Heavy Trip First Anniversary with Alaclair Ensemble, Duchess Says, Chocolat and Solids Piccolo Rialto, Montreal QC, December 4

Heavy Trip First Anniversary with Alaclair Ensemble, Duchess Says, Chocolat and Solids Piccolo Rialto, Montreal QC, December 4
Photo: Luke Orlando
Judging by its stellar roster, it's hard to believe that Montreal booking and management company Heavy Trip has only been in operation for a year. Boasting acts like the Posterz, Duchess Says, Alaclair Ensemble, We Are Wolves and HEAT, Michael Bardier's passion project is definitely paying off, taking over the Montreal alternative scene in its short existence. And what better way to celebrate their first anniversary than to showcase his company's considerable talent portfolio at the Rialto Theatre's little brother, the Piccolo Rialto?

Montreal rock band Solids have been performing for so long now that it's almost inconceivable that their first full-length release, Blame Confusion, only came out this year. The duo, consisting of Xavier Germain-Poitras on guitar and Louis Guillemette on drums, lived up to their name, as they always do, by performing hard and loud, while always infusing their performance with the musicality they've become associated with. While their set was short, it was the perfect primer for a packed night of talented performances.

Jimmy Hunt's other musical project Chocolat, formed in 2006 with Ysael Pépin on bass, Brian Hildebrand on drums, Martin Chouinard on keyboards, are currently prepping their second studio album alongside new member Emmanuel Ethier on guitar. Judging by the material they played, we should all be looking forward to it. They barely registered any breaks during their focused performance, inciting the first moshpit of the evening. Suddenly, Hildebrand stood up and gave away his snare drum to a crowd member before running off stage, effectively ending Chocolat's amazing set.

With the room basked in darkness and a slideshow featuring alternating patterns, stock imagery, science paraphernalia and other random images, Montreal punk band and purveyors of "moog rock" Duchess Says came onstage while "I'M AN IDEA" flashed in the background. The material performed earlier in the set was more prog-rock than punk, but showcased the five-piece's ability to switch gears seamlessly. With a backing sax beat, one that almost didn't sound like sax, frontwoman Annie-Claude displayed her beast-like stage presence, constantly engaging the audience and at one point even performing atop a crowd member's shoulders. They got everyone to crouch before jumping up during highlight "Time To Reiterate," at which point they invited fans to dance along on stage. With already two stellar performances preceding them, Duchess Says still managed to up the night's ante.

The final set of the night belonged to Franglais rap collective Alaclair Ensemble, who performed admirably, if not somewhat comically. They were nothing if not utterly entertaining, getting the crowd to dance along with them during their cover of Tork's "South Shore Dope." And while they may sometimes rely too much on existing artists' production, such as Jay-Z & Kanye's "Ni**as in Paris", they know how to party, inviting Heavy Trip founder Michael Bardier on stage so that the whole crew could perform topless push-ups. They finished by inciting the crowd to slow dance, a fun way to end a fantastic night.