"--yeah dude. The chick just fucking choked on her girlfriend's candy panties."
I'm walking down the street with Jordan and Adam, from La Dispute, and Jon and Erik from Balance&Composure. As we pass by our third sex shop in a row, Jordan tells us how he saw on TV that a lesbian couple's romantic night ended up in a quite morbid way. We end up at the pizza joint right accross the street from the venue, where they also sell hot-dogs. Staring up at the menu, Jordan asks me "Hey, Billy! What the hell is a Michigan hot-dog?". I assumed that as Michigan natives, they'd know what a Michigan is, but apparently, you can't get them in Grand Rapids.
"You know, it's really hard eating on the road when you're vegetarian. But it's kinda like with everything. The more you tour, the more you find the cool joints. But half the time, I just end up eating slices of pizza. Or eating falafels for 3 fuckings days straight.", Jon notes, when I ask them about their eating habits. "Oh dude, you remember that time all we had was a can of steamed tomatoes and dry ramen noodles?", he asks Erik. "We ended up making ramen-ghetti. On the moment. it sounded like a genius idea. Didn't turn out to be that good."
We sit down at the Place-des-Arts, share our fair load of funny stories about shows and hotel parties.
"You know, that's what's really cool about Europe. Most venues have rooms for the bands. And like a three-course vegan meals. Especially in France, promoters have a different concept of how they treat their artists. It's awesome."
We head back to the Underworld venue, and while the other guys go and greet fans, me and Vass head inside the shop to have a little one-on-one time. Mostly taciturn, having a talk with Vass felt kinda like cracking a nut open, and finding a gold nugget inside.
"I haven't been home for a while, 'cause I was on tour with Touché [Amoré] doing merch for them. I even missed our listening party. So, yeah, I forgot to wear socks.", he confides.
Later, the boys in Balance&Composure start their set. These guys have a way of catching your attention without being overly catchy. Their set was great, and particularly tight. It is pretty uncommon to see bands with 3 guitars, and often when a band does, at least one of those guitars is completely useless. But not in the case of Balance&Composure. It offers a rich, deep sound, which complements Jon's lightly raspy voice perfectly. Keep your eyes peeled for ths band, because I would be very surprised if they didn't break out onto the more "mainstream"scene soon.
And then came on the "piece de résistance":the almighty La Dispute. From the first riff of "New Storms for Older Lovers", the band drags you in to their universe, where hope and despair, love and hate, ultimately collide. From this point, you have two choices: either you throwdown, push other people and make your way to the front of the stage to sing along with Jordan, or you close your eyes and see the stories of La Dispute unfold. The beaches where waves crash and clouds roll, or the airport where Andria leaves you for years. The heavy guitar riffs, the majestuous drums and the constant kick of Vass's bass, thumping through your whole body, all mixed in with Jordan's fabulous lyrics, which he howls at you, letting you into his heart. In the span of an hour, La Dispute will make you pass by a scale of emotions. The small venue calls for an intimacy, the impression that you're just jamming with them in a garage. In between songs, people have conversations with the band, and everyone laughs. This brings Jordan to deliver a powerful speech:
"I think it's really amazing and important that we can all get together, to celebrate life, friendship with art. Once we learn to respect each other, we are able to create this great environment to grow together. This is really important, thank you for helping us create this. Montreal is one of our favorite cities in the world, and we actually mean that. Thank you so much for making us feel like family."
All in all, it is impossible not to leave a La Dispute show light-hearted, because it felt more like spending time with good friends you don't get to see often than seeing your favorite band play.
Big thanks to Chris Pacifico at SolidPR for hooking us up with these two intervews. Thanks to everyone at Extensive for booking the bands, and mostly huge thanks to the bands for giving us a great time.