You should be following Buck 65 on Facebook. Even if you don’t like his music (or any music), the guy is a fantastic storyteller. I like all kinds of bands but follow very few on Facebook because self-promotion doesn’t benefit me, but Buck has it figured out. Forget release dates or Black Friday t-shirt sales, I’m more interested in hearing about him throwing out the first pitch at a Cubs game or finding a box of records on his roof.
Sometime back around January of this year, Buck mentioned that he was at work on a new album and would be touring to support it and asked where he should play. Whenever I’ve seen a musician do this, there are inevitably several hundred responses from fans, and then the artist goes and tours wherever the artist was going to go anyway. It always seems so pointless, but for whatever reason, I felt like playing along this time. I posted that Buck should come back to Regina because everyone skips over it. A short while later, he replied with “I’ll come back to Regina, James. I promise.” So, you know, you’re welcome, everyone who was there. Clearly this show was 100% my doing.
We hit a bit of a snafu upon arriving at the Exchange. All along, they’d said doors at 7:30, show at 8:00. So fine, we got there a little after 7:30, only to find that the outer doors were open, but the inner doors were not. And the lobby was crammed full of people who read the same thing about the times. And it was -30 with the windchill. There was room enough to let one last person into the lobby, so I let Mika stand inside while I waited outside. One by one, other folks joined me and asked about the doors, asked why we were stuck outside, asked who the opening act was, asked about the doors some more, asked when I thought the show would start. It turned out that the Exchange and the Regina Folk Festival tried to get the proper times out via Twitter in the hours before the show, but I hadn’t seen them. But no matter – by the time the inside doors opened to let us all in, I’d been holding court with a dozen of my new best friends and was a little sad that it was over.
We found some seats and I got us iced teas because it was a Friday night and that’s how we do it up. Colin stopped by to say hi, which gave me a chance to show off my rap skills. Colin had seen my rap skills at lunch earlier that day, and Mika is already very (overly?) familiar with my rap skills, but I was not about to let this opportunity pass me by.
The opener was Winnipeg’s Sc Mira. These folks had an interesting visual aesthetic going on, which is a way of saying that someone around me announced “they look like douchebags” as soon as the band took the stage. In fairness, the drummer looked like a completely normal guy and was unfairly lumped in with the rest. In my opinion. Anyway, I was expecting my usual opening act “they were fine” without much else to say, but then they were kind of great? Just a really tight female-fronted rock band with catchy songs. Good stuff. Would go see again. And I will surely get the chance, since their Facebook tells me that they recently toured with Indigo Joseph, and I’m due to see those guys again soon since it’s been a few weeks. I don’t go find them; they find me. Not complaining. It’s just how life is.
I was a little concerned that Buck 65 wasn’t going to make it to the show. His tour diary suggested that they’d lost the keys to the van the night before and weren’t sure what to do about it. But he found a way:
Had to hire a new van. Blew the last one up. Warmed my hands with the fire.
I drove and drove and drove and drove… I drove across the Badlands of Alberta. I drove across Saskatchewan – where they say you can watch your dog run away for three days; where they say that if you stand on a paint can, you can see the back of your own head. I saw horses and cattle. I saw roadkill. I also saw big, shadowless houses with two hours of nothing on either side. I assume mad men live inside. The roads were straight as arrows. The snow blew high and whited everything out. Hard not to think lonely thoughts when everywhere you look there’s nothing. During a few long stretches, I was too far from anywhere for the radio to pick up anyone’s song. For hours it felt like I wasn’t making any progress at all. I thought I was driving on a giant treadmill.
When I finally arrived in Regina, I heard the news that Jose Canseco’s finger fell off.
Saskatchewan people: have you ever actually heard anyone say that it’s so flat that “if you stand on a paint can, you can see the back of your own head?” The dog running away one, yeah, everyone knows that, but the paint can bit was new to me. It reminded me of PK at work telling me that someone was “so short, she’d need to stand on a brick to kick a duck in the ass.” I love that so much. Not only is it delightful to say “brick” and “kick” and “duck” in short order, but it’s just so specific. Why a brick? Who stands on a brick? And what did that duck ever do to you? Geese, in my experience, are much more worthy of kicks.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Buck brought up this expression during his set. He brought up a lot of things. It was a very interesting show. I have seen Buck three times before, and I never before saw him so focused on sex and boobs and centaur penis and sideboob and other parts. He made several references to living in a “post-Ghomeshi world;” the show was sponsored by the CBC and he seemed fixated on the poster they put up. A creepy sex education record (which was not really meant to be used for education, at least not in the traditional sense) soundtracked a lengthy part of the show.
After the fact, Buck himself seemed to think it was a strange show:
When I arrived at the venue, I smelled the worst smell I’ve ever smelled. It might have been a dead raccoon wrapped up in a soiled diaper. Maybe that had something to do with the show being so different from all of the others. Some other energy took over. It somehow turned into a bizarre comedy show or something. And my approach to the songs was completely different. I don’t know what came over me. But it seemed to work. Laughs were had and everyone seemed to go home happy.
Buck played for quite a while – his set came close to two-and-a-half hours with a ton of old songs, new songs, b-sides, all kinds of stuff. Fans of his older stuff were treated to Blood of a Young Wolf (not “Young Worf” as I had initially typed; I am certain Buck will never read this, but if he does, and he happens to be working on an album inspired by Star Trek: The Next Generation, he’s welcome to that one). He also played Roses & Blue Jays, Wicked & Weird, and an absolutely deadly version of 463. Loved it.
It goes without saying that he played a lot from his new record, Neverlove. He opened his set with Gates of Hell, and I knew he’d close with Super Pretty Naughty – it’s a completely atypical Buck 65 song, an incredibly danceable party anthem with inane lyrics (“hey do you like sports and also did you used to be a baby?”) that is somehow worse and better than anything on the radio. I wasn’t counting on NSFW Music Video, but we got that one too and I was delighted by its non-stop double (and sometimes single) entendres. Others from Neverlove included Love Will Fuck You Up, A Case for Us, Only War, and Heart of Stone. He was joined on stage by Tiger Rosa and they played pretty much everything that she sings on from the album, though there seemed to be some sort of technical issues going on. It seemed like she kept gesturing at the sound guy to turn the volume up. There were also parts where it almost seemed like her mouth didn’t match what she was singing. Not making accusations – something just seemed off.
Buck has been making music forever. With a huge body of work to draw from, he would move from song to song by using snippets of other songs as segues – sometimes he’d play half the song and sometimes it would only be a line or two. I counted Zombie Delight, Dang, Shutter Buggin’, and Indestructible Sam, among others.
Ultimately, as alluded to above, I had a good time and some laughs and went home happy. It was a different sort of show, but a fun one. Buck pretty much guarantees a good time. I didn’t stick around after the show to meet him – I’m sure he would have wanted to thank me for making the show happen – but it sounded like he wasn’t hurting for company:
Afterwards, I met two different people with whom I have an incredible amount in common. It’s as if I’m living a parallel life with two different people who live in Saskatchewan. I also met a cobbler from my hometown of Mt. Uniacke, Nova Scotia. He had a good handshake and told me he likes the song “Craftsmanship.” That felt good. Regina has always been good to me. I hope to get back soon.
I have a goal. In one hour, I must write two concert reviews and eat two pieces of garlic cheese toast. I can score bonus points by also making tomorrow’s lunch in that time. A wise man would save the garlic cheese toast for tomorrow. Or at least quit dinking around on Facebook. I am not that man.
So yeah. I saw some shows! On this evening, this Buck-65-headlined evening, Mika and I were joined by two of our friends. First, we stopped and picked up Heather. I met her dad. He may have called me “Dave.” Then we went to Louis’ and met up with an actual Dave named Dave. No idea what Heather’s dad would have called him. “James,” presumably.
The big news at Louis’ is that I got carded. For real. I am three months shy of turning 32, and I got carded. Sure, they were probably just carding everyone, but still. I felt slightly less decrepit than usual. A few days later, at Queens of the Stone Age, I spent a lot of time looking at the few people there who were older than I am and wondered when I would hit that point when I’d be old enough that my mere presence at a show like that would be unusual, bordering on creepy. But on this night, I got carded and all was right with the world.
Sadly, my newly rediscovered youthful vibrance didn’t last long. When I’m at these shows, I often think about what I can put in my concert reviews. While thinking about getting carded, I actually made the observation that “every time I get carded, I’m older than the time before.” For a few brief seconds, I really thought I had come up with something neat to include in the review. Then I realized that I was just stating the obvious, it wasn’t even the particularly interesting obvious, it would make me look like an idiot to say it out loud, and I had best keep my mouth shut and not mention this to anyone. So I didn’t. Until now. Lucky you. Lucky US.
We sat at a table in the back and drank drinks. Mine were Diet Cokes that I loaded with stolen orange slices. Not sure why Louis’ has orange slices at the bar. I know that people often want slices of lemon or lime in their drinks, but orange? Seems uncommon. So I had to try it. It turns out that if you soak an orange slice in Diet Coke for 10 minutes, and then you eat the orange slice, it’s AWESOME. It helps if you ate a pack of beef jerky instead of an actual supper, probably.
The first performer was Skratch Bastid, a DJ. I have never seen an actual DJ do his thing before, and if I attempt to use the proper terminology, it will result in an epic failure. It was pretty interesting – made moreso because they had a camera set up over the turntables and piped to all the TVs in the bar, so you can actually see spinning and scratching and whatever the hell that means, I don’t know. But you could watch the guy do stuff. I thought this was cool to see, but I didn’t really need a whole lot of it. This seemed to be the consensus opinion of our table. “It’s just noise,” said one of the three other people at our table, before shaking a fist at the neighbourhood kids and going inside to watch stories on the telly. “How can people listen to this for a whole weekend?” asked the second person. “Drugs help,” offered the third. Pretty soon, we were only paying marginal attention. Dave and I talked wrestling while Heather and Mika discussed Heather’s ongoing home renovations. I now know where to go if I ever need to rent a professional-grade stump grinder.
Next up was Cadence Weapon. When I was selling Dave on the idea of going to this show, I described Buck 65 as being “a rapper, but not what you’d think of when you think of a rapper.” And I sent him a link to Buck’s new video (for the song Dang) on YouTube. It features Mexican wrestlers; I think this helped convince Dave to come with us. I didn’t mention that Cadence Weapon would also be there. Cadence Weapon has a more traditional style (as opposed to Buck 65’s near-spoken-word delivery) (and awesome dancing) and I wasn’t sure what Dave would think of that. So I didn’t lie, I just left some parts out.
Mika and Heather moved up to the front as soon as Cadence Weapon started. Dave and I followed halfway through the first song. We arrived as Cadence Weapon (what do you call him for short? Cadence? Cade? Mr. Weapon?) was leading the crowd in singing “I made a deal today! I’m selling real estate!” over and over. Dave immediately declared this the greatest song of all time. I knew at this moment that Dave would have a fine time. At one point, he even whipped out his cameraphone and took some video of the show.
I don’t know a whole lot about Cadence Weapon. Before the show, I’d only ever heard one song – Black Hand, the song from the Polaris compilation CD. I was surprised by his dry sense of humour; as the crowd down at the front pumped their fists in the air, he encouraged them. “Punch the air! Like this! I’m angry! Grrrr! Now I’m punching!” You had to be there.
We were standing by the merchandise table and at one point, I noticed that Cadence Weapon had a SHARKS shirt for sale, presumably because he does a song called Sharks. I was eyeing this shirt, bopping up and down to the music while trying to decide if a) I wanted it, and b) what the hell the drawing on the shirt meant. I looked up to see Dave pointing the cameraphone at me. Now, a video of me dancing at a rap show would be pretty funny. But I think the really funny part would be my confused stare, as it took me a good ten seconds to realize that he was actually filming me, and not just trying to show me his phone. Also, I’m guessing that the look on my face when I figured it out must have been funny, because the look on Dave’s face… it was one of extreme amusement mixed with more than a little bit of pride.
I hate to dash all your dreams, but the video didn’t turn out. One more opportunity to make me famous on the internet, wasted.
Also, I didn’t buy the shirt.
Buck 65 (with Skratch Bastid back as DJ) was up next, after a very brief intermission. The show had actually been very well-paced. We lucked into showing up about 15 minutes before Skratch Bastid started, and the breaks between sets were short. I gather this is uncommon at rap shows. It’s certainly uncommon at… well, all shows, really.
Anyway, I’ve seen Buck three times now, and this was far and away the best. There was much more of a stage show, with big screens behind him and the DJ’ing on the TVs around the bar. There was a strong focus on Situation, his newest album, which I expected and was perfectly fine with, since it’s a top contender for my favourite new album of 2007. I had high hopes of hearing Indestructible Sam, and I was not let down. Cadence Weapon came back out to duet with Buck on the song Benz during the encore. And there were new and neat versions of older favourites, including an a cappella version of Wicked & Weird, and Rough House Blues was performed overtop a song by The Cure. I should probably know which song. If you watch that video, you’ll probably know which song – plus, you’ll see Buck’s awesome dancing. Everyone loves his dancing.
Buck 65 did start with Dang, which was amusing, since it was the only Buck song Dave knew. This tends to happen when you bring Dave to see new bands (by which I mean “it’s happened once before”).
Ultimately, I thought Cadence Weapon was pretty great, and Buck 65 was even greater. I’d happily go see either of those guys again and you should go see either of those guys too.
But wait, there’s more! As we were leaving, we passed a drunken angry individual outside the (inner) doors to Louis’. He’d been thrown out of the show – no idea why – and he was MAD. He’d paid $25 to get in, you see, and was not about to have his rights trodden upon in such a manner! He promised to report this atrocity to campus security. The bouncers calmly called campus security for him and handed him the phone. I really REALLY wanted to stay and see how this one turned out, but we opted against it. I can only assume that whatever he told campus security would not have helped his cause.
Well. That took over an hour. 1:28 a.m. Is it bedtime yet? Or do I have one more of these in me? I bet I can carry on. I just want to watch Raw tomorrow with fewer obligations hanging over my head.