Pacer and The Annual, live at Sala Rosa, November 1.

Although the Montreal music scene has been getting tons of attention lately, the spotlight has been focused on local indie bands such as the Arcade Fire and The Dears. While this attention is well deserved, it's unfortunate in some ways. Lost in the shadow of the indie scene is Montreal's formidable roster of straight up rock bands. Pearlstar Music's Tuesday night show featuring Pacer and The Annual at Sala Rosa was a prime example of this scene's strength and diversity.
The show started with the Annual who successfully delivered a solid set of songs anchored by the strong voice of singer guitarist Zack Ouimet who also donned a lefty telecaster to provide rhythm guitar for the pop-minded audience. The band's sound bounced between Coldplayish ballads which showcased keyboard player Mike Haber and up-tempo tunes that were reminiscent of Taking Back Sunday et al. All in all, The Annual (rounded out by bassist Thierry Martineau and drummer John Haber) is clearly a band to watch for in the future.
The evening ended with a typically rockin' set from Pacer. It's evident from listening to their CD, Involuntary Movement, that these guys know how to play their instruments. As a first-time-listener-turned-believer commented, "these guys are the quintessential Montreal rock band". But after seeing their live show, you realize that Pacer can play complex songs while having fun and dominating the stage. Singer Nick Latif howled into his microphone in a voice eerily similar to that of Tool's Maynard James Keenan, while the rhythm section of drummer Gopal Devanathan and bassist Nick Piromalli bashed away with an unmatched intensity and stomped around stage like King Kong with a four string. Guitarist Ceasar Coyne's diverse guitar playing was featured throughout, playing eerily quiet passages that then melted into hugely distorted anthemic choruses.
All in all, this was a fine night for Rock Music in Montreal, courtesy of local production company Pearlstar Music.

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