Archive for February, 2016

SLCR #232: Yukon Blonde (February 16, 2016)

February 29, 2016

I’ve mentioned before that this has been the winter of going to concerts without Mika. It doesn’t usually seem to make her too upset – which I understand, I can be a chore to be around – but she mentioned on a few occasions that she was disappointed to be missing out on Yukon Blonde. As she was busy being a responsible adult and writing a midterm on the night of the show, I did the only considerate thing I could and went and had fun without her while she was in school. That way she could focus on her education without having to fret about my mental well-being. She’s lucky I’m so thoughtful.

Since I left things to the last minute, I almost didn’t get to go. Tickets were sold out online, so I had to go to a store and buy a paper ticket like some sort of luddite. There were only two places one could go to buy tickets, and the first place I tried not only didn’t have any tickets, but the lady working there was a fan but didn’t know that the band was coming to town. Hope was running low. At the other place, the guy told me that they were out of tickets too, but he checked anyway, and surprise! They got more in stock! I was quite delighted considering that all this fuss was to see a band I knew pretty much nothing about. By myself.

To make this story even more pointless, they released more tickets online about an hour after I got mine.

I showed up about a half-hour after the doors opened. The guy stamped my hand with the words CUTIE PIE and told me it was so I’d be allowed back in if I went outside, but he wasn’t fooling me. I’ll wear your judgment with pride, volunteer bouncer. I’ll even make it my Facebook profile picture.

It was an all-ages show, so I got a booze wristband just to see if I’d get carded. Following the depressingly predictable result, I bought a Diet Pepsi. I found a cushy chair in the back corner, tore off my wristband, and sat down with my soda for an hour of iPhone gaming while I waited for things to begin. This was an excellent hour and that might say something about my standards or how I spend my time, maybe.

Our openers were ON AN ON from Minneapolis. Having never heard of them and their stupid capitalization before, I did research by asking CRZ – or “Minneapolis Chris” as I have to say to Mika so she can keep my internet people sorted out – if he’d ever heard of them. He said no, so I was stumped. Mostly. They did get mentioned in a local paper’s preview of the show as being “experimental,” and now that I’ve seen them, I do not understand this. What was the experimental part? They had keyboards? One dude sang in falsetto for a bit? There was a girl I could barely hear? Back in my day, “experimental” meant atonal Soviet-made synthesizers played over amplified earthworm heartbeats. This was a rock band. Kinda dreamy in parts, kinda chuggy in other parts, if that makes sense. Anyhow, they were fine.

So I said I “know pretty much nothing” about Yukon Blonde but that is a bit of an exaggeration. Mika told me that I I’d like them, and I listened to some of their stuff on Apple Music and, yeah, they were good. So I’d heard several of what Apple Music decided were their top singles. I am also reasonably certain that none of them are from the Yukon and none of them were blonde. I mean, it was a bit hard to tell with the stage lighting and all, but I’m about half confident. They were quite the set of haircuts, though.

The short version – because I’ve been putting this off for over a week and I can only seem to write these after midnight on a work night – is I dug these guys but the crowd was a little dead for them. Apart from a handful of folks right down at the front, it seemed like most everyone was just standing around politely. More so than normal, I mean. I wonder if it had something to do with the song selection – they opened and closed their main set with the aforementioned “top singles,” but I didn’t recognize much else. Not that I would, but there was one guy who yelled for them to “play the hits.” They attributed the yelling to someone named Carl (which made me feel right at home), before promising to spend the rest of the night covering Library Voices, which got a good reaction from everyone, including the folks from Library Voices who were in attendance. They did not do this, but they did close out the encore with Let’s Dance in tribute to David Bowie, where they were joined by the singer from ON AN ON.

Carl was called out to at another point after one of Yukon Blonde said that the spotlights pointing to the stage were like beams from an alien spaceship. It turns out Carl (who I don’t think was actually the yeller from earlier) had strong, detailed opinions about a recent UFO documentary. I couldn’t tell if he was serious, nor could I tell if Carl was someone I’d enjoy being around. Maybe? I did once loiter in an EB Games for 20 minutes while some kid unloaded all his alien conspiracy theories on a clerk who was either secretly really into aliens or just blessed with superhuman patience. So I think what I’m saying is, I make some bad life choices sometimes.

But going to this show was a good life choice, and that segue was slick as goose shit. I guess. I mean, I’ve never done viscosity tests, I am uneducated in the sciences, I’ve just taken farmers at their word. But I digress. Good show. Worth ticket hassle. Would go again.

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls w/Mo Kenney & Northcote (March 5)
• Amelia Curran (March 8)
• The Watchmen (March 25)
• Metric & Death Cab For Cutie w/Leisure Cruise (March 28)
• Spirit of the West (March 31)
• Sloan (April 9)
• Jason Collett & Zeus w/Kalle Mattson (April 19)
• I Mother Earth (April 23)
• Ben Folds & yMusic w/Dotan (May 11)
• Hawksley Workman & The Art of Time Ensemble (May 13)
• City and Colour w/Shakey Graves (June 12)
• Regina Folk Festival (August 5-7)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14)

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SLCR #231: Elliott BROOD (February 10, 2016)

February 23, 2016

I didn’t take any notes for this show and it’s now been two weeks, so I suspect this will be a short one. Taking immediate notes is something I need to do more of; these are a lot easier to write when I have a few bullet points to work with.

On the flipside, doing this from memory means I’m a lot less constrained by accuracy. I went through old reviews this weekend to make a big (if still incomplete) list of all the bands I’ve seen and was amazed at some of what I’d written, shows that I have no memory of, inside jokes that I can no longer explain. If I wrote that Elliott BROOD’s van broke down and they were replaced by a pack of wild coyotes who played tunes by gnawing on discarded Bop-Its and nobody but me noticed the difference, there’s a really good chance that 2032 James would believe it. You’re dumb as hell, future me.

Going through the old reviews did reveal that I saw Elliott BROOD at the Folk Festival this past year (which I remembered – give me a little credit) and that at the time, I was convinced I had seen them before, but I had not. That is the extent of the exciting backstory to this show. Mika said “I’d like to see them” and I wanted to too, so I got us some tickets. Or maybe she did? I think I did. And before the show we went to Wok Box. Probably. I mean, that sounds like something we’d do. I know I ate some weird red fortune cookies at some point.

I didn’t think we got to the show particularly early but the crowd was still pretty sparse. We took some seats off to the side, each of us with our view partially obscured by a different post. Attempts at changing seats didn’t help so we stuck with our original choices. Ultimately not a big deal. Roof’s gotta stay up.

On our way inside, we passed a wall of posters for upcoming events, including CWE wrestling with Colt Cabana and Silas Young, the Yukon Blonde show, and – and I can’t believe I hadn’t already heard about this one – Twiztid’s Canadian Juggalo Invasion Tour, featuring Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Boondox, Lex The Hex Master, and Trilogy. Presented by Majik Ninja Entertainment. Everyone I know has refused to go to the Juggalo show with me despite the fact that I already have tickets to the Spirit of the West farewell show that night and couldn’t go to the Juggalo show if I wanted to. They pre-emptively refused. All I had to do was see the poster and text message refusals started flooding in. They just knew, somehow, and they wanted their refusals added to the public record just in case. Fine. But we are driving by the Exchange both before and after the Spirit of the West show to see if we can spot some Juggalos in the wild.

I wonder if anyone has ever had to actually make the choice between seeing Spirit of the West or Blaze Ya Dead Homie? I mean, I didn’t consider it for real, but maybe someone did somewhere once? Or have I stumbled across something that is entirely unique to the whole of human experience?

I wonder how we can get Spirit of the West to show up AT the Juggalo show? Or vice versa? Can we at least talk Spirit of the West into wearing greasepaint and covering Miracles? Can we just put the lyrics on John Mann’s iPad and hope he doesn’t notice?

I went back and forth on that last line for way too long but I still say if they can make jokes, I can make jokes too. Anyway.

Our opener was Nick Faye, who is a local guy I had never seen but whose name I’ve noticed on lots of local stuff. Usually as Nick Faye & The Deputies, but there were no deputies present, unless you count his parents who were sitting behind us. I’m not sure what qualifies someone for a career in musical law enforcement. Anyway, he seemed like a pretty personable fellow, singing songs and playing guitar, telling stories and making self-deprecating jokes about his uncreative song titles (all of the ones I can remember were names of places – and I sympathize, I can’t write titles either).

He mentioned getting asked to play guitar for Al Simmons at the Folk Festival, and there’s a good chance we actually did see that. Or, more likely, we tuned it out as we usually do when the children’s entertainers are filling time.

I don’t think he played any Al Simmons originals on this night, but what do I know? He did play Eagle-Eye Cherry’s Save Tonight so I suppose anything is possible. Anyway, I really enjoyed his set and would check out his EP release on March 25 at the Artesian if we weren’t already booked that night. Sorry dude, the Watchmen don’t play Regina as often as you do. But you can have a free plug and we’ll cross paths again.

The crowd filled in for Elliott BROOD (and let’s take a moment to mark the end of that spelling right now) so we took the opportunity to rid ourselves of our chairs and our posts. Now we had naught but heads in our way, as God intended.

They played their one song I know (Oh Alberta, which I think I got free on iTunes or with one of those cards at Starbucks or something) and a cover of Bad Moon Rising and a bunch of songs off their newest album that I listened to on the afternoon of the show. There was lots of banjo and every time there was banjo I thought “hey, I like this, I should listen to more banjo music.” You read these for my deep and insightful thoughts on music.

I liked the whole show, really, and not just for the banjo (but it helped). It was fun, fast, loud, bluegrass-infused country that left me wondering why I don’t listen to these guys more often. I did not, however, like the show as much as Oliver liked the show. This was an all-ages gig and Oliver was… I don’t know, four? Three? I am bad at guessing ages. He could have been short and seventeen, who knows. Point being he was very wee and he was dancing up a storm and Elliott Brood seemed quite delighted by this. One of them in particular spent pretty much the entire show trying to make friends with Oliver to limited success. This was adorable.

(I do not know the names of the folks in Elliott Brood – and I suppose that sentence sounds very different if you don’t know that Elliott Brood is a “they” and not a “he.”)

So yeah. I had a good time and left as a bigger fan than I came in as. And that sentence was awful, but you get it. SHOW FUN BAND GOOD WANT SEE AGAIN SLEEP NOW

SLCR #230: Corb Lund (February 9, 2016)

February 16, 2016

It is Monday night, and I have to give a speech at Toastmasters on Wednesday, and I made the last-minute call to see Yukon Blonde tomorrow so I know I’ll be out late with no time to prep a speech, so that’s what I should be doing right now. So I made nachos and made breakfast and lunch for tomorrow and wrote some emails and did dishes and now I’m writing a concert review while Raw drags on for hours in the background. And playing games on my phone. Obviously.

I have sort of seen Corb Lund twice before; once with his old not-at-all country band the smalls (preferred – but irritating – capitalization invoked due to this being the only time I will mention them) and once by himself at the Exchange, years ago, where things got started late and we tapped out early. Luckily, the casino runs on old-man time. Not that Corb Lund attracts the greyhairs in the way that, say, Chubby Checker or Bobby Curtola did. I DID note that I had never seen that many pickup trucks in the casino parking lot before, but I suppose that was to be expected.

The theme of this winter’s concert series seems to be Folk/Country – only The Headstones are outliers so far (and looking only at my first concerts of the year, you’d get a really skewed sense of my tastes). Alternately, it could be Shows I Went to Without Mika Because She Was in School. That only includes two of the first five shows, but there are at least two more coming, and others that I am seeing out of town. I offered to buy her a ticket to come see local indie wrestling with me next week, but she declined my generous offer. Some people just don’t appreciate the comedic stylings of Colt “Boom Boom” Cabana, I guess.

On this night, I would luckily not have to go stag – Jeff picked up tickets for me and two of his friends. I did not catch their names because I am bad at hearing and worse at remembering, but they seemed like lovely people. He mentioned that this was his first time at a casino show (he was as delighted as I to learn that the casino keeps a strict schedule for us senior citizens) and now we’d be going three times in short order. I bought tickets to The Watchmen, he bought the Corb tix, and we each bought our own for I Mother Earth. I suggest we schedule a WebEx to discuss these methods in order to determine optimal efficiency and also whether we will ever see an American musician again. First order of business is selecting lunch.

Our hosts were local country radio DJs – I assume – whose wacky banter can only be described as having died a death. Oh well, they can’t all be the ad writer from the rock station who introduces all the rock bands, a concept that still seems weird to me, but whatever. Maybe I’m just jealous because my work never taps me to introduce bands. All I ever got to do was write a letter to Leonard Nimoy once.

The opener was Daniel Romano, about whom I knew nothing except Mika seemed jealous that I got to see him and she did not. That is the only way I know whether or I not I am listening to something good. That is why I bought a ticket for Yukon Blonde. She is not jealous that she missed out on Koo Koo Kanga Roo’s Cat Party. Though she should be.

Anyway, Romano is a singer-songwriter country type, as you might expect. He was accompanied by a pair of guitarists. His music was a little more sedate than Corb’s stuff tends to be, and I’m not sure how to say that his lyrics are a bit more serious and emotional and less “fun” without it sounding like a negative, which it isn’t. I enjoyed his set and he was quite well received at our table, judging by the mass exodus to buy CDs as soon as he was done. I’m looking forward to spending some time with his albums, of which there appear to be quite a few, judging from the big ol’ list in the iTunes store.

On a somewhat related topic, our group discussed the fine art of deciding which album to get when you’re interested in an artist but don’t know where to begin. We settled on “just get the second album,” thinking that first albums don’t have all the kinks worked out yet, and nobody cares about your new songs if you have old ones. This makes me want to go through all the artists I like enough to know about their albums to see if that holds up. Word tells me that sentence is confusing, but you know what I mean. Or you don’t. I’m okay with that.

At one point, Jeff asked how to pronounce Romano’s last name – Ro-MA-no, or Ro-MAH-no. I said, as though I actually knew, that it was Ro-MAH-no, “like Ray or cheese.” “And not,” said Jeff, “like when you find out who’s headlining Wrestlemania.” About 10 seconds later, I inadvertently inhaled Diet Pepsi into my sinuses. I can be a bit slow, sometimes.

Corb opened with four songs off his newest album, Things That Can’t be Undone, including Goodbye Colorado, Run This Town, and Weight of a Gun. He then moved into older stuff and the crowd started to wake up. It’s weird that there were more rowdy drunks at Blue Rodeo at the Centre of the Arts than at Corb Lund at a casino, though there were certainly a few. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The older songs at the start included Shine Up My Boots and Five-Dollar Bill. As for the rest of the night, I didn’t keep a detailed tracklist, but I know he played (in no particular order) Roughest Neck Around, Little Foothills Heaven, Sunbeam, Washed-Up Rock Star Factory Blues, Cows Around, Dig Gravedigger Dig, and Gettin’ Down on the Mountain. He followed Hurtin’ Albertan with Long Gone to Saskatchewan, which he noted the band always has to dust off and tune up around Medicine Hat.

Before finishing off his main set, Corb sent his band to the back so he could do a few songs by himself. The first, S Lazy H, is a newer – and completely depressing! – song about the life of a rancher. The next song was… decidedly not that. Jeff mentioned seeing Corb play Five-Dollar Bill before it was ever recorded, and now it is a favourite “older song” and oh God we’re all getting so old so fast make it stop. I may have added that last bit. Anyway, my point is that after S Lazy H, Corb played a new unreleased song for us and I can see myself having that feeling far off in the future when it is an old favourite. This was a highlight of the night. I found a video of the song online, recorded a few days earlier in Edmonton, and it’s a shame that the title of the song is shown because it was fun to hear the lyrics and try to work out where he was going with it.

(but I can turn off the title when embedding it here!)

Anyway, after that delightful number, the band came back to close out the show with I Wanna Be in the Cavalry (which he said was called “Please God Buy a T-shirt so we Don’t Have to Ship Them Back to Toronto at the End of the Tour”), followed by the allegedly religious number Time to Switch to Whiskey. This seems like a great point to introduce our new best friend. I mentioned that there were surprisingly few drunks in the crowd. Luckily, we were close to one. He started early on with some timid pointing in the air, which grew into increasingly enthusiastic fist pumps as the night went on. He moved on to shouting out song titles and raising his drink in the air every time alcohol was mentioned, which was often. All four of us at our table became aware of this man individually, only gradually realizing that we were all watching him. When Corb said he was going to play some songs off Cabin Fever, our friend yelled “GRAVEDIGGER,” which Corb acknowledged with a wink and a nod before launching into the song. This may have been the best moment of this fella’s life. At another point, he hollered something incomprehensible, to which Corb deadpanned “…wow” and I don’t remember what happened for about five minutes after that because I think I died.

Also, at one point, he may have been riding an imaginary horse.

Anyhoo. Our guy also liked to gesture to the people around him to try to get them to stand up and appreciate Corb to an appropriate degree. Somewhere on the other side of the casino, another fella had the same idea, only he got up and walked around the front of the stage, trying to get people to stand up. This made Corb crack up and dedicate one of the last songs to him, which made our guy jealously gesture in a “what about ME” sort of way. Our guy then stood up, sat down, got back up, held himself awkwardly between standing and sitting for a bit, before finally taking his lady’s hand and pulling her towards the front of the stage. There was some brief discussion about whether this was a terrible idea or (obviously) the BEST idea. Anyway, they danced, by which I mean he smashed himself against her and did sort of an Elvis swivel. I was so full of joy.

After that and a quick encore break (and change of shirt, I think), they played a handful more: Good Copenhagen, The Truck Got Stuck (with a notable lyric switch from “nothing better to do… except ranch” to “…except bitch about the new government” which is probably quite true to the 2016 Alberta experience), Seven Spanish Angels, and Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer. Which will now be in my head for several days just because I wrote out the title. He said that’s where they normally end the show, but by special request, we got one last song – Counterfeiter’s Blues. This show started off a little slowly but by the end it was the best and I was loving life and music and drunks who are close enough to be entertaining but far enough away to not be my problem.

We didn’t stick around long enough to see if Corb fulfilled his promise of spending the rest of the evening at the tables, but I’ve heard Geoff Berner’s song “Don’t Play Cards for Money with Corby Lund” so I think it’s a safe bet. But what do I know about bets? I lost my $5 free slot play voucher in two spins and called it a night.

February 1, 2016

Blogging on my phone. Too lazy to get to the computer. At least it’s a big phone.

Saw a Darth Vader humidifier at Sears today. Got irrationally angry. We as a society are not allowed to have any more new things. Why does this exist?

Switched from phone to iPad. Needed the keyboard. Keyboard only so-so.

Back to my point re: Lord Vader. Who is buying these? Either there are people in need of a humidifier who have thus far put off buying one due to existing humidifiers not being sufficiently Star Warsy, or they’re replacing perfectly good existing humidifiers to get these. Either way, there’s some questionable decision-making going on here. There are only so many Star Wars fans who are saving mint-in-box humidifiers, and only so many who have conveniently-timed broken humidifiers in need of replacement.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. For as much as I would like to rid my life of Things, I do a very bad job of ever putting that into practice.

Plus, if they replaced the Darth Vader humidifier with a Big Van Vader model, I’d have to be tempted. At least it would be character appropriate.