Our series of four artist Q&As are complete – The Caretaker and Mouse On Mars completed the set yesterday, and all four should be available to download soon. So last night was the first time we got out on the town proper, heading away from the main Monument-National venue and into the clubs – although as it happens, they're just across the road. Sat and Club Soda are right over the street, separated by a few strip clubs. The main area of Mutek used to be (and still partially is) a red light district, and there's a square just around there which is a big area for street drinkers, but with the number of people on the street due to Montreal's balmy weather, it's a intimate, friendly atmosphere both inside and out the clubs.
Club Soda has one main room with a high ceiling and balconies down the side, everything pointing your attention to the stage, with concrete and metal decor and DJs span banging Techno most of the night. Actress was - eventually - terrific, but started slowly and in linear fashion compared to the recent album. The layers finally blurred together, and half way through the bass drums felt to me like they were going backwards.... hard to describe, but Actress (standing stock still, peering down at laptop) had a sizeable crowd dancing to a wildly churned-up mass of sound.
Sat is a great club, in a sense the opposite design wise to Club Soda – the entrance (which might be temporary) was down some iron stairs and through a basement, where you walked up into the main room, a spacious, horizontal warehouse type zone supported by large concrete pillars. In the front the soundsystem was astonishing, clean, tough yet warm so you were completely immersed in the music, yet at the back of the club, windows looked out onto the street, and there was space and (red?) light from outside. A beautiful balance.
Demdike Stare played a set which was rather straighter than their recent albums, although the visuals (retro European horror films I guess) were terrific, across several large horizontal screens at the back. During King Midas Sound, you couldn't see much more than than dry ice and Kevin Martin's hat jagging back and forth above his equipment. They were loud as hell, impressively so, although it's a completely different experience from the intimacy of the album. Ikonika played an energetic and surprisingly House-y set afterwards.
So far in Montreal, we seem to have worked, hung out and checked out music on more or less the same block. We're almost unaware of the rest of the city (something we're rectifying this afternoon) but this central area is a great, fluid zone of venues, music and people, something it's not easy to pull off at a city festival.