Misteur Valaire - Musee D’Civilization - Hull, Quebec - February 11, 2012
Review by Aaron Binder
Photos by Erin Burrell
Not to say there has never been a reason, but in this case there never has been a BETTER reason to party in a museum than checking out North America's most talented electro-jazz band. The Great Hall in the Museum of Civilization is certainly a gorgeous venue; authentic totem poles loom overhead as one enters, reflecting upon thousands of years of Aboriginal history, sullen and majestic in their sky-high stature.
As we continue to carve our own diverse Canadian history, music and culture become increasingly essential. What also becomes important is recognizing the different types of music culture we have across the country. Too often we become embattled in proving one province better or worse than another when in reality, it can be said we all have exceptional talent. Which is why I have the exceptional privilege of presenting to you one of Quebec’s great new acts – Misteur Valaire.
Across the river from Ottawa is the city of Hull, famous for plying 18 year olds from the University of Ottawa with legal booze; it truly is fascinating to see the cultural difference a 10 minute walk across the provincial border will give you. You see, even though it’s possible to see the parliament building perched atop the massive cliffs of the Rideau Canal on the Ontario side, we’re firmly planted in Quebec. Every conversation begins with an ‘Allo’ or ‘Bonjour’ and the music is immediately different.
The fairly well heeled opener, Beat Market, plays the Quebec DJ sound one hears almost everywhere throughout Montreal and Quebec City. They put on the same, entertaining show as well. One of the things most noticed when the music strikes up is how quick the crowd is to jump in and join the action - a far cry from the more reserved nature of Anglo Ontario. By the time Beat Market finishes, the crowd is completely amped for Misteur Valaire.
When Valaire walks on stage, the Great Hall erupts with noise, the champions of Montreal (no disrespect to DJ Champion) have returned to Hull to kick off their Quebec World Tour and everyone here wants to be in on it. This is the thing about Misteur Valaire - once they start playing, the crowd can’t stop moving. It’s hard to write a review with your hips shaking to bombastic beats, funky bass, and rump-rousing keyboards.
Their most recent album, Golden Bombay, has been considered a smashing success by Canadian standards, so it’s no surprise they decided to kick off their set with a few numbers from the album. By this point the songs are over two years old, but the crowd loves it as though it were their first good kiss. It doesn’t really matter what they’re playing; they could be covering Nickelback yet somehow this group would manage to make it work with their sheer stage presence. Even with a poor mix and disjointed sound system, they still entertained their asses off.
The five band members grew up together and it certainly shows on stage where their interactions are fluid and magnetic. Not only do most members switch up instruments 2-3 times a song, they’re damned good at it, too. They pull it off, all while maintaining an interesting edge and allure where many other groups would have portrayed it as a rehearsed science lecture.
The band is quickly becoming known for their stage show and even when the sound system is enduring a case of the Mondays, it’s still worth the price of admission. Stopping momentarily a few times throughout the set for different dance numbers, piano solos and their signature on-stage costume changes, it’s impossible for the cockles of your heart not to be warmed by their charming antics.
This is a band that just needs a break in the rest of Canada and they’ll be well on their way to the international stage. So I say to you Anglophones, nay, I ask you – will you not invite Misteur Valaire into your home tonight? Put them on during dinner, play them while learning some new dance moves, crank their tunes so you don’t have to listen to your roommate having hot sex with her boyfriend. Whatever it is you happen to be doing tonight, do it with Misteur Valaire.
And ladies, here's a tip - if you want to get your white-boy date to dance, take them to see Misteur Valaire. But beware, you may find yourself ditching that date to chase after the white suited charmers. After all, they’re great with their hands and bodies.