I should just let Jeff write this one. This wasn’t a show for me.
Which is not to say it was a bad show! I liked it just fine. It’s just that my I Mother Earth fandom has not been properly nurtured. I didn’t think about it before the show, but I really don’t know their music that well. You know how I said Basia Bulat is one of those people I only ever listen to when I go see her in concert? IME is like that for me too. Except I’ve only seen them twice, and the last time was 16 years ago. So that’s a thing.
“We’ll find out how many I Mother Earth songs you know,” said Mika, right before the show began.
“One.” I answered with confidence, and nothing on this night suggested I was wrong.
It’s “One More Astronaut,” if you were wondering. Thank you, Big Shiny Tunes.
You may recall that we had tickets to see IME months ago. Then they got back together with Edwin, their original lead singer, much to Jeff’s chagrin, so the tour got postponed. I was fine with this development, because 1) the last time I saw them they were with their other singer (Brian Byrne), so this would be new for me, and 2) what the hell difference did it make for me anyway?
Though I feel bad for Byrne. Gotta suck for him, right? He had the tour all lined up and then bam, they bring back the old guy. According to Wikipedia, he’s trying out to become the new singer for Stone Temple Pilots, so I guess being “the other singer” is kind of his thing. Good on him.
Mika and I got to the casino and ran into Jeff and Jeremy on the way in. They made their way upstairs to the seats in the balcony, while we were standing on the floor. This means that we had to communicate via text, and part of me wants to just transcribe everything rather than think up words and put them in order. Maybe I should start with the most recent thing I texted Jeff; namely, that someone made a downloadable Harambe for WWE 2K17.
Our openers were the Standstills, who apparently get played on the local rock radio station, according to the DJ who opened up the show. This was an aggressively loud two-piece and, uh, I didn’t think they were very good at all. I mean, the first two songs were nothing special; mostly I thought “this is okay enough and I rarely go see bands like this, so it’s a nice change, but it sure sounds like these two are not playing the same song at the same time.” Then they covered part of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Vasoline” and it was out of tune and off time and he was screeching as if he was intentionally trying to sing horribly and this was just the absolute worst. My opinion of them never recovered. They played one of the shortest opening sets I’ve ever seen, so that was nice.
After an intermission, out came I Mother Earth. This should be the part where I say “I don’t know what they played” but I do! The entire main set was the Scenery & Fish album, start to finish. It includes One More Astronaut, so hooray for that. The encore, meanwhile, was three singles from the album Dig: Levitate, Not Quite Sonic, and Rain Will Fall (note: Mika says the songs weren’t played in that order) (and also she told me what they were). Nothing newer than that. No Byrne songs, poor guy.
So how was the show? I thought it was fine enough and I liked the encore the best. That is what I think and that is all I think, so here I will defer to the IME fans. Mika thought the show was really good, though she noted preferring Dig to Scenery & Fish. I’m going to assume that I do too. Jeff, meanwhile, said “holy fuck was this good.” Later, talking to Jeremy, he said he liked it even more than Jeff did.
I did find it funny that Jeff and I liked pretty much the opposite things about the show:
Jeff: It’s such a great album to perform live, because there’s all these opportunities for 10 minute mind-blowing solos & detours
James: See I think that’s what I don’t care for
James: But the encore was super good
Jeff: Heh, I thought the encore was the weakest part 🙂
So yeah. I think we’ve long established that I’m not a fan of noodling on the guitar for the sake of noodling. Enjoy it if it’s your thing, but it just doesn’t do anything for me. But I think we’ve also established that if you’re into IME, you should clearly try to see them because you’ll really enjoy the show. And if you’re not, it’s still good and all.
Also, digging through text messages reminds me that at one point, all the security guards in the place went sprinting towards the lobby. One of them ran into Mika real good. Never did find out what happened there. I love ending these things on complete anticlimaxes, so bye.
HEY. Deke said he was looking forward to my opinions of I Mother Earth and Bush. Both of those shows are coming relatively soon, but why wait? Let’s go back 16 years and over 200 reviews ago to recap the first (and so far, only) time I saw IME. This has lots of inside jokes I don’t really remember and doesn’t say anything at all about the band, so, uh, sorry Deke, this one kinda sucks.
Yow, this one’s late. Oh well.
I knew I Mother Earth was going to be at Louis’, but I didn’t think I was likely to see them. I didn’t really know any of their songs (except One More Astronaut, and that was back in the days of the old lead singer dude), and besides, it was $15 that could be better spent by… um… well, it could be better spent. Then I got a phone message from Deserée that said “Hi James, Lee’s here and we were wondering if you wannaguhseeymotahuhtu night. I’ll call you back.” After about 15 listenings (this is not a lie), I remembered that only three bands were coming to Saskatoon anytime soon, and “eymotahuh” sounded more like I Mother Earth than it did Christina Aguilera or Choclair. At any rate, I waited for her to call back before I committed myself to anything.
Call back she did, and I Mother Earth it was, and on campus her and Lee were going to be, so buy me a ticket she did, so there I went, and meet me at the door she did, and pay her back I did, and student price she did pay, and money it did save us.
That sentence RULED!! Yeah! senTENCE senTENCE senTENCE senTENCE…
So I sat down with Lee and Dez and gave her some CDs I’d burnt – the new Eve 6 (*still* not in stores) and another compilation of TV themes. This set off an hour-long conversation about the TV themes on the CD (Lee and I both know the Ninja Turtles theme way too well – he’s a radical rat!), as well as the themes that have to go on the next CD. Hart To Hart, baybee… At some point in here, our server came by and grabbed the CD, checking it out and voicing her approval before she asked if we were going to get it autographed. Well, it was my compilation… I suppose I could always have signed it. I don’t think I Mother Earth would have been interested, though. I don’t think they’d have signed the Eve 6 disc either, though I do have a Red Hot Chili Peppers CD signed by the lads from Moxy Früvous, so who knows?
Our server not only came by the table often, but she was actually friendly, which might have been a first for Louis’. She also repeatedly forgot Lee’s drinks which was funny too.
We had some time before the show started, so Dez and I wandered off to get mozza sticks. “Now wait,” you’re saying, “mozza sticks? No chicken?” No, but while stopping at the bar for a Coke, one of the guys from the opening act came over to get a drink. The opening act was a band called Fat Man’s Belly. The Fat Man ate all the chicken. It was in his belly. It’s an official concert. Shut up.
With more time before the show, Dez and Lee started telling stories about Swift Current. I can’t do them justice, suffice to say I don’t ever remember laughing so hard for a long time. I think it had something to do with a sawdust-covered prime rib picked up by a guy who gets hitchhikers and takes their pictures at a mall called Mall but I could be mistaken. This segued into stories about our respective stupid families, but I can’t repeat those here, since my family reads this. I can still make fun of everyone else’s family, though. If you don’t like it, start up your own mailing list.
About this time, the server forgot Lee’s drink again.
The guy who stood next to me at the bar and his friends took they stage. They were indeed Fat Man’s Belly, and they were… interesting. There was one guy who had a turntable. Basically, they sounded like they wanted to be Limp Bizkit. If they work really hard, they may someday sound like they want to be The Beastie Boys or Rage Against The Machine but they’re not there yet. I thought they were interesting, like I said – I’d never seen a similar band live. The crowd (such as it was), however, was savage. Just downright savage. I mean, Xylon didn’t get this bad a reaction. Well, not to his face. But people were outright laughing at these guys, and hollering stuff. The two underage lesbians sitting by us were particularly cruel. It was all pretty funny. I didn’t think they were that bad, just not that good. Every song sounded like the last, even when they tried covering “Backstreet’s Back” and stuff. Oh well. Did I mention it was interesting? Yeahhh.
Intermission. By this point, Dez had consumed half a drink and so she was well torqued. She started telling me about a trip to Tramp’s music store where she saw a Crash Test Dummies CD where the band was dressed up like Keebler Elves and a minotaur. But she wasn’t drunk. She did feel the need to assure me that the band was not making cookies nor ‘Tater Skins in a tree. But she wasn’t drunk.
Out come I Mother Earth. They immediately launch into the one and only song I know, One More Astronaut. I note that the new lead singer dude sounds enough like the old lead singer dude that I probably wouldn’t have noticed. The song was cool, and the pseudo mosh pit actually had a respectable number of people in it, considering the crowd was only about 200 people (including two potentially underage lesbians and one song-killer with a broken arm). But now what would I do, when they played the only song I knew?
I’d wait for two others that I also knew, that’s what I’d do. Well, one I kinda knew. And the other I had heard of. But they were good. The whole show was actually decent, though I do think I’d have liked it better if I knew any of their stuff. Too much of it sounded the same.
Wow, I wish I had more analysis of the show than that. But I don’t. It was enjoyable and a good way to spend an evening, but I’ve pretty much forgotten about the show already. I remember the conversation, though. Did you know Deserée has a mechanical bull at her church? It’s true, it’s true. They don’t just have mass, they have alternative services. Turns out we also knew someone with a well-worn collection of goat puppets. Allegedly, they’re finger puppets. And he claims they like his chaps.
Then I went home.
And so ends the 49th SLCR. I should do something special for the next one, but I won’t. Oh well. I leave you now with words of wisdom.
“This is my boss, Johnathan Hart, a self-made millionaire. He’s quite a guy. This is Mrs. H. She’s gorgeous. She’s one lady who knows how to take care of herself. By the way, my name is Max. I take care of both of them. It ain’t easy. ‘Cause when they met… it was MURDER.”
I recently mentioned in a Sunday Service that I’d rocked this record yet again, and loved it, as always. Mike said he had a review of it done, did we wanna do a collab post on it? Hell yes!
And me? My response to Dig has always been visceral. It gets me right in the gut every time. It typifies everything I loved about rock music at the time, and then exceeds all expectations every damn time.
Folks, this record is a monster, so huge and glorious and glistening in the sun. After the opening intro, the next four tracks were singles! No wonder it went platinum! It even won a Juno award for Best Hard Rock Album in 1994. Wiki lists it as Alternative Rock, Alternative Metal, Funk Metal, Progressive Rock, and Grunge. While I’m not huge on labels like that, I can’t argue with any of those.
Let’s Dig deeper into this one, shall we?
The Mothers starts us off with pretty, Eastern-sounding guitars and then a trippy organ/guitar jam that builds and crashes and stabs. Tea Party fans oughta like this one! Ha. It’s fairly short, and then we dive headlong into the metal grungey swaggering crush of Levitate, which could have been a Tool song, with extra grunge thrown in. It has the same atmosphere, I love it.
Next up is Rain Will Fall, another favourite of mine. It blasts off at 100 mph and never lets up. There’s a fantastic breakdown section, love the drums, almost tribal. Bluesy metal funk and pure energy. This is the sound of a band that knew it had it, and they were leaving nothing out. Hot damn! The album rolls on into So Gently We Go, a jazzy swingin’ Doors-ish song that’s a sweet rest after the pummelling of the last two tracks, even when it builds to full volume towards the end.
But the idyll doesn’t last long, as Not Quite Sonic builds off that strength and takes us on another sonic adventure. It teases us a long while, but when the chorus finally drops it’s a huge song that pleases so greatly and you can’t help but yell along! Man I do love this one. Production steps up with another blistering pace, sounding like an early Chili Peppers song to me, with that rumbling bass line and swinging drums.
Lost My America starts us off with another trippy intro but quickly becomes full of a bluesy grandeur, that guitar YES! Going back and forth between rock and gentle, this tune has it all. No One is all muscle and power right from the start and it never lets up. What an excursion!
Undone creeps in on a bass line and those drums touches again, it builds into a another swaggering, hot club blues jam-out. Holy hell that guitar. Basketball rides a relentless bassline and rapid-fire tribal drums into a blistering hot track. Wow! I remember putting this song on mix CDs back in the day. Yes, I am an old fogey and used to make mix CDs. At 2x speed in my CD burner. Speaking of hot shit… Anyway, the gentle breakdown in the middle doesn’t last long. This song wants to go, Go, GO!
Next up is And The Experience, with it’s slinky metal blues feel. Picture yourself at their show. It’s hot in the club, late in the set, and the crowd is worked into a frenzy. The band has everyone in the palm of their hand. This track seals the deal, because this album has already proven the goods and we’re all in it together. This one just make them bottomless, untouchable, and perfect. Because with three minutes to go, this one also achieve lift-off and the place goes crazy… they even pause and observe a few seconds’ silence… and then crash back in with the metal blues… Man, I can picture it so clearly.
The Universe In You closes out this album, and to carry through on the previous track’s concert analogy, this is the one that sends the crowd out into the night with ringing ears and IME in their hearts. It bluesily and gently pulling us in, then rocking us with a swing and with power. And of course it can’t end without speeding up and crashing like all hell breaking loose. Yes! All the best I Mother Elements are here, perfectly, in one song. Incredible, and one of my absolute favourites on the record.
This is my favourite I Mother Earth record, always has been. I can play it any time and be blown away by the musical prowess and range of this group. Two thumbs waaaaay up.
Let me preface this little post by saying that my son is 5, and for years, construction equipment has been very important to him. He can name all of the different machines (and on some of them, I take his word for it), and he knows what they do. He has other passions too, like fire trucks and dinosaurs, but diggers (as he calls them, collectively) have been a mainstay for a long time for him.
Yesterday afternoon, after picking him up from school, we were driving home and, of course, there was a CD in the player. I Mother Earth’s One More Astronaut comes on, and after a little while my son pipes up with a question:
He: Dad, why does he keep saying backhoe, backhoe?
He: Yeah Dad, listen!
Of course, the lyrics are “back home, back home.” I didn’t have the heart to correct him just then, so we listened on a while longer, and he pipes back up again:
He: Dad, if this is a song about astronauts, why are they singing about backhoes?
I figure my boy is going to be just fine in this world.