SLCR #203: the smalls (October 24, 2014)
Back before Corb Lund was a country star, he played in a punk band. They broke up long ago, but at the Q taping that was part of Junos week last year, Lund said that the band might reunite for a small tour.
These possibly inaccurate sentences are the only things that I know about The Smalls. Well, I know one more thing if you count the fact that I know that I’m supposed to spell “the smalls” in all lowercase, but I choose not to. And Mika likes them. That’s a thing I know.
I read on Facebook that The Smalls were coming to Regina and that their Saskatoon show had already sold out. I checked with Mika and confirmed that getting tickets NOW was a good idea. So I did. I then mentioned the show on Twitter, partly to show off my indie cred which is 100% a fictional construct, partly to taunt any ticketless Saskatonians, but mostly to make fun of the tickets themselves for saying that the doors would open at 1:00 a.m. and the show would start at 8:00 a.m. Later that day, a very excited Jeff texted me about the show – I hadn’t thought to tell him that I was getting tickets because I don’t generally care about other people unless they are directly in front of my face, and even then, it’s iffy – and by the time he’d seen my tweet, the show was sold out. Sadness!
To recap, I am a big poseur who knows nothing about anything, couldn’t name a Smalls song if my life depended on it – have probably never even heard one, in fact – but I’m off to the show, while Jeff is a big fan who finds himself on the outside because he actually does work while at work instead of dinking around on the internet. But as was well documented when we went to see Ben Folds in Fargo, Jeff – like love – always finds a way. Only a day or two later, The Smalls announced second shows in both Regina and Saskatoon. Jeff nabbed tickets, and his show would actually take place before ours. This was a fantastic development, because seeing the first show would allow him to provide me with exclusive top-secret information. On the day of his show (two days before mine), I texted him and demanded a report of who was opening, what time the show actually started, and how it was.
9:18 p.m.: Opening act just started.
9:23 p.m.: Thanks! Who is it?
9:24 p.m.: Some guys
You know how people on the internet say LOL when something is funny, but they did not, actually, laugh out loud? This was not one of those times. Mika can confirm. “Some guys” killed me.
9:37 p.m. I think they said that they were called “White Women.” That’s not a joke, because I’m not that funny.
This led me and Mika to the internet in a race to determine who this band was. She took to Google while I went straight to iTunes. iTunes suggested that maybe I wanted “Your Woman” by White Town, which, no, but also yes? As Mika kept Googling, I listened to the free sample of Your Woman in the iTunes store despite owning the album and having the whole song on my computer, because I am the laziest person alive and even extra clicks are too much work for me. Anyway, while I bopped back and forth, enjoying the song, Mika found out that a band named White Women had played Sled Island. The Sled Island site listed them as being from Regina, so it looked like we’d found our culprits.
In order to find out more, I googled “white women regina” and I must say, you do get some interesting results. You take this information and do what you gotta do. Personally, I decided it was best to halt this enquiry, let the band be a surprise for my show, and spend some time getting more creative and descriptive with my Google searches. I did, however, ask Jeff his opinion of White Women. “Unremarkable,” he said, “alternate answer: not enough junk in the trunk.” Fair enough. With this assessment in mind, Mika and I didn’t rush to catch their set when we went to our show.
On our way to the Owl, I remarked that I couldn’t believe we were actually going. Not because we were both really tired from the week, but because I’d written the previous half of the review in advance. Whenever I do that, we wind up skipping out. I will spoil things now and say that we actually got to see The Smalls. Not so much White Women, because after all of that nonsense up there, we got a different opening act. So it goes. At least I got to hear Your Woman. Or part of it, anyway.
Our opening act was Black Mastiff. We got there in time for their last three or four songs. They play that 70s stoner rock that dudes with beards like to play and it was all perfectly fine, in a not-so-much-my-thing kind of way. I wouldn’t be sad if I saw them open for someone else. Also, one song sounded like it had the lyrics “I would buy smokes for you” so, you know, they’re caring people. So that’s nice.
As I mentioned, The Smalls haven’t been a thing for something like fifteen years, which means that this show was attended not just by the young punks you’d expect on a university campus, but also old punks. If you get a chance to see The Smalls, I recommend you do it just for the people-watching. I gravitated towards the individual weirdoes, like the spherical bouncer, the red flowered bucket hat guy, the dude who was determined to fit his whole hand in his girlfriend’s butt, and the self-described Asian gangster. Mika, on the other hand, pointed out the crusty punks with their fancy purses, and the guys in SNFU shirts that had clearly been in the closet for years. The shirts, I mean, not the guys. Or at least that’s what I assume she meant. She was also amazed by two really tall dudes, but then we figured out they were standing on chairs. It was dark and the room was filled with either dry ice fog or pot smoke or some combination thereof.
And so, The Smalls. They were real good! I mean, I don’t know anything from anything. I couldn’t tell you what they played. Just a bunch of songs that I liked.
Jeff told me that the lead singer was a loon, but he didn’t really do anything that exciting during our show. I mean, he wore a hoodie that obscured his face for a good long while, with ear protectors slung around his neck (but never over his ears) – and when he took the hoodie off, you could see he was already wearing earplugs – but that’s not that weird. And okay, maybe when he was talking to the other band members, I thought it might be made-up gibberish – but I think we can attribute that to the overall sound quality. Jeff also mentioned that the dude sang the opera part of some song really well, but they didn’t play anything like that during our show. Or else they did and we, being old punks (or old poseurs trying to pass as old punks) left before they played that song. I’d blame it on being a worknight, but it was a Friday. Just a night. Sometimes that’s enough.