On Friday night Toronto’s Cold Specks performed at the Phi Centre in the magical Old Port of Montreal. It was a cool and crisp December night, and walking through the Old Port to the venue already added an air of loveliness to the evening —a perfect set up to Cold Specks and her beautiful set.

LA Timpa was the opener of the night. The Nigerian born musician played trippy electro tracks from his debut EP Animal, while a projection of a horse and racer played in the background. This psychedelic set was perfect for setting the mood for the rest of the night, his tracks looping and mesmerizing the crowd, bringing us to a place of relaxation and readiness for the main act of the night.

Cold Specks, or Ladan Hussein, is Somali-Canadian and grew up in Toronto. She’s been touring her third album Fool’s Paradise, which was inspired by a Somalian tale, throughout Europe and North America this Fall. She’s on the tail end of the tour now, and her performance was confident and warmed up. You could tell she’s been on the road for a while now.

Hussein’s sound is hard to describe. Her voice is full of soul and power. It’s mesmerizing. There is no fakeness about Hussein on stage. Her lyrics are deep and poetic, and there is an air of loveliness and strength to her, but she also maintains an ‘I don’t give a fuck’ kind of attitude. Her music has been described as electro-soul or doom-soul. Last night she played the guitar, while two other dudes, who she introduced as “two eligible bachelors from Toronto,” played keyboard, bass, and drum pads.

Hussein stood in the middle of the stage, bathed in a dark blue hazy light. At the top of the show, Hussein asked the audience if they could see her and then asked for the lights to be lowered even more, so she was immersed in blue darkness. The concert hall was relatively small but cavernous. The crowd dispersed in twos and threes, lovers intimately swaying in the low blue lighting. It was almost supernatural feeling, which lent to the occasional sci-fi and otherworldly beats and sound of her songs. The last two songs were the most magical of the night. Hussein played alone on the dimly lit stage with her white guitar, the two bachelors taking off. Her presence was raw and human, and her sultry voice filled the room while she plucked away on her electric guitar. It was an intimate experience. Walking back into the cold crisp night of the Old Port after listening to Hussein’s music felt like a reawakening. Sometimes music can reach deep down into your core and light something up that is almost unexplainable, but universal. Cold Specks has that power.

WATCH “Holland” By Cold Specks:

Shannon Carranco

Shannon Carranco is a Concordia journalism student and an avid writer and photographer. She is currently the Fringe Arts editor at The Link Magazine. Originally from California, Shannon has made Montreal her home for the last seven years and has fallen in love with the city's vibrant and underground arts scene. She also owns a Russian Dwarf Hamster named Bernie.

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