De Temps Antan at the Royal Room in Seattle, 8/14/2012

Continuing my quest this year to get to see as many Quebecois bands perform as possible, this week I finally had the pleasure of seeing De Temps Antan perform for the first time! I’ve gushed about these boys in blog and journal posts before, of course–but as always, getting to see a group in live performance is another order of magnitude above experiencing their recorded music, or online videos, or what have you.
I was particularly grateful for this chance to see them since the show was, as far as I know, kind of wedged in at the last minute. They’d been scheduled to do a mid-day performance in Kent, which I was sadly unable to make due to it being right smack in the middle of my workday. But booking fortune was kind and produced a one-set show at the Royal Room, a place I’d never been to, on Rainier Ave South. Dara and I had a bit of an adventure getting down there as miscommunication on my part of the proper address–and Google not being terribly helpful with the directions–caused us to overshoot and go to East Rainier Avenue South, instead.
Pro-tip for those of you who aren’t local: NOT THE SAME STREET.
But! All was well after all because we scooted in just under the wire. When we arrived, the boys of the band were still sound-checking, so we wound up not missing anything at all!
De Temps Antan only have two albums at this point, so it wasn’t terribly surprising that their single set was slanted in favor of stuff that appears on their second album, Les Habits de Papiers. A good many of the songs they performed were tune sets as well, showcasing André Brunet on the fiddle as well as Éric Beaudry’s prowess on guitar and bouzouki, with Pierre-Luc Dupuis chiming in on accordion or harmonica. Notable among the instrumentals was M. Brunet’s breaking out of a new waltz, which was lovely. I do fangirl me some Olivier Demers-brand violin, to be sure, but M. Brunet? Also a very respectable fiddler. Since De Temps are a trio and comparatively sparse on the instrumentation, it falls to each member of the group to pull as much vigor as possible out of his instrument. The result is a crackling energy that makes it very, very easy to forget that they do not, in fact, have more than three guys on the stage!
When it comes to instrumental prowess, though, with these boys I have to throw my affections over to M. Beaudry, and I’m not saying that just because I love me some bouzouki. Now that I’ve seen him do it live, I have all the more respect for what this man can do with a guitar and a zouk. I was particularly struck by his finger work on the guitar, swift, adroit runs that called his guitar’s deep ringing voice out and made it sing. And as for his bouzouki, wow. I’ve swooned before for what he whips out on the zouk in this video. Seeing him doing it live, and hearing that zouk roar in a way I have to date only heard out of my belovedest Dara and her Kohaku (heart), was amazing. Especially given his flying podorythmic feet, which he unleashes along with his hands on the instruments AND his singing. (I have just enough experience trying to sing and play at the same time on a zouk or a guitar, without even trying to throw my feet into the mix, that I admire the hell out of anybody who can pull that off!)
Vocally, all three members of the group are also very strong. M. Dupuis is the dominant vocalist, with a rich, expressive voice that he uses to great effect. I’ve read up some on his stint in La Bottine Souriante, and have seen some references to him having taken over briefly as La Bottine’s lead singer because of his style being a bit of a callback to the redoubtable Yves Lambert. I can buy that. M. Dupuis’s voice hits me in the same way M. Lambert’s always did, full and round. Maybe not as powerful, but that’s okay! I’ve always liked to say that M. Lambert’s voice hit me like 900-calorie cheesecake. M. Dupuis is maybe more like 600 calorie cheesecake. But the long and short of it is, cheesecake is still tasty, and Pierre-Luc can tear his way through a song.
M. Brunet is also a fine singer, though he doesn’t take over lead vocals as much as the other two. He mostly got to shine vocally on “Dominic à Marcel”, a ditty with something of a Southern twang to it–by which I mean, US Southern. The boys in fact referenced Mississippi, introducing this one! It’s a style that works when you throw it together with Quebecois music, to be sure.
Here, though, I also have to throw my affections over to M. Beaudry. He’s not as forthrightly expressive in his vocals as his bandmate, but he’s still got some strength and resonance to his voice, and I love, love, LOVE hearing him whip out “Grand Amuseur de Filles” or “Jeune et Jolie”.
I noted with pleasure that the boys presented us with not one but two new songs, including one M. Dupuis noted would be included on their next album (and yes, mes amis d’Internets, I perked up considerably at the magic words “next album”). One of these was the aforementioned waltz, but the other one was this, captured by Dara on video!

And much to my massive, massive delight, they closed with a one-two-three punch of my three favorite songs of theirs–“Grand Amuseur de Filles”, “La turlutte du Rotoculteur”, and then right into “Pétipétan”. The first delighted me immensely when André and Éric leapt up out of their chairs and had a bit of a standing stomp-off, grinning at each other. The second was great when all of us in the room started singing along on the turluttes. And the last, whee! This being one of the few De Temps songs I can actually do a bit of response on, I happily jumped in on that too!
We did get one encore, which was also great fun. Afterwards, Dara and I had the brief but happy pleasure of chatting a bit with M. Brunet, since we were able to tell him that HEY! We’d just seen him perform with Bernard Simard et Compagnie in Joliette! And with the help of Dejah and Devon Leger, I also chatted very briefly with M. Beaudry, expressing how Dejah was helping me with my French, how I was learning some of the differences between Quebec and Acadian French (h/t to !), and how we’d been trying to transcribe the lyrics to “Grand Amuseur de Filles”. I’m pretty sure my nervous fangirl babbling got a bit ahead of M. Beaudry’s English–he leaned over at me a couple of times with this “quoi?” look on his face, and Devon Leger helpfully translated for me (many thanks to Devon for that)!
It was only yesterday though that I thought to check the new and updated De Temps Antan website, where I discovered that why yes, they had in fact finally gotten around to posting a lyrics sheet for the second album–including the song in question. Which, I suspect, contributed to M. Beaudry being confused at me. *^_^*;;
But! All in all, a great time, even given that I was a bit worn out from dental surgery recovery and a cold, a sub-optimal state to be in when you’re trying to watch a band whose music makes you want to get up and dance. (I settled instead for trying to practice a bit of my own podorythmie between tables). I really hope I get to see these boys perform again, and I very much look forward to their next album!