Photos by Roger Cullman
Vincent Roberge and his band play to a closely packed, sweaty crowd of young hipsters at the Drake.
The set is kicked off with much aplomb as the flute and sax of Jupiter blast into the snug space that mark this as a tight band ready to blast the funk and swagger. The strong opening continues with lead single Pitou, and the crowd is fully won over.
A few tracks in, Roberge performs a straw poll of the audience to see who’s a Quebecer and who’s an Anglophone. To his surprise, there’s a good showing of fans in need of translation. Roberge’s gift of the gab is smoothly shared in both languages, though one suspects his charm is that much sharper in French given the audience response. However everyone seems to know the words to La nuit est une panthère which becomes a sing along and it’s in English that he manages to convince the crowd to provide him with a fresh lager when it gets “a little dry on stage”.
Roberge encourages the crowd to shake their booties as he stretches and limbers up on the small stage for Guérilla, leading the crowd with his hip swaying. Half way through the set, Maky Lavender hops up from the audience; beer, puffy coat and all, to join the band for Drumz. Among the effortless cool of Roberge’s poetic lyrics, he has an accomplished falsetto which makes an appearance in several songs and is a highlight of Tercel. Attends-moi pas has a lullaby quality that raps you up into a soft, bass-laden synth dream.
I’m surprised it took Les Louanges this long to debut in Toronto. Hopefully we’ll see them back again very soon.