The Clashroom is now in session at NDG's Porchfest

Montreal teen rock starts in-the-making play their biggest gig on a small venue-their music teacher's front porch.

Teens will play on their music teacher's front porch at annual music festival

The Clashroom features (left to right) Benjamin Cere on guitar/lead vocals, Samuel Bock on keyboard, Henry Rebellati-Mitnick on drums, Benjamin Mak on guitar/backing vocals, Carly Leblanc on lead vocals and Benjamin Bisaillon on bass. (Jonathan Stein/NDG Music School)

It's not the Bell Centre or the main stage at Coachella, but it may as well be: a group of Montreal-area teens are getting their big break by playing on their music teacher's front porch this weekend, for NDG's annual community music festival, Porchfest

The six-piece band, The Clashroom, features Carly Leblanc on lead vocals, Henry Rebellati-Mitnick on drums, Samuel Bock on keyboard, and the three Bens: Benjamin Cere on guitar & lead vocals, Benjamin Bisaillon on bass and Benjamin Mak on guitar and backing vocals. 

"I've wanted to be in a band for a really long time," said Leblanc, in an interview on CBC Radio's All in a Weekend. "I've been pretty much singing as long as I can remember."

"It's an amazing... being able to perform music with a bunch of people you're really close to."

"I'm super excited. It's the longest show we've done. It's going to be amazing," says Benjamin Mak of The Clashroom's show at Porchfest this weekend. (Jonathan Stein/NDG Music School)

The group first formed last October as part of a program at the NDG Music School, co-founded by the group's instructors Jonathan Stein and Michael Fitch. 

Picture a real-life School of Rock, where kids not only learn their own instrument, but learn to play and perform as a unit, with a view to creating a sense of community through music, according to Fitch.

"You get something from doing individual music lessons, but you get so much more from doing it as a social activity, doing it together," he said.

The Porchfest show serves as an end-of-semester performance for the group to showcase what they've learned, said Stein.

He and Fitch have played the festival for the past four years with their own Radiohead cover band Street Spirit and thought it would be a good fit for their students too.

"It's pretty amazing...walking just a few streets over from where I live, you can see a band in almost every corner," Stein said. "The styles are so varied and you discover little gems."

The Clashroom has played a few gigs, including at Leblanc's school, Lake of Two Mountains High School. 

"It made me a bit skittish," said Mak about that performance. "Because I was around all these people that I felt the need to make a good impression on, because I really didn't know them."

But if he was feeling the nerves, his teachers said it didn't show. 

"Ben's got lots of moves, actually," said Stein.

"You've got a signature little jig dance," added Fitch..

This Sunday's hour-long set at Porchfest—including covers by artists ranging from The Beatles, to Arcade Fire, to Kelly Clarkson—will be the Clashroom's longest show to date. 

The show will also feature one original song, with a chord progression composed by Mak who then wrote it together with the band. 

"I really want to pursue it as a band that [does originals]," he said. "Create my own tunes and stuff - it's something I was very interested in."

The Clashroom perform Sunday at 11:00 am at 2249 Marcil Avenue in NDG for Porchfest.


Ainslie MacLellan is a journalist at CBC Montreal. Follow her on Twitter: @CBCAinslie.