Saturday nite in Montreal–my liver is doomed!

Multiple choice question: What shouldn’t you do at the onset of a cold?

A) Walk around outside in sub-zero temperatures
B) Drink half your age in beers
C) Stay out late past 3 am
D) All of the above

If you answered D, you’ll have how I spent last Saturday nite in Montreal.  While I woke up on Sunday no worse for wear, it was well worth it.  The occasion was a brand-new doomfest called Montreal is Doomed, featuring an exclusive, one-off performance from cult legends Pagan Altar.  Needless to say, a little coughing was not gonna stop me from attending this event!

I got into town around 4 and took a circuitous route to my hotel after heading down the wrong street.  Later, I walked right past the venue without noticing, which is kinda hard to do, as Les Katacombes is an isolated structure on a corner lot–but hey, I guess I was feeling a little light-headed.

Grabbed some food at Schwartz’s Deli, a local institution.  These guys are the kings of smoked meat, although Caplansky’s in Toronto comes close.  Still had a couple hours to kill, so I figured I’d hit the bottle.  On St-Laurent in Montreal, booze isn’t too hard to find…

The closest bar to the venue was a place called Factory.  (I guess L’Usine doesn’t have the same ring to it…)  The menus were all in English, and the bartender greeted me en anglais, even though French was clearly her first language.  I thought they had laws against that, but I digress.  Unfortunately, Factory didn’t satisfy my need for Quebec brews.  They had a pretty stock beer selection, mostly Molson and Budweiser products.  After a coupla Keith’s, I decided to move on.  Place looked nice, but it was almost completely empty…

I guess things were pretty quiet on the Montreal pub scene cuz the Habs had played an afternoon game, so the bars weren’t as busy in the evening.  When I went to an Irish pub up the street, they actually switched from US college football to the Leafs and Bruins.  You know it’s a slow nite in Montreal when they’re showing the Leafs!

Alas, when I approached the only franco barmaid in the place, even she didn’t have any Belle Gueule or Boreale on tap.  I had to settle for Labatt Bleue.  But I found Salvation’s Answer upon entering Les Katacombes: massive 660 ml bottles of Belle Gueule and Tremblay for six bucks apiece!  Suffice to say, I had a couple of those…

A semi-local band was on first, Cauchemar from Montreal/Ottawa.  Pretty solid opener, female-fronted trad metal with doomy tendencies.  They busted out a coupla covers, including a spirited rendition of “The Wizard,” complete with harmonica.  Good way to start the evening…

It’s worth noting that the music in between bands was outstanding, truly befitting of a doom festival.  Candlemass, Vitus, Reverend Bizarre, Witchfinder General and all points in between.  There are so many venues that play such terrible music between bands (recent example: The Agora playing Kid Rock before Accept took the stage in October), so I was pleased that Les Katacombes looked after us in that regard.

Revelation was on next, and while they coulda fought for second billing over a band whose debut came out in ’08, they were just happy to be playing for more than five people in Baltimore.  An enthusiastic audience applauded their brand of melodic, melancholic doom throughout, both old and new material.  The space seemed to be the perfect size for the event–while hardly cavernous, it held everyone comfortably.

Blood Ceremony played the same set as they did at The Garrison one week prior.  Of course, I was probably the only person who saw both shows.  Alas, twas another solid performance, though the organ was too low in the mix.  Can’t say enough about their new bass player, who’s drastically improved their bottom end.  The old guy looked the part, but this dude can actually play…

Pagan Altar, wow.  By the time they took the stage, I already had a splitting headache, and the aftertaste of booze and vomit was so overpowering that I couldn’t open my mouth to even cheer.  But there was no way I would call it a nite till I got through both sets from the UK doomsters.

That’s right, I said both sets.  They started with 90 minutes from their last two albums, and a few brand new ones as well.  Played till 2 am, then came back to do Volume 1 almost in its entirety, decked out in black hooded robes.  Terry Jones hit the mark with his Ozzy-with-pneumonia wails, while Alan Jones burned his searing leads into my throbbing skull.  Tunes like “Judgement of the Dead,” “The Black Mass” and “Reincarnation” never sounded so massive!  The lone omission was “Night Rider,” which I can live without, though I’m sure they woulda played it if the clock hadn’t struck 3 in the morning…

A couple observations of St-Laurent at 3 am.  For one thing, La Belle Province is completely packed, you could not even find an empty table.  Drunk people sure like their hot dogs….  And apparently, after closing time all the strippers at the seedier clubs become hookers.  One old hag actually grabbed my arm when I walked by, completely wasted and shivering from the cold.  I guess the rules about touching the dancers go both ways.

Peace,

Greg

P.S.: Tonite’s edition of Smokin’ Green will feature tunes from Cauchemar, Revelation, Blood Ceremony and Pagan Altar, among others.  Be sure to tune in from 1 till 3 am at 88.1 fm on yer radio, channel 947 on yer TV or www.ckln.fm on yer computer!  Playlist to be posted over here afterwards...

Gruesome Greg

Seahawks/Stamps/Flames/Zags/Jays/Raptors fan and lifelong metal head with a beer gut and a self-deprecating sense of humour. Reviewer/blogger (Yon Senior Doomsayer) for Hellbound.ca.