Poor neglected middle child. I wrote the Dandy Warhols review on the plane earlier today since it was freshest in my mind. The Kasabian review has been 4/5ths done for over a month, so I tuned it up and finished it off next. And then there’s this show, one about which I had very strong opinions at the time. I wonder if I can remember any of them?
With this show, two months of rapid-fire concerts came to close. It didn’t go exactly as planned; Kathleen Edwards had some issues with her voice and postponed her show until October, and I missed out on both Whitehorse and Electric Six due to work being work. These disappointments were mitigated by a killer Ben Folds show and Kasabian, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, and John K. Samson far exceeding my expectations. All in all, it’s been a good run.
Mika picked me up at work so we could skip town in a timely fashion. If Joel Plaskett won’t come to Mika, she will go to him. I am fine with this, since I dig Plaskett quite a bit, and I’m always down for a road trip and road trip snacks (but let this review document that no matter how many times I try them, Combos are never a good idea).
We made it to Louis’, my old stomping grounds, with plenty of time to spare. This would have been awesome if it didn’t mean lining up outside in the cold. I think it was cold? Maybe even drizzly? I have no idea. What did YOU do in the evening 36 days ago?
They eventually let us in, where we scanned the stuff table before meeting up with Laura and Heather and Heather’s friend Heather. Or was Heather’s friend also named Laura? I think she was Heather. I know it was a repeat and she wasn’t named Mika or James. We found a good (or so we thought) standing spot near the bar on the far side from the doors.
Our opening act was Frank Turner. I knew nothing about him, but one of Laura’s friends went to the show specifically to see him. And then a few days before the show, I was reading an interview with WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan, who singled out Turner as a musician that he was really enjoying these days. With these two endorsements from people I don’t know and whose musical tastes I know nothing about, I was hopeful. But even my heightened expectations were exceeded, as Turner, playing by himself, tore the house down.
Not everyone went into this set as ignorant as I; there was a small but very vocal contingent who were thrilled to see Frank Turner and who sang along with every song. Turner seemed genuinely surprised that there were people here who knew his songs; he fed off their energy and they fed off his. I was a convert well before the end of his set, and once he was done, I muscled y way over to the stuff table to pick up the two albums he had for sale.
Muscle was needed as Louis’ was packed. The show sold out well before the day, and it felt like it. Joel Plaskett has always done well in Saskatoon and this was no exception. Really, I would have preferred to see him in a larger venue, which is not how I usually feel after a show.
This was the last show at Louis’ before it shuts down for renovations. It feels like only yesterday that they were closed for months to get rid of the dank. I assume that’s what they’re doing again, as the dank was back with a vengeance. Sure, it still looked like new Louis’, all metallic and angular and generally poorly suited to hosting concerts, but it smelled like raw sewage. Intermittently at first, but increasing as the evening went on. This did not enhance the concert experience.
And sadly, it was a concert experience that could have used some enhancing. About a half- hour in, I was ready to take off. Between the date (4:20) and the fact that we were on a campus bar at the end of finals, we were surrounded by the loudest, stinkiest, most obnoxious collection of drunks and stoners that you ever did see. I do not want to smell your stale-smoke dreadlocks. I do not want to be spilled upon or shoved. I did not pay to hear you shrieking along with the band.
So yeah, I spent a good part of the show fantasizing about knifing everyone in sight, burning the place down, tweeting snark, etc. It’s a testament to how good Joel Plaskett really is that I managed to enjoy the music despite it all. It was a standard concert setlist – heavy emphasis on the new record with enough old favorites to keep people entertained. It was my first opportunity to hear the new stuff and I quite enjoyed it. Highlights included a very extended version of Love This Town, several songs with lyrics changed to be about Saskatoon, and – of course – a toy monkey with cymbals. Joel had the monkey wired up so he could turn it on and off with a foot pedal, which he called the best $70 he’d ever spent. I can see why; I mean, I want one and I don’t even have a stage to decorate.