This 10th May, the cool kids in town stayed home with their mums it seems. BRONCHO, the Oklahoma indie songsters who wrote one of last year’s catchiest songs, Class Historian, were the only people standing outside on the pavement when I got to Divan Orange this Sunday. A bit too shy to engage, I went right in and straight to the bar with my friend Anne-Marie. There is a band of fresh-faced young men on the stage – I wouldn’t call them Strange Faces – but heck, that’s a pretty good name for a band. They sound very decent in a rreverby punk rock sort of way.

Two policemen/women are behind the bar, making a fuss with the venue manager about the sound level being too loud. I feel for the Divan’s team who have already spent a small fortune on fines following noise complaints. A loud gig this will not be.

Right next to me comes Ryan Lindsey, BRONCHO’s singer and I jump in: “Must be pretty strange playing here after doing Bell Center last time in this city.”

I get a pained expression back. Maybe not the best way to start a conversation…

– “What was it like being the opening act for Billy Idol?” I ask.

– “The Montreal gig was the best one with him. It was pretty cool. Did you see it?”

– “No I missed it. That’s why i’m here tonight. Looking forward to seeing you play.”

– “Well – I cant promise much but will do my best.” He looks like he needs cheering up, so I go:

– “What are you drinking?”

– “Do you do Tequila here in Montreal?”

– “Indeed we do, but i’m working tomorrow.” I buy two tequilas, give him both and say:

– “Does a member of your band want one?”

– “She’ll have it.” A pretty blonde I hadn’t noticed before steps in from behind him. There has to be SOME consolations to playing a half empty venue. They drink up, bite the lemon and then it’s his turn to walk onstage.

What really enticed me to go see this band is that they know the secret to a good indie rock hook. Their latest album Just Enough Hip to be a Woman is filled with them, with this comes a fair amount of “duh duh duh” and “la la la” type of lyrics.  They play a lot of material from the recent album, my personal highlights are It’s On and NC – 17, then a massive surge of energy goes through the crowd when they play Try Me Out Sometime from their first album. Everybody up.

After a 1-hour set, they close the show with their latest hit Class Historian – by this stage, all 64 people in the bar are up and dancing, including my friend who had never heard them before. That can’t be bad. But you can see something else in the band’s eyes: they feel they deserve to do better, to play to a much bigger crowd. It must be disappointing when you spend 5 years touring and get no more followers than this. For example, I remember seeing Future Islands in tiny places three times before they hit the big time and filled the Metropolis. The look on the singer’s face when he stepped out onto this nice venue’s stage and saw the large crowd and the filled balcony was priceless. I had bought him a tequila at his previous gig too. The Artist’s life can be a tough one.

Overall, I had a great night. When we step out, the guys from Strange Faces engage us in conversation, they say they are from Chicago but not really from Chicago, mostly midwestern suburbs of America. This is the first time they are out of the States and they are asking for what’s good in Montreal right now. I list a few places then tell them they are in the heart of it all, they can step any direction on the Main and find somewhere fun. They have talent, dreams and life ahead of them. Looking at their eager hopefulness makes me wish life turns out good for them, that their next venue will be sold out so that they can make a living out of their music. Good luck guys!

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About The Author

Collaborator - RREVERB

Julie was born from a trumpeter dad and a drummer mum with music written in her DNA. She is from this generation that went from listening to vinyl, to creating mixtapes on cassettes, to splurging her early savings on a CD player, to discovering Napster, the iPod and so on... In 2005 she took part in the launch of Radiolibre, Quebec's first music streaming service and in 2006 started, a francophone MP3 store. She spent 10 years looking after over 80 Canadian radio websites and has a ticket stub diary of over 300 shows.