Canceled in Stereo or Montreal Needs Happier Hipsters
In my on-going quest to slander music scenes across the globe, I present a very special post today: a guest essay from Sacha Orenstein, illustrating the perils of the treacherous world of Montreal hipsters. Most of the time, Sacha writes about hip-hop for the very stellar website, Oh Word. In general, he dislikes Montreal’s indie scene. He still pretends to enjoy the Arcade Fire to pick up art-school chicks though.
“Apples In Stereo show canceled due to illness”
That wasn’t the first thing that came to mind, staring down the sign hastily posted to the door of my local venue. But sometime after paging the crew to stay home and wondering what power-pop groups sound like with the flu, I realized that I’d offered to write a show review for The Passion of the Weiss only to quite suddenly lose my topic. I thought about going meta and writing about the rest of the night, but I’ll spare you a discussion on a friend’s love life, if only to avoid re-living a rant on "rich feminists." Instead, I’m going to go rhetorical and examine the question: why is the Montreal music scene so damned sad? Not sad as in “it sucks” but sad as in “cheer the fuck up and stop the droning, PLEASE”.
Look to the Mountie, Montreal Hipsters. Look to the Mountie
Realistically, I doubt Montreal’s doom-n-gloom suddenly infected Robert Shneider, but philosophically, it sorta' makes sense. You’ll never witness an Elephant 6 style sun-psych collective emerge from Montreal. Hell, the happiest band we’ve ever been associated with has nothing to do with us. Instead, its The Arcade Fire’s nervous breakdown on wax, Wolf Parade’s melody-free angst, Silver Mount Zion’s black-metal sans metal, Godspeed You Black Emperor’s pretension, Ghislain Poirier’s tuneless trip-hop…stop me when you’re bored. Even our lighter bands like The Unicorns and The Dears are considerably more morose and downtrodden than average.
The obvious culprit is the weather (we blame everything on the weather) but people here party year round, it’s just the bands that stay stuck in perpetual shade. It could be a misguided attempt at self-identification: the French bands party for their right to fight and it’s pretty good if you’re willing to bump the whitest music known to man. Maybe all the shoe-gazing is the result of white/anglo guilt. Or maybe it’s the lack of black people. Or maybe the city’s full of dicks. I’m no sociologist; all I know is that the scene around here makes Williamsburg look like Athens (laugh now and figure the shit out when you get home).
I guess it’s pretty cool if you don’t live IN Montreal, which explains the music press’ pavlovian response every time another bunch of local saps with guitars release a break-up record. But here’s the thing: they don’t have to live with these people. Imagine being surrounded on a daily basis by scenesters who completely identify with the above bands. it’s enough to make you want to scrawl on the eyeliner and go goth yourself. Say what you want about LA’s vapid materialism but at least people pretend to be happy for money, the only time people smile around here is when they get into an exclusive unannounced show…and mostly because they get to brag about it, not because of the actual music.
Does This Man Look Happy to You?
Granted, it’s not all bad: we have awesome strip clubs, some unique food, cheap housing and quality mass transit. But if we have all of this cool stuff, why does our music constantly sound like an art school student’s installation project about his shitty childhood? It's like Q-Tip said, "I dunno man, I dunno man, I dunno." Perhaps we should demand government funded Prozac…or at the very least, LSD.