Love Above Par: Parlovr kick off Les Vendredis Nocturnes at Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art

Old East Coast nannies in Ralph Lauren sipping tea. Juxtapose that with loud hipsters, short shorts, Fender Strats and pedals. Now, imagine that as the graphic layout of a Parlovr set.

Self-pronounced “sloppy pop” indie punks Parlovr hosted the opening night of Les Vendredis Nocturnes this past Friday, September 3. Beginning in September, Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MACM) features musical productions alongside video footage and contemporary displays, with variations in performance, on the first Friday of each month. From September through December, Koudiam, Le Husky, and Courtney Wing will be playing similar shows as part of the series, so if you missed out on Parlovr, no need to throw up your arms in nostalgia.

Parlovr’s Alex Cooper, Louis David Jackson and Jeremy MacCuish, pardon the idiom, rocked out. The band was clearly comfortable in the museum, joking that they were a three-piece, twenty-first century reinvention of Blink-182. Stage bantering was well executed, well-timed, and comically endearing.

The room that hosted the band was situated next to a Borduas exhibit, as well as a boundary-pushing display on the many faceted uses of glass. The show synthesized the mediums of film, music, and painting – all realized within the confines of white-washed museum walls. Magenta lights graced the room, functioning as a welcome alternative to the hackneyed strobe. Upstairs, in the main hall, event promoters, PR representatives, photographers, and journalists were treated to an hour-long set, which featured tracks from the band’s self-titled release off Dine Alone Records. Fans welcomed the anticipated track “Big Love,” and the band even challenged the audience to a dance-off, inviting people up on stage to join them. By the end of the set, nearly half of the crowd was onstage with the band. Warhol was right; everyone was famous for fifteen minutes.

The actual performance space was quite small, in light of restrictions imposed by a municipal bylaw. The show was simulcast to the public through screens in the main hall of the museum. Foodies seemed pleased by the menu of the museum’s new bistro (aptly titled “Le Contemporain”), now open on Friday nights to complement Les Vendredis Nocturnes.

The interactive performance exploited the vagaries of “contemporary art,” blurring the gap between viewer and artist, between creation and reader response. Two men in white masks ravaged the displayed art in the main hall of the museum, screaming unintelligibly and literally punching holes through the canvas. These Nietzschean moments reached an aesthetic apex in the violent destruction of the actual artwork, which fostered uncanny reactions from visitors. Two points for Arte Povera.

The gig itself was laid back, without pretensions. Parlovr repeatedly referred to their next song as “sexy.” I couldn’t even give you an exact figure of how many times the word “sexy” was repeated. The video footage, albeit somewhat nausea-inducing, catapulted the viewer through the underworld of Montreal streets and through images of traffic signs, rustic warehouses, and strangers.

Parlovr proved themselves a refreshing break from the overly orchestrated tunes pumping out of the city’s basements and concert halls. They paid homage to the origins of garage rock. All in all, their sound is Pavement-bad; synth keys, old fashioned electric punches, and a wicked drummer with a Fleet Foxes beard. These guys should be lauded for being underground progenitors of authentic subculture. True to their roots. Awesome gig.

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