Montreal has a history of excellent garage rock bands – it was the birthplace of the Gruesomes, the mighty Les Sequelles and a host of other mop-topped hell-raisers with more energy than talent.

Les Breastfeeders marks a bit of a departure from the trend: In addition to possessing enough on-stage energy to light a small city, the group has two good guitar players and one excellent one, a thundering rhythm section and an on-stage tambourine shaker/ dancer with enough shake to set off earthquake detectors in California (for those keeping count, that’s six in all). Yes, they sing entirely in French, so anyone who cares dearly for lyrics and doesn’t parlez-vous will be disappointed – ah, to hell with it – they’ll be standing with their jaw on the floor eyes bugging and hips swivelling like the rest of the crowd if they are ever blessed enough to witness the crème de la crème of garage rock insanity.

I’ve seen the Gruesomes, the Fleshtones and the Cynics, all awesome performers in their own right, and Les Breastfeeders could give them a serious run for the money with their clapped-out amps and el cheapo Teisco guitars and all.

After they had done stripping the paint of The Dom’s walls, lead singer and guitarist Luc Brien promised “tout destruit” by Le Nombre, then launched into 'Vanilla ou Fraise dans La Steppe', featuring gibberish from dancer Johnny Maldoror, grumbling howls from bassist Joe, and some wicked lead work by stellar guitarist Sunny Duval. They were, of course, howled back on stage by the audience for an encore.

Faced with such a stupefying opening act, many bands would be justified in slinking out the back door while no one was looking. As Brien had promised, Le Nombre, however, was ready and able to provide total destruction.

The band is going on hiatus while lead singer Ludwig Wax heads off to Africa, so this was a farewell show of sorts to their devoted Ottawa audience, which has followed the group’s career since its inception (and that of its members prior even to that – I have a T-shirt from Wax’s previous outfit, Demolition).

That Friday night Le Nombre repaid their loyalty in spades. Best hard rock band in North America? The group’s twin-guitar attack is so relentless their self-titled debut totalled the language barrier and grabbed the top spot on the charts of New York City radio station WFMU.

Whether propelled by the hotfoot provided by Les Breastfeeders or the knowledge that they wouldn’t be hitting the stage for at least a year after (barring a final stage in their hometown of Montreal), they played with a fury that eclipsed even the red hot sizzle of previous Ottawa engagements.

Wax’s Wildman stage persona is straight from the school of Iggy Pop. Nicolas “Nicotine” Bednarz and Jean-Phillipe “Dynamite” Roy have achieved an uncanny synchronicity, the relatively poised Roy providing the rock-solid riffs to anchor Badnarz's insane fretwork. While bassist (and Le Nombre guiding light) Gourmet Delice was an excellent musician, his replacement was a fabulously bouncy foil to both crashing drummer Jean Danger and the rest of the group – someone unfamiliar with the band would likely assume he’d been with them from the start.

When the show ended, I was surprised to see it was three hours after I’d arrived. It’s true time flies when you’re having fun; it goes even faster when you’ve just witnessed rock at its most powerful and exciting.

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Commenting On: Dominion Tavern, Ottawa, 10/9/2004 - Le Nombre/Les Breastfeeders

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