For the first time in the 23 years (god) that I’ve been doing this, a concert fell on my actual birthday. A concert that I went to, I mean. I bet there’ve been many. Though really, I only remember one: Smash Mouth played a fair in South Dakota on my birthday. Mika and I were also in South Dakota then, and we were going to go because obviously we were going to, but then we didn’t, and I now have regrets. Couldn’t let that happen again.
This particular Weird Al tour was called the Strings Attached tour, as he had an orchestra join him at every stop. Whereas Al had been kind enough to make Regina stops for his past few tours, this time, it wasn’t to be. When Mika and I booked our summer time off, I looked to see if maybe a trip to Calgary would be in order (please note that I cleared this plan with Mika and she was 100% on board with this and very enthusiastic about it even and we’ll see if she actually reads these things), but no, the nearby stops were happening while we were off in BC. But then I looked closer. Weird Al was also going to be in BC. On my birthday. It was fate.
We ferried over from Salt Spring Island on the afternoon before the show, spent some time with Mika’s family, and then checked into our hotel, where it seemed a number of musicians were also staying. They turned out to be the orchestra in question. Didn’t see Weird Al around, though I expect he stays someplace nicer than Victoria’s finest (probably) Comfort Inn. I don’t know where the orchestra was from; I had thought it was the [Your City Name Here] Symphony Orchestra in each location, but it didn’t look like this was the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. Or at least their website didn’t say anything about it. Also, y’know, they all needed hotel rooms.
I’d originally bought tickets for Mika’s folks, but they weren’t able to join us, so Mika’s cousin and her husband took their spot. They picked us up at the hotel and we all headed out to the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, which really did very little to honour the memory of Save-on-Foods. The show didn’t even start with a moment of silence. Pretty disrespectful if you ask me.
We were pretty far back and pretty high up, since going to the show was a last-minute decision. I was just pleased to be there at all since this promised to be at least a little different than the standard Al shows. Hiking up to our seats, I don’t know if it was just Victoria or what, but there was way more weed in the air and way more people two-fisting beers than at any Weird Al show I’d seen before. Everyone was still nice; it was just noticeable.
The orchestra came out first and played a few pieces that this audience would know; namely, themes from Indiana Jones, Mission: Impossible, Superman, and (of course) Star Wars. Then they took an intermission, and I thought the guy behind us was going to lose his mind. He was NOT down with an intermission before Al even showed up. But it was all due to the wording; if we’d had an opening act, we’d expect a break before the main performer. And in essence, that’s what we got. It was just called a warmup and an intermission instead.
Finally, the orchestra launched into Fun Zone, the instrumental that opens all Weird Al shows. They were joined by Al’s band and the trio of backup singers (another new addition to this tour) and finally Al himself, who sang a medley of older parodies (I Lost on Jeopardy, I Love Rocky Road, and Like a Surgeon) performed in different styles. Next was my all-time favourite Al song, The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota, so my night was basically set. I’ve seen Weird Al in concert six times now, and I’m 99% sure this is the first time I’ve seen him play that song live since my first Al show in the mid-90s, long enough ago that it predates the SLCRs.
For the start of the show, there were minimal costume changes and effects. If the song had a video, they’d play along with it, but that was pretty much it. The setlist seemed to be chosen with the symphony in mind, rather than the visuals. I thought they were particularly effective on Jurassic Park (it feels weird to give an earnest musical opinion regarding a dinosaur-themed MacArthur Park parody) and Jackson Park Express, but their highlight may have been a long, drawn-out buildup by Al, leading to the 30-second Harvey the Wonder Hamster theme song.
Then came the first montage of Al video clips and the back third of the set included a bunch of the big hits with the costume changes and set pieces, including Smells Like Nirvana, White & Nerdy, and Amish Paradise, with The Saga Begins and Yoda saved for the encore. This was much more like a classic Al concert and was great fun, if familiar.
Here’s the full setlist – probably the same every night on the tour (having an orchestra doesn’t leave a lot of room for variation:
I Lost on Jeopardy/I Love Rocky Road/Like a Surgeon
The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota
One More Minute
Don’t Download This Song
Weasel Stomping Day
Harvey the Wonder Hamster
Jackson Park Express
Smells Like Nirvana
Dare to Be Stupid
White & Nerdy
The Saga Begins
I did hear somebody say that Al had quietly removed all the Michael Jackson material from his shows after Finding Neverland came out, and indeed, it was noticeably absent. I’m not sure if that was the reason or if they just got left out to give other stuff some space. I say “all the material” but really, it was only ever two songs, but they’re just so associated with him.
Needless to say, I had a great time. Mika knew what she was in for and got what she expected – and without getting directly serenaded this time, so that was a plus (for her, less so for me). The other folks were both new to the Weird Al live show experience and it seemed like one of them got into it. The other, not so much, but at least there was some top-notch people watching as part of the deal. Al’s fans get really into the show; none more so than the two guys ahead of us who hollered, sang along, fist-pumped, and even FaceTimed their friends with excitement when certain songs got played. Those dudes were a bit much, but I still liked them.
And now, a postscript, because these things are never really about the concerts. The next morning, we had plans to meet friends for lunch, so we needed to catch a bus from the hotel into downtown. Walking to the bus stop, I hear yelling down the street and this guy walking towards us is smirking. I look past him and the yelling is coming from some lady. Who happens to be topless. Or technically not topless, as she was wearing a black tank top, just pulled way down. Sun’s out, guns out, I guess. I think the hollering was her trying to get someone to watch her stuff while she went to Tim Hortons. Ultimately, she abandoned her stuff and ran across the street. Mika thought maybe the boob situation was implemented in order to stop traffic since she was jaywalking. Anyway, this lady didn’t pull up her top before going into Tim’s, which poses interesting questions about their no-shirt-no-shoes-no-service policy. I mean, she had a shirt on, just in a non-traditional manner. But I guess the questions were answered when she emerged from Tim’s, coffee in hand, shirt pulled up. She ran back across and as soon as she was back in her spot, they were out again. If I looked over (we were now across the street from her at the bus stop, having crossed at the lights, legally, without help from my boobs), she’d give me a big smile and giant wave. I was very glad Mika saw it all too so at least I know I wasn’t hallucinating. We figured they must do things very differently in Victoria, a suspicion we soon confirmed when the bus system turned out to be fast and easy.
This was the 50th Regina Folk Festival. Or 50th anniversary, maybe. We skipped most of it.
I get inordinately high hopes for the folk festival lineup every year. The festival is a rare opportunity to get bands who’d never normally play Regina to come to town, but I need to remember, it’s not a whole lineup of them. This year, they got Jason Isbell, which is pretty cool, but most of the lineup read like a SLCR reunion show – Colter Wall, The Dead South, A Tribe Called Red, Bahamas, Rae Spoon, Blue Rodeo – and I like all those folks! Which is why I’ve seen them all before. Ultimately, we settled on just getting Friday night passes, but when Charlotte Day Wilson backed out and was replaced by personal favourite (and another SLCR alum) Kathleen Edwards, we made plans to pop downtown on Sunday night too.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 8
If I was in charge here, this whole thing would be its own review – different venue, separate ticket – but this was put on by the Folk Festival and was covered in the Folk Festival program and it’s been over a month and sure, I’ll take the opportunity to condense these into one.
The important thing is that we paid money to listen to music through headphones in a grocery store.
Touring in support of their new album, Saskatoon’s Close Talker held a “3D-360 silent headphone concert,” which they named “Immersion.” The idea is that the band would play their entire new album How Do We Stay Here? from front to back, and everyone in the crowd would hear the music through headphones. This isn’t an entirely new idea, but they got some slick tech worked in that allows them to move the music around in real time, so the bass can move from left to right, or the drums can sound really far away, or the guitar can move towards you. I can’t explain the grocery store part, other than a local market named Local Market YQR has a small attached space that actually worked really well for this. It’s your proverbial “intimate venue,” which allowed the band to sell out two shows in one evening.
Being Olds, we opted for the early show. We were briefed about what was going on upon entering, and we took seats at the back of the room. One of Close Talker (or would you just say a Talker?) invited us to move up, which was nice, but we’re tall and the back works fine for us. Besides, every seat wound up filled.
They told us the show would start promptly at 8:00, but there was a lengthy introduction explaining how the show would work, the technology behind it, all that fun stuff. I thought it ran a bit long but it became apparent that this was intentional; one issue with the venue is there was nothing covering the windows, and some of us (most importantly, me) were getting the setting sun right in the eyes. The opening chatter was dragged out a bit until the sun was just low enough to not impact the show.
This was a really neat experience, an excellent introduction to a local band, and a fun way to kick off the folk festival weekend. The performance itself ran around 50 minutes of kinda folky, kinda artsy, kinda dreamy pop rock. The movement effects I mentioned above were there but never overused, complementing the music rather than overshadowing it. The band made a point of not talking much, especially early on, to help people focus on the music. To that end, the headphones worked really well; nobody talked, and people mostly kept their phones in their pockets. I wouldn’t want every show to be like this, but in the right cases, it could be really effective. I did think individual volume controls might be a nice addition, though I can see where that could add one more thing to possibly mess up in what had to be an already complicated technical setup.
At one point I slipped off my headphones for a second to see what it sounded like in the room. Mostly it was drums.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 9
This brings us to our one full night at the 2019 Regina Folk Festival. With gates opening at 5:00, I’d have had to come downtown early and wait in line with folding chairs to get a good spot where Mika could eventually join me. Instead, we took our time getting down there and skipped the chairs entirely. This was a controversial decision, given that we spent way too much money on those chairs and they’re very comfy and ridiculously strong. Seemed a shame to not get as much use out of them as we could.
We got to the park a little after 6:00. Once we made it through the usual organized chaos, the whole chair thing seemed like a bad move on our part. There were noticeably fewer people there than in previous years and we wouldn’t have had a problem taking our traditional spots. This was Garth Brooks’ fault. His two sold-out stadium shows on the Friday and Saturday nights surely siphoned off Festival attendees. I didn’t mind the extra space, as the park has felt a little crowded during recent Festivals, but I was concerned that too much of his noise would carry over to the park and drown out our noise. Luckily, that was never an issue.
Emilie Kahn had already started playing by the time we arrived and we saw a few of her songs in between checking out the Stuff Tent and the food trucks and whatnot. It was perfectly pleasant harp playing that we honestly didn’t pay a ton of attention to.
Between sets, Ila Barker played a few songs, just her and her guitar, and there was a spoken performance from the night’s emcee, Stella from Queer Songbook Orchestra (they used a number of names throughout the night, but Stella is the most fun to yell, so here we are).
We picked the Friday night to attend in part because Weaves was playing and Mika really wanted to see them. And so they took the stage, and then everything went to hell. After half a song – just enough time for me to admire the airbrushed picture of Dolly Parton on the singer’s pants – someone from the Folk Festival ran out on the stage holding arms aloft in the dreaded X. It had been cool and drizzling off and on thus far, but now lightning was in the area. Luckily, the guitarist for Weaves had trained for this situation and knew exactly what to do – play the opening riff of Thunderstruck before flipping the double bird to the heavens.
With everything on hold, we waited around the park for a while to see what would happen, before the rain picked up and we headed to the car.
And the car was where we’d spend the next 90 minutes, with rain pouring down and lightning all around us. We played games on our phones, lamented the lack of nearby bathrooms, regretted not having picked up dinner as soon as we’d arrived, and intermittently ran the air conditioner when it all got too suffocating. The Festival kept people up to date via Twitter, or at least as up to date as they could given that everything was really contingent on the lightning going away. At one point, Mika tried to tell me facts about thunder, but she started it with “somebody once told me” and I jumped in exuberantly with “the world is gonna roll me” and she got mad and now I still don’t know what she knows about thunder.
This was all great fun but it could have been worse – we could have tried to go see Garth Brooks. The lightning hit before his show began, and they quit letting people into the stadium (it’s open-air and there’s only so many places they can hide people), so the busses quit running. Thousands of people took shelter in the nearby arena, where (according to a video that was on my social media hundreds of times but which I never actually bothered to watch) they all cheered for a zamboni, I guess because they had nothing else to do. Couldn’t watch the Rider game on your phone – they were on a lightning delay too. And they were in Montréal.
Finally, the storm passed and the Festival announced that the show was going to resume. We ran into Rheanne on the way back, because we have to run into Rheanne at every Folk Festival, even if we’re only there for an hour. It always works out.
With a few minutes to spare before the show was to resume, we hit the food trucks, only to find that most of the vendors had packed up and left. Can’t blame them, really. I wound up getting a burger from the bannock truck, and it turns out that replacing the bun with fried dough is an excellent decision. Mika, however, was stuck getting the sole gluten-free option, popcorn with literal ladles of melted butter. And, for some reason, a lemon wedge. Until this day, “too much butter” only lived in the realm of the hypothetical, but no more. The lemon worked surprisingly well, though.
The Festival is scheduled like so: a main act plays for anywhere from 40-90 minutes (depending on where they are in the set), and then there’s a teaser who plays for about 10 minutes while the next main act gets set up. It repeats that way all night – main act, teaser, main act, teaser, main act. So when the Festival tweeted that the last three acts were still going to play, people didn’t know if that meant the last three main acts, or main/teaser/main. If it was the latter, that would mean The Dead South would lose their spot. On Twitter, on Facebook, people were SO upset at this idea.
And then Stella came out to introduce the next band. They got three words in – “The Dead South” – and I have never heard a reaction like this for anyone at the Folk Festival. Or nearly any concert ever. Folk Festival concerts always have these long, scripted, artist-bio introductions – I’ve heard more than one musician describe them as “awkward” – and Stella got through the whole thing, eventually – but really, the best move would have been to just skip it when the crowd was already so hot.
The Dead South are a bluegrass band from around these parts who’ve started to make it big elsewhere, and this was their triumphant return. They had their time cut, as did the next two bands, but they tore it up and in front of a most appreciative audience, they could do no wrong. This was a high energy performance and was a blast.
Bahamas was up next and he and his band played a delightful set, though of the three that came after the storm, it was probably the weakest. And I love Bahamas! Being shorted on time hurt, because they crammed in as many songs as possible with little talking, and I greatly enjoy his talking. I shouldn’t complain; they played Lost in the Light and that’s my favourite of his. And at least we got to hear about how they’re not the best band, and don’t get the longest sets, but they’re the most chill. And we thank them for stimulating our economy by dining at Famoso.
Near us, an increasingly drunk girl grew tired of listening to some guy tell her about his degrees and made plans to scale a fence, sneak into the back stage area, and get it on with Bahamas. Not sure I’d have put money on her climbing ability at that point in time but I hope her evening ended well, however it ended.
Between sets, we went to sit down by the remaining food trucks. After resting our tired old people legs, I ran into a Dave on our way back in and we stopped for a chat. Mika wandered off, but promptly returned telling us how she was hit on by a guy asking what she was doing with her phone. When she said she was checking the score of the football game, the guy said something like “more like checking the score of the porn game.” I’d like to think I’m a good husband, but I don’t think I can honestly take any credit for the failure of this gambit. Mika did give me one free pass to try using this line on someone should the opportunity ever present itself; if I can pull it off, I’ll be sure let you all know.
I first saw A Tribe Called Red five years ago, and if you’d asked me, I’d have guessed two years ago, and I’m feeling some existential dread right now. At least I enjoyed the show a lot more this time around. I think it was the setting – the crowd was really into it, and the larger stage had room for Indigenous dancers, including a ridiculously impressive hoop dancer, and an adorable little jingle dress dancer who would sneak waves at friends and family in the crowd while waiting in the wings. That the band decorated part of their gear with stinky old LJN rubber toy wrestlers and had wrestling footage as part of their video effects didn’t hurt. I did see some old people in the crowd who looked decidedly not into the music, but I also saw a dude in a T-Rex mask who was really into it, so that all evens out.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 10
I had good intentions to check out some of the free daytime stages, but no.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 11
I had good intentions to check out some of the free daytime stages, but no.
We did make it down for Kathleen Edwards, though, if only so Mika could get the falafel she had hoped for on Friday. With no tickets and no real agenda beyond “let’s get there in time for Rae Spoon’s teaser set maybe,” it was a pretty casual evening.
Everything worked according to plan. Mika got her falafel and enjoyed it until feeling the effects of being glutened later that night. I got my first ever bánh mì, and I can’t speak for its authenticity nor its quality compared to other bánh mì, but it was super tasty. I kind of hope it was a terrible example of bánh mì, because if so, a good one would be mindblowing.
We ate and listened to a short set by Rae Spoon. Only a few songs, including There is a LIght (But it’s Not For Everyone) and the family-friendly version of a song I’ve seen them play before, Do Whatever the Heck You Want. Enough of a reminder that I need to catch a full show the next time they come through town.
Finally, it was time for Kathleen Edwards. She’s great. Of course. Played a bunch of songs I like; “all the hits,” as Mika put it. There was some new stuff. I think at least one song was the same new stuff as we heard in Bengough. Now, it’s important to note that as freeloaders, we couldn’t actually see the stage. Which is fine, we were there to listen, but it does mean that my descriptions of what was going on could be very wrong. For example, she had one musician with her, and was later joined by a member of Blue Rodeo. Or maybe several? Or maybe was just making jokes at Blue Rodeo’s expense? I’m pretty sure my initial description was right but I could be making it up entirely. But does that matter? You weren’t there and I won’t remember.
In here, I did make a tactical error. Remember the bannock truck from Friday night? I’d been told they made a mean bear paw (think beaver tail, or elephant ear, or your regional term for big fried dough with sugar on it) and went to get one. Which I did, but it was not what one would call a smooth experience. It had to take at least 20 minutes, maybe 30, and that’s with all of four people in line in front of me. And while the truck was closer to the stage than where we were sitting, it was also a lot noisier over there, so to be honest, I really didn’t get to hear most of this. At least the bear paw was exactly as good as you’d think fresh fried sugared dough would be, but I could have bought one at the farmer’s market sometime when Kathleen Edwards wasn’t concurrently singing.
For the Labour Day weekend, Dad and I hit up Taranna yesterday. We took the streetcar to the CNE, where it was so busy and packed and loud that it actually wasn’t all that fun. I didn’t buy anything, and you couldn’t get near much of anything, so I just ate my $20 philly cheesesteak (and a Coke) and spent the afternoon pushing my way through the crowds.
We hung out in Chinatown, and I got some more new kinds of green tea to try. Dad also gave me some green tea egg rolls, cookies, and Pocky Sticks that he’d found. There was a theme. Anyway, after all, we didn’t get back to our town until almost midnight, so it was a long day with a lot of driving and a lot of crowds, but it was full and interesting and (ultimately) fun!
I did get to do BMV and Sonic Boom, though only quickly. It felt like skim-scanning rather than digging in, but getting to be there at all was still better than not. Sonic Boom was completely sold out of the new Tool album. I wanted to get it so badly and.. no. It’s sold out here in my town too, and I didn’t see it on Amazon, either. Ah well. Another time.
So you’re probably curious about what a cursory dig in those shoppes might turn up for me, so here ya go:
Eva Cassidy – Somewhere. I love Eva’s albums, and I buy up what I don’t have, sight-unseen.
Robert Johnson – Devil On My Trail: The Complete Songbook. I didn’t need this, but, you know…
Subtle – For Hero, For Fool. I remembered this being a crazy record, wanted to try it again.
Tragically Hip – Evolution Advances. A neat promo disc containing the single for Vaccination Scar, and snippets of Summer’s Killing Us, Heaven’s A Better Place Today, Gus: The Polar bear From New York, and Mean Streak. Never seen this before, likely never see it again, so it had to come home.
radiohead – Com Lag. I’ve never owned this Japanese-only EP. Now I do!
Wallflowers – Rebel, Sweetheart. I like these guys, never heard this one so I’m excited.
Dictators – Go Girl Crazy. I blame Geoff. This had to come home!
U2 – The Best Of 1980-1990, and The Best Of 1990-2000. These 2cd sets have what you wanna hear, and second discs full of b-sides. I don’t wanna own all the albums, but this was a good way to get all the singles in a fell swoop.
Rezillos – Can’t Stand The Rezillos: The (Almost) Complete Rezillos. I blame ROLLINS. He played these Scottish punkers on his show, and I wanted to hear more.
Viletones – A Taste Of Honey. Because awesome.
Undertones – Teenage Kicks: The Very Best Of. I was curious if anything more than the one song I know is any good…
Jimmy Lee Williams – Hoot Your Belly. I am a simple man. I see Fat Possum blues records, I buy them. They’re always awesome.
Dinner Is Ruined – Love Songs From The Lubitorium. A great left field Canuck supergroup fun times.
Isis – Temporal. I grab up Isis releases whenever I see ones I need, and this 2cd/1dvd made my day!
Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg. I already own this on CD and LP, but this one was signed so I rescued it.
Steve Winwood – Chronicles. I was in the mood for some of this, and this hits set covered a lot of what I had in my head. Excellent.
Counting Crows – Hard Candy. Haven’t heard this one before, so I’ll be curious to try it out…
And that was a super-full day, covering a huge swath of the city. I felt like I’d done my 10,000 steps for the week all in one day!
In honour of the new Tool album (dropped today – I will be buying my copy in Taranna tomorrow), here are two pics from the interwubs that pleased me:
You may recall, back in April our son was gifted a cool wee stereo for his 10th birthday. Well, recently, it was our daughter’s 8th birthday and she got the exact same stereo!
Early this morning, when we were the only two awake yet, she sat on my lap in front of the the ol’ Mac, picking out songs she wanted on her first disc of MP3s. I was proud of her choices in Iron Maiden, AC/DC, and CCR. She went into unfamiliar turf for me, though, choosing Maroon 5, Pink, and a song called Old Town Road. I hadn’t heard it before, but since it’s been playing on repeat in her room all afternoon, I can definitely say I’ve heard it now.
I’m chuffed that both our kids like music (I’ve made it my on-going mission since before they were born… yes, I played music at my lovely wife’s belly bump), and I’m all for supporting whatever they want to listen to, so long as it’s not too violent or language-filled, at this point. They’re still in that cute stage where someone in a movie will say ‘hell’ or ‘damn’ and they’ll look at us to see if it was OK haha. We just tell them that other people use bad words, and you’re gonna hear them, from time to time. It’s just a better choice to not use them yourself. And they nod sagely and think about the times Daddy hits his head on something and how bad words might turn the air blue for a few seconds… Anyway.
So, now both kids have the machinery to blast their own tunes and they’re thrilled. It’s a rite of passage, and I couldn’t be happier that they’re both into being excited about music. They both have it in them and, as ol’ John Lee said, it’s got to come out. These stereos will really help open up the world for them. And, since their bedrooms share a common wall between them, we’re thankful both kids also have decent headphones.
Now I just gotta get Old Town Road out of my head. Time to crank some Stooges…
It’s been long enough since I’ve done one of these that this one isn’t late out of my usual laziness, but I just plum forgot for like two weeks. Please ignore that it’s been three weeks.
When the show was announced, I didn’t know what a Half Moon Run was. But Mika did – and still does, I assume – and she also saw the announcement and was interested in going. As we’ve established, it doesn’t take much to get me to show up.
It also doesn’t take much to get me to stay home. I get sleepy and cold, or in this case, damp. Our plan had been to head out to the local salad chain restaurant (nothing too good for my girl) before heading to the show, but the skies had other ideas. A sudden downpour coupled with high winds, lots of lightning, and just a touch of hail. A few of the lightning strikes were close enough to our house to rattle the place, sending Carl scurrying to the basement. We’ve had some bad storms before but I’d never seen him just take off like that. As water filled the divot in the road across from our house, we made alternate dinner plans; namely, I made omelettes, hoping to beat the inevitable power outage that never came.
Everything eventually eased up, the cat emerged from hiding, and we were free to go. Mostly. To get to the Exchange from my house, you need to take one of three underpasses. Two were flooded, and the third was only reopened just before we left the house. When we had to detour around another flooded section just to get to the least-bad underpass, we weren’t hopeful, but made it through fine, if a little muddy.
We’d had what passes for heated debates around here regarding what time to actually show up to this thing, having seen several posted times for the doors, including the oddly specific 7:39 pm. The storm made up our minds for us, and we got there a few minutes before 9:00. Based on the parking, there were more people there than most of the recent shows at the Exchange, and indeed, it was reasonably full. Also: very warm. We had just enough time to remark on the venue’s fullness and excessive warmth when Half Moon Run took the stage.
This means, of course, that we’d entirely missed opener Luca Fogale. I hadn’t heard of him before seeing his name attached to the bill. I listened to his new single, and it sounded like the kind of very pleasant singer-songwriter stuff that I enjoy but find almost impossible to write about. And now I won’t write about him. Instead, he gets the same benefit of the doubt as every missed opener; namely, he was surely tremendous and we obviously missed out.
I’d also listened to the newest Half Moon Run album (is 2015 still new?) before the show and it wasn’t anything like I expected. This was coming from a place of complete and total ignorance, of course, but Mika tends to like harder, rockier stuff, and this sounded more like, well, something I’d like.
For the record, I like lots of harder and rockier stuff just fine. But I wrote that line and realized it wasn’t really what I meant, but its inaccuracy and vagueness was outweighed by the fact that it made me laugh.
Anyway. This was pretty great! They played quite a bit off that not-new new album that I recognized. If you want song titles, we’ve established I am not your man. They also played some new unreleased stuff, and everyone there was super excited to hear it. I was clearly so very alone in not knowing Half Moon Run. This was one of those crowds where the bands say nice stuff and actually mean it. People were into every song, singing along, cheering everything, hollering “yeehaw” at one point – even the jerks were so into the show that they forgot to be jerks. It seemed like the band was both delighted and a little surprised with the warm welcome.
They played a relatively short set, ending with all four of them around one mic covering After the Gold Rush. Honestly, I’d have been a little disappointed it was over so soon if I was one of the die-hards, but I’ve been to too many “leave ’em wanting less” shows to complain.
Driving our son home from the soccer (football/fitba’*) complex the other night, the radio was on in the car.
On comes Rush’s ‘Freewill.’ Of course, I’m drumming along on the steering wheel (because it is a physical impossibility to not drum on the steering wheel like you’re Neil Peart while listening to Rush) and from the seat beside me I hear, sotto voce, “You can choose a ready guide / In some celestial voice / If you choose not to decide / You still have made a choice / You can choose from phantom fears / And kindness that can kill / I will choose a path that’s clear / I will choose free will…”
Yes! Not only was my boy singing along, he knew all the words! I sang along too and he liked that – Father/Son moments!
It warmed my heart. Proud of my boy!
From Urban Dictionary:
1. (m) the beautiful game
2. (f) the stupid game involving 22 grown men (and 3 officials of dubious parentage and eyesight) kicking around a lump of leather around a field, often sparking irrational behaviour, bad language and blind devotion to a team or player, to the detriment of normal marital relations.
(see Fitba’ Widow)
Thought I’d share what I’ve picked up lately, so you know what’s been in my ears. Given the time available, this sort of post makes some sense these days. Give ‘er…
AC/DC – Powerage
I own most (if not all) the AC/DC studio albums. In oversiiiiiight, I didn’t have this one, so this fixes that.
Bon Scott with Fraternity – Livestock
Still haven’t played this one. Mike says it’s not so great, but it’s been a while since he heard it so maybe his opinion would be different now. I’m curious to try it out!
Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo Ma, and Cho-Liang Lin – Haydn: Three Favourite Concertos
Bought for the Marsalis, I’ll stay for the Haydn. Yes.
Wynton Marsalis – In Gabriel’s Garden
Wynton does Bach, Purcell, Torelli, Mouret, Clarke, Dandrieu, Charpentier and Stanley, with the English Chamber Orchestra and Anthony Newman. Yes please!
Diana Krall – Live In Paris
A cool tracklist, and this copy looks like she autographed it. Neat-o!
Fleetwood Mac – 50 Years: Don’t Stop
Bought this out of curiosity. Didn’t really need it as I already have the Greatest Hits. Also, this is the 1CD version, and it turns out there is a 3CD version which would be a whole lot better. Anyway.
Various – Punk City Rockers (4CD)
Cool-looking comp with a pile of old-school punkers. Bands include UK Subs, Angelic Upstarts, Anti Nowhere League, Vibrators, Exploited, Gonads, 999, Cockney Rejects, Lurkers, Defects, Infa Riot, Stiff Little Fingers, The Business, Adicts, Ruts, Chelsea, Adverts, Slaughter & The Dogs, among many others. Cool!
Ryan Adams – 1989
I buy any of his stuff whenever I see it cheap. Bought this one despite his cover of Bad Blood. I think I’ve just heard it too many times on the piped-in music at work. Blah. There’s surely other, better songs here.
Counting Crows – This Desert Life
I spend most of my time with their first two records, so I never heard this one. Now I can!
Tin Machine – Tin Machine & Tin Machine – Tin Machine II
Always wanted these David Bowie project albums. Can’t wait to dig in!
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Murder Of The Universe
Bought on spec. I mean, with a band name and an album title combo like that, this is has to be the most epic stuff possible, right?
Otep – Sevas Tra
I love their song Blood Pigs. Love love love. Now I have the whole album!
Pantera – Far Beyond Driven
Love me some Pantera, and for some inexplicable reason, I never owned this album. Now I do, and I’m gonna crank it!
Hey y’all, it’s Sunday and this is a long one (that’s what she said), so settle in with a coffee and put your feet up…
Last post, I covered our July trip to Taranna, and all my scores. Fun! But with this extended time away from the blog, I haven’t even finished our May trip to Taranna. Not to mention my scores in June. This post corrects that.
So. There were a couple left from that abandoned series way back in May:
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Cardinology If I don’t already have one when I find them, I buy his releases (at reasonable prices) on the spot. I have yet to be truly disappointed.
Black Mountain – IV The only one of theirs I still needed (I think). Love their stuff.
And now here is the stuff I found during our June excursion…
Live – Secret Samadhi For some inexplicable reason I did not have a copy of this on hand, so this corrects that omission.
Branford Marsalis – Romances For Saxophone Honestly, this one is in the 3-For bin during several visits. I rescued it, because Marsalis.
OMPS Natural Born Killers Love the film, been ages since I heard the soundtrack. Time for a re-listen. I remember NIN, and Leonard…
Scarlett Johansson – Anywhere I Lay My Head I have the other (second) album she did with Pete Yorn too. I think I owned this ages ago, as the single is very familiar to me…
Paradise Lost – Medusa, and The Plague Within HMO recommended. Totally awesome.
Solstafir – Svartir Sandar 2cd, I Blodi Og Anda, and Otta Also HMO recommended, I totally cleaned up and, in this fell swoop, nearly completed my collection of this excellent Icelandic band’s output. I already had the deluxe Otta in the box with swag, so this rescue copy is for play.
Silver Jews – American Water I always buy Silver Jews albums when they contain Malkmus. This one does.
Pixies – Indie Cindy Bought because Pixies, because I hadn’t yet heard it, and because the title (her namesake) makes my lovely wife happy.
Danny Michel – Matadora All Danny Michel is excellent Danny Michel. Another one for the collection!
Metallica – S&M I realized I didn’t have this 2cd Metallica/SFO set on CD (I have the LPs), so I snapped up a reasonably priced copy. “Of Wolfgang And Man,” indeed!
Opeth – My Arms, Your Hearse My first time seeing a copy of this one in the wild. There’s only one or two left, now, for me to have to the whole Opeth studio collection!
I like everything Rick White has done, so when I see a release I don’t yet have, it’s an instant yes please!
I also got a bunch of stuff for $2.99 at Sonic Boom, bargain-hunter that I am:
Big Rude Jake – Live Faust, Die Jung I realized there are gaps in my BRJ collection, which is inexcusable. This was one I needed.
Frank Black and the Catholics – Frank Black and the Catholics I do love me some Black Francis, and I was fairly certain I hadn’t heard this one. I’ve loved everything I’ve heard of the Catholics output.
Violent Femmes – Rock!!!!! I know next-to nothing about this one, but I do love the VF so why not!
Smashing Pumpkins – Momuments To An Elegy I grabbed this simply because I hadn’t even known it existed. What would SP sound like in 2014? Let’s find out!
Lyle Lovett – I Love Everybody, and Live In Texas There’s something about this loveable weirdo I have always enjoyed, so cheap albums of his made me happy. I especially liked the track listing on that live record…
Jesse Dangerously – How To Express Your Dissenting Political Viewpoint Through Origami I was thrilled to find this one, and for so cheap. James said this was the score of the trip and he’s right.
All in all, an excellent Taranna run!
And tucked way down here at the bottom, here’s what else I’d found in May, and covered in these pages, as you may recall. [Rescue Missions] are the ones I bought and already had because it’s what I do apparently…:
Rheostatics – Greatest Hits [Rescue Mission]
Atoms For Peace – Amok (deluxe) [Rescue Mission]
Eva Cassidy – American Tune
Various – Ballin’ The Jack: The Birth Of The Nu-Blues
Kelly Hogan – Because It Feel Good
Kelly Hogan – I Like To Keep Myself In Pain
Ani DiFranco – Allergic To Water
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – ‘Freedom Tower’ No Wave Dance
Tinariwen – Imidiwan: Comapnions cd/dvd
Pixies – Head Carrier
Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs – Medicine County
Paley & Francis – Paley & Francis
Hardship Post – Somebody Spoke
J. Mascis – Live At CBGBs: The First Acoustic Show
Sadies – Precious Moments
Mark Lanegan – Bubblegum
Mark Lanegan – Whiskey For The Holy Ghost
Sadies – Tremendous Efforts
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F#A#
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
And if you’ve read this far, your coffee is surely gone and you are a true trooper. Thanks for Reading!
First up, HAPPY CANADA DAY! Give ‘er!
So, it’s about time I put something here. Dad and I went to Taranna yesterday. It was a perfect day in the city, gorgeous weather, easy traffic, and a big party in the market as it’s a holiday weekend.
I’ll just post up my scores (no reviews), for y’all to see what caught my eye…
First up, the 3-for-$10 bins are now 4-for-$10 bins. Awesome! I asked the dude, and he said he’s pretty sure it’s a permanent change. They just have so much stuff to clear through. He did say they may make some 4-for-$10 and some 3-for-$10, depending on what they are. Will see going forward.
Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith – Nothin’ But The Blues Y’all Looks like Taranna-based fun, half studio, half live tracks.
Clutch – Pure Rock Fury I don’t own any Clutch, but they’ve come recommended, so why not.
Joe Strummer – Earthquake Weather This was an immediate grab. A rescue mission for Joe!
Hootie & The Blowfish – Musical Chairs Our son heard Hootie on the radio and loved it, so this was one I didn’t have and it rounded out the 4-for-$10.
Tim Armstrong – A Poet’s Life I think I owned this at one point, but not until I found it again yesterday. CD/DVD.
Jakob Dylan – Seeing Things I asked James if Wallflowers are making a comeback like Hootie is, and he didn’t think so. But I’ve been hearing them everywhere, so when I saw a Jakob solo album, I was curious.
Guided By Voices – Vampire On Titus/Propeller In all the years I’ve checked the GBV sections, I’ve never seen this double album single CD. I own both albums individually, but when I saw this I grabbed it because GBV. Then I went to Sonic Boom and saw another copy. What are the chances, in all these years…
Tuns – When You’re Ready b/w Kiss Yourself Goodbye Awesome 7″ from awesome band. Woo!
Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs and Opel I owned Barrett already, so I was happy to round out the collection.
Descendents – Milo Goes To College Classic. Had to get a copy as I was inexplicably without it.
Godspeed You! Black Emporer – Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress and Luciferian Towers Slowly completing (if not completed) my GY!BE collection. Glory.
Baroness – Gold & Grey New Baroness makes me happy and this is probably the score of the day!
All told, a perfect run to the city, and so many great tunes, to boot. Thanks for Reading, folks!
This was nice. I got little else.
Foxwarren is fronted by Andy Shauf, who you might remember from a few of these reviews. Or maybe from his ever-increasingly successful solo career, I guess. Local guy, singer-songwriter type, has built up a lot of buzz. I’d only known of his solo stuff and I’m not sure where Foxwarren fits into the timeline. Was he with them first? Is this a new thing? Were these simultaneous ongoing projects? You are asking the wrong guy, my friend. I was going to suggest that I might know if I’d grown up and seen more small shows here in Regina, but I forgot I’m very old. Shauf wouldn’t have been out of high school when I moved here. I have no excuse. I just don’t know things. Except that they have one album out and it’s new and this tour is in support of it. I know that and it’s probably right.
With Shauf as a hometown favourite, this show sold out well in advance, not that you’d have known by the crowd when we arrived. Regina Folk Festival shows usually run like clockwork, but this one started a good half-hour late, probably to let everyone show up. On the plus side, the late arrivals meant that Mika and I had no trouble finding seats for the opener.
Said opener, Hannah Cohen, played a pleasant little set of dreamy pop that could be described as “sleepy.” The crowd gave her a really nice ovation at the end of her songs that they paid absolutely no attention to. Mika said something along the lines of “that was good, but if I had to write about it, I’d have nothing” and it was nice of her to give me something to close this paragraph with.
Everyone chatting through Hannah Cohen’s set just made it more noticeable how quiet everyone got when Foxwarren started playing. Shauf is a soft-spoken guy and a great songwriter, and people were ready to listen. Which was nice, but we could have used more of that earlier.
It’s always a little weird when the lead singer of a band goes solo. For the musician, it means an entirely new experience. Creative freedom. Do what you want, work with whoever you want. But often, the results – especially to a casual fan – aren’t always that striking. Is there that much difference between songs by Matthew Good and the Matthew Good Band?
It’s not a perfect analogy here, but you get the idea – this is all is a long way of saying I expected this to sound more or less like an Andy Shauf show and it more or less did. This is not a complaint! He’s real good and this was real good. I’d listened to their album beforehand (also real good) (Microsoft Word’s grammar and usage checker is going to hate this sentence) and they played pretty much all of it, near as I could tell. If they played songs from Shauf’s solo records, I didn’t recognize any, though he did come out alone to play one song for the encore.
He also, like in previous shows, fielded audience questions, such as “how do you like your new haircut” and “can we see your new haircut” and “who’s your favourite uncle?” (“Good;” he took his hat off but it was kind of hard to see but I gather he cut his hair all short; “I got a lot of uncles here.”) They also celebrated the birthday of one of the band members, though I think that was just a coincidence of scheduling and not part of the regular touring show. Though it would be pretty funny. And they might get free drinks. Okay, I think I’m onto something here. If you go see them (you should), let me know if it’s someone’s “birthday.” You might also be able to get an honest answer as to Shauf’s favourite uncle if there are fewer uncles where you live.
Yesterday we buried my lovely wife’s dad, my father-in-law. It was a lovely service for a good man, with family and friends gathering in numbers.
His name was William Wesley, but everyone called him Mike. Through it all, he did love his family, and he did dote on his grandkids. He went through a decade and more of varying/related health issues, finally passing a week ago. We were with him at the end.
As you no doubt know, difficult times cause reflection, and reminiscence. You take stock of your own life, and wake up to the things you may have been neglecting. You realize, as you look at ashes in a box, that a lot of the things bothering you matter little, in the end. Things clear up in a damn hurry in such sobering times.
I posted a short while ago about things we cherish, so what of the record collection, etc. Life is for the living, so enjoy it. For me it’s people. Tell them you love them today. Family, friends, this community. Thank you, everyone, for your messages of support and understanding. Thank you for years of Reading, and conversation, and being awesome.
I’ve been neglecting these pages in all the busy, but knowing you folks are out there helps a lot. Thank you.
RIP Mike. Thank you for everything, and especially your beautiful daughter, my lovely wife.
Sonic Boom #8
Just out of curiosity, how are you folks liking this picture/caption gig? Lemme know…
Sonic Boom #2
Trying new formats to see what’s sustainable. Larger, centered picture with caption text. Lemme know what you think…
I love Pixies, full-stop. They have a wonky rocking glorious sound all their own, they rarely miss, and it’s always worth hearing. Get Head Carrier in yer ears!
Hey folks! So, I’ve been slowly recounting my awesome Taranna finds from our trip there last month. I still have the rest of my BMV scores to tell you about, and ALL of the Sonic Boom finds too! So much to do.
Well, as a sign of how far behind I actually am, we were in Taranna again yesterday. And I have more music scores! So… um, I’ll tell you about all of them. Eventually. I am at the point where I’m gonna just have to post the album art and a one-liner and call it a day. Good grief.
Anyway, the city was awesome yesterday. Perfect weather, about 15C with a breeze off the lake. People had coats on, but us northerners were in t-shirts. Traffic was a bit rough on the way down, backed up at the 400 and the 427, but that happens often, and we made great time getting out of the city so that’s a win. The stores were way less busy as it wasn’t Record Store Day anymore.
Speaking of stores, Kops Records on Bloor was gone. No sign in the window that they’d moved, so I dunno. Maybe it’s all in the Queen St. location now? And She Said Boom! on College was gone too, but my panic was short-lived as they’d only moved a few doors further west down the street. Whew!
Also: I had a list of four albums I knew I definitely wanted to find, and I found two! Cool beans. I did not find any Grail List items. Speaking of which, have a look at the Grail List link (above) and if there are any updates for your lists, let me know!
Alright, stay tuned. I have awesome musics to hear/tell you about. And all the previous stuff too. Let’s see if I can find a way to get this done before we go again next month…
As we were getting ready to head out for the show, Mika asked if I was excited to see Snake River. I was not, largely because I didn’t know what Snake River was, if something other than a river of snakes. It turns out that the Tea Party was on the Black River tour, named after their latest single, and Snake River is a local band that plays here fairly regularly. Simple enough to get mixed up.
I mention this because it led me to check and see who our actual openers were – The Proud Sons. The name is a little too close to The Proud Boys for my liking, but what the hell, they’re opening for the Tea Party, it fits really well. At least name-wise. I listened to a few songs from their EP and found they were a country band, which seemed like a very odd pairing with the Tea Party, who were all about being dark and brooding and mysterious, or at least they were when I was in university and they were at their commercial peak. When they came back through town on a reunion tour in 2011, I was surprised at how down-to-earth they seemed – but still not the kind of band that would have a country act opening for them. I assumed I’d found the wrong band on Apple Music.
We got to the casino and checked out the stuff table. Yep, it’s the same Proud Sons. Weird. But whatever, into the concert hall we went for people watching and a thematically appropriate playlist of 90s Canadian rock until the show began. This included a Tea Party song that was hastily skipped.
The Proud Sons are not quite as country in person as they were on their EP – still country, but leaning towards the rockier side of things. Mika checked, and none of them appear to be related to anyone in the Tea Party, and nobody from the Tea Party produced their EP, so this pairing will remain a mystery. Their set was fine, nice harmonies, nothing wrong with the show (well, maybe a touch too loud for the venue – and I maintain that if nobody knows your band, don’t tell the crowd to sing along or “put your hands in the air” because they won’t) – just such an odd fit.
And that’s about all I wrote before letting this sit for two weeks. I think I’m just not fit to review the Tea Party, who I was about as excited for as I had been for Snake River. I saw them – by which I mean the Tea Party, not Snake River, who this review is not actually about, not that you’d know – once in 1996 during the height of their popularity when a friend had a spare ticket. I knew very little about them and said friend was disgusted by that, given that it was a high-demand ticket to a sold-out show and basically wasted on me. I liked them well enough then – and in 2011, and again in 2017 – but they’re really just not my thing. They’re like I Mother Earth in that based on my age and tastes, I should like them, but they just never fully clicked with me. I go because Mika likes them and because I can be talked into any concert for any reason.
This was pretty similar to the show we saw back in 2017. And not just their own songs; they also played the same covers (or short segments thereof) as last time – With or Without You, Heroes, Paint It Black – though I think Bobcaygeon was a new addition. Ever since Gord Downie died, every Canadian band of a certain vintage has to incorporate a Hip song into their setlist by federal law; usually Bobcaygeon, but the Headstones got a special dispensation to play Blow at High Dough and New Orleans is Sinking instead. Crash Test Dummies didn’t play a Hip song at all when they were here last year and they’re all in jail now.
The new not-Snake-River single was fun. They tried out some other new stuff and asked us not to record it in case it sucked, but it was good, and they knew that. Really, the most noticeable difference was in their demeanor. Like I said, in 2011 they seemed appreciative and almost surprised that people would still come out to see them. Since then, they’ve had a few successful tours and the new single has been a big hit on rock radio (for whatever that means in 2019) and that really seems to have boosted their confidence. Lead singer Jeff Martin had a lot more swagger and was back to coming across more like a rock star, and the crowd responded accordingly, so maybe listen to them and not me.
I always worry about the “it was fine” reviews because I fear they come across as “I hated it.” And talking to the four people who read these things can sometimes back that up. So I’ll just say it was a Tea Party concert for Tea Party fans. It was enjoyable and met my expectations but didn’t convert me. After four shows, I’m sensing a pattern.
• Foxwarren w/Hannah Cohen (May 29)
• Regina Folk Festival w/Bahamas, A Tribe Called Red, The Dead South, Weaves, Emilie Kahn, more (August 9)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 21)
• Elton John (October 1)
• Thrush Hermit (October 4)
I still thank Mr. 1537 for pointing me towards this incredible unit.
If, like me, you dig their groovin’ desert blues, then this album will please you as greatly as any of their other work pleases you. Brilliant stuff!
My copy came with a DVD containing a 30 minute documentary about the band.
It’s cleaner-sounding, but he’s still shouting and they’re still rocking. They’re still in control, and the blues is still #1!
This is her 18th album, and I’ve been on the Ani bus for a lot of awesome listening years. She’s always on point, and she’s always brilliant. This one’s another fine example that sounds great.
This lady can sing. Without a doubt, she does it with control, power, and soul. Here she interprets songs others wrote for her (including M. Ward, Vic Chesnutt, Stephen Merritt, John Wesley Harding, Robyn Hitchcock, and Andrew Bird, to name a few), and is joined by Booker T. Jones and others to make it all sound stellar. Glorious.
So I bought this Neil Young book.
Nothing amiss there, oughta be a good read.
Then, when I got it home, I looked inside at the first page and saw this:
Yup, that’s in pen.
Alright. I have questions.
- Is this thing signed by Neil Young?
- Is he known to simply autograph with his initials?
- Further down the rabbit hole, could this have been signed to Rik Emmett? Am I thinking too hard about this?
Of course, surely there are other people named Rik, but there you go.
So what do you think?
Grammatically painful title aside, this is one hot CD. I knew of Kelly Hogan through Carolyn Mark. And Neko Case. Turns out she’s collaborated with a ton of others too, like Mavis Staples, Decembrists, Mekons, Tortoise, Jakob Dylan… the list is long and awesome.
You’ll know why she’d be a popular guest when you hear her creative, fun, beautiful record. What a voice! Hot damn. This is straight-up kick-ass gotta-hear it stuff.
I f*ckin’ love comps like this. The write-up on the back cover says it all:
Balling The Jack: 1) Gambler speak for risking everything on one throw of the dice. 2) A railroads man’s term for going full speed on a train. 3) Afro American argot for a dance characterized by sexually explicit pelvic movements. 4) Black slang for generally having a goooood time.
The Nu Blues: The Old Skool Blues feel, given a techno turbo-charge and pepped with hip-hop thrills, punk power, indie angst, art-rock experimentalism and an extra helping of 21st century soul to go. The Devil’s Music Deconstructed. You know it ain’t a sin…
Reid Paley – Lucky’ Tune
Asie Payton/Go Gittas Camp – Oooh Baby
Tom Waits – Big In Japan
Jimpson & Group – Road Song
Chris Thomas King – Mississippi Kkkrossroads
North Mississippi Allstars – Someday Baby
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Electricity
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Stagger Lee
Olu Dara – Strange Things Happen Everyday
Pig In A Can – Slow Down Train
Gary Lucas w. Mary Margaret O’Hara – Poison Tree
Soft Boys – Give It To The Soft Boys
Billy Childish & His Famous Headcoats – The Wond’rous Day
Petit Vodo – Border Line
Moby – Findy My Baby
Penny Lang – Lost And Found
R.L. Burnside – Let My Baby Ride
Cowboy Junkies – Postcard Blues
Johnny Dowd – A Picture From Life’s Other Side
Bob Log III – Stirring Round A Stick
Diamanda Galas – See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
The only disc I found in the 3-for-$10 bin that needed to come home.
This bluesy beautiful set contains covers of Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, Paul Simon, Duke Ellington, Lennon-McCartney and Cyndi Lauper (among others). The sound is clear and roomy, and the band is on point. This one’s just more proof of her brilliance. She died far too young (at 33, in 1996). May she RIP.
TARANNA: As I mentioned in an earlier post, my Dad and I made were in Taranna recently. I bought musics, and will tell you about all of it. I plan to keep the posts super short, and to try to hone my Briefly Telling You Something Informatively skills.
(ARGUABLY UNNECESSARY) RESCUE MISSIONS: I keep a .txt list of all my music (artists and titles) on my phone. Apparently it needs an overhaul because on this last trip I bought a few items I already own. They were:
Rheostatics – Greatest Hits. I will forever love the Rheos, and not only because they called their first album their Greatest Hits. Turns out I already had this CD. And the LP.
Atoms For Peace – Amok (Deluxe Edition). I already own the CD. And the LP. But this was a shiny lovely deluxe fold-out CD edition for cheap, which I did not have. Unnecessary? Yes but also no.
Rollins Band – Nice (Advance CD). This is just the album (which I already own), with some promotional content added to the CD (which I also already own). This was a rescue mission (and my third copy). Because ROLLINS.
Mounties – Thrash Rock Legacy. I already own this CD, but it’s Hawksley (et al.) and it was in the clearance for $2.99 so I could not leave it to languish. I will find it a good home.
OK. First CD from BMV posts tomorrow.
In Calgary again, visiting my grandma again, timed it to coincide with a show again. Baked her some bread again, sharpened her knives again, got my suitcase inspected again (for packing an electric knife sharpener again). You know the drill. I’m pretty sure I’ve done this exact opening before.
I could add “seeing Hawksley again” (third time since January) and “symphony show again” (following Steven Page, with Weird Al still to come this summer). Got some themes going on this year.
I met Colin for an early dinner at a downtown BBQ joint where he also goes to punk concerts. Some things about that sentence are odd and that’s okay. It was a bad day to eat early; lunch had come late because I hit up Record Store Day first and also had to stop at London Drugs and buy my grandma some printer ink. Calgary priorities. That said, though I wasn’t really hungry, dinner was pretty good, with the side of bourbon apples a particular standout.
After dinner, we walked over to Arts Commons for the show, which was in the Jack Singer Concert Hall. It was rush seating and I had a goal of getting there “earlyish, but not stupidly so” and I feel like we succeeded.
Rather than rushing to claim seats, we got drinks first. I’m not much of a drinker, nor a line-stander-inner, but they had a concoction called The Workman – how could I not? Besides, Colin handled the lining up and the buying all by himself. The drink, while tasty, demonstrated the effectiveness of branding. Fun theme drink I can talk about in a review? Sure! But call it what it is – namely, just Maker’s Mark and Coke – and I’d have passed. (Or maybe not; I’d already had those apples and Bourbon Day is always an option since I like themes so much).
Out of the lobby and into the hall itself, and we spent way too much time looping around trying to decide on seats. Paralyzed by choice, we were. With no ideal options, we wound up sitting centre-right, a little better than halfway to the back. I think that somewhere in this paragraph is a metaphor for the Alberta provincial election if I bothered to suss it out.
In an unusual move, Hawksley posted the full setlist on his Instagram before the concert began. Since I saw it before the show, you may as well get it before the review:
Goodbye to Radio (with orchestra)
A House or Maybe a Boat (with orchestra)
Autumn’s Here (with orchestra)
Safe and Sound
Oh You Delicate Heart (with orchestra)
Your Beauty Must be Rubbing Off
No More Named Johnny (with orchestra)
1983 (with orchestra)
Song for Sarah Jane (with orchestra)
Jealous of Your Cigarette
Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky (with orchestra)
Battlefords (with orchestra)
No Beginning, No End (with orchestra)
That’s a nice, career-spanning mix. As you can see, about half the songs were accompanied by the orchestra, and half were just Hawksley and Mr. Lonely. Honestly, I was initially a little disappointed in the number of songs that didn’t feature the symphony, since that was the big draw for me. I mean, I love Hawksley and was going to enjoy this either way, but this was the 24th time I’ve seen Hawksley in concert and the symphony songs promised to be something new and different.
Having said that, as seems to be the norm with these symphony shows, there weren’t a ton of surprises in the arrangements. The orchestra usually seems to be used to accompany the original song, rather than drastically change it. The new songs, 1983 and Battlefords, had arrangements by Sarah Slean, and both were nicely done. Hearing Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky – a song that I love but is also kind of ridiculous? – with the symphony was great, just because it made a weird song that much stranger. That said, Song for Sarah Jane was the surprise standout. On record, I’ve always found it kind of unsubstantial. Pretty, but not much to it. With the orchestra, though, the music swelled as the song went on and it became almost anthemic.
Hawksley is normally pretty emotive when he sings, and this was no exception. If anything, he was hamming it up more than usual. I’m sure part of it was having the symphony backing him up, and part of it was the size of the venue; apart from some folk festival shows (and those are outdoors, which have an entirely different vibe), this is easily the biggest place I’ve seen him play. He was also his usual chatty self, at least before the less-structured songs with just him and Lonely. He joked about his unseasonable song picks with Autumn’s Here and the Christmas tune A House or Maybe a Boat, and had introductions for other songs, including the same story about Snowmobile as he told last time in Regina.
Hawksley can be a bit of an oddball and I’m sure the symphony brought out some people who wouldn’t normally go to his concerts – like when we saw him with the Vinyl Cafe years ago. You can always spot those people because they’re the ones laughing at lyrics, hearing them for the first time. The older lady sitting to my right took incredible delight in some of the more risqué lines in songs like Jealous of Your Cigarette and especially Paper Shoes. We were also sitting near some diehards who knew all the words and sung along at every opportunity, most often during fan favourites like Smoke Baby, Your Beauty Must Be Rubbing Off, and Safe and Sound. They were also really good singers, which added nicely to the atmosphere in those parts.
All told, this was really great, with a new twist on a bunch of songs, a great performance, and a crowd that was super into everything. Not that it matters, because you likely saw Hawksley in the title, figured my feelings on the show were a foregone conclusion, and skipped this. And for those of you who didn’t, should have gone with your gut, I guess. Could have saved yourself a few minutes.
Recently our son turned ten years old. Not sure where the time went, but our beautiful bundle of joy has grown to be a thoughtful, intelligent, strong young man.
He got a ton of gifts, of course (LEGO is still his favourite, now in the Technic form) but he got a couple of other gifts for which I think he’ll always remember this year’s birthday:
Up until now, he’s been listening to classic rock on his clock alarm radio. A rite of passage (I did the same). This year, my parents got him his first stereo. It’s a little CD/MP3 bookshelf unit with its own remote. I’ve been hooking him up with tunes (at his request – so far it’s been Gowan, Led Zeppelin, and Iron Maiden). I don’t know about you, but I’ve always remembered my first stereo, that light switch turning on and opening up the whole world to music and possibility. I can already see it’ll be the same for him.
And this year, I got him his first acoustic guitar. A real one, as he called it. An Art & Lutherie, just like mine. Actually, his is more capable as it has a pickup in it, but he liked the connection. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always remembered my first guitar, a Yamaha acoustic that endured my first plunking twangs. I was 18 or so when I got my first guitar, and I can’t help but think that if I’d gotten one at 10 years old, I’d have been so much further ahead. He hasn’t said anything about lessons yet, but we let him know it’s an option. I can show him basic chords to get him started.
There’s a different look in his eyes. I see that he sees the world opening up. Now he can listen to music (and control it), and he can begin to make his own.
Parenting comes with a lot of cool moments, too many to count. But some bigger ones you have to wait for, and I’ve been waiting a long time for these. I can confirm that when you get there, it’s so worth the wait.
It’s easy to trundle along thinking life will always be like it is now.
My lovely wife’s father has been ill for over a decade. He lived at home as long as he could. But eventually he wound up in the hospital and now, for the past couple of months, in a nursing home. It’s the best situation, with care on hand.
We visited him for Easter, and he’s in a room with an occupancy of four. He has a closet for a few clothes, a bulletin board above his bed, and a wee rolling shelf box beside the bed. Simple living.
Naturally, after visiting, my thoughts eventually roll to our own future. What if we end up in a similar situation? You want to live in your own home for as long as you can, of course, but as he discovered, health conditions can easily dictate otherwise despite your wishes.
And, being a collector, my brain takes the next logical step and asks: what about the records? Sure, they’d be at home. But, as an example, he’s unlikely to ever return home. And there’s no space in a place like that for anything like a turntable and even a few records. And, even if there was, the other three roommates might not like the tunes, so it’d be all headphones… I suppose an iPod would do, as a vehicle for getting the music to your ears.
And after we pass, what then? I don’t suppose I care what happens to any of it after I’m gone – I can’t play them anymore, after all – but the thought nags and, after our visit, I look at the collection in a different way. All my readings of Zen, Tao, and Walden flood back. I think minimalist. I calculate my current age and start guessing when I’ll be unable to maintain a private residence. It may never happen. Could be in 30 years. And so on. Isn’t my brain FUN?
The other side of this whole thing is to just not think about it, for now, and just enjoy the hell out of the music while I can. But that thought of the future will always be in there, and seeing his set-up which, admittedly, is comfortable and clean and enough, preemptively undoes all of my collecting efforts and life-hours. Eyes open.
Got my first free day with good weather (after winter), so Dad and I headed for Taranna.
It was Record Store Day. BMV wasn’t any busier than usual. Sonic Boom, however, was jammed with people so you could barely turn around. Great for sales, of course! But also hard to actually shop. They had live music on a stage at the back. I heard two acts (* photo credits to Sonic Boom’s Instagram):
I didn’t get any RSD 2019 scores. I could have bought the Mastodon Stairway To Heaven EP, but it was $27 for two songs and that’s too rich for me. I did get a ton of other scores in both shoppes, and I will report back here on all of them. Which leads me to…
As noted recently, I’ve got minimal time to blog/Read. Gah! I still want to tell you about stuff I hear, so I’m going to have to go shorter, though it must still tell you something about my thoughts about the thing, not just ‘hey this is what I heard/saw/etc.’
I’ll bet I could do it in one or two concise sentences.
Here’s one I’ve had in Dennis (my post hopper) for some time now. I’ve updated it to current and here it is:
I love hockey. I really do.
I grew up playing it, and wasn’t too bad as a center/left wing. But I got out at 14 years old, when everyone else had grown and I hadn’t, as with body contact allowed I was getting crushed. Turns out I don’t have or enjoy the mean tough hockey thing. I prefer the finesse have-fun hockey thing. Anyway.
As a kid, it made sense I should’ve been a Leafs fan. My Dad is a lifelong Leafs fan. Heck, they were the city closest to us, and they were the team we watched most on Saturday night Hockey Night in Canada. Yet I was an Oilers fan. Gretzky and Messier are still my top two hockey gods. Hard to fault a kid for cheering for those 80s Oilers. I even got to go to an Oilers/Leafs game at the old Gardens, ages ago, to see my heroes… And the Leafs… well, they’ve had a long, difficult slog since… the 60s.
Then I lived 20 years without a TV, so I didn’t see a whole lot of hockey. What I did see, I struggled to watch. I hated the zone trap, it actually made the game boring. And all the lazy hooking from behind on the backcheck (which is now a penalty, thank goodness) made the game unwatchable. I even hated when Fox tried to put that stupid streak behind the puck so everyone could follow along. Dumb. Honestly, who can’t follow the puck?
And now, over the years of having internet I began to follow the NHL again, just highlights and stuff. I’m not a Oilers fan, per se, anymore. I’ve tended to just hope that the team that deserves to win actually wins. And this season, I found a channel on Youtube that condenses every 60 minute game into an 8-10 minute highlight reel. I watched many of them here and there, while I was cooking supper, or while the kids were in kung fu, or whenever my attention wasn’t immediately required elsewhere. Over time I got re-acquainted with what has always been in my blood, and we even go to our local OHL games now and again, and I love those. I just grew to love watching hockey again.
And I found myself rooting for the Leafs.
I can’t quite articulate why. There are so many good teams in the league, now. Honestly, the speed and the skill these days is off the charts from what this old dog is used to seeing. And still, for all the great players the Leafs have, somehow they often manage to be a hot mess. But when they get it right, goddamn it, it’s superb.
So I’m learning what beginning to identify as a Leaf fan means. It’s an annual tough row to hoe, it’s a lot of bitter disappointments and crushed hopes… and yet somehow hope always springs eternal. I mean, even the Cubs won a World Series eventually.
And last night, at my folks’ place, I watched Game 7 of the Bruins/Leafs first round series, held in Boston. I found myself actually nervous for the buds. And they lost, in big fashion, 5-1. Despite out-playing, out-shooting (by a wide margin) and out-hitting the Bruins. Really it was 3-1, but they stupidly pulled Andersen with about 3:00 left, allowing those last two coffin-nail goals. And so their season ends.
Honestly, now with Toronto, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Calgary (and maybe Washington, tonight) out of the playoffs [all major teams!], I don’t really care much who wins anymore. I’m happy Nashville’s out, though. I have watched (off and on) all season, and I’ll still watch to the end and see who wins the Cup, but with the Leafs out it just doesn’t feel exciting in the same way. That’s a huge new first for me.
And I hope for next season already. I hope they trade Kadri* and Nylander**, promote Ennis and Moore, and put super-speedy Kapanen back where he belongs. I hope they get another defenseman. I hope they work out the top guns lines and stick with what works. Hell, I cross my fingers Marleau sticks around forever. I hope they give Marner whatever he wants – they need him and that kid’s amazing. I hope they treat Tavares and Matthews like kings. If I was a kid now, they’d be my heroes. I hope they find Andersen a solid back-up (is Sparks it? Who knows). So much to handle in the off-season.
And here I sit, newly-minted and full of opinions, probably talking outta my ass. Haha shut up, noob! Yeesh.
Apparently, I’m now a Leafs fan. I wouldn’t ever have guessed it, and yet here it is. I know what it means. And I’m OK with that.
In a beautiful bit of life’s full circle, our son is an Oilers fan. He loves McDavid, and Draisaitl, and all the rest. Good on him. I support him in that, too!
* He’s let them down when they need him too often. Time to go, bud, thanks for everything good.
** I said at the time of all that trade holdout crap that they didn’t need him (not that he’s not a good player, just that They Did Not Need Another Expensive Forward), and I was proven right. Waaaay too many millions, and for waaaaay too little output (called it). Meh.
What? Tea? Am I ripping off Sarca (Juan Valdez Follows her, you should too!) and her coffee posts?
Nope. I mentioned a while back about managing to shed about 25 pounds. I don’t say I ‘lost’ weight because that sounds like something that could be found again and I have no interest in finding it again. Anyway.
I’m fairly certain a significant part of this accomplishment was the ingestion of healthy quantities of green tea. I know lots of folks think it tastes like grass, and who’d wanna drink the lawn? But me, I love it. Just plain, straight up, nothing in it. No lemon, no ginger, no extra anything. Keep it coming.
So I started a survey of green teas, out of my own interest, and thought I’d share the results (thus far, hence the Pt.1 in the title) in case any of y’all were interested.
I used a scale from 0 (hairy grossness) to 10 (rainbow unicorn panacea). Here’s what I’ve got so far:
1 – Lipton Green Tea – basic, cheap, not terrible. RATING: 5
2 – Tim Hortons Green Tea – lemon furniture cleaning spray nose, OK flavour. Would probably make a fairly good iced tea. RATING: 6-1 for the nose = 5
3 – Twinnings Green Tea – smooth, simple, solid go-to. RATING: 7
4 – Tian Hu Shan Dragon Well Green Tea – Chinatown Taranna find. Basic, not offensive. RATING: 5
5 – Lipton Magnificent Matcha Green Tea – expensive, in comparison, but so far above and beyond the others it’s not even fair. RATING: 10
And that’s the first 5. When I get through a few more, I’ll report back. Enjoy a cuppa!
I’ve posted crap like this a lot over these (now) 13 years, but this is a new general state.
All apologies, dear KMA Readers. Post counts are down. Worse, I haven’t read your posts, or commented. Where did Aaron go?
I’ve just lost the mojo. And the further it goes along, the harder it is to get back. I thought I could get caught up and then stay on top daily, but then it slid too long. Apologies all around.
I do still listen to music. In this current state, I’ve now heard more than I’ve posted (natch).
I need a sustainable plan. I probably need to let go of the idea of staying on top. I probably need to stop worrying about it. Not gonna lie, the reflex is dying hard, but it is what it is.
So, a few days ago, I barfed in a post about some of the pros and cons of going to concerts. And then we went to a concert (SADIES FTW!). So I thought I’d go back through my post and see how this show matched up. Thoughts are in italics in the (bolded) original text (because I am lazy)…:
You know, in a way, concerts are rather silly. This one wasn’t! It was awesome.
You spend extra money Truly not a problem, for seeing this band.
and set aside an entire evening to go out of your house not gonna lie, we needed to get out so bad.
and be amongst the masses who’ll mostly likely talk through the whole damn thing, check their cellphones non-stop, chew with their mouths open and probably get drunk and sloppy OK so this happened, in fact one drunk guy kept coming close to elbowing my lovely wife in the head several times and looked at us like we were the jerks when we calmly asked him to move, meanwhile he and his buddies stood right over us and had a shouted conversation throughout several songs but then stopped talking when the band stopped playing ASSHOLES… though eventually they got the hint and moved off, so um, yay?,
just to hear a band reproduce songs that you could reproduce yourself from their album anytime you choose – in your house, in your car, from your phone or iPod. I’ve seen several bands who did this, and I came away wondering why I didn’t just play the CD… Except, as J. correctly pointed out, the Sadies are on another level performing live. Their CDs are great, and their live show is just that much greater, so this was definitely not a re-tread experience.
Very often (for me) concerts are too loud to the point where the sound isn’t even pleasurable to listen to, breaking up and distorted. Admittedly, for certain types of concerts like punk or metal shows, that makes sense and can be fun (with earplugs), but more often, I find it would be better if it was slightly, reasonably quieter. At least, not crush-your-chest and head loud. Loud for the sake of being loud. This show was at a reasonable volume that suited the room and the music, so it was fine (even without earplugs).
Also, for me, most decent shows require at least two hours of travel to a larger city, so it’s not just the expense of the ticket itself, it is the expense of time, gas money, food money and, depending on where and at what time the show is, possibly hotel money as well. It is a planned event beyond just stopping by to check it out. Not to mention we’d need to arrange childcare, and make sure that it isn’t a work night. This one was right here in our town, ten minutes from our home!
So you commit to going somewhere, usually at expense, and being jostled by other people, to hear songs you’ve already heard at a volume that hurts. The mild introvert in me finds all of this very tiring. The mild introvert in me was fine with most of the evening, except for the drunken louts. They really could have tried harder. They’re also harder to take when you’re not drinking yourself. It’s been four years since I had a drink, and I suppose after a couple it might’ve been easier going, but through sober eyes they were just sad and annoying.
On the other side of the coin, concerts are special because very often bands don’t merely reproduce the songs as you hear them on the album. The best bands make the song recognizable, yet they will add solos, or change the words, or make the song shorter or longer, or even blend songs together that you hadn’t previously considered putting together. They will also play cover tunes, and talk to the crowd and tell jokes and stories, making it a worthwhile experience because it’s stuff you wouldn’t otherwise get. This was absolutely the case at this Sadies show.
If you enjoy merchandise, you can get T-shirts, hats, pins, CDs and whatever else. There was a stuff table. CDs were $15, LPs were $20. Pretty sure the t-shirts were $30 or $35. I didn’t buy anything but the prices seemed reasonable. There didn’t seem to be more than a few albums on display, so I don’t know if there were more in a box, available on request, or if that was all they brought with them.
If you enjoy meeting the people who make the music, sometimes you can get lucky and hang around after the show and meet them, although myself I’m more often tend to not do that than the times that I do. We did not stick around after the show ended, as it was nearing midnight and we had to get back and let our babysitter off the hook. There’s a very good chance, though, that if we’d hung around we might’ve met one or all of the band. They didn’t seem too inclined to be rushing out of the building.
Plus it is simply a night out and doing something, just different than the usual routine and sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered. OMG this, for sure. We don’t often go out, just the two of us, and usually that’s fine. But it sure was nice, on this occasion!
Looks like, in this case, the Sadies win the Pros column easily, and easily disarm the Cons side as well. This was a show well worth it in (just about) every way. Thank you, Sadies. Come back again soon! And go to Glasgow – J. demands it! 🙂
On 1998-11-04, my lovely wife and I had our first date. So, hopeless romantic geeks that we are, every year we acknowledge that date in some small way. Of course, last November (2018-11-04) was 20 years since our first date. Accordingly, we said ‘hey, we oughta do something, like actually go out on a date and enjoy.’ Great idea!
Fast forward to this past Thursday night, our first real opportunity to get out just the two of us. Now, as the parents of two small children, a delay of 5 months is normal, right?
Anyway. This all came about because, one day, I noticed the concert poster bill (below) and I said to my lovely wife, ‘Hey look, the SADIES!’ and she said ‘We’re going!’ and so we got tickets that day. The gig became our plan to get out for the night!
So, first we went out for dinner, and then hit up the Heartwood Hall for the sold out Sadies concert. Life is grand!
Sharp-eyed KMA Readers will recall that the Heartwood is the same venue in which we saw Danny Michel perform last year. It’s an event space above the store (of the same name) on our main street. The acoustics are great and, even when full, it mustn’t hold that many people, maybe 200? I dunno, not many. This time around, a good amount of floor space in front of the stage was left empty for dancing.
At some point in the evening, I texted myself key words so I could write this review of the gig when I got home. That I am finishing this a couple of days later makes me even more glad I sent this. I kind of like it as it is, so here’s the text, verbatim:
Sadies raucous rocking swinging country punk jamming shifting time signatures tones moods tempos glorious sway fearless abandon infectious energy bare kuckles roadhouse barroom brawl gorgeous twang musical prowess varied Canadiana masterpiece with dancers and so goddamn tight yet relaxed about it all hot damn this fucking rules
There’s an easy swagger to what the Sadies do, but it belies the absolute control and energy that these four players possess. They are locked tight in the pocket at all times, yet there’s still that feeling of room to move, create, push the music forward. It’s easy to focus on the guitar pyrotechnics and the vocal differences between the Good brothers (Dallas and Travis), but to watch Mike Belitsky on the drums was, for me, a dream, and Sean Dean on the upright bass was unassuming but playing with style, panache, and holding the whole damn thing together like a boss. It’s a battery team par excellence.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better gig this year. These guys are amazing.
I noticed Dallas had two Telecasters, a red one which seemed to be his main instrument, and a blonde Tele with his name right on the fretboard under the strings, which he only played for a couple of songs. Travis had what looked like a Gibson 335 or maybe a Gretsch, I didn’t get close enough to see for sure.
You could tell the band was having a blast and, several times, Dallas made sure to mention that they really loved the room at the Heartwood (they’ve played here before), and they surely didn’t take for granted how welcomed they felt and how much they were enjoying the whole thing. He also took a wild stab at what people from this town call themselves, and he got it right first guess: Owen Sounders. He loved that, and stayed with it until blurting, “that’s, like, the best band name ever!” He’s not wrong.
Most Sadies songs are short, tight manifestos of awesome (and as my text to myself shows, they’re varied and amazing). As such, they blasted through a ton of brilliant songs, over the course of the evening. No one has posted the setlist on setlist.fm as of this writing, so the actual list will have to wait until some kind soul tells us for sure (I’ll post it if it ever does appear). I’m gonna guess we heard over 30 songs though, because the show was well over two hours long, and their intermission was short. I know!
As they neared the end, Dallas said they were gonna play four more songs and then wrap it up. They blasted through those four songs (including It’s Nothing To Me, which I was waiting to hear ‘cos I love it), set down their instruments and made to leave. Not long after, it was decided they’d play two more songs and then end the gig. After those two songs were done, same deal and a decision to play one more song, which they did, and then that was, finally, the end of the gig. You could just tell they were loving every minute, soaking up the fun and the love and they, like us, didn’t want it to be over.
Folks, if the Sadies play anywhere near your town, at any time, GO. Don’t even hesitate. They are so good, it’s a guaranteed great set. Just GO.
Happy date-iversary, indeed!
NB: Sorry, J., we didn’t get a chance to talk to the band after the show, as we had to go relieve our babysitter of duties (it was nearing midnight), so I didn’t get a chance to tell them about your hope for the band to come and perform in Glasgow. Who knows, maybe they’ll read this post and book a flight!
I snapped a couple of quick pics during the gig, with my phone, but I’m not gonna lie, I was having too much fun soaking in the music and the performance, so I didn’t take many. All apologies for the quality, it was an older iPhone in a darkened room:
Read details about this record, often considered among the best albums of all time, RIGHT HERE.
For this brief barf, I’m just gonna say I absolutely love this whole thing. It does have Son Of A Preacher Man on it, a song that was covered so many times after this, but every damn song here is so sweet and sexy and soulful and sophisticated. It just has an easy class that draws you in and holds you close.
This deluxe Rhino edition I have here contains the original 11 tracks, followed by 14 bonus tracks! Just amazing.
I need this on vinyl. Oh man.
My lovely wife got me this book as a gift, knowing I love the Kids In The Hall. It’s a great read.
A lot of the information in here is stuff that I already knew, but there was more than enough about their past and their relationships (and the depths of it all) that I did not know, and for this I am exceedingly grateful to have read it. It’s like getting to peek behind the curtains at the humans who make magic.
Also, this is indeed a music post because of Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. And because Craig Northey. And because Kids In The Hall are rock stars in their profession and I hope they remain forever popular.
I’m falling in love with The HU.
Mongolian metal for cranking in the good headphones. Get ready to charge over a hill into battle! HELL YEAH!
So I have been thinking about concerts. I haven’t hit any final answers, but it’s just where my brain is.
In a few days, we will be going to see the Sadies at the Heartwood and it’s going to be a fantastic time. However, in thinking about the experience of seeing a show, I’ve come up with a few pros and cons.
You know, in a way, concerts are rather silly. You spend extra money and set aside an entire evening to go out of your house and be amongst the masses who’ll mostly likely talk through the whole damn thing, check their cellphones non-stop, chew with their mouths open and probably get drunk and sloppy, just to hear a band reproduce songs that you could reproduce yourself from their album anytime you choose – in your house, in your car, from your phone or iPod. I’ve seen several bands who did this, and I came away wondering why I didn’t just play the CD…
Very often (for me) concerts are too loud to the point where the sound isn’t even pleasurable to listen to, breaking up and distorted. Admittedly, for certain types of concerts like punk or metal shows, that makes sense and can be fun (with earplugs), but more often, I find it would be better if it was slightly, reasonably quieter. At least, not crush-your-chest and head loud. Loud for the sake of being loud.
Also, for me, most decent shows require at least two hours of travel to a larger city, so it’s not just the expense of the ticket itself, it is the expense of time, gas money, food money and, depending on where and at what time the show is, possibly hotel money as well. It is a planned event beyond just stopping by to check it out. Not to mention we’d need to arrange childcare, and make sure that it isn’t a work night.
So you commit to going somewhere, usually at expense, and being jostled by other people, to hear songs you’ve already heard at a volume that hurts. The mild introvert in me finds all of this very tiring.
On the other side of the coin, concerts are special because very often bands don’t merely reproduce the songs as you hear them on the album. The best bands make the song recognizable, yet they will add solos, or change the words, or make the song shorter or longer, or even blend songs together that you hadn’t previously considered putting together. They will also play cover tunes, and talk to the crowd and tell jokes and stories, making it a worthwhile experience because it’s stuff you wouldn’t otherwise get.
If you enjoy merchandise, you can get T-shirts, hats, pins, CDs and whatever else. If you enjoy meeting the people who make the music, sometimes you can get lucky and hang around after the show and meet them, although myself I’m more often tend to not do that than the times that I do.
Plus it is simply a night out and doing something, just different than the usual routine and sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered.
So, there, I don’t seem to have come to any sort of resolution on these thoughts. I’ve been to shows that I loved, and ones that I was ready to leave before they were over. The good and the bad, we’ve all been there. This is just a brain barf and I’m putting it out there. I’m assuming most of you will say that concerts are a positive and that the negative parts of the concert are outweighed by the better parts of the concert… Feel free to correct, add, argue, whatever in the comments. This was just what was on my mind today.