at La Tulipe in Montreal
October 1st, 2008
By Jake Shenker
Ambient soundscapes, headbang-worthy guitar riffs, dazzling vocals, and a mosh pit full of indie kids. That’s really the only way to describe BEAST’s performance at La Tulipe in Montreal this week.
BEAST is a collaboration between acclaimed producer/drummer Jean-Phi Goncalves and singer Betty Bonifassi (famous, in part, for her work on the Triplettes de Belleville soundtrack). Together they have created an inimitable sound, a unique crossbreed of electronic loops and balls-out rock.
The duo was joined on stage by guitar and bass, with Jean-Phi playing drums and controlling electronics and Betty singing and rapping in her uniquely nasal voice. BEAST moved seamlessly through styles and sounds, opening with the catchy, visceral groove of “Finger Prints” and moving through the hip-hop oriented “Microsite” and the eerie, Theremin-accompanied “City.” Each song seemed to please the crowd more, prompting the stoic, well-dressed indie kids to down a few more beers and mosh like a bunch of aggressive teenagers at a Rancid show. That’s because, despite the unique electronic sounds and complex loops, BEAST is a simple group with catchy, well-structured tunes, and insanely heavy grooves.
Betty was certainly the focus of the crowd, who cheered and catcalled the moment she danced onstage (and again at every high note and cadene), while Jean-Phi — ever the producer — played the silent star, meticulously piloting his cockpit of drums and loop machines to construct BEAST’s intense sound. His use of electronics was conscientious and varied, at times offering only hand claps or toy-piano melodies to double guitar riffs, while sometimes playing huge drum loops or densely layered background vocals. Only during the encore did Jean-Phi step out from behind his gear and take the spotlight, dancing brazenly with Betty and singing verses on a bluesy tune.
BEAST’s debut album will be released on November 18th, but will be available on iTunes November 4th. For now, you can hear a few sample tracks on their Myspace. The band is on tour this month with You Say Party! We Say Die!; be sure to catch them at Toronto’s Wrong Bar on October 19th.