FME Recap 1: Avalanche Kaito, Balaklava Blues, Medicine Singers

by Stephan Boissonneault

Avalanche Kaito

This started off with three musicians playing some very strange, instrumental prog and world music passages. After 10 or so minutes of this, a man emerged from the crowd, shout-singing in West African griot. Everyone had no idea if it was part of the act or an unruly music lover from Rouyn-Noranda. Turns out it was part of the act and the man was the frontman of Avalanche Kaito, a multi-talented noise punk meets African storytelling group out of Brussels, Belgium. 

The frontman whipped out a flute at times and would not take non-moving bodies on the dance floor. So much so that he once jumped off the stage and began pulling in the crowd to start dancing. 

This grooving and progressive rock concoction were imaginative and highly compelling. The perfect way to start off FME.

Balaklava Blues 

After Avalanche Kaito, a woman in a white hoodie, with what looked like tribal tattoos on each sleeve, took the stage. As she played down some synth and keyboard lines, two men in balaclavas began pounding on various types of drums. The woman’s name is Marichka Marczyk, a Ukrainian singer-songwriter with powerful pipes, who fronts the guerrilla-folk/ EDM trio, Balaklava Blues. 

Balaklava Blues

Balaklava Blues combines house, trap, and party punk styles to create an insular experience. Most of the songs are inspired by the plight of the Ukrainian people from the current invasion from Russia. There was also a multimedia aspect to the performance, which felt psychedelic but poignant due to the recovered footage of the Ukrainian frontline. It was a very powerful performance and a few of the crowd members were in tears, especially during one of the last songs “Night.” Near the end, the words “Stop Putin” were pasted on the backdrop. 

Medicine Singers 

This collaboration between guitar wizard, Yonatan Gat, a few members from Swans, and the Eastern Medicine Singers Powwow group, was one of the main events of Thursday evening. The group recently released their self-titled debut album and live, they were a marvel to behold. 

Medicine Singers

The performance felt like one drawn-out jam, including the reimagining of Link Wray’s “Rumble.” The vocals of traditional Algonquin cut through the instrumental chaos and at one point featured the wondrous flute work of one Elizabete Balčus. Fans looking to distinguish which songs the Medicine Singers play will probably have a rough time trying to decipher, but the performance in itself is a spectacle that pulls in even the most oblivious listener. However, some were lost after 45 minutes, and the crowd slowly dissipated. 

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