and it probably won’t light up any headlines overseas either – we’ll leave all that to MUTEK. This festival just wants to give you a good time, and no matter your fancy – hip-hop? dubstep? electro-pop? disco-house? – it’s sure to find something to tickle it.
By far the highlight of last night’s musical jaunt was French electronic performer Secret Maker, performing at Divan Orange from 11 pm to midnight (and again for a reprise July 30 at Quai des Brumes). A true electronic musician in every sense of the term, Secret Maker’s live instrumentation added a hearty depth to his layered soundscapes. Standing at the controls of the electric violin, the crowds were lifted away, their limbs riding the sonic waves that seemed to sweep over the whole room.
This stunning act was then followed up by some futurist Japanese kitsch, care of local synth-electro duo Beat Market. Dressed in glow-stick bodysuits, the poppy beats were enough to bob your head to, but it was hard not to find it lacking in force and complexity, especially when contrasted with the act that came before.
Over at Salon Officiel, Montreal group Black Tiger Sex Machine was working the crowds with their typical fare of bouncy house beats and some familiar tunes, while over at Quai des Brumes, it was local band The Easton Ellises who had their crowd rocking out to their rock’n’roll riffs.
Long story short? With such a wide gamut of sound to explore, there are sure to be gems (as well as some flops), and there’s bound to be something for everyone, even for those not as keen on electronica. And while last night’s programming may not have offered as many surprises as one would have hoped for an underground music festival, at the end of the day, better a weekend with MEG than one without.