Beast is a group out of Montreal. You may recognize the members as one is the beautiful and textured voice of Beatrice Bonifassi and the other consists of the infectious beat maker Jean-Phi Goncalves. Separately, both have been involved in many past projects including Lauryn Hill, Jean-Pierre Ferland, Ariane Moffat, Triplets of Belleville, DJ Champion and the popular Pierre Lapointe. Together they are Betty and Jean-Phi. Together they form the musical transcendence that is Beast.

I stumbled across them serendipitously when a google search of mine went wrong. The heading was BEAST: Montreal (check!), experimental (check!), trip-hop (check check check!). Click. And then I went on a crazy dancing rampage and pursued the purchase of their self-titled album which was released late last year. It’s been spinning ever since and it is the most eclectic fusion of trip hop spoken word hip hop on experimental rock. “Ashtray” is probably the sickest trip hop song I’ve heard in a good long while. When I found out they had a stop here on their brief tour I FREAKEEED. And guess what? Their show is tonight! I’m soooo excited. I love seeing bands at their purest form–before they “make it big” which undoubtedly, Beast will.

So, I leave you with three amazing songs off of Beast which you can purchase here. I will return later and write a review of the show. It might not make sense. I will be dazed by my euphoria and my eyes will be hazed from the bass. HAZED FROM THE BASS.

EDIT: I got back from the show a while ago. My ears are still ringing, my body and mind are still adapting back to their original form, before being utterly changed and penetrated by the beats of Beast. I have a feeling this might take a while. What a toll that has been taken. I am indeed hazed from the bass.  Holy fuck.

Live show aftermath…apres le jump!


UUUGH I’m so angry I forgot my camera so you’ll just have to make due with the photos here and the very few on the internet of Beast. I also didn’t have my phone with me or a notepad or a photographic memory so the setlist is not completely accurate. Beast did play every song off their LP but in which order I can’t remember. When I do find an actual setlist I shall post it.

I cannot reiterate how excited for this concert I was. Back in December when I found out, I couldn’t even sleep. Eventually, I slept around 6AM after chatting with friend about it who was all, “wow OK I get it!”. JA! Yes, I was that crazy for Beast. I love their sound and Beast is such an incredibly unique album and Bonifassi has the most unforgettable voice that I just knew Beast live was going to fucking kick ass. And that’s exactly what happened.

Live in Concert: Beast
@ The Pawn Shop (Edmonton)

I’ve never been at the Pawn Shop before despite the venue having held quite a few good shows in the past. It’s a smaller venue, smaller than The Starlite Room which by far the best venue IMO here. As I entered I was quite impressed with the sound. So I knew it wasn’t gonna be like the EEC deal where the acoustics and sound get so muffled and distorted from the horrible structural incapacity of the place to actual reverberate and insulate sound properly. So in terms of the venue, Beast wasn’t gonna have any issues “sounding bad” on account of the venue’s sound system and architectural deficiencies. Plus, ’cause it’s really small, the performer and audience are never more than a meter apart from each other. Cozy. Just the way I like it.

Grabbed a pint of grasshopper. It wasn’t gonna be long before Beast was on.

I see the band setting up. Jean-Phi was set up on the left side of the stage with an impressive amount of drums and a small stand holding his synthesizers. I was surprised to see two other faces which I didn’t recognize. One was playing the guitar, and he looks EXACTLY like JFK from MSTRKRFT. It’s uncanny really. Their names were mentioned  but I forgot them as they were slurred during the introduction.  So I shall call him LJFK (like JFK). The other new face was playing the Key-Bass. HOW WIKKID IS THAT?! A keyboard was attached to the bottom of his bass player. I shall call him KBD (key bass dude).

And then I hear a low rumbling. Rumble….rumble…rumble…

It was the start of “Finger Prints”. YES! One of my favorite tracks. Betty comes out all in black. I was in awe once she started singing. You think she sounds amazing on the LP!? Her voice live commands attention. Plus, Jean on the drums/synths this entire show blew me away and truly provides the backbone to Beast.

Beast as an ensemble are just fantastic together. Their chemistry is solid and is evident through their inside jokes on stage, laughing at each others screw ups, everyone’s having SUCH  good time during the set! Jean-Phi must have been smiling 75% of the time and laughing for 25%. Betty stands on this four bass blocks in front of the stage, bringing her nearly a meter closer to my beating heart. She walks back and forth jiving, digging, grooving, rapping, jumping, MCing, like a pro! Stage presence is something Beast definitely does not lack. Nearly every song, Bonifassi and crew encouraged us, maybe through eye contact, pointing, arms in the air, hands joining together, or calling on us, to effin’ lose ourselves. And I think all of us did. I scream out, “Betty you’re amazing!”. She winks at me. That was after at least 5 attempts of professing my love to her without making it seem like I’m some creep. But so what if I am. I’m a creep. I’m a weirdo. I love Betty and Jean. But I digress…

After a few more songs, “Ashtray” MY FAVORITE TRACK and IMO one of the best tracks I’ve heard in the past few years, was performed. Betty stripped herself of the mic. Stepped up the podium. Looked us all in the face. And sang with her bare voice which still strongly resonated into each of our souls:

I used to think it was all about me
I was victimized by everything
I used to lose and i lose again
Now I’m living like a cigarette in an ashtray

Then the bass, so dark and deep in its chords, starts. Jean starts up on the drums. Betty retrieves her mic and the message becomes even clearer:

I used to think it was all about me
I used to suffer through everything
I used to lose and i lose again
Now I’m dying like a cigarette in an ashtray

Jean-Phi stops his drumming. Grabs one of those large mic announcers to which Betty holds a microphone against and raps out the chorus. The profundity and life lesson behind the message of this chorus not only drives the entire core of this song but I feel, of the entire LP. Hearing this live has made me so happy:

Where you came from
When you’re ending

where you come from when you’re ending what you have lost what you can win
where you come from when you’re ending what you have lost what you can’t win
where you come from when you’re ending what you have lost what you can win
where you come from when you’re ending what you have lost what you can’t win
what you’re made of what you’re made from what you have done when the end comes
where you came from when your ending what you have lost what you can’t win
what you’re made of what you’ve become all you have learned what you have done
what you’re made of what you have done when you’re bleeding


The song continues as Betty’s belts at the top of the lung her lungs, mesmerizing vocal perfection as the song pulls to a close:

You like to think it’s all about you
You are victimized by everything
You do the same things over and over again
Soon you’ll be lost like a cigarette in an ashtray

He used to think it was all about him
He was victimized by everything
He did the same things over and over again
I lost him like a cigarette in an ashtray

The show could have ended here and I would have been completely content. This deeply personal song is the epitome of what Beast is about. As Bonifassi mentions in a year old interview, “the angry message is about letting the beast out that’s inside, because in society you’re not allowed to be emotive or sensitive. The feelings of the moment when we were writing were mostly sadness and anger.”

So the show goes on with that respect and while making a  transition to “City” (I think), Jean-Phi and KBD do A RIDICULOUS SOLO. Actually, mainly Jean-Phi. He KILLED US with his drum beats. So dark, so loud, so fucking insane. Then he adds in some synthesizing love, a dub-step trip hop beat. Bass so deeeeep you can actually see the bullet waves coming at you like those Hollywood movies. KBD is rocking out, using the keyboard part of his key-bass which he hasn’t touched previous to this solo. KBD and Jean are synchronized in their body movements and so is the crowd. I am going nuts. Beat drops, back bends, beat drops, back bends. Andrew WK style. The entire room was shaking their heads so vigorously down to the ground with each beat that when we arose the crowd had hair like KISS. I had to hold my hands to my head to make sure it wasn’t going to fall off. For srs. What I loved most was how much FUN KBD and Jean were having. Smiling laughing tongues out at each other the entire time! LJFK and Betty were on the sidelines rockin’ out. This solo was absolute heaven. Imagine the entire Beast LP melded together into an organized cacophony. So crazy it’s unbelievable. So real it’s surreal. Utterly fantastic.

Eventually the night had to come to an end. We were all clapping to the last song, “Devil” with yet another craaaazy Jean-Phi 5 minute extension to the song. Beast left the stage and we proceeded to yell, “BEAST BEAST BEAST BEAST”. Only Jean-Phi and Betty came out. We proceeded to clap as they encouraged, and “Satan” was the encore song of choice. Jean-Phi left his drum station and Betty left her mics and both reunited in the center of ths stage WITH A CHOREOGRAPHED DANCE. Albiet it was nothing too complicated, as they just swooshed arms back in forth synchronously, stepped backwards until the last before falling off, and moved respectively in opposite directions back to their weapons of choice. Again, smiling, laughing, winking at each other the entire time. SUCH great chemistry.  Then you see LJFK and KBD sneaking up behind Jean’s station with sinister JD grins spreading across their faces, jumping on stage at the same time with tambourines in their hands. AND LJFK AND KBD HAVE A TAMBOURINE DANCE TOGETHER TOO! Jean-Phi grabs a mic and moves with Betty to the front boxes and starts RAPPING! SO MUCH ENERGY. Everyone was, you know, being all gangster and putting the one hand up moving it up and down like at a Wu-Tang concert. What an end to the show. WHAT AN ‘EFFIN  END. I’m more than content.

They left the stage and I knew I had to I KNEW I had to meet them. The great thing with small capacity shows like this is that you actually get a chance to meet the artists. So Betty came out and I gushed over to her and words and compliments were exchanged and she held my hand and we bijoued and we HUGGED! Aaah the warmth I felt for those seconds. Then Jean came out and I did the same thing. SUCH LOVELY PEOPLE. Chatted with LJFK about how he looks like JFK. Didn’t get a chance to speak with KBD, unfortunately. I would have stayed later to have more beers and get more chances for more chatting with my heroes. But it seemed as though they already had some crazy groupie posse. Whether the posse were people they knew, or people who wanted to get into pants parties (the entire crew is majorly attractive, trust me) I had to leave anyways due to time constraints.

Overall, such an amazing experience. I can say without a doubt that this is the best show I’ve seen this year and also one of the best I’ve ever been to. This is probably the least professional and conventional concert review but eh. I tell it like I feel it! I tell it like I remember! Which is very hard when my mind is in tiny little shattered pieces. Beast flippin’ rocks and you NEED to see them, check out their remaining tour dates.

EDIT March 2, 2009: Set list courtesy of Beast’s MGMT Audrey!

finger prints
out of control
Dark Eyes
Mr Hurricane


Enjoy the songs I’ve decided to post! And PLEASE buy their album, it won’t disappoint.

MP3: Beast – Ashtray

MP3: Beast – Out of Control

MP3: Beast – Finger Prints

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