SLCR #157: 54-40 (April 2, 2011)
It’s usually this time of year when I write a concert review in the airport on the way to visit my grandparents. I like to start by talking about the wonders of technology and how, years ago, I could never have written a concert review in an airport. Then I finish up the opening by noting how familiar this all feels, as though I had done it before (for several years running, in fact) and just didn’t remember.
This year I spent my pre-plane time playing video games. Oh well. Now it’s several weeks later and once again, I’m trying to force out a review so that it’s done before the next show.
54-40 are one of those Canadian acts who’ve been around forever, but somehow, I’d never seen them until now. It’s not like they’ve never played here before, but I never managed to make it to the shows. Much like the Arrogant Worms last month, 54-40 was on an anniversary tour, though this was their 30th as opposed to the Worms’ 20th. Still, in both cases, I’ve clearly been slacking for years.
Though to be fair, I’ve never been a huge 54-40 fan. Or an Arrogant Worms fan, for that matter. Maybe I should retroactively just combine the two reviews? That would at least have the potential to be interesting, unlike this, wherein all I have to say is "I watched a show and I liked the show and then I went home to my house and my cat and my recording of SNL."
It sounds bad to say "I’m not that big a fan" but I just mean I’m not obsessive about them, you know? If I really really like a band, I want to hear everything by them, I want all their albums, I want to go to shows, I want to know all kinds of stupid trivia, I want to make mix CDs and give them to all my friends who most assuredly do not care. But when it comes to 54-40, I really just knew the radio singles, including the ones I only heard because Feely sent them to me (basically, everything from Casual Viewin’ onward).
Boring details: lucked into good parking, got to the casino a bit early and had some tasty nachos before the show started right on time. No opening act.
Without hilarious drunken shenanigans, overenthusiastic fanboyishness, or any sort of all-encompassing theme or story, I’m sometimes tempted to simply write "this show was fine" and call it a day. Never have I been more tempted than I was during the first half of this show. 54-40 played some songs. A crowd sat calmly and listened to the songs, and applauded politely when each song ended. It was a rock concert in the technical sense of the term, but only barely. And it was fine, don’t get me wrong, but that’s about it.
Then they started playing Casual Viewin’. This is probably my favourite 54-40 song (though as I mentioned, I don’t know that many) and I was hoping I’d get to hear it. And then about six women got up to dance. Others were inspired and followed suit. Some dragged their boyfriends along. Other guys, presumably noting the most excellent male:female ratio, went up by themselves. Soon it was hard to see the stage, so everyone wound up standing. I don’t know if the plan all along had been to play an extended version of the song with a long sing-along chorus, but that’s what wound up happening. Somehow, it turned into a real-life concert over the span of five minutes, and the feeling held for the rest of the show.
I make lots of jokes about being old, and I do like the chairs and the sight lines and the climate control and the reasonable start times, but the casino atmosphere sucks a lot of life out of a rock show. Good bands overcome questionable settings all the time, but I would prefer it if they didn’t have to start with a handicap. I’ll never enjoy standing around for hours waiting for a show to start, but sitting in polite silence during the show itself doesn’t thrill me either. There’s a middle ground somewhere that I’m not sure I can find without bringing my own recliner to the bar.
– Regina Symphony: Video Games Live! (April 21; I may not bother writing anything about this)
– Geoff Berner (April 29; I may not go, but probably? we’ll see)
– Regina Folk Festival feat. kd lang, Hawksley Workman, KT Tunstall, Andrew Bird, Taj Mahal, Fred Penner, and more (August 5-7)