MONTREAL: Concert Review – The Bug at The 2009 Montreal Jazz Festival

So I’m not gonna lie, I came into this concert not knowing what to expect. I’ve never heard of the bug, but I was going to give him props anyway because his latest release, titled London Zoo, dropped on the venerable NinjaTune Label, home of such acts as the Herbalizer and Roots Manuva.

Little did I know that The Bug has had a long history in the UK electronic, dubstep and grindcore movements, dropping his first album as Techno Animal way back in 1991. With a legacy so deep, its no matter that a huge crowd packed Montreal’s Club Soda for the Thursday night show.

First thing I noticed from this concert off the bat is that its LOUD. Kevin Martin’s reliance on bass heavy riddims created a thumbing rumble that could almost be heard across the street (seriously). If you didn’t like the sound (complete with blinding floor level strobe lights), too bad. The more  people flinched, the louder he would turn up the music.

But like most DJs, The Bug is only there to spin records. He lets MC Flow Dan and ragga artist Daddy Freddy do the heavy lifting of entertaining the crowd.

Flow Dan took the reigns as the dubstep MC, competently dropping mad rhymes over heavy (yet accessible) dubstep instrumentals. The combination should’ve KILLED the crowd, (which are some of the best and most appreciative that I’ve seen in a while) but Flow Dan’s complete lack of stage presence dampened the mood and completely killed any vibe that the tracks were bringing.

Daddy Freddy, however, was the complete opposite. The dude already held the title of World’s Fastest Rapper, the the energy that he brought into the room did not go unnoticed by the crowd. The quick rhyming over instrumentals that I can only call neo-dub were straight up out of this world.

Having that said, the sensory overload took its toll and I retreated to the back with my new friends and took in the whole show from a decent decibel rating. Taking in the show from a completely different perspective, I was able to take in the sheer voracity of the entertainment below me. I’ve realized that the The Bug  has done what most artists have failed to do–seamlessly integrated Caribbean culture into his set. Unlike some projects that felt forced, the MCs on stage were completely natural and the pace at which they kept with the beat (which never seemed do dip below 100bpm) needs to be rewarded.

The Bug  was a welcome edition to my trip to Montreal. If the Jazz Festival thumps as hard as it did last night (and I know it will) then it’s going to be a great weekend.