Choosing to eschew overcrowding and hype on Thursday night in favor of paying a visit to the M for Montreal showcase at Arlene’s Grocery proved to be a thoroughly entertaining and gratifying selection for those of us already fatigued by CMJ 2010. Add on to that a brief respite tucked into the welcoming pull of the Mosh Potatoes book release party and its din of metal on metal, free tequila drinks and rockers with Sunset Strip hair at Idle Hands just blocks away, and you’ve got the makings of a great evening. As first-time author and Queens resident Steve Seabury made the rounds, greeting well-wishers and excited local metalheads, photographers and imbibers snacked on rock star guacamole and wished Lemmy (who contributed a recipe to the cookbook) was there. Don’t we all.

With many appreciative greetings, Montreal quartet The Luyas took the stage around 7:00 PM. Lead by the darling, pixie-ish Jessie Stein (also a member of fellow indie darlings Miracle Fortress) who, before singing a word asked of the audience, “Who are you and why are your eyes made of glass?” It was the ideal introduction to the group’s eerie, hypnotic blend of Bjork and Bat for Lashes’ experimental leanings and the sweet melodies of the Innocence Mission. Stein’s sweet and whispery vocals were the perfect sheen for the band’s tribal rhythms, chirpy keyboard and synth, unique instrumentation (a French horn!) and playful distortion. So very twinkly. Time Out New York got this recommendation right.

Surely one of the best-named acts at all of CMJ 2010 is Uncle Bad Touch. While the trio is thankfully not a group of portly navalgazers and grabasses, these Good Time Charlies got down to business immediately with a dirty, bluesy groove that blew the hair back of the lucky half-capacity crowd. In short, despite their rambunctiously sunny beach music, they wanna do bad things with you. To your hips and fun bone, that is. With ‘70s-influenced jams (“Follow the Way to the Coastline”) and a clear working knowledge of early Black Sabbath, UBT rocks like they’re straight out of Cleveland with cascading dirty guitar and personality for days. The perfect antidote to the dull and tiresome chillwave trend that’s rocking the kids at the moment. Jack White would have a blast producing these guys. They ain’t scared.

Hailing from Kingston, Ontario, hard-charging indie duo PS I Love You already bore the Pitchfork seal of approval before taking the stage to a capacity audience. Lead by the bashful and bearded Paul Saulnier, PS kicked out the jams Dinosaur Jr. style with gargantuan guitar licks and fevered yelps and yawps. With jams like “2012” and an arsenal of pants-exploding, wall-of-sound dirges, these guys cranked and then some. Someone brought their brains, brawn and guitars to work today, and what a blessing that is. To add to what was surely one of the more revelatory sets for Thursday, John O’Regan of Toronto’s ultra-buzzy Diamond Rings made a surprise guest appearance for the last song, remarking, “PS I Love You is the greatest fucking band ever,” before launching into “Facelove.” Undeniably great.

–Carrie Alison, Photos by Carrie Alison