This was an easy article to write because this was an easy choice. My pick of the festival is, by a large margin, Duchess Says. It was an easy choice because they blew the roof off of The Garrison and could easily have blown the roof off of a ten-story building. From the very first second of the set until the last there was a vibrant energy, facilitated not just by the unbelievably catchy hooks of the band’s music but also by lead singer Annie-Claude Deschenes’ dedication to connect with every single person in the audience.
She did this by jumping into the crowd and singing face-to-face with audience members, by inviting them onto the stage to dance and by ordering them to jump and to mosh pit. And we all obeyed. If there was a better term to describe her effect over the crowd than ‘having us in the palm of her hand’ then I would use it. She spent as much time off the stage in the audience as on it. At one point she had the entire crowd kneel before her as she baptised us with melody to Duchess Says’ own way of rock ‘n’ roll. Between being carried around on audience member shoulders and tearing down set decorations, if there wasn’t enough energy Deschenes goddamn made sure there was.
And speaking of the music, Duchess Says is like a combination of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Black Flag, with punk guitar riffs and distorted keyboards, which is to say, excellent. Duchess Says is a show that I will remember for a long time and possibly might just be my new favourite band.