A girl was berating me, in a thick French accent that seemed to me to border on parody, for putting in earplugs. "You cannot wear zose for BEAST! You must hear her voice pure." I tried to explain the amount of shows I go to and how I already have ringing in my ears and don't need it to be any louder. She accepted my answer but continued her enthusiasm about BEAST singer Betty Bonifassi. "My English eez not so good but she has the best fucking voice you ever going to hear!"
I don't know if it was the best, but Bonifassi definitely has one of those voices that commands you to pay attention, big and brassy like Shirley Bassey or Roisin Murphy, capable of torchy ballads and even a little rapping. And this girl was not the only one in the audience who held that opinion. Though BEAST only performed live for the first time in March, the band (Bonifassi and drummer/producer Jean-Philippe Goncalves) have clearly gained quite a following since then — and if this night's crowd was any indication, most of them are females. They were going wild for her.
It should be said that Bonifassi is a veteran of the Paris and Montreal music scene and her pipes have a starring role in The Triplets of Belleville (she sang on the Oscars for it too). Goncalves too is a noted producer, and the two joined forces initially to work on music for a videogame and it turned into BEAST. Like a louder, more-aggressive update of '90s trip hop (Maybe trip hop meets big beat, with just a little industrial in there too), it's not the most current sound in the world but Bonifassi's voice and presence are enough to make you realize you are definitely here and now.
BEAST's self-titled debut is out now digitally via iTunes and will hopefully get a physical release outside of Canada soon. They are better live than on record though, so go see them if you can. For now that just a few dates across the border…
Dec 5 Transmission Vancouver
Dec 11 Live Lounge Ottawa, Ontario
Dec 13 La Forge Tremblant, Quebec
Dec 19 Mod Club Toronto, Ontario