Review: RBMA's Le Fréqulator w/Just Blaze, River Tiber
Red Bull Music Academy Montreal is officially in full effect. One of the more noteworthy elements of the month long festival is its choice of rather unconventional venues for its events. Last night's "Le Fréqulator" transform downtown Montreal's Le Cinq (formerly Club 1234) into three levels of dance-floor delight. Le Fréqulator took full advantage of the club's three separate rooms, using each one for a different musical theme, the first being RnB, the second (main room) Dance, and the upstairs oozing out Hip-Hop all night long. Early highlights of the night included Kucka, who won the crowd over with her moody yet melodic sound towards the beginning of the evening, and Beatrice, who spun for a small yet receptive crowd on the Hip-Hop floor.
The peak of the evening, in accordance to both attendance and engagement, was seen when River Tiber took the stage at approximately 11:15pm on the Hip-Hop floor, playing to a crowd of 200-something, completely polarised beings. After his performance, it was clear as to why Tiber was chosen as the Canadian representative for this year's RBMA. With a set consisting principally of songs from his devastatingly underrated debut, Indio, River's ability to move a crowd, using only his guitar and voice, is miles ahead of his peers. This, and the fact that his set garnered arguably the biggest attendance for the evening, shows signs of great things to come for the young Torontonian.
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Despite a fun-yet-light set from Gary Chandler on the Dance level shortly after River Tiber, things didn't really heat up again until Just Blaze hit the turntables just shy of 2:00am for an hour and twenty minutes. The veteran producers set can be described in simply 3 words: Hit after hit! From Jay-Z's "Public Service Announcement", to Cam'Ron's "Oh Boy", to Joe Budden's "Pump It Up", the career-spanning set showed yet again why Just Blaze is one of Hip-Hop's finest beatmakers.
Having seen him in past years doing more EDM-influenced sets while opening/performing alongside the likes of Baauer and RL Grime, it was certainly a treat to see the producer, born Justin Smith, return to his roots. The only unfortunate parts of the set were A) How few people showed up to see the legend (there were arguably under 50 people towards the end) and B) An intolerable smoke machine take kept distributing disgusting smells throughout the room, rather than cool effects.
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Overall, the diverse and unfortunately under-attended made for a wonderful night of grooving, feeling and discovering. Learn more about RBMA's upcoming Montreal events here.