This past weekend in Laval, the second edition of the Evenko organized MRCY Festival took place. Conveniently situated in the parking lot of the city’s Collège Montmorency, the event served as a concluding event for Quebec’s festival season, brought to us from the same people who organize Osheaga, HEAVY Montreal and Ile Soniq.
The lineup featured an impressive lineup of Indie and Hip-Hop based acts such as Alabama Shakes, who served as the headliners for the event, Mac Miller, A$AP Ferg, Kodaline and many more. We headed up to Laval for the day to enjoy one last day of outdoor music this year. Here are our thoughts on the performances we saw at MRCY Fest:
Safia Nolin: Safia was the first real performance of the day, following a DJ set from Loud Larry Adjust’s DJ Larry Kidd. Her soothing storytelling tunes served as a pleasant start of the day. The singer’s unique look and tranquil voice made her seemingly perfect for an early slot at the festival, which often serve as great places for artists to expand their fan base. Given that the attendees of the festival were predominantly French speaking (with virtually little to no one coming from out of the providence to hit up the festival), MRCY seemed like an excellent opportunity for Safia, one she absolutely seized. C+
Alaclair Ensemble: The cooky Quebecois rap collective had the smallest audience of the day, yet definitely provided a satisfying show for those in attendance. Whether it was covers of parodies of 80s Francophone hits or fan favourite album cuts, the group definitely had us sporting big grins throughout their entire set. B-
July Talk: The much buzzed about Canadian band made their return to the province following many well received Montreal performances. Lucky for them, the trend continued this time around! The band delivered a show reminiscent of the same energy and vocal range of 4AD signees Future Islands, only with more personal lyricism. B+
The Joy Formidable: With this performance, the most memorable aspect was not actually with the music but rather the band’s hilarious in between song dialogue. This often featured lead singer Ritzy Bryan and guitarist Rhydian Dafydd Davies conversating, only to be interrupted by the screaming of drummer Matthew James Thomas! Despite this standing out the most in our minds, the band still provided a stellar performance, which included songs off of their yet to be named upcoming album. B
Kodaline: We usually don’t love more Pop-oriented Rock bands but there is something special about Kodaline. Perhaps it is because we caught on to their music earlier in their career, maybe it is because we already knew they were fantastic performers after seeing them at Osheaga last year. In any case, this is a band that never fail to impress us…along with the thousands of screaming girls in the crowd. The majority of the band’s set spewed from their much-adored debut album, In A Perfect World. These were definitely the songs the resonated with us and the audience more, the songs that made us fall in love with the band. Between the crowd energy reaching its highest peaks (thus far) along with the boys truly giving it their all, Kodaline provided one of the most enjoyable performances of the festival. A-
A$AP Ferg: Just when we thought Kodaline fans had crazy energy, it became Fergenstien time! A 15 minute DJ set before his set revealed an insanely hyped up crowd, all bearing the excitement of a junkie finding a speedball. When the rapper finally hit the stage, the thrill of the audience only doubled! The rapper kept the crazy vibes going throughout his set, with the crowd jumping and moshing during songs such as “Dump Dump”, “Fuck Out My Face” and the fan favourite, “Work”. The only times in which the rapper’s set fell short was when he decided to dive into tracks from his less-appriciated Ferg Forever mixtape. After revealing to the crowd plans to drop a new album before the year’s end, the A$APien decided to drop one final banger, his trapped out tribute to Dancehall-legend “Shabba” Ranks, in which he popped a bottle of champagne all over the audience. This was definitely MRCY’s most physically engaging performance, as it had us jumping up and down the entire time! B+
Local Natives: As much as we would’ve like to believe otherwise, we knew in our hearts that nothing was going to top what we just saw. Despite Ferg setting the bar high for what was up next, Local Natives still managed to give an ascetically pleasing performance, their sound baring similarities to our favourite Aussie boys, Tame Impala.. Much like The Joy Formidable, the band played unreleased songs, telling the crowd to not hold back if they did not enjoy the tunes. “Laval will decide the fate of our next album!”, joked lead singer Taylor Rice. Ultimately, the band’s dreamy performance felt like more of a snooze compared to some of the others on the lineup, but was by no means bad. C
Mac Miller: While we were disappointed to not be able to follow up our 2013 interview with the Most Dope Family man, Mac’s performance was undeniably true to himself. Kicking off the show by running back and forth across the stage à la David Letterman, the Pittsburgh rapper definitely knows how to separate himself from his peers. Compared to when we saw him two years ago, not much has changed in terms of Miller’s abundance of onstage presence. In terms of new music however, Mac only continues to mature as an artist, playing highlights from him new GOOD:AM album such as the Miguel-assisted “Weekend” and “Break The Law”. B
Alabama Shakes: In the instance of this Southern-based band closing out MRCY Fest, this truly was a case of saving the best for last! From the moment lead singer Brittany Howard hit that first note on “Future People”, we were met with the overwhelming feeling of goosebumps around our body. There is a certain familiarity in Alabama Shakes’ overall sound. They evoke the heaviness of The Black Keys and sprinkle in just a pinch of the mainstream appeal of Kings Of Leon. But it is Britanny’s thunderous voice (hence her pseudonym “Thunderbitch”) that takes this band above and beyond in terms of both performances and musical composition. Not only was this the best show we saw all festival but also the greatest show we’ve seen in 2015. A+
To conclude, with spectacular sound, stellar performances and overall great vibes, MRCY Festival was the perfect opportunity for fun outside of the city. Stay tuned for our recap video along with plenty more photos from MRCY Festival coming soon!