Yuck – Glow & Behold

Another Taranna December score…

Also bought on spec, with this one we have growth over the debut. The influences are still here, of course, but this is a different direction, more GBV than the others. Gah, I’m comparing again! It’s handsome indie pop rock bliss and I fully recommend it! 

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Yuck – Yuck

A Taranna December find…

Bought this debut on spec, I mean, who wouldn’t with a name and album art like that! Now, I don’t like using other bands to describe a band, but this one’s impossible to avoid. I hear Sonic Youth, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, all those 90s college bands. Now here’s the kicker: They have their own sound too, and IT’S ALL GOOD! This is a solid record. I was able to rise above the comparisons and just enjoy this album full-on. Cool.

PJ Harvey – Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea

One more from Taranna December, BMV 3-For-$10 bin…

I was after a copy of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy  but the CD was missing, so I grabbed up this one instead. Apples and oranges, I know, but holy hell is this ever a fantastic record! I liked PJ before, especially with Rid Of Me and To Bring You My Love, but this one would solidify anyone as a fan. True beauty and grace and power from 18 years ago. YES.

Super Friendz – Love Energy

Another Taranna December find in the BMV 3-For-$10 bin…

I’m a fan of Super Friendz but must admit I never bought this one when it dropped. I’d probably moved on a bit by 2003 and was unaware they’d reunited. This is a solid, rockin’, beautiful effort, all the hallmark SF elements are here. Sorry boys, I’m making up for lost time now!

Thompson Twins – The Best Of The Thompson Twins: Greatest Mixes

Alright, now we’re into the Taranna December finds! Let’s start with the BMV 3-For-$10 bin…

 

Total nostalgia grab for me, I loved the Thompson Twins as a kid. Turns out I still do. These are smartly-crafted pop tunes, with beautiful melodies and harmonies. These are some great versions too, the title does not lie. I read a bit online that some folks were disappointed in this release because some of these versions are shortened from other extended mixes, but I didn’t really care. I only ever knew the album versions anyway, so carry on.

Oh John

Ba ha ha ha!

Hindu Love Gods – Hindu Love Gods

A Taranna October 3-for-$10 find…

I loved finding this one in the 3-for-$10 bin at BMV. Warren Zevon fronting the R.E.M. band, doing old blues song covers, sometimes as rock songs? Hahaha no-brainer for me! There’s also a fairly straight rockin’ cover of Prince’s Raspberry Beret. This is dive bar music, tightly-played and worth every minute of your time. I love that they put two distinct acts together and the result was something different and solid.

Q-Tip – The Renaissance

A Taranna October 3-for-$10 find…

A solo record from A Tribe Called Quest’s MC? Instant purchase, especially from BMV’s 3-for-$10 bin! I love the melding of true blue 70s soul grooves and Tip’s inimitable rapping. I loved the production too, where (to my ear) even the CD sounds like an LP spinning, keeping it all old school and gorgeous. Absolute beauty.

Jonny Greenwood – There Will Be Blood OMPS

A Taranna October find…

I’ve never seen the film, but I see radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood’s name on anything and I’ll pick it up, as I know he’s a fascinating musician. Lots of strings permeate throughout, and there’s an energy and restlessness to a lot of it, even the slower tracks which, even not having seen the film, I know would add incredible tension to their respective scenes. There’s beauty here in heaps, too. Superb.

John Williams – Memoirs Of A Geisha OMPS

A Taranna October 3-for-$10 find…

I love this film, it’s one I’ll rewatch (and I rarely rewatch things). The music always haunts the film, adding the perfect accompaniment to the story. It is understatement to say that finding this soundtrack in the 3-for-$10 bin at BMV was a massive highlight. Add cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma and violin solos by Itzhak Perlman to Williams’ stellar score and you know it’s a gem.

Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

Yet another Taranna October find…

I already covered this one in these pages on May 29, 2007, but for whatever reason, I no longer had a copy. This one’s a replacement.

Long live Wilco!

Neil Young – On The Beach

Another Taranna October find…

I was stoked to find this one on CD, after quite some time thinking it ought to be easier to find in the wild than it was. Young’s first effort after Harvest finds him stripped down and in the mood to offer up pure Neil genius. I loved every track here. I want to spend more time with this one, I know it deserves it.

Wayne Kramer – The Hard Stuff

A Taranna October find…

Kramer’s first solo album rocks like hell. There’s only one Wayne Kramer! This one features appearances by members of the Melvins, Bad Religion and Was (Not Was), Josh Freese, Keith Morris, and Kim Shattuck. And the liner notes on the back cover come from ROLLINS! This record is the real goddamn deal, kids. YES!

Nine Inch Nails – The Slip

From Taranna October…

This limited edition CD (mine’s #113,916 / 250,000), NIN’s 8th album, includes a DVD of the band on tour. Cool! I’m no expert on NIN, but others note its similarity to With Teeth, in hewing closer to rock than to industrial. To me, it’s NIN and these were songs I’d never heard before – I liked it! Not sure if this release is rare or not, but I rather enjoyed the songs here. Score!

Cynic – Kindly Bent To Free Us

From Taranna October…

Every Cynic record is an excursion into metal jazz experimental fusion, and this one’s worth the trip. Solid tunes, incredible musicianship, and that restless Cynic energy and inquisitiveness that satisfies and challenges. \m/ \m/

GZA/Genius – Legend Of The Liquid Sword

Another October Taranna find…

Opinion online correctly reveres Liquid Swords, finds Beneath The Surface to be mediocre (I thought it was better than that), but this third installment redeems and comes close to recapturing the strength of LS. On this, I agree. Simple tunes, solid RZA production, and a smooth delivery make GZA the man. YES.

Biffy Clyro – Puzzle

Right. So Here we go with the Taranna finds from our trip back in October. Gonna get through all of these a couple a day, and then we can start on the November trip’s goodies. Some big-time catch-up to play here.

Ready? Of course you are. Give ‘er!

***

This is straight up solid rock n roll. I first heard of these guys through Captain Lee Anderton online (he’s a fan), and when I saw this disc for cheap I grabbed it up to try. This thing rocks! Score!

Gotta Cover Taranna

So I realized I haven’t covered anything I found on not one but two Taranna trips. This will never do.

Get ready. Posts about Taranna scores are coming…

Psychostick – Dogs Like Socks

Our kids made me watch this repeatedly, as they were howling with laughter, and it was never not funny…

Stage Presence

Parenthood \m/ \m/

Black Sabbath Poll: KMA Readers’ Choice Edition!

It’s been ages since we did a poll, so let’s start off December with a bang! Let’s give ‘er!

Right. We all love Sabbath. YES! \m/  \m/ So let’s choose our favourite Sabbath studio tracks! Nevermind the zillion Hits sets out there, this will the the KMA Readers’ Choice Edition! Record labels should listen to us!

So, I’ve taken all the album tracks from Black Sabbath (1970) through to 13 (2013). That is (if my count is correct) 19 studio albums-worth. No live tracks, just studio. Probably there are live versions that deserve to be here, but I just kept it studio. You’ll also probably find other tracks you’d wanna see here, I just used the official track lists for each record. Also, apologies to our UK readers, some of the early albums had different tracks/orders. I used the North American track listings. 

Let’s assume a 2cd set, filled to the max… so let’s assume 15 tracks per disc, therefore 30 total tracks. 

So this is a daunting list, but you can do it! Go ahead. Pick your top 30 Sabbath tracks. I’ll put up the results in a week or so. Ready? Let’s make our mix!

\m/  \m/

Geoff Pevere – Gods Of The Hammer: The Story Of Teenage Head

I received this book as a birthday gift from my lovely wife (does she know me?) and, when I found another copy in Toronto, I promptly sent it to Deke, so go read Deke’s much better take RIGHT HERE ON SUPERDEKES. That’s right folks, it’s a Teenage Head post 2-fer in the blogosphere!

This book is an excellent overview of this storied band’s career. Throughout its short (131 pages) text, it makes a few things very clear through repetition:

Teenage Head was the biggest band in Toronto’s nascent punk scene, though they always identified (correctly and proudly) as being from Hamilton. They mattered to a lot of people who would go on to start their own bands not long after. They played original songs when everyone else was playing covers. They SHOULD HAVE BEEN HUGE, but they got screwed over by hustler management and poor timing, plus their records didn’t achieve the sound of their live explosiveness… so it never really happened. Shame, that. Such a cool band. RIP Frankie Venom.

You need this book. Get you some!

Who – The Kids Are Alright

Soundtrack for the film, a great colleciton of live performances from TV and concerts. Turn it up!

Elvis Costello & The Imposters – Momofuku

I’m not always in the mood for Costello, but this is the second Imposters record I love. Whatever they’re doing differently, they’re becoming my favourite Costello efforts.

Baaba Maal – Live At The Royal Festival Hall

These four tracks range from 8:18 – 11:48 long, so this is more like four excursions into beauty than a concert. I’m in love.

Brendan Benson – My Old, Familiar Friend

Raconteur Benson’s 4th solo record is a beautiful collection of pop and rock tunes, layered and nuanced just right. Whip-smart songwriting on full display.

Tarannaaaaaaa!!!

Last month, my Dad and I made a run to Taranna, thinking that that would surely be our last chance before spring. And all this week, with white-out snow and icy roads, it seemed we were right. Then it started to warm up. And rain. Weather reports said this past Sunday would be only overcast, and 6C! We wondered if maybe… and it all turned out to be true. We had a perfect day and away we went. We hit little traffic, it was perfect downtown, and we were super-stoked to get another day out! And to top it off, reports say we’ll get a pile of snow in the next couple of days. We really truly timed this one right!

So of course I hit up the main spots. Here are the scores (no reviews, obvs). 

BMV

3-For-$10 Bin

The Thompson Twins is nostalgia for me, and full of remixes I’ve never heard. Cool. Super Friendz is one I’ve never heard (it’s from 2003), so right on I like those guys. And the PJ Harvey was a second-prize grab, as I’d found a copy of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy but the fellow couldn’t find the CD in the binders, so I had to let that one go and grab something else… hence the Harvey. Cool!

Regular

Bought on spec, these two Yuck albums (on Fat Possum) are new to me. Could be awesome, or not, who knows! I like She & Him, and these covers of classic tunes ought to be fun. And a 2cd live Wilco album? Yes please!

I also grabbed up three Chili Peppers albums I did not have. Sweeeet.

***

SONIC BOOM

$2.99 Dealz

I see cheap Iron & Wine, I buy it, and this EP looks promising. The Solomon Burke was a no-brainer, love that guy! And that old G. Love album (with Stepping Stones as track 1) will be super-fun, I just know it!

Regular

This soundtrack for Rome looks interesting. Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi Present, starring Jack White and Norah Jones. Cool! Iggy Pop is always fun, I’ve wanted to hear this one. Bought on spec, the Warlocks record just seemed to grab my attention… can’t place why… 

The 2cd 7 Worlds Collide looks awesome, I loved the other set so this one is a cinch. A tour edition Beasties, with live stuff? YES PLEASE! And I’d lost my copy of this Lee Ranaldo/Dave Dyment tribute to Tom Thompson, recorded at Lee’s Palace days before 9/11. I’ve already reviewed it, in 2010, HERE but I replaced it anyway because my collector brain made me want it because I can’t imagine there are too many of these out there…

Oh, and I grabbed a Hellcat DVD too… Give ‘Em The Boot: A Film By Tim Armstrong. Oughta be loud and obnoxious, lots of bands I like are involved, yes yes yes.

This trip was an absolute success.

Thank you, Taranna! You never disappoint!

 

Grapes Of Wrath – Seems Like Fate 1984-1992

Total 90s Canuck nostalgia trip and I loved every minute of it. The addition of different mixes, acoustic versions, live stuff and an instrumental is great. Totally cool.

Soundgarden – A-Sides

Fuckin’ amazing. What a band, what a collection of songs. Of course I could add tracks and make a 2cd…

Rita Chiarelli & Inmates Of Louisiana State Penitentiary – Music From The Big House Soundtrack

Canuck blues goddess records live in Angola prison, some with a prison band. Great concept, powerful songs. My copy is autographed!

Black Friday

I have participated in Black Friday week.

I bought a TV.

Big deal, you say. I suppose it really isn’t news to most people…

…except that this is the first functioning TV I’ve lived with in 20 years. Yup, 1998 was the last TV with which I shared a home that was on with any regularity. It belonged to a now ex-girlfriend and she took it with her when she went. Years and years later, I did have another TV briefly, one I got in a trade for a bicycle I didn’t fit, but despite having good intentions for it, and despite having an Xbox 360 for it, after a few months I sold it all off. Never really used it, didn’t have the space for it (it was huge).

So why now, after 20 years? Well, I have a family now, and the kids are old enough to wanna watch Spongebob on Netflix and it isn’t all about me anymore, hasn’t been for a long time. There are crazy silly deals on all this week, and I’d come into some money, and I thought why not, you know?

Then I started researching. Jeez, that was an adventure. So many models and permutations and features and… Dillinger Escape Plan was right, it really can be Option Paralysis. So I went back to square one, boiled it down to what I wanted it to do, not what was out there. It needed to be this, this and this, and the rest was gravy (or unimportant). In the end, this Samsung 4k UHD 43″ TV is still way more than I needed or (probably) wanted, but the price was stupid-low and it’s a good size for the space it’s in, so there you go.

I texted James, who well-knows my general aversion to TV, and he sent back one word: SELLOUT. Haha I suppose it’s true. The times they are a-changin’. Of course, James also just said DO IT, which I took to mean full support for this decision. I also got a blu-ray player (my first) to go with it, as we have a stack of DVDs here we never watch (now we could, if and when we have time, so yay). Some day maybe some sort of gaming rig will come home for the kids too. Would I use it? Maybe? I dunno. Probably not with any regularity.  The kids will, though, sure. My lovely wife will, she likes shows on Netflix like Downton Abbey. I’ll go play guitar in the other room when that’s on…

So there you go. I participated in Black Friday week. I managed to avoid crowds, no one was killed in the effort, and the family was really happy with this new addition to the household. It will remain to be seen how often I use it, though I do have a stack of music/concert DVDs that need watching for review… and the rest of the folk around here will make sure it sees use, and that’s good enough for me.

Dave Matthews Band – The Gorge (2cd/1dvd)

It took a while to hear this in total, it’s a lot of stuff! Stellar setlist, great sound quality, and the DVD is lovely. Great sense of community and shared love, band and crowd.

Support

Nine Inch Nails – The Day The World Went Away

I loved The Fragile. This single has the title track (single edit), Starfuckers, Inc. (Long), and a remixed title track (quiet version). Short, sweet and awesome.

You May Think You’re Cool

 

Buena Vista Social Club At Carnegie Hall (2cd)

This is the complete performance of the BVSC at Carnegie Hall on July 1, 1998, produced by Ry Cooder. Some of this ended up in the Wim Wenders documentary named after the band. I love this stuff, and to hear the full live show was just beautiful.

Headstones – In-Store Sampler (Tracks From Teeth & Tissue)

The collector in me immediately grabs up artifacts like this because they’re just cool. Here we have five tracks from Teeth & Tissue, and four tracks from Picture Of Health. Right freakin’ on.

SLCR #331: The Glorious Sons (November 14, 2018)

With this, the fall 2018 concert marathon comes to a close. It was actually supposed to end the night before with the Headstones, but a week before this show, the Conexus Arts Centre put third balcony seats on sale for $20. I went into this not knowing much of anything about either the Glorious Sons or the opener, the Beaches, but figured $20 was a cheap-enough price to pay for some new music.

I remembered seeing Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt from the third balcony and often feeling like falling from a great height was an inevitability. This time, I bought my seat one row back, which shouldn’t have helped, but somehow did. The balcony was pretty much deserted when I bought my ticket, but it filled up quite well. I got to get nice and cozy with strangers. Next time I should worry less about being dead centre and more about being off to the side where there’s more likely to be a little room to breathe.

The Beaches – all ladies from Toronto. The Glorious Sons – all dudes from Kingston. The Beaches played on a plain stage in front of a big backdrop with their name on it; the Glorious Sons got the full fancy light and video screen setup. Both bands were absolutely beloved. A very vocal contingent was there specifically to see the Beaches. When the Glorious Sons led singalong parts, it was amazing how loud the crowd was. Cool atmosphere for both bands.

It’s not entirely fair to say I knew nothing about either band. I didn’t realize it going in, but I knew one whole song by each. I’ve actually heard (and enjoyed) the song T-Shirt by the Beaches about a million times, because it’s on Mika’s car playlist. And I knew S.O.S. (Sawed Off Shotgun) by the Glorious Sons because a burnout was loudly singing it on the bus last week. He was either on a lot of drugs at the time, or had the brain of someone who’d done a lot of drugs in the past. Maybe both. Regardless, at the concert (the real one, not the free one on the bus), it took me about 30 seconds to remember where I’d heard this song before. Then I remembered it was some dude on the bus hollering to himself about the taxman and Oxycodone and a sawed-off shotgun. This was when I got the giggles, so I was not only the old guy at the show by himself, I was the old crazy guy at the show by himself.

I knew two songs from each, actually, if you count the covers – Be My Baby from the Beaches and Gimme Shelter from the Glorious Sons. Beaches win on that front. The Ronettes are better than the Rolling Stones, don’t @ me

Or maybe it’s just that I liked Beaches better than the Glorious Sons. Don’t get me wrong, both were fun, the crowd loved both of them – really, if you’re looking to check out some new rock bands, you could do worse than either one. But the Beaches’ songs were a little catchier and a little poppier and just overall more my thing. Very deep, that. If you want thoughtful analysis of these two bands I’m completely unqualified to write about, you’re in the wrong place.

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• Hawksley Workman w/Kobo Town and Suncliffs (January 27)
• Danny Michel (February 10)
• Matthew Good (February 24)
• Hawksley Workman & the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (April 13)
• Elton John (October 1)

SLCR #330: Headstones (November 13, 2018)

Headstones reviews are hard to write. They’re really fun shows, but more or less the same every time out. You know it’ll be loud, lots of swearing, probably some spitting (though this has been dialed this back over time and I can’t say I mind), Hugh Dillon will run around in the crowd a lot. I even know which covers they’re going to play. All of this is fine – it doesn’t stop me from going to see them every time they come through town. But I could rerun old reviews for the most part. Hopefully I’ll have enough sense to make this short.

Got to the casino with plenty of time to pick up my ticket. No incidents this time out. Saw the same guy from work that I always see at Headstones shows. Killed time playing phone games until the show started. Christ, this is riveting.

Our openers were the Matchstick Skeletons, who got off to an inauspicious start through no fault of their own when the local radio idiot introduced them as the Matchbox Skeletons before correcting himself. They were fine. Decidedly better than Snake and the Chain from the last show, but far less memorable as a result. “You didn’t suck so bad that I’ll remember you forever” is probably not as much of a compliment as I intend it to be.

They felt restrained at points; the harder songs with more energy were fun, but too many just didn’t quite get there. They also covered Fame and (part of) When Doves Cry and it’s an interesting choice to cover well-known songs by legends. They can be crowd-pleasing numbers but you’re probably not going to compare favourably to David Bowie or Prince – few will. At least When Doves Cry was redone as a rock song, as opposed to the note-for-note soundalike version of Fame.

Speaking of covers, I am the last person on Earth to realize that the Headstones song Tweeter and the Monkey Man is a Traveling Wilburys cover. This is doubly egregious because Mika has played the Wilburys song for me before, years ago, but I forget things. Apparently the Wilburys version has more verses and makes more sense. Talking to Jeff about this, he said that it sounds more like the Wilburys slowed down a Headstones song than the Headstones sped up a Wilburys song. Personally, listening to the Wilburys’ version now, it sounds like when Mika and I are on a road trip and she makes us listen to podcasts at 1X speed instead of my normal 1.5X.

The Headstones were touring to promote the 25th anniversary re-issue of Picture of Health, their first album. This would probably make me feel super old if I was listening to them then. The entire set, before the encore, was the album in full. So a little less variation than their normal shows, but whatever, it’s a good album, lots of songs I like on it. As before, Dillon ran into the crowd a bunch and I felt for the poor techs and security staff who had to chase after him. And as before, they played a bit of Low Rider and New Orleans is Sinking.

After Tweeter, which is four songs in, Dillon asked the crowd to put their phones away so he could tell stories and we could watch the show, adding that he’d let us bring them back out later. Most folks cheered and happily did so. One guy tried taking a video of the next song, which seemed like an unwise choice given that he was close enough to the front for Dillon to see him, and Dillon had already shown a propensity for running out into the crowd. Phone went away. “I’m not going to kick you out or anything, I’m just asking you to be a man of your fucking word.”

The stage setup was pretty simple, but the lights, fog machines, and projector were all employed to good effect and gave the show a really cool look. I got a few pictures at the start and a few more during the encore once the ban was lifted, but I won’t lie – there were still a few times when I would have liked to snap a quick picture. Which is dumb; they never look good and I never go back and look through old ones. Regardless, I wasn’t about to risk incurring the wrath (or disappointment, which would be worse) of Dillon.

I won’t go into detail on the stories – if he didn’t want them recorded, he probably didn’t want them transcribed either – but it was a lot of stuff about growing up in Kingston. Some of it funny, some of it touching. Dillon went to high school with the guys from the Tragically Hip, Finny McConnell from the Mahones, and David Usher. What a ridiculous amount of talent in just a few years.

For the encore, they started with the cover of The Gambler that they now seem to do at every show. Dillon then polled the audience to see what they wanted to hear, and the calls for Cubically Contained lost out to Unsound. Or maybe that was just the plan all along. They also played Fuck You and Smile and Wave and, somewhere in there, a bit of The House of the Rising Sun. Nothing I hadn’t seen before. And Dillon said they’re coming back in 2020 and I’ll see it all again then.

Sounds Of The Times Uncut (2018-08)

My sister gave me this issue of Uncut magazine at my birthday. The main article is on Prince. On the tipped in CD I only knew Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Ray Davies (Kinks). The rest were new to me. Reminds me of when I used to buy CMJ New Music every month, just for the CD, because it opened me up to all kinds of new music. Love it!

SLCR #329: Classified (November 10, 2018)

Immediate disclosure: I didn’t go to this to go to Classified. I went because one of the three openers was Maestro Fresh-Wes, whose first big hit came nearly 30 years ago. I remember listening to Let Your Backbone Slide at my Grade 8 grad dance, when the song was still so new that the DJ didn’t have it so we made him play Cam McDonald’s dubbed copy that had a few seconds accidentally erased out of the middle.

Classified, I’d seen him do a few songs back when the Junos were here. Fun and all but not someone I’d necessarily have paid to see. Part of me considered leaving as soon as Wes was done and heading to the campus bar, where they were hosting Mac Sabbath, a Black Sabbath cover band that wears bootleg McDonaldland character costumes and sings the songs with new lyrics about fast food. I figured it would likely be terrible, but possibly the kind of terrible I should see. Or maybe not.

Doors at 8:00 and I got to the sold-out Exchange around 8:30. Had I checked Twitter for set times, I’d have stayed home a bit longer. I found my way in past the merch table adorned with DO NOT PUT YOUR FUCKING DRINK HERE! signs – really, I don’t know why this is the first time I’ve ever seen that – and found a post near the stage upon which I could lean.

I, a fat 42-year-old with a grey beard and thinning hair who mostly listens to singer-songwriter types, did not feel entirely at home at this rap show filled with near-children and the incessant smell of weed. Fortunately, I am at an age where I am largely invisible to the youth, so I just leaned on my post and played games on my phone while the place filled up. I bet I got a better time on the Saturday New York Times crossword than anyone else there.

According to the set times on Twitter, the opener, starting at 9:10, was Local Contest Winner. This turned out to be Kalem Moses, though he called himself Big Mo. And if you want to double check spelling and you google Big Mo Saskatchewan, you find our Premier’s Wikipedia page.

I’m not sure what exactly the Local Contest was that Big Mo Winnered, but he was very appreciative of the opportunity to open up the show, and it seemed like lots of people there knew him already. I think we’ve established that I have no business critiquing anyone here tonight, but he was pretty good. He said he was nervous but didn’t show it, and he rapped about being a recovering addict and the struggles that come with that, so I can’t fault the message.

At the end of his set, Big Mo tossed some CDs and shirts out to the people up at the front. One CD landed short, ending up behind the barricade at the front of the stage. This dude tried to reach over and grab it, but got stopped short by a large security guard who wasn’t approving of this at all. But then the guard got the CD for the guy, so everyone wins.

Next up was Choclair, who was a pretty big star in the late 90s and early 2000s, though I went looking back through his hits and really only kinda knew one or two. I wasn’t really listening to much rap then. This was only a half-hour but it was fun, and certainly felt like something I’d have been into if I’d heard it back when he first came around. Despite the age of the crowd, Choclair’s biggest reaction was saved for his 2000 hit Let’s Ride, so the kids today are clearly learning some history. Or maybe there were just more of my fellow olds in the crowd than I realized.

Up next was Maestro Fresh-Wes, much to the delight of 13-year-old me, and he opened with Drop the Needle, one of my favouites from back then. Really, he could have done that and Let Your Backbone Slide and I’d have been set, but we got a short set spanning his whole career. Lots of Canadian content included, with songs sampling The Guess Who, Rush, and Gowan, among others. And of course he played Backbone and of course I geeked out. Maestro Fresh-Wes does not age and this was super fun. The aforementioned large security guard also seemed to enjoy this set, with a few quickly suppressed smiles sneaking out. There may even have been some brief tapping of toes.

I never seriously considered leaving to see Mac Sabbath, but if I had thought about it, I’d have passed. I mentioned that this show was sold out, and the crowd was great. Jam packed, mostly not dicks, and super supportive of everything. These people loved Kalem Moses. They loved Choclair. They loved Maestro Fresh-Wes. They loved putting their hands in the air – like, a LOT. And they hadn’t even gotten to the guy most of them were really there to see yet. For atmosphere alone, this show was great.

I mean, not the literal atmosphere. When the Exchange is full, you might die of heat stroke. And again, it never didn’t smell like weed. Though I don’t really care about that, and I doubt anyone there considered that to be a negative.

My take on Classified – having heard all of two songs before this show, and only remembering one – is that he seems like he just wants everyone to drink and smoke and party and have a good time and feel good. And in a world that often sucks and is terrible, I can’t really take issue with this. I like having a good time and feeling good! In front of a backdrop made to look like the corner store in his hometown, Classified delivered party anthems to an adoring crowd. They sang along with everything, old and new, hits and deep cuts alike. You’ll be pleased to learn that he played the one song I know (Inner Ninja, the one Classified song everyone knows) and it was fun.

While I didn’t know many songs, one made an impression. Classified did one of his newer songs, Powerless, which talked about empathizing with sexual assault survivors and working to resolve racial inequalities (including the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women). Given the themes of the rest of his songs, the tonal shift was a little jarring, but that was more than offset by the importance of the message. And judging from the reaction (especially from female fans) when he introduced the song, people are paying attention.

But mostly, it was just a fun party show. At one point, he brought a fan on stage, did a song with her (always a risky move, but she did well), then had her stage dive back into the crowd as everyone cheered her on. I don’t think the large security guard liked that. I think he had a few objections to different things on this night, but mostly just tried to get through his shift with minimal hassle.

At the end of the show, he called Choclair and Maestro Fresh-Wes back up on stage. I’m sure this is a planned part of every show, but Choclair had been enjoying his Saturday night and seemingly forgot that this was going to happen. No matter – he found his way back to the stage and they pulled off a fun cover of Northern Touch (well, not a cover for Choclair, but you know) and Classified looked like he was loving it.

Ultimately, this was a really enjoyable show. The music was fun and the overall vibe was really positive. I did feel a little bit like an alien spying on another civilization – there was never a point where I wasn’t at least a tiny bit conscious of how little I fit in there – but whatever. It was a good show and I’m glad I went and that post probably needed someone to prop it up anyway.

Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death (2cd)

Released only 16 days after he died (RIP), this classic has collaborations with 112, Jay-Z, Lil’ Kim, Mase, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Too $hort, Angela Winbush, D.M.C. of Run-D.M.C., R. Kelly, The LOX and Puff Daddy. Brilliant.

SLCR #328: Jack White (November 5, 2018)

For Stone Temple Pilots, I initially decided against going and wound up getting in for a fraction of the original price. For Reuben and the Dark, I held off on buying a ticket and wound up winning my way in. When Jack White’s Canadian tour was announced, I really wanted to go and carefully considered my options, which amounted to Calgary and Winnipeg, but again, I stopped myself. Even short trips can be expensive and it’s not always fun to travel at this time of year. But no worries – when I decided not to go to Jack White, Jack White came to me, with the late addition of a Regina stop. There’s a lesson here. Never take any action to improve your miserable life. Fate will do it for you.

When the on-sale date rolled around, I was ready. I was at work when tickets went on sale, so I booked a ten-minute meeting with myself – this is not a euphemism for anything – so I’d have the best shot at getting tickets. Ticketmaster’s site chugged and churned, but finally, I got two general admission floor tickets – just what I wanted. I also got a premium parking pass to make leaving a little easier.

I needn’t have worried. The crowd was ultimately respectable but far from a sellout. There was even a student deal for cheap seats in a few specific sections. I could have bought floor tickets on the day of the show. The Brandt Centre is a much larger venue than TCU Place, where we saw The White Stripes (checks) eleven years ago?! Christ. Anyway. That show was an instant sellout. This one, decidedly not. I guess I do sense less interest in White’s solo material than in the White Stripes (even from myself), but I did think this show would be a bigger deal to more people.

In the email announcing the show and approximately thirty subsequent emails, we were warned that this was a phone-free show. It was the same message every time out and you may as well get to enjoy it too:

Please note: This is a PHONE-FREE show. No photos, video or audio recording devices allowed. We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON. Upon arrival at the venue, all phones and other photo or video-capturing gizmos will be secured in a Yondr pouch that will be unlocked at the end of the show. You keep your pouch-secured phone on you during the show and, if needed, can unlock your phone at any time in a designated Phone Zone located in the lobby or concourse.

What this means for you, dear bored skimmer: everything here is from memory and may be 100% wrong.

What this meant for us: not wanting to fart around with magic pouches, Mika and I left our phones at home. Between dinner out and the concert, I was without a phone for over five hours. Sad as this is, it might be the longest I’ve been truly disconnected in years. I actually considered bringing a pen and a notepad in case I wanted to take review notes. And during supper, I couldn’t check the exact date of my grandma’s birthday (December 20) and I couldn’t Shazam the familiar sounding song in the restaurant (Ophelia by The Lumineers). I think my phone is making me really dumb, guys.

Dinner was at Table 10, our favourite nearby spot. Monday is burger night and I got the day’s special, a barbecue bacon cheeseburger with grilled pineapple. I’ve had a few of their burger specials now and I think this one was the best. I also got chocolate peanut cheesecake, which was very good but I really didn’t more food. Mika had a veggie burger and raspberry creme brulé and enjoyed that. When I was paying the bill, the server asked if we had other plans; when I mentioned the concert, she got really excited. Not because she likes Jack White, but that this wasn’t just dinner, it was a date night. I guess it was. I’ll have to remember that it’s not date night unless there are at least two activities.

We drove to the Brandt Centre and parked in our special reserved lot. This was a better idea in theory than in practice. The fancy lot is a bit of a hike to the arena. Not enough that it would normally matter, but it was snowing and windy and generally awful out. And I was underdressed for the weather, since I didn’t think a parka in the arena for hours would be a good idea.

We found our way in and took a walk around the concourse. The line for the stuff table was orderly but ridiculous – I didn’t even consider getting anything. It was quite the contrast with Stone Temple Pilots, where I would have been no worse than third in line any time I went by. Jack White fans like to buy things.

We went down to the floor and stood around for a bit before Rob wandered over and invited us to come hang with him, Char, and Karen. We chatted about our respective concert histories and mostly-shared love for Frank Turner (I haven’t asked Mika but I suspect she would say “he’s fine”) before Crown Lands took the stage.

Now, about these here Crown Lands. They came out, got set to play, realized they forgot to hug, hugged, and then got back at it. They looked like modern-era “Weird Al” Yankovic on the drums and Will Forte in his Last Man On Earth beardy longhair phase on guitar – both wearing the Seventiesest outfits you ever did see. This is not entirely fair because I’m sure real Weird Al is old enough to be their dad, but Al doesn’t age anyway, so whatever. They walked onstage to Closer to the Heart and their last song was a cover of Kashmir, which tells you what they sounded like better than I ever could. Someone warn Greta Van Fleet that a new challenger approaches.

I tease. But this was actually pretty good! These guys were great musicians who won the crowd over during their short set. At one point, Will Forte traded his guitar for giant a two-necked bass/guitar hybrid and the crowd oohed appreciatively. If that whole Rush/Zeppelin thing appeals to you, check them out.

Then we had a break until Jack White. After a while, a countdown popped up on the big screen, looking like one of those old-timey alarm clocks where the numbers flip down. After a while, the silhouette of Jack White wandered out and knocked a few minutes off the timer. Everyone rejoiced! But then he added a bunch more time on. Then he messed with it for a while longer and ultimately left us more or less where we started.

While waiting, a lumbering oaf shoved past us, calling Mika “girl” in the process (his most egregious offense, I was told). He was very tall so he pushed his way to the front, and he was loud and stupid and acted like everyone in his vicinity was glad to see him, even the ones who were subtly backing away. I wanted to grab his braid, shove it up his ass, and pull it out his dickhole. Instead, we just moved a bit back.

Finally, Jack White and his band took the stage, the familiar red of the White Stripes’ peppermint motif replaced with blue. And before I get into anything else, this was a great-looking set. Jack White out in front with the band on risers around him, with giant rotating panels in the back – lights on one side, video screens on the other.

They opened with Over and Over and Over from White’s newest album. I’d wondered if they’d play his solo stuff exclusively, and that was answered with the second song, Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground from the White Stripes’ White Blood Cells. The set spanned most of White’s career, with White Stripes classics mixed in throughout, and even a Raconteurs song (Steady, As She Goes) as the first song of the encore.

Steady, As She Goes might have actually been my favourite performance of the night, just a killer version that brought an intensity that destroyed the album version. But there were other worthy contenders. My Doorbell is just a fantastic song. I really dig Love Interruption. And Hotel Yorba was made better with the addition of honky-tonk piano, as most things are. We’re Going to Be Friends, Ball and Biscuit, Blunderbuss – really, there were just a ton of great songs. This show ruled.

There was a long stretch in the middle where I wasn’t as familiar with everything. I haven’t spent as much time with his solo albums as I did with the White Stripes. That said, between the fantastic band and the visual spectacle I had nothing to complain about.

During the encore break, instead of calling for one more song, the crowd sang the bassline from Seven Nation Army. If you don’t watch wrestling, you’re wise for many reasons, not the least of which is hearing that song doesn’t remind you of Enzo Amore. And I thought his second-last song, Connected By Love, would have made a great show closer, but when that bassline hit for real, the place went nuts. And I know it’s not actually played on the bass (at least on the album) so leave me be.

Early on in the set, some dude fainted or passed out or something near me. He was able to leave under his own power with the help of medical staff, but it was interesting to see that White’s stage crew immediately saw what was going on and were there to help. We weren’t even that close to the front, but they were on it. I think maybe the bass player saw the commotion and alerted them – he kept scanning the area with concern.

In an unrelated note (I assume, anyway), I’ve discovered the reason why none of the cannabis stores here can get enough supply to open their doors: all of the pot was at the Brandt Centre. It’s gone now. I’m used to smelling weed at concerts but I’m not used to the smell never really going away. Tom Petty has been dethroned as the stinkiest concert I’ve been to.

I did miss my phone a little, but on our way out, it was nice to briskly skip past the lines of people waiting to unlock their phone sacks. “This is the worst invention ever,” hollered one guy, “I’ve got 300 people here who all hate this!” I laughed and Mika told me to not encourage him. We trudged through many snowdrifts to our special parking lot, but we did get priority when driving out, so that was nice. Not $15 nice. But nice.

Danko Jones – Love Is Bold

4 of these 6 tracks got significant airplay on modern rock radio, and it was the band’s breakthrough in Canada. I can hear why. Holy hell, this EP rocks.

Meth, Ghost And Rae – Wu-Massacre

Three variant covers, mine is #3… Not every track is great, but there’s just something about listening to this stuff that just fills me with happy. They just get it, you know? We’re lucky to have them.

Infectious Grooves – Sarsippius’ Ark

Speed funk at its best, cut with Mike Muir’s skits as Sarsippius. The bottom end from Robert Trujillo will crush you, with Josh Freese in the pocket on drums. Cover tunes here are Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, and David Bowie’s Fame. There’s also a live track and a demo track too.

Secret Chord

Dexter Gordon – The Other Side Of Round Midnight

Recorded during filming of Bertrand Tavernier’s Round Midnight film. Players include Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Billy Higgins, Tony Williams, Bobby McFerrin, John McLaughlin and Bobby Hutcherson. Whoa.

Matthew Cutter – Closer You Are: The Story Of Robert Pollard And Guided By Voices

I love me some GBV et al., and Cutter’s book tells the story (thus far) engagingly. Lots left out, of course: no discography, just go to gbvdb.com!, and side projects needed more coverage… could have been two volumes, probably, but this gets to most of the main bits. The book we wanted, the book we needed. Just need Vol.2 for all the rest. Thank you for your fine work, Mr. Cutter, and thank you Mr. Pollard et al. for everything!

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