Madness on tour with DUB KARTEL AND KILLAWAIL!

Harvest Tour
Harvest Tour Kicks off at M bar on Friday 13th

Joining Dub Kartel, Killawail and Guests on The Harvest Tour is the best way I can think of for getting into the swing of fall. After the bands met this past summer during FeelsGood Folly Fest, it was only a matter of time until a brass laden storm erupted…

On Friday September 13th, The Harvest Tour kicks off at M Montreal Hostel and Bar on Rue Saint-André, where Killawail holds a current Friday night residency. Packed by 10 pm, I couldn’t hide my excitement to see this collaboration tear up the stage to a full house.

The bill tonight: Halifax, Nova Scotia natives Dub Kartel, and Dead Horse Beats. From good ol’ Montreal hails KillaWail.  “The hype level was through the roof "as the show kicks off. Dub Kartel, lay down their signature reggae laced beats, the dancing starts and doesn’t end til’ the music stops. Tight as an ensemble, with trumpet, saxophone, keys, guitar, bass, conga’s and drums. Seamlessly melding, with the voice of one of the most energetic front men I have ever seen, Kyle McCracken.  The eight piece’s dub infusion literally made the crowd jump as they ended the set with their party anthem, Ain’t Nothin’ but a Party. The chanting could be heard outside the bar, as Dub Kartel started off the night proper.
Dub Kartel
Dead Horse Beats hits the stage next. The first time I had the pleasure of hearing this cat was during an RJD2 show in Montreal last May. His Trip/Hip Hop styling’s were inclusive of live guitar and a special guest MC.  As expected, a funky set kept the vibe of the evening rolling as he spun for just over an hour keeping everyone’s head bobbing.

Ending the evening, KillaWail took the stage headlining. The five piece demands your attention, opening with City Streets, a sick tune off the new album. Trumpet, trombone, bass, guitar, keys and percussion showcase the diversity, by making your ears scream for more of these infectious soundings. Blending signature garage rock riffs with a pumping horn section, dancing is inevitable, as the crowd once again packs the dance floor. Front man Benji Miu, hailing from Melbourne Australia, with his grungy pop rock persona has no problem keeping the audience captivated with his voice. Finishing the evening with the crowd shouting encore, I knew this tour was going to be something of musical insanity.

Dub Kartel and KillaWailDub KartelDub Kartel, Killawail and Dead Horse Beats travel on to Toronto. I unfortunately couldn't make this part of the tour, but heard through the grape vine the show was a massive success. Playing to over 150 people in Kensington Market’s Detour Pub, it was said to be a “real party vibe” as the bands played literally in the crowd.  KillaWail opened, with Dead Horse Beats following and Dub Kartel capping the night off. A venue with no stage per say, and 15 musicians pumping out tunes right beside you. I am sure the audience was stoked on the arrival of The Harvest Tour.

Re- joining the tour for the final 3 shows, (having the pleasure of travelling in the Killawail van) we headed towards the east coast, to hit up Fredericton, Saint John and finally ending the tour for KillaWail in my home town of Halifax.  

The Harvest Tour, leaving dirty footprints in its wake, moves upwards and onwards, to The Capitol (Fredericton) and Peppers Pub (Saint John). Both venues had noticeably smaller crowds then the Montreal and Toronto shows but the music was bumping none the less. Being a Maritimer, I could feel the aura of a good old fashioned kitchen party brewing, for the duration of the New Brunswick shows.


With the headliners in a rotation for the tour; KillaWail starts it off at The Capitol and headlines the show at Peppers Pub. In usual fashion, Josh Michaud (trombone) and Sébastien Fournier (trumpet) draw you in with horns just a blazin’. The Way Down highlights the impeccable Sarah Dion (drums) and Simon “Dizzy” Veillet (bass/synth) as the drums, synth and keys are on showcase.

Dub Kartel
Following suit The Dub Kartel crew began, seemingly effortless¸ they warm up the crowd with Work.  McCracken owning the stage, belts out soulful yet “rude boy” styled voice with the accompaniments of Richard McNeil (keys), Dave Stout (tribal percussion), Charlie Hill (bass), Charlie Benoit (guitar) Tom Hill (trumpet), Teddy Skiffington (drums) and the sassy saxophone of Ben-Reid Howells.  As bounding starts for the dancehall rhythms, I have a chance to check out the crowd. All smiles brimming from ear to ear as the dub infused party continued with  Pon Di Chalwa.

The hype wave continues. I can’t contain my excitement to return home for the Halifax show. With the bands playing at the infamous Marquee Ballroom this was to be nothing short of EPIC.  An eclectic line-up. With The Wayo,  local DJ/Producers P-80 &  Zora the Sultan opening, followed by KillaWail, with Dub Kartel closing the show in their hometown.

I stopped to chat with both the bands, before they hit the stage. Check out the interviews below:

The Wayo, a jazzy sounding five piece ensemble, open the evening. Leading the band Charlotte Wilson with her incredibly bluesy voice, transports you to a land of serenity. Reminding me of tunes of an era long ago, you could see the audience fall in love with this soulful maiden. As The Wayo played Sun Soaked, Charlotte picks up her Sax and continues to serenade the crowd. As the sultry notes, effortlessly flirt with a hip hop flavour, a truly unique sound is created. Impressive is an understatement as Charlotte began spitting lyrics with such rhythm, insisting this is what she was born to do.

In between sets local heavy hitters  Zora the Sultan and P-80 keep the people movin’. Creating an atmosphere of consistent dancing, they succeed by spinning a variation of hip hop, dubstep, juke and trap beats. Having three sets, they tore up the tables again and again over the course of the evening.

KillaWail takes the stage next. No strangers to pumping up the crowd, they begin strong with Murder Flies. The intensity of the band could be felt immediately, as the audience eats up the energy of the opening bass line in I Told you Twice. Trombone and trumpet chime in, creating fullness to the song with the fabulous Ms. Dion kicking up the drums to the next level (literally). Switching to an upright bass during The Business, Simon proves how versatile he can be maneuvering between a stand up and five string bass, as well as the synth. I await Pwner of a Broken Heart, truly one of my favourite songs on the album, as I feel it encompasses everything KillaWail. Benji’s Aussie tones ring through the solid synth riff, and flow into the flamenco inspired melody of the horns. Playing with the Latin harmonies, this song makes your hips want to sway as the breakdown left me chanting along in the crowd “To the place where I was”.  Finishing off the chaos was a rousing drum line. Pulling out a floor tom for each band member, a synchronized drum line solo ended the set, leaving the crowd roaring with applause.

The main event was upon us. The end of my journey of the tour ends after Dub Kartel’s set, so this moment is bittersweet.  Jumping right into it with a new single Pay Day, the music doesn’t stop until the set ends, literally. Yet again, Kyle’s vocal range is undeniably captivating, as he hops around the stage as the by’s jam right through from song to song. Peepholes, slows down the mood with a more traditional reggae vibe, and still retains your attentiveness lyrically. The jam keeps rolling propelling the “riddim” sky high, with Jump Up. Evidently a crowd favourite as a sea full of people sing along like a game of Simon Says. Fistful o' Sensi, a new track for DK illustrates their dimension, as the keys are the structuring point for this trap inspired jam. Paired with the trumpet and saxophone, this catchy riff is instantly memorable, as the sticky dub inspired beats stick to your frontal lobe. Dub Kartel provides the necessities to an unforgettable night; music like no other, excitement fuelled dancing, followed up with the love for the sensi.

So ends the The Harvest Tour. I want to thank the By’s of Dub Kartel as well as KillaWail for the infinite laughs and incredible music and the mad love.

See y’all on the flip…


Check out all Sarina's photos, from the Harvest Tour, here:

Photos/Article by Sarina Wilson
Live Video by Tiffany Naugler
Interviews shot & edited by Dan Nightingale 

Sarina Wilson

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