If you ever happen to chance upon Montreal’s The Submissives, you will notice something is definitely off in their music. The longing and heartbreak sounds medicated, if not sedated. It’s indie-pop at a degree removed from conventional. Most important is the mood it evokes. Not quite country, not quite folk, guitars that sound like they are dying, and a basic rhythmic pulse that almost doesn’t hold things together.
Their concept is also visual. Dressed in white, they make their entrance sometimes with male ushers, one by one, with two lead singers, reciting fragments of love letters, and handing out invitations like a mock-wedding.
When the stars align, their choice of venue is unusual and splendid. Snack N’ Blues, the old mainstay in the Mile-End neighborhood of Montreal, before it went hipster, was one of the only venues who refused to enforce the no-smoking ban a few years after it came into effect. The old man working the door, is also the owner, and he hands out free candy (and cigarettes) to patrons, decorates the walls with blues and jazz icons, and maintains a pool table in the back for the old guard who doesn’t care about the music. There is hardly any space for a band to play. In the realm of minimal and off-kilter, Snack N’ Blues is it!
The band setup their gear right by the entrance, as if arranging a window display. The place filled up fast and care had to be taken to not trip over the musicians. A new guitarist was premiering that night (member of Guy Madonna), and quite frankly, it was a success! Hits such as “Betty Told Me” and “Do You Really Love Me?” along with new songs, carried everyone into the atmosphere of an old Southern bar in Memphis. Blues, country, folk, with a psychedelic tinge. It was a sweaty affair, especially with the suit I was wearing, and I made my way out into the cool night immediately after their set.