29 JUIN 2011 MISTEUR VALAIRE DELIVERS HOT BEATS ON A
WET, STEAMY NIGHT
Misteur ... Who?
There were undoubtedly some shrugs of unrecognition when MIJF XXXII announced the middle leg of its three-
blowout live program, a most prestigious gig for an up-and-coming electro-pop-jazz outfit from Sherbrooke who
would be hopping on the stage where the Wonders, Setzers and Methenys had bopped.
So when programming VP Laurent Saulnier told the massive crowd on the Place des Festivals that there were
“cinq ti-gars” backstage who were a little nervous, he meant it.
Perhaps the least-known group to headline one of the annual outdoor bashes, Misteur Valaire brought kitschy
stage lighting and visuals, dancers, keyboards, sequencers, samples, percussion and guests, including James
DiSalvio of Bran Van 3000 to deliver summer beats on a humid Tuesday night.
“They forecast violent thundershowers,” frontman/percussionist Luis Clavis, alias Louis-Pierre Phaneuf, said in
French. “But at the Festival ...”
Yeah – no, sorta. Another weather bullet dodged in supermeteorological fashion, for the most part. The skies
opened once, drizzled once, which only lubricated the ardour of the crowd – which was impressive, really. Clavis
lead the rest of his 20-something stage-named crew – bassist France (François-Simon Déziel), sax player Drouin
(Jonathan Drouin), drummer Kilojules (Julien Harbec), trumpet and piano player Roboto (Thomas Hébert) –
through 90 minutes of beats and tech, gamely played and aimed away from electrojazz at the Eurocentric
audience they’ve already somewhat conquered.
In front of them: the largest crowd they had or likely ever will play for, as well as the many journalists gathered in
the media enclave for Misteur FreeBière. And in the absence of a world-famous discography, they wisely went for
jazz clubland. And brought friends. Early on, after the catchy Lillehammer, DiSalvio bounded out in mirror shades
and Vegaswear for Ave Mucho.
And in the rain, the people ... and the brand. Joey Khoury, 32, works in sustainable development. He was
encamped on the hillside with brother-in-law Carl Charbel, 22, and Madine Hajjar, 27. First name basis with the
“Eh ... no,” said Joey. “But what happened is, when I saw the program, we checked them out (online). I also trust
the fact that the jazz fest recommends them. We were at Ben l’Oncle Soul, and that was great.”
And then there were the Ferrers, Willy and Tita, a 60-ish couple from Puerto Rico, the kind of people this festival
should print on festival dollar coins. “We just arrived three hours ago,” said Willy.
“Took a shower and came here.” No, they had no idea who Misteur was. “We were just passing by.”
“But I love jazz anyway, there’s so much of it in San Juan,” Tita said. “And we had to come down here. It’s
famous. The whole world comes to this Festival.”
The visuals were impressive, and the band was up to the task, despite its zero purchase on the mass audience –
massive crowds notwithstanding. They’d schooled their young selves on the European circuit, brought out cabaret
gals with water cannons to blast the crowd in suitably ironic fashion, and when MC Beni BBQ, in his Michael
Hutchence hair or wig, toasted “Party Time,” he had it right.
There have been better nights for music at the “Grand Evenement,” but Misteur Valaire earned their own kind of
win Tuesday night.