I recently traveled to Montreal to see The Sounds. They are a rock ‘n’ roll band from Sweden led by the fierce frontwoman Maja Ivarsson. Their music is a sonic blend of Blondie and The Cars with a bit of a punk bite for good measure. They had just released their third album, "Crossing the Rubicon," to much critical and commercial success and had recently finished a run of shows with No Doubt in Europe.
It was spacious and foggy, which was inside the Metropolis venue already prepped for extravagant light shows. Waiters with little platters scurried about getting alcoholic beverages for the French Canadian fans. It wasn’t too long before the lights dimmed and a band called Foxy Shazam took the stage. They looked like some kind of mismatch of styles from the 70s and 90s crossed with muppets. The lead singer, Eric Nally, wore a moustache and a hairdo that wouldn’t look out of place in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He also never stopped moving around the stage, beginning with a pratfall on his face, and continued on throughout the show with movements that could have been mistaken for the most bizarre yoga moves ever. At one point he even dry-humped his guitarist’s head while riding on his shoulders. All of Foxy Shazam’s blatant disregard for the taboo and energetic stage presence certainly embedded them into my memory.
Up next was the band Creature, who are all Montreal natives and dance-funk fashionistas. They wasted no time launching their post punk disco spell over the crowd. While they didn’t irreverently hump everything on the stage, they did bring their own unique energy to the Metropolis. Singer, keyboardist and auxiliary percussionist, stage-named Cowbella, ran frenzied around the stage with drumsticks in her hands and hit on toms, wood blocks, and yes, even her namesake instrument. She and guitarist and singer Kim Ho stunned the crowd with their on-point and lightening-quick raps and vocal talent. Kim Ho further showed his stage bravado by playing his guitar like a violin as the group smashed through their hits "Who’s Hot, Who’s Not" and "Pop Culture." The highlight of their set was when the glamorous girls in the group donned aviator sunglasses and military hats as the band sucked the crowd into their hypnotic rhythms on the track "Kandahar." As Creature’s funky sounds faded and they exited the stage, anticipation was as high as ever for The Sounds to take the stage.
As the clock inched toward ten o’clock, cheering and stomping shook the Metropolis until, under the red smoky lights, The Sounds emerged from backstage without lead singer Ivarrson as they began the title track off of their new album "Crossing the Rubicon." As the boys finished up the somber intro and launched into the next track, Ivarsson emerged to thunderous applause, clad in an Adidas striped hoodie, some serious bling, three-inch heels and the shortest shorts in the world. Armed with an arsenal of kicks and suggestive poses the singer wailed through "Queen of Apology" before pausing and reflecting about the creation of their new album, and how it was made for the fans and that she was so thankful for them. She then stated "this song is for you!" as the group began the epic riff from their latest single "No One Sleeps When I’m Awake."
The Sounds jammed through a collection of hits from their new album and their equally amazing sophomore album "Dying to Say This to You". After rifling through "Tony the Beat" and "Beat Box" the band slowed down for the piano ballad "Night After Night." Ivarsson took a swig of her Heinekin, lit a cigarette and implored the crowd to sing along, which they did obediently. Another highlight of the show was when The Sounds played "Don’t Want to Hurt You," a song that has been getting attention from being featured in a Geico ad that featured motorcycle-riding cavemen. During the song the crowd got noticeably wilder, pushing up against the stage and jumping erratically. After which, Ivarsson stated "You liked that one, huh?" with a wry smirk. The Sounds finished out their set with "Painted By Numbers," the lead single from their sophomore album "Dying to Say This to You," complete with a rhythmic hexagon synth pad duet between guitarist Felix Rodriguez and keyboardist Jesper Anderberg.
After a roaring request for an encore, The Sounds once again took the stage to play "Song with a Mission," "Hit Me" and "Living in America." Ivarsson thanked the crowd, handed out some beers and left the stage to a recording of their lullaby-like track "Goodnight Freedy," which was an appropriate ending to the evening.