OAP put together an impressive lineup this year – dare I say the best one to date? What felt like the entire McGill community squeezed into Three Bares Park and cheered on performing acts amidst the endless swapping of summer break stories. For the last day of the yearly event, Fleece graced OAP’s stage. The five-piece band’s psychedelic grunge rock was an appropriate send off for the end of OAP.
The first half of the band’s track “Rise” fit the celebratory mood well: the dreamy keyboard chords, lulling guitar riffs, cushy percussive rhythms, and drawling vocals provided a lovely soundtrack to the cool summer air, fading Montreal sun, and beer-soaked grass. Lead singer Matthew Rogers did most of the talking, but as a whole, the band’s stage presence was cohesive: easy and natural, a calmer sort of pull then what may have been expected. To be fair, the band did appear a little nervous at the beginning – there were minor issues with tempo, and possible technical difficulties. But the earnestness in their playing is undeniable.
Fleece’s initial claim to fame was their parody video, “How to write an Alt-J song.” Boasting over 2.5 million views, the Youtube hit is hilariously accurate. In the video, Rogers, munching on rice cakes, repeats nonsensical phrases with deadpan delivery and progressively adds harmonies using a flashback delay. The end result is… an Alt-J song. Somehow, the two band members eating rice cakes and having some fun with a pedal managed to replicate the sound of a Mercury Prize-winning band in just a few minutes, which showcases their incredible talent. This is the magic of Fleece.
Of course, there’s more to Fleece’s music than parodies. Fleece’s debut album Scavenger is an alluring and explosive blend of psychedelic, jazz, and grunge. Out of their five-song set at OAP, three tracks – “Wake and Bake,” “Rise,” and “DLXVII” – came off Scavenger, while “Crocodile” and “Transitions” were brand new. Regrettably, the jazzier songs of Fleece’s repertoire – “Gabe’s Song” and “Demanding” – didn’t make the live set.
Fleece performs with honesty, and anyone could tell they genuinely enjoyed closing OAP. Kudos to OAP for another great two weeks, and kudos to Fleece for ending the run on a high note.