Collective Soul and I, we have a history. I liked them in 1994 or thereabouts when they first broke through, then we went our separate ways, and now I finally got the chance to see them.
Unfortunately, I told this whole story – using many more words, which was probably unnecessary – after I saw them in February 2008.
Since then, not much has changed between us. They put out a new album recently. I listened to it a few times. It was fine. I’m listening to it now, in fact. But there isn’t necessarily a lot to talk about.
I mentioned last time that Collective Soul has some kind of strange grip on Saskatoon. No matter how they’re doing anywhere else, Saskatoon is a near-instant sellout. Well, I have since discovered that they have a grip on the whole province. This show sold out in short order and I was surprised by the number of people I work with who were sad that they didn’t buy tickets in time.
I had no such problems because Dave likes Collective Soul an awful lot and he bought tickets within minutes of the concert being announced. This may have been a tactical mistake on his part, given that a Saskatoon show was only a few days away from being announced. Going to that show instead would have saved him two highway drives (and possibly one windshield, but that may have been fate).
But hey – he did make the drive to Regina, and that gave him the opportunity to bring (and sell) me a big TV. Of course, that also meant that I made him help me get rid of my old tube TVs, pick out a new TV stand, take the new stand home, take everything off my old stand, put the new stand together, load everything onto the new stand, and take the old stand apart and haul it away. And when I say "I made him help me," I really mean that I made him do almost everything until such time as I put my back out; from that point on, there was no almost about it. High-five for helping!
My back was actually bad enough that for a brief moment, I was concerned that I wouldn’t even make it to the show. I spent about five minutes on one knee trying to psych myself into standing up because I figured I could walk it off if only I could make myself upright. I finally latched onto my phone and discovered, sadly, that I couldn’t get into the chiropractor’s until the next day. With no alternative, I downed a few Robaxacets and grabbed my handheld back massager thing, which is basically a plastic triangle with three nubs on it. I massaged the affected area (affectionately known as "the upper butt") until I was merely uncomfortable. I was amazed that this worked out as well as it did. I’m sure that it looked suspicious that I was miraculously cured as soon as the last of the TV stand construction was completed.
We got to the casino, ran into one of my coworkers and his family, and took our seats. The casino has table seating and balcony seating, and we wound up with two tickets at a table, which meant that we would be joined by two mystery people. They turned out to be a couple of folks who seemed nice and we really didn’t talk to them at all.
Having skipped supper, we ordered nachos before the show in a move that harkened back to the chicken fingers and mozza sticks of days of yore. I am kind of sad they didn’t have chicken fingers, actually. The nachos were fine but you know how you normally run out of toppings and you’re left with bare chips? This was the reverse, which normally would be awesome, but I think I just wanted chips and salsa. I didn’t even finish my half, and I got through more than Dave did.
So, let’s talk about Collective Soul, seeing as how there was no opening act apart from a few radio DJs that walked out on stage, said that Collective Soul would be coming out soon, and left. I don’t know if this happens at every Collective Soul show, but it has happened at all two shows of theirs that I’ve seen, so I can only assume it’s in their contract. They want a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones removed, and three radio DJs (possibly with all the brown ones removed – I really don’t recall what they looked like).
Say what you will about a band whose biggest hits came over a decade ago, but they made it sound like it wasn’t a common occurrence to play at a casino in front of a sedately seated crowd. This crowd did not stay seated for very long, though. There were more new songs played than I would have expected – when a band has been around this long, I expect their shows to be glorified greatest-hits collections – and even said new songs were loved. They got a standing ovation only a few songs in, and when they played Shine, they got a reaction that I can only describe as ridiculous. Dave later said that they should have closed the show with it, and I agree – there was nothing they could have played that could have followed that. Still, the entire second half of the show had people up and dancing in front of the stage.
It also had some dude yelling into the lead singer’s mic while he was introducing the band, which was kind of awesome. "You see, dude, I have ears on, and you just deafed me. Is that a word?"
As an aside related to both Shine and hollering, thanks to the Bryan and Vinny Show, I can no longer hear Shine without mentally inserting the Great Khali. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH. This made me laugh out loud while they were playing the song and I’m glad nobody asked for an explanation. Dave would have understood but I don’t think anyone else on Earth would have.
So yeah, people liked the new songs, people liked the old hits – and they played most of the ones that I could think of, save for Precious Declaration – people liked pretty much everything, and that always makes for a great atmosphere. By the end of the show, I was even willing to overlook the lead singer’s questionable blouse-and-scarf combo. I guess you can get away with such things if you’re a rock star.
All told, this was a much better show than the last time, and that one exceeded my expectations. I can honestly say that I won’t run out and buy tickets the next time they come to town, but that shouldn’t be taken as a critique of the band, just an observation that I have Dave to do that for me. He’s like my personal shopper when it comes to concerts that he wants to see. Besides, I might need some more furniture put together by then.
– Oct. 23: Ben Folds (w/Kate Miller-Heidke)
– Oct. 29: Def Leppard (w/Cheap Trick & Man Raze) canceled
– Nov. 14: Stone Temple Pilots
– Dec. 15: Wayne Newton
Years ago, Aaron was relatively new to Saskatoon. Perplexed by his new local music scene, we discussed whether Saskatoon was where music came to die or where music lived forever. I think this was in reference to Glass Tiger or Gowan or Loverboy or someone, but we could have had the same conversation about Collective Soul as well.
Collective Soul is a bit of a phenomenon. A radio-friendly rock group from the mid-90s, they have proven remarkably enduring and beloved in Saskatoon with a string of sold-out shows. Legend has it that they’ll even fly into Saskatoon, do one show, and fly back home, just because they’re guaranteed to get a great reaction. Case in point: they sold out this show and added a second date.
We go way back, Collective Soul and I. I liked them a fair bit when they were first popular. Then they disappeared for a few years due to problems with their label or management or something. They came back with an album and single called Precious Declaration; I was quite excited for this, but wound up unimpressed with what was delivered, and, well, we went our separate ways after that. But I always had a bit of a soft spot for them, so when Dave asked if I wanted to go, he didn’t find it too hard to talk me into it. Mostly because he offered to pay for the ticket.
Our tickets were for the sold-out Friday night show. The second show was added for the night before. Because the new show was on a work night, they announced that the doors would open at 7:00 and the show would start at 8:00. Foolishly, we thought that the same times would apply for our show as well. With the show at Centennial Hall, we decided to hit Midtown and wander around before heading over. It turned out that there wasn’t much to see at Midtown, so we wound up at Centennial at 7:00 – just in time for the doors to open! – and stood in line for an hour. This gave us plenty of time to people-watch. It was an eclectic mix of university students, farmers, young punk kids, and forty-year-old women in sparkly shirts.
It was a long time in line, but to the credit of the venue, the doors opened right on time (not the time we thought it was supposed to be, but the time the tickets said), they got people inside in a hurry, and they didn’t let latecomers sneak in front. It was quite well-organized, which is both appreciated and rare.
Once inside, we had another hour to wait before the opening act, which was Jonas. Jonas appeared to be the name of both the band and the lead singer. I had never heard of these guys before, but the lead singer sure acted like he thought he was a big rock star. Dancing and hollering and posing and preening and holding the mic out to the crowd to yell along. He had energy, I’ll give him that. Struggling for a way to describe their music, I decided that they sounded a lot like Wide Mouth Mason, if a worse singer was singing worse songs. Then the lead singer introduced the band, and the bass player was none other than Earl Periera from Wide Mouth Mason. So that explains that.
The evening’s best moment was right at the start. Collective Soul has what sounds like religious undertones to their music, so Dave and I had been debating whether or not they counted as a Christian rock band. When Jonas took the stage, the singer yelled “Are you ready for a rock and roll party?” Everyone cheered. Dave leaned over to me and said “But first, a few words about Jesus.” “AWWWW SHIT,” yelled the singer. We decided that these might have been the most hilarious words about Jesus ever. Later on, the singer yelled “SHIT DAWWWG” for no apparent reason, and we figured that those would have been even better words about Jesus.
All in all, they were perfectly tolerable but nothing that I’d go out of my way to see again. They’re no Wide Mouth Mason.
Some DJs from the local rock station came out between sets. One of them said a dirty word in order to demonstrate that he wasn’t a corporate shill. These were three of the most annoying people I’d ever heard and three of the most unattractive people I’d ever seen. They said that Collective Soul would take the stage in only ten minutes time, so we can add “inability to tell time” to their list of flaws.
When Collective Soul finally did show up, they were pretty good, made better by the sold-out devoted crowd. Really, there were no surprises, apart from some random AC/DC riffs stuck in the middle of one of their new songs. Some people actually seemed to recognize that new song. I did not. Most of the old singles (Gel, Shine, Better Now, Precious Declaration, The World I Know – pretty much what you’d expect) got great reactions and most of the new songs got very little reaction. I did react when the lead singer stepped back and let the (guitarist? bassist?) sing lead for one song. Specifically, I reacted by leaning over to Dave and saying “wow! He’s really awful!” Dave agreed.
Do people bodysurf to Collective Soul in other cities? Do people normally bodysurf to Collective Soul? Do people even bodysurf at all anymore? I have no answers to these questions. I do know the answer to “who is the best human being ever,” for that man was at Collective Soul. Little tiny man, bowl cut in the front, mullet in the back, giant glasses, tiny mustache.
So yeah. It was a pretty good show. I really don’t have a lot to add. Everyone knew what they’d be getting and they were ridiculously appreciative for it. If you missed the show, I’m sure they’ll be back every six months from now until the end of time. I don’t think I’d go see them every time they were in town, but you could find a lot worse ways to spend a Friday night, especially if you can con someone else into paying your way.