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SLCR #137: Bloc Party w/Hot Hot Heat (May 2, 2009)

Look at me! Writing a concert review in the airport! The future has arrived. I am traveling with a netbook, a BlackBerry, an iPod, and a Nintendo DSi. All that, and instead of having fun, I am writing a concert review for you. What a nice guy I am. That, and they expect me to PAY for wi-fi access. It is 2009, jerks. I no longer have a paper boarding pass. Give me free wi-fi.

I am not traveling to a concert, but maybe I will find one anyway. Who knows? After an eight-month dry spell, I am going to at least two shows this month. Possibly (probably?) three. Four was suggested at one point. Feast or famine.

Bloc Party! Mika was very excited to learn that they were coming to Saskatoon. I, on the other hand, knew one Bloc Party song, that being the one in Guitar Hero 3 that you can only unlock in multi-player mode. I have no friends so I used a cheat code. But it’s a good song, so I had high hopes; higher hopes a short while later when Mika discovered that Hot Hot Heat would be the opening act. I loves me some Hot Hot Heat and didn’t go when they were in Saskatoon a few years ago, and was afraid I had missed my chance.

The tickets said doors were at 7:00 for a Saturday night show at the Odeon. I figured that was way too early, so we showed up at about 8:10. I have no idea how much of Hot Hot Heat’s set we missed, but let’s just consider it a lesson learned and move on. I heard the lead singer dude say "we’re Hot Hot Heat" as we were entering the building, so I hoped we would catch most of their set, but we only saw a little better than a half-hour. Which I guess is about right for an opening act, but still disappointing. Also disappointing: the sound, which was not up to the Odeon’s usual standards. It was close to the old Amigo’s level of quality, which is not a compliment. Mika said that this wasn’t nearly as good as their last Saskatoon show. But I still like these guys and would gladly give them another chance, especially as a headline act – and I’m not just saying that on the off-chance that the aforementioned lead singer dude Googles "Hot Hot Heat" and stumbles across my music blog, because really, what are the odds of that?

How do I only have 63% battery left? I’ve only been at this for like 20 minutes and I had a full charge when I started. Oh, netbook, you’ll be the death of me yet.

Anyway, the show was sold out, and it became quite apparent that the crowd was not there to see Hot Hot Heat, they were there for Bloc Party. And I’m not just basing that on the one guy who was trying to start a "one more song" chant during the early parts of (what we saw of) Hot Hot Heat’s set. During the intermission, the crowd seemed to swell massively, giving off more and more heat as they grew. The Odeon is near-intolerable when full, though I will say that they timed the intermission well. I was just about to say "they can move this along anytime now" when the lights dimmed.

Bloc Party were really good. I don’t know what else I have to say about them. The sound seemed to have improved, which was nice. I had big plans of listening to all their albums to prepare myself for the show, but we all know this game by now. I did learn a second song, and while they didn’t play Helicopters – the song from Guitar Hero 3 (more on that in a sec) – they did play the other one I knew.

To be fair, it is entirely possible that they played Helicopters during the encore. We left before they came back out. I do not blame the band for this, I blame their… well, I was going to say "I blame their fans," but a fan might actually watch the show. Why do you pay $20 or $50 or $80 for a ticket to not watch the show? Maybe I am getting old, but I have always felt this way. Seriously, I am sure we saw that one guy from Look at this Fucking Hipster (!) at the show. Which guy? It does not matter. Point one out and we saw him there. Guy who spent the whole night talking? Check. Guy who spent the whole night texting? Check. Guy who put both hands on my shoulders and drummed along with the beat while pressing up as close to me as he could while he passed by on the way to the bar? Check, but at least that one was so bizarre as to be amusing. Tall guy who spent the whole time getting boobs rubbed on him? Check, and you might say "well, I can’t blame that guy" but the girl looked just like Lacey from this season of Hell’s Kitchen and if she tried rubbing her boobs on me, all I would be able to do is yell SHUT IT DOWN or something. "Hey baby, take off your jacket… and leave Hell’s Kitchen. Now piss off."

Speaking of British people, they really seem to like saying "Saskatoon" out loud. It IS pretty fun.

My flight will board in 20 minutes, and I am done! Finished early, just like the concert – we were back at the car by 10:30. I have no objection to that whatsoever, because I am old. Now just get rid of those young punk no-good kids, and we’ll be set.

Hot Hot Heat, Rock Star Supernova, Punker AC/DC, U2 and more U2

Hot Hot Heat – Scenes One Through Thirteen

I’m a fan of this band, and having never heard this record (I know!), I was totally pleased with what I heard. It’s equal parts garage rock and punk, like the Pixies met Big Black and they went all out on the shaky limb of an experimental art-noise freak out. Holy shit, every song here rocks completely. I absolutely loved this!

Rock Star Supernova

This is apparently the result of some TV show of the same name wherein Jason Newsted, Tommy Lee and Gilby Clarke were trying out new singers and choosing one like some messed up American Idol competition. However it came about, I say the same about this record as I did about Newsted’s other solo effort, Echobrain. It would have been an absolutely huge record… had it been released a full decade earlier. Largely derivative of that mid-90’s sound, it seems really, really dated for a 2006 release. Whatever, I enjoyed the opportunity to hear this.

A Punk Rock Tribute To AC/DC

It’s an interesting time for this record to wash up on my shores, given how I’ve been hearing a lot of AC/DC through the next batch in the Favourites project (coming soon!), so to hear other people attempt the tracks is fun, indeed. At least some of the bands here are new to me, and they didn’t always pick the usual tracks, which makes a nice mix. Interesting that there’s no Thunderstruck… Then again, the Dwarves chose Big Balls. Haha. Of course they did.

A lot of the tracks here, of course, fall well short of the originals. That said, the Angry Samoans turn in a credible Highway To Hell, and Dayglo Abortions speed up The Jack in a satisfying way. Flipper nailed it on the head when the guy says “This song goes on far too long,” and maybe the most punk of them all was Dr. Know’s Rock ‘N Roll Damnation. But a lot of these tracks are really incredibly bad, by bands you’ll likely never hear of again… which makes this record a total gem! Stepping back and trying to describe what’s here, it sounds like covers night at some open mic bar on the wrong side of the tracks got crashed by a bunch of drunk punkers. Nice one.

U2 – Go Home – Live At Slane Castle

We all know by now that U2 has me torn. There’s a warm place in my musical nostalgia for the more raw, youthfully creative U2. The past twenty years, though, have largely been repetitive and boring. This live video is fun enough to watch, since these guys have been doing the same thing for so long that at least they’ve got the Please The Crowd schtick fully ingrained. The show takes place on their home turf and in front of the most forgiving audience any band could ever hope for in their wettest dreams. Bono could have walked around that little runway farting for an hour and people would have called it innovative. I just wish the new songs weren’t such poor imitations of the power that came before. Sigh.

U2 – Rattle And Hum

Now this is what I’m talking about. This video companion to the record of the same name has personality, verve, and energy. It’s well-filmed, fast-moving and interesting. It’s the one I’d recommend to you if you wanted to see U2 in its prime. Just bear in mind, it’s a postcard from the precipice (from the Edge, if you will). It was all downhill from here.

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