The BRBR-hosted CMW showcase was held at The Gladstone this past Thursday. Many bands from Montreal played, including Karim Ouflett and Peter Peter. Headliners for the night were Eight and a Half, the trio comprised of Justin Peroff from Broken Social Scene, and Dave Hammelin and Liam O’Neil from The Stills. Eight and a Half’s sound is distinctive and mesmerizing. The trio played songs off of their debut self-titled album, which Hamelin stated was written about his best friends.
The cameramen filming up front were distracting; I was half paying attention to the stage and half paying attention to their moving bodies, wondering what would happen if they fell. Aside from that, the band performed with ease and passion, evident in the faces of each member. Some sound difficulties led to a slightly later start, but the crowd seemed unperturbed.
Addressing the crowd in both French and English, Hamelin was slightly aloof but extremely captivating. When taking to the microphone for songs like ‘Scissors’ and ‘Go Ego’, he seems to shed a layer and expose part of himself to the audience. Peroff, as expected, played with vigour and excellence, providing a strong backbeat for every track, while O’Neil stands strong behind his synthesizer, head bobbing and leg shaking in time with his intricate sound productions.
The performance was memorable, which didn’t surprise me. The trio are more than capable of holding their own and forming a distinct identity apart from the members’ previous musicial associations. Peroff has stated that the band is focusing more on touring, which makes sense. The synth heavy songs paired with Hammelin’s soothing vocals translate well into a live performance.