Posts Tagged ‘the exchange’

SLCR #249: Northcote (June 22, 2016)

June 25, 2016

I was supposed to go see The Besnard Lakes yesterday. About a week ago, I was going through all of my tickets for upcoming shows, of which I have many. As I have previously mentioned, they’re always in the cheese drawer in the fridge, and the drawer was getting cluttered with no room for cheese. I got everything sorted out, but couldn’t find my Besnard Lakes tickets. Thought maybe I forgot to print them off. Checked my Ticketfly account, but no – no tickets there. I just entirely forgot to buy them. It’s not like I couldn’t have done so right then – it was another show where I’m betting attendance was soft, judging from the tweets and Facebook posts I saw – but this week was a busy one and we leave on vacation right away. Just decided against going.

I was also supposed to see BA Johnston tonight – I should be there right now, in fact. He was my favourite new musical discovery last year and I was busy the last time he came through town, but… I don’t know. I just don’t feel like standing around a bar by myself tonight, I guess. Feeling kind of self-conscious and awkward about being the weird old guy alone in the corner. I’m sure nobody would actually care but it still bugs me sometimes, especially when it’s in a place I’m not familiar with. Hopefully I can see him next time.

But among cancellations of all sorts, we did get out to see Northcote this week. You may recall that I saw him/them (like City and Colour, it’s a deal where it’s a band but it is primarily one guy, in this case a guy named Matt Goud) (no, Jeff, I did not throw a shue at him) (maybe I need to start this paragraph over)

But among cancellations of all sorts, we did get out to see Northcote this week. You may recall that I saw him earlier this year in Calgary, opening for Frank Turner. He seemed like a delightful fella, positive and energetic. I listened to some of his records when I got home and they were fun enough, but lacked a bit of that spark that a live show has, so I was looking forward to this.

With doors at 8:00, we expected the show to start at 9:00. We got there a few minutes before 9:00, just in time to catch the last few notes from some guy on stage. We would later learn this was Josiah. I will assume he was fantastic – as I do every time I miss an opening act – but we did get a chance to see him later on.

Between sets, we stumbled through the dark to the stack of chairs against the wall, took two, and made ourselves a place to sit. I then stumbled back to the bar for a Diet Pepsi for me and a raspberry iced tea for Mika. They had peach iced too and it sounded better than Diet Pepsi and I should have had it instead. It was a hard-partying Wednesday night is what I’m getting at here.

We were supposed to see Jordan Klassen earlier this year at a Library Voices show that we ultimately didn’t go to, and I’m always glad to catch an artist that I missed, of which there might be many if this skipping shows trend keeps up. Klassen was accompanied by Todd; Todd’s name was invoked repeatedly but no last name was ever given. I don’t know what Todd actually did – I’m assuming guitar, but there was a support beam directly between me and him so I only ever saw him walk onto and off of the stage. Anyway, Klassen played some singer-songwritery stuff. Mika recognized at least one song from CBC Radio 3. This was all very pleasant if not super memorable.

As mentioned, Matt Goud is energetic. Two songs into his set and he had jumped into the crowd with the mic stand – not just the mic, but the whole stand – to get people to sing along. It wasn’t long before he was dripping with sweat. I’m not super familiar with his stuff but I recognized some songs from last year’s Hope is Made of Steel, including the title track and You Could Never Let Me Down.

In what is becoming a trend among Canadian musicians of a certain age, they played a Tragically Hip cover – in this case, Springtime in Vienna. That’s now four acts I’ve heard doing Hip songs since Gord Downie’s diagnosis (City and Colour played Bobcaygeon when I saw them, and Feist covered Flamenco and Hey Rosetta! did Ahead by a Century). The varied selections are a testament to the quality of the Hip’s output over the decades. It’s not just everyone doing their own versions of New Orleans is Sinking or something.

Northcote immediately followed the Hip cover with a version of the Weakerthans’ Left and Leaving. It was real nice, but… John K. Samson is doing okay, right? Health-wise? This is just a song Matt Goud likes, right?

Apart from sharing songs he likes, Goud also seems gracious about sharing the stage. When I saw him in Calgary, he brought Mo Kenney back out to do a song or two with him, and at this show, he brought both Jordan Klassen (and Todd!) and Josiah back out to do an extra song during his set. He was also wearing a Josiah t-shirt. In both cases, he let the guests take centre stage and gave them a little extra time in the spotlight. I can confirm that Josiah probably would have been good to see earlier; also, I have no idea how he crossed the border into Canada without being accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Anyway, I have to get to bed so I can get up and drive forever, and I don’t have much more to say anyway. Northcote is real fun and you should go see him. Get the peach iced tea. Don’t skip concerts, especially for dumb reasons. I’d say you should put that all on my tombstone when I die but I don’t want a tombstone, so, I don’t know, skywrite it or something.
UPCOMING CONCERTS
• Gateway Festival w/Sloan, Corb Lund, Limblifter, Shotgun Jimmie, Bry Webb, more (July 22)
• The Tragically Hip (August 1)
• Regina Folk Festival w/The Head and The Heart, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Sam Roberts Band, The Mavericks, Bettye LaVette, The Cat Empire, The Strumbellas, Frazey Ford, more (August 5-7)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14)
• Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (September 6)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Prozzäk (September 22)
• Hayden (September 29)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• Basia Bulat (October 5)
• I Mother Earth (October 8)

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SLCR #247: The Pack a.d. (May 28, 2016)

June 2, 2016

One day after the Age of Electric, a little sleepy and still half-deaf, Mika and I headed back to the Exchange for the Pack a.d.

Then we headed away from the Exchange and drove around for an hour. Tickets said doors at 8:00, but Twitter and Facebook said doors at 7:00, and presumably those were accurate since they added two openers and you can’t update a ticket once it’s been printed, but you can update a social media post whenever, right? So yeah, doors at 8:00. I will never understand why something so simple is wrong so often, but people probably say that about me, so whatever. The drive was nice.

We returned to a street as devoid of parked cars as when we left. I had noticed a lot of plugs for this show on Facebook and Twitter, and had guessed that tickets were moving slowly. At its peak, I don’t think there were half as many people there as at the sold-out Age of Electric show the night before. There were maybe 30 people there in time for the start of the opening act.

Those that didn’t show up early missed out on the Ultimate Power Duo. They hail from Saskatoon and I am very glad that someone asked the question I needed answered: “Why are there three of you?” “Because we’re the ULTIMATE Power Duo,” was the reply, which somehow made no sense and complete sense at the same time. According to them, they play “destruction rock,” which is very loud and sometimes involves just picking up the bass guitar and punching it to make noise. Their newest album is the soundtrack to their graphic novel about fighting evil robot space Nazis. There’s an hour-long video you can watch if you want this experience for yourself – I just found out about this but hope to check it out soon. Anyway, these guys had tons of energy, lots of charisma, and were entertaining as all get out. Would go see again.

The second band was Werewolves Beware, or WEREWOLVES BEWARE, or Werewolves, Beware! depending on what source you choose when you google their name. I’m going with Werewolves Beware so as to not muck up my pretty sentences, though that comma really changes things. Is “werewolves, beware” a warning TO werewolves or ABOUT werewolves? And these folks DID howl when they took the stage, so maybe they were warning us about themselves? Very considerate, though we were a week removed from a full moon so we were probably safe.

Anyway, this is a duo from Calgary (I think?). He plays guitar, she plays synths. And they howl, as mentioned. There’s some singing too, but most of the songs were largely instrumental. If you like synth-heavy dancy pop, this might be your thing. It wasn’t so much mine.

Finally, The Pack a.d. took the stage; specifically, a stage festooned with Dollarama party decorations. I am not sure that the budget surpassed five dollars. Thankfully, one of their choices was a sign reading THE PARTY IS HERE which was handy for assuring us that we were in the right place.

I went into this show not knowing a ton about them. I feel like I got one of their CDs for free from Mint Records some years back (Funeral Mixtape, maybe?), but if so, I can’t find it. And if I did, I honestly don’t know if I ever listened to it. Not for any good reason; I just sometimes don’t get around to things. And then I get around to things and wonder what took me so long. Really, I don’t need to buy another CD, book, or video game for years. I’ve got a backlog that will surely outlive me.

But enough about my failings. I listened to the newest Pack a.d. album and enjoyed it, then we went to the show and I dug that too. Mika suggested that it was more of a her-show than a me-show, and that’s probably fair. She does tend to like rockier stuff than I do, and the combination of my relative unfamiliarity with the source material and the somewhat muddy sound meant I couldn’t really hear the lyrics well, resulting in it all sounding kind of samey after a while. But a good samey. Loud and driving and fun. Not sure I have a ton to say about them, or this evening as a whole, but so it goes.

Actually, there’s one thing – and I noticed this at Age of Electric too so it was unrelated to the bands – the Exchange seems to have bought themselves a new lighting rig. And they seem very proud of it. And that’s great! I like lights. Lights are pretty. But goddamn if you could quit shining them directly into my eyes every 17 seconds, that would be swell. Though I didn’t have it as bad as the security guard positioned at the corner of the stage. Where he was sitting, he took a blast right in the eyes from about a foot away, over and over and over. He looked like this was possibly not what he thought life would be like. I tried to get a picture of this but failed miserably and it is a regret I will carry to my grave.

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• Meat Loaf (June 11)
• City and Colour w/Shakey Graves (June 12)
• Northcote w/Jordan Klassen and Josiah (June 22)
• The Besnard Lakes w/ Traces and Slow Down Molasses (June 23)
• BA Johnston (June 24)
• The Tragically Hip (August 1)
• Regina Folk Festival w/The Head and The Heart; Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder; Sam Roberts Band; The Mavericks; Bettye LaVette; The Cat Empire; The Strumbellas; Frazey Ford; more (August 5-7)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• I Mother Earth (October 8)

SLCR #246: The Age of Electric (May 27, 2016)

May 30, 2016

Last week, I learned that the Age of Electric will be coming to the Saskatoon Event Centre on July 28. According to the poster, this will be their first show in Saskatchewan in 18 years.

This seems unlikely.

Unless maybe impostors played in Regina on Friday? On one hand, I can think of better people to impersonate. But then this show sold out in a hurry, so maybe I actually can’t. If you want to move tickets, you can do worse than the triumphant return of semi-hometown heroes after nearly two decades.

I didn’t see that last Saskatchewan show 18 years ago, but I did see Age of Electric once before. It was September 4, 1997 – or, to use me-specific dating, SLCR #21. I have mentioned before that I am glad that I’ve been writing these reviews because they contain all kinds of memories even after my own flawed human meat brain lets them go. Almost 19 years later, it’s a show I barely remember and Zuckerbaby was the opener AND I only paid $8 for my ticket with my student ID, so surely Mika is reading this and cursing the fact that I went to this show and didn’t even appreciate it like she would have. At least I had a good time, or so the review says. I’d share it with you, but it is really not my finest work. Even by my usual “doesn’t actually review concerts” and “doesn’t know anything about music” standards. If I ever get around to compiling these things into a book, that one might need to be accidentally left out.

On the way to the show, I got Mika to walk me through the history of the Age of Electric and at least some of the members’ other bands. It gets complicated and I never really understood it. A graphic might have helped. Basically, AoE (look at me using the shorthand like a cool guy) are comprised of the Dahle brothers from Regina and the Kearns brothers from Lanigan. Kurt Dahle was the drummer for New Pornographers and Ryan Dahle is in Mounties. Together, they were both in Limblifter. Todd and John Kearns were also in Static in Stereo. This is not everything, but it might be enough to get by. Or it might be very wrong.

Also, the Kearns brothers look like rock n’ roll degenerates. The Dahle brothers look like they should be building a soapbox derby racer or something. Maybe launching model rockets in the park? It’s not hard to pick out who’s related, is my point.

We got to the Exchange about a half-hour after the doors opened and the place was already packed. We got some ciders and found ourselves a decent place to stand. That review from 1997 is full of drunken shenanigans (not mine, but still). This one has us nursing one drink each while playing iPhone Yahtzee with each other to kill time before the show. This is what getting old is. It’s iPhone Yahtzee. And complaining about the heat in the place. Even in rain-inappropriate shorts, I was sweltering.

The openers were a local band, Almost Alien (not, to Mika’s chagrin, Hep Alien). They made me feel like I was in even more of a time warp, as they were the kind of band you’d have seen opening at Louis’ back in the day. And of all the venues I regularly go to, the Exchange does come the closest to simulating the Louis’ dank. It’s not a perfect replica – you can’t get anything deep fried, the layout of the Exchange generally makes sense, and I’m not convinced that anyone in Almost Alien was alive as of the last time I saw Age of Electric, but whatever. You get my point. These guys had an enjoyable 90s pop-punk sound that fit the evening. Having said that, it was interesting to me that what I liked was pretty different from back when I was (counts on fingers) 21. They had one song about bad roommates which had the lyrics (and I’m paraphrasing here) “fuck those fucking assholes / fuck those fucking fucks” and at 21, I’d have thought that was hilarious and rushed to buy their new EP (oh yeah, this was the launch party for their new EP). At 39, I rolled my eyes at that bit and mostly didn’t listen to the rest of the lyrics, paying much more attention to the music.

This is the part where I’d say it was a “brief intermission” but it wasn’t that brief and we were dying of heatstroke. Eventually Mika bought us bottled waters and they were delightful.

The Age of Electric eventually took the stage to a heroes’ welcome. This was loud and great – the band hadn’t lost a step and the crowd was into everything – even the new stuff. They played at least three new songs – Elephant in the Room, Kids Break Bones, and Kings (or “Keys,” maybe?). Of these, I thought Kids Break Bones was the best; however, I strongly encourage you to not Google it in hopes of finding a recording. There might be one out there. That is not what I found.

As for everything else, Mika said “they played ALL the singles.” I will take her word for it. I was as unprepared for this show as I was for that one in 1997. I knew Ugly once it got to the chorus. And of course I knew Remote Control (and of course it was the last song of the night), but as Todd Kearns said, “If you don’t know this song, why the fuck are you here?”

There were some funny moments over the course of the night. At one point, a girl up in the front row demanded to tell her Age of Electric story. This went on for a while. Todd eventually gave her the mic. This did not speed things up any. I do not really know what her story was – I think she was at a 7-Eleven in Lloydminster and the band stopped there? Looking around the crowd, all you could see is people asking each other what was happening. I think someone was actually doing the Steve Austin “WHAT?” at one point.

But the best comedy of the night came when Todd led a singalong. Not of one of their songs (or is it?!), but Experience Regina, a video from the “Tourism Board of Saskatchewan” (possibly not a thing?). Jeff and I had been joking about the video earlier in the week, so when Todd sang this – completely out of nowhere – I about died. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Mika has spent most of the time since the show with this song in her head. Just the subject line of this review will be enough to set it off again.

The most amazing part of this was walking back to the car, I mentioned the video and she said “…there’s a video?”

I am talking too much about fake tourism videos and not this show. This show was great, even for those of us who had 19 years to prepare and completely failed to do so. The band tore it up and I’ll gladly go see them again when I’m 57.

SLCR #241: Jason Collett & Zeus (April 19, 2016)

April 29, 2016

This was a long-awaited gig for me. Jason Collett is one of those people who’s come to Regina seemingly a dozen times since I’ve been here, but I’ve always found a way to miss out. Mark, in particular, is a fan and has tried to get me to go on multiple occasions – so, of course, I finally buy tickets and this time Mark’s out of town. Oh well, I hope he had fun seeing Sloan in Vancouver and eating all the ducks.

Having said that – the part about the long-awaited show, not the part about Mark eating ducks – for all I’ve heard about Collett and as much as his singer-songwritery vibe should be right up my alley, I’d heard very little of his music. A handful of singles from CBC Radio 3, that’s about it, so I was looking forward to hearing more. You know, as if there wasn’t a vast collection of his recorded output at my fingertips.

We got to the Exchange about 15 minutes before the opener, Kalle Matteson, was to begin. Finding parking was not exactly difficult. I wasn’t surprised – given the number of ticket giveaway contests I saw, and the number of “hey, we got this show coming up, don’t forget” tweets, it seemed like tickets were moving a little slowly. Indeed, we had no trouble finding a place to sit once we arrived. It filled in reasonably well as the night progressed but wasn’t close to selling out, I don’t think.

This wasn’t put on by the folk festival people but it still started right on time. Our opener was Kalle Mattson; nobody seemed to know who he was, to the point that when he said his name, he paused for applause that was awfully late in arriving. His sense of humour about this situation won me over. “Tonight I’m going to play some old songs, play some new songs… which I am certain is completely irrelevant to all of you.” Later on, he said he was originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and scoffed at the one person who WOOed that.

This was the first night of the Mattson/Collett tour pairing and, I gather, the first show in a while for both musicians. Mattson played a sad song called Astronaut, which he wrote for his grandmother. In introducing the song, he said that this was its world premiere. After he finished, when someone in the crowd said they needed a Kleenex, Mattson offered to sell the fan a t-shirt. “You can do whatever you want with it.”

Going into this show, I knew very little about Mattson. I listened to a few of his songs on Apple Music before the show, including a cover of Hotline Bling he didn’t play at our show. Musically, he reminded me a bit of Andy Shauf – quiet guy with a guitar – only Matteson’s songs are a little sadder and he’s got a drier sense of humour when chatting between songs. He said “if you do know anything about me, you know I sing a lot about death” and I suppose that backs up both points. Anyway, this dude was good! Recommended.

After a brief intermission during which time we probably played iPhone Yahtzee and fed our iPhone cats, Jason Collett and his backing band Zeus were up. The sound wasn’t the best – the vocals seemed kinda muddy. I didn’t notice that during Mattson’s set, and they sounded better later on when Collett did a song or two by himself, so I’m not sure what the issue was. Whatever it was, it was tied to the vocals – Zeus sounded real good.

I recognized a few of the first songs – I Wanna Rob a Bank and I’ll Bring the Sun. We had also listened to his newest album, Song & Dance Man, and of course he played lots from it, including the title track, Forever Young is Getting Old, Singing American, and Black Oak Savannah. There was also a cover of She’s Gone by Hall & Oates, and like Mattson, Collett said that one of the new songs was being played in public for the first time ever. It maybe took them three tries to start it off right, but these things happen.

If you want a more complete setlist with a bunch of pictures from the show, my former neighbours were at the show and one of them posted a bunch of pictures to the local weekly paper’s website.

As for the show… I don’t know. Maybe I needed Mark to be there so I could get a dose of second-hand enthusiasm. I think at one point Collett referred to the crowd being “respectful,” which I’m pretty sure means “make some noise, you dopes.” Well, there was this one guy who yelled “YES!” at the opening notes of a bunch of Collett’s songs, but it soon became apparent that he was more into yelling YES than he was into Collett himself. Good to have hobbies.

But yeah, I enjoyed the show, but didn’t love it. The sound issues didn’t help any, but I don’t think that was it. It just wasn’t my thing. Not sure why it shouldn’t be – I like lots of musicians who would be in the same Canadian indie singer-songwriter category as Collett. And while this show was fine, it just didn’t really grab me. So it goes.

​SLCR #236: Amelia Curran (March 8, 2016)

March 11, 2016

Tuesday, March 8, 6:47 p.m.
Back in Regina. Got in late last night. The plan was to have a nice restful day off before I go to the show tonight and back to work tomorrow. That was booked before my car developed a nasty shake a week or so ago. So instead, I got up early to drive the car to the shop. In between dropping it off and picking it back up (and dropping nearly $1,200 in the process HECK YEAH CARS ARE GREAT), I spent the day on foot, eventually racking up 27,767 steps and 21.33 kilometres. Now I’m sleepy and my feet are sore. And I have conflicting information about whether the doors open at 7:00 or 7:30, with the show starting at either 7:30 or 8:00. I’m aiming for 7:45 or so. If I miss some or all of “local opener” Scott Richmond, let’s all assume he was fantastic.

I am trying to find the source of that “local opener” description but not finding it. I remember thinking it was funny in the way it was completely accurate yet went out of its way to say nothing at all.

I had some cookies an hour or so ago. Should I eat some real food y/n

7:34 p.m.
Decided on a not-very-spicy southwest beans n’ rice frozen dinner. It made my nose run. Blew my nose and now I gave myself a nosebleed hahahahahaha friggin’ tremendous

7:56 p.m.
Made it. Hemorrhaging abated. At a table in the back of the Exchange with a Diet Pepsi and pockets full of emergency Kleenex.

Lights dimmed!

7:59 p.m.
They don’t seem in a hurry to start, though. No standing area. Most tables have candles. Kind of nice atmosphere, really.

Okay NOW we’re starting.

9:03 p.m.
My nose has had better evenings. No more bleeding but it feels unpleasant. It is unsettling. I’m unsettled.

Tangientially and facially related: if you ever wondered how many days I can go without shaving before the itching becomes unbearable, it is 5.5. I might try to keep this going though.

It turns out that Local Opener Scott Richmond was real good! I just bought his first CD. He’s here tonight, taking a break from recording his second. Guitar and harmonica with occasional stomping tonight, though he normally has a full band (who were here manning the stuff table). He’s battling tonsillitis (with apple cider vinegar, which he discussed in detail) but his voice sounded fine to me. Good sense of humour when talking, largely (but not exclusively) sad songs when singing. Dude writes good songs and likes to talk and likes to tell us what the lyrics of his songs are.

I said “good” too much. He probably doesn’t mind. I also used too many parentheses. Dunno if he’d have an opinion about that.

He tried to get us to sing at one point and it didn’t work so well so he got an extensive case of the giggles. Aside from that, the crowd was surprisingly attentive. Bodes well for the main attraction.

Our host, Eric Anderson, is a radio host from the CBC who’d driven down from Saskatoon for the opportunity to see Amelia Curran. His enthusiasm is more authentic than we get from the usual CBC “climate specialists” that normally host these things.

And as if on cue, he’s back! I didn’t win the 50/50. Unsurprising as I didn’t buy a ticket.

For the record, I was at 28,380 steps before significant clapping began. Will report back later.

Wednesday, March 9, 12:47 p.m.
I don’t have exact numbers but I clapped somewhere around 700 steps. Exercise is easy.

Anderson’s story about how he discovered Amelia Curran’s music was cute and had a solid punchline. He was upstaged by the wee lass who helped him with the 50/50 draw, though. She won everyone over, including Curran.

I haven’t gone back to look at my review from last year but I think it would be much the same as this one. Very similar setlist with a big portion drawn from They Promised You Mercy (not too surprising as she hasn’t had a newer album since then) and she told the same story about The Mistress and… hm. Okay, let me go look at the old one.

::looks at old one::

Dang, I had nothing to say that time either. Huh. Okay, well, she was real good again. Seemed a little nervous again. Made some jokes about how sad most of her songs are (and how happy they can sound and how it can be hard to tell). It took three guys to get her guitar working at the start of the show (“Happy International Women’s Day,” she quipped, before telling an abbreviated version of her life story to fill time). She messed up the start of one of her songs and made the band restart (“Hold on, I know this, I wrote it”) – just one of those moments like that make the live experience unique and fun. Though I guess it’s really only somewhat unique since I’ve seen some version of a do-over on three shows so far this year.

11:31 p.m.
I had to put this away for work (booooo) and had high hopes of coming back this evening to wrap things up with a thrilling conclusion. That doesn’t look to be happening. Both folks were good. Would go see both again. I think that was already covered.

In lieu of a proper conclusion, I will share an anecdote. Our scheduled I Mother Earth show got cancelled because they brought their old lead singer back (much to Jeff’s chagrin) and need more time to get ready, or at least that’s how the nice man from the casino explained it to me. They’ll be coming through in the fall but it was refund-only, no option to save my tickets for then. With said refund, I thought about buying tickets to see David Francey next week, believing him to be one of the New Pornographers, but it turns out that David Francey and Todd Fancey are very different people so I didn’t do it.

That story was much better inside my head than outside of it.

Alternate closing anecdote: I was on the plane to Regina the other day, waiting for takeoff, when it seemed that two folks had been assigned the same seat.

“You are going to Regina, right?” said one.

The other one tore-assed it off that plane as fast as he could. The look on his face was the most perfect combination of WTF and OMG I have ever seen. It was kind of like

}:-[

…but you’d have to make the colon extra-bold for maximum accuracy.

Aaron later suggested that the dude just didn’t want to go to Regina. Fair enough – who does? – except his planned destination was Brandon, which I’d have to think is worse?

Two more Brandon-bound folks later found their way onto our plane. Maybe if you’re loading two planes from the same gate at once, you should check tickets at the plane door?

I learned the phrase “tore-assed it” from a Calgary newscast. Some guy claimed he tore-assed it to the window when he heard gunfire. If it was “I tore ass to the window,” at least the usage would be familiar to me. But either way, I don’t know if I want to be interviewed on the news for tearing ass regardless of context.

I don’t ever watch the news at home, but I see enough news when in Calgary to be irrationally upset that their weatherman shaved off his mustache.

Somehow this review devolved into some kind of throwback LiveJournal update. Not even one of the good ones with barely-concealed passive-aggressive drama, or at least some kind of desert island discs meme or “Which Hogwarts House Do You Belong To?” quiz. Just one of those obligatory “haven’t updated in a few days and have nothing to talk about except how little I have to talk about” posts.

I spent an hour on that closing bit. I think it might be bedtime.

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• 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)
• 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)

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)

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 #224: LeE HARVeY OsMOND (November 7, 2015)

November 16, 2015

I will make a token concession to the “proper” spelling up in the title, but don’t get used to it. If you want me to spell your name in a non-standard way, you’d better make it easy on me. lee harvey osmond? Fine. I mean, kd lang doesn’t make me reach for the Shift key. LEE HARVEY OSMOND? I could live with that. But LeE HARVeY OsMOND? You’re pushing your luck, pal.

Here is what I can tell you about Lee Harvey Osmond, apart from being named after the guy who killed Hitler for dropping an atomic bomb on Pearl Harbor: he’s Tom Wilson, also of both Blackie & The Rodeo Kings and Junkhouse. I know nothing about any of these bands. Mika will now try to remind me of Junkhouse songs I know and it will fail. I don’t know things, really. There’s one Lee Harvey Osmond song that Hawksley Workman sings on (Break Your Body); I found it by searching iTunes for new-to-me Hawksley songs. I like it well enough; better than the other Hawksley collaboration I found that day.

As ignorant as I am about Lee Harvey Osmond, I knew even less about our opener, Thompson Wilson. I saw Thompson’s name listed on the Exchange website and set about Googling. Not much came up for the first few pages. Eventually, I discovered that Thompson Wilson had opened for Tom Wilson before. Somewhere around here I put the name thing together and spent way too much time trying to decide if “Thompson Wilson” was just Tom Wilson playing another set under a different name, or if this was all some crazy coincidence. You probably guessed that Thompson is Tom’s son. You probably had that figured out by the end of the first sentence. I did not. It took me way too long to get to that point, to be honest. And then I felt dumb. And now I am sharing the dumb. May as well.

Though I am in danger of making this a new catchphrase, I have to say that this show very nearly didn’t happen for me. And for once, it wasn’t due to my innate laziness. I had a bit of a stomachache on Friday night. Thought little of it. Assumed I had eaten too much garbage. Still had it on Saturday morning. Still didn’t think much of it. Met my dad for lunch and ate more garbage. Did some shopping. Stomach got worse. By the time I came home with treasures (gluten-free bread and squares; new rear windshield wiper) (also presumably gluten-free), I was not feeling so hot and decided to have a lie-down. This was around 3:00. At 7:00, Mika checked on me but I didn’t feel much like moving. I texted Mark and told him I wasn’t likely to show up. But I got up and walked around and felt okay, and then decided to have some supper to see how that went. One big salad and a piece of cake later, and I was feeling… not GOOD, per se, but no worse than before. I opted to brave the show, thinking that I could always leave if I wasn’t feeling it.

The ticket – an actual paper ticket! – said that it was doors at 8:00, show at 9:00. I got there around 8:45 and Thompson Wilson was already playing. They took my ticket at the door and ripped it. That will teach that no-good lying ticket. I’ll take the half that I got to keep and display it as a warning to others.

I found a seat by the stuff table and within a minute, was listening to Wilson sing a song about a girl, specifically mentioning that “convict movies make her horny.” This was 1) hilarious and 2) oddly familiar to me. The song, I mean. I don’t get all worked up about convict movies. Are convict movies even really a thing? Like, there are enough of them to define a genre? I suppose humour is found in specificity. Anyway, Wilson mentioned that the song was called “In Spite of Ourselves” and a quick search of my iTunes playlist showed that it was a John Prine song – but I only knew of it because Geoff Berner covered it on his out-of-print live CD. I’m going to assume you all knew it was a Prine song because whenever I think “hey, did you know…” the answer is yes. Always, always yes.

Anyway, the rest of his set – at least what I saw of it – was quite enjoyable. Just him and a guitar, playing and singing his own songs. Why I mention this, I do not know. I trust you know how musicians work. Anyway, he had a CD at the stuff table and I’d have bought it had I stolen enough cash from Mika to buy anything more than a Diet Pepsi. I did check the iTunes store in hopes of making a cashless transaction, but it wasn’t on there. Later on, Tom Wilson noted that Thompson had spent the flight out west been burning his own CDs to sell. “I know he’s a man, but it was the cutest shit I’ve ever seen.”

As soon as Thompson finished up, the lady working the stuff table told me that there was never supposed to be a chair where my chair was, so she took it away and I was adrift. I bought the aforementioned Diet Pepsi and went for a stroll, soon finding Mark and everyone that he knew, which amounted to, seriously, like half the people there. Arlette was very concerned for my well-being. Mark and Jim were very concerned that I was not contagious. But I assured them I wasn’t (and, you know, I was pretty sure that I was probably telling the truth), so they found me a place to sit in their area.

Tom Wilson is an incredibly charismatic performer and if you ever get the chance to see him in any of his incarnations, I highly recommend it. He’s a great talker with a commanding presence. I won’t go into detail about what he said, but I will mention that his life story is balls-out insane and I’m looking forward to the memoir he’s releasing next year. Close to the end of the show, he read us the opening pages and I’m sad I don’t have the book right now.

He also talked about Carver, another of Mark’s friends. Carver and Wilson became friends somehow a while back, and it was through Carver (via Mark) that I bought my ticket in the first place. And yet he’s one of those guys I’ve probably been at 20 shows with but I don’t think we’ve ever actually been introduced. Or if it happened, it was years ago. Who knows? I should talk to the guy sometime when I don’t feel like I’ve just swallowed a ball of knives.

I never know what to actually say about the actual bands, especially ones I don’t know well, and I have about 10 minutes before we leave to see Ryan Boldt and Kacy & Clayton (speaking of musicians I don’t know well) so can I skip to the end and say this show was GREAT? Because it was super great. There was a full band (including Thompson on bass – “sometimes you have to make your own bass player”), though they came and went as the show went on, so there were solo songs, songs with just Wilson and the drummer, various combinations. With no Hawksley in attendance, they didn’t play Break Your Body, and I only recognized one song all night – Blue Moon Drive, and I only knew of it since the Prairie Dog was kind enough to link to the video of it before the show. Oh, and they skipped the leaving-the-stage part of the encore, opting to take a bow and immediately close out the show with a cover of “Six Days on the Road.” Anyway, this was just a great band, great songs, a fantastic evening.

Mika didn’t come with me – she opted against buying a ticket, thinking it wouldn’t be her thing. Maybe it wouldn’t? I think it would have been, but maybe staying home and getting caught up on Jane the Virgin is more her thing. I don’t know. Anyway, I went home and excitedly told her about what she missed. At this point, I was feeling pretty good. Healed by the power of music! Having beaten my illness into the ground, I decided to celebrate with some popcorn and hot chocolate. 10 minutes later, the knives returned and I spent the night in the guest room, thrashing around in gut discomfort. Don’t taunt the stomach knives.

SLCR #221: Chad VanGaalen (September 24, 2015)

October 18, 2015

It was pretty good. I don’t know.

I am almost a month late and three reviews behind because I didn’t have much to say beyond the above sentence. But I brewed a pot of coffee (and have already drank most of it) and got some chips and dip (and have already eaten most of the chips and as much of the dip as I wanted, which wasn’t that much) and I have read almost everything in my Feedly, including watching all the videos that had been sitting here for a week, and our cable is out, and iTunes is updating, and I have about procrastinated all I can, so here we are. Can I blast through three of these things in an afternoon? Will I get my 10,000 steps today? Will I even shower today? Stay tuned!

Many years ago, I saw Chad VanGaalen open for Feist and I thought he was pretty good. I resolved to track down more of his music, and then spent years thinking very little about him until I read an interview on the AV Club where he discussed being on Letterman’s Stupid Human Tricks in the days before his musical career took off. That was neat. And then I bought tickets to this show. Now you are caught up.

We got to the Exchange and parked a little over a block away, since I hate fighting for parking spaces. This was not necessary. There was, like, nobody there. We got there about 10-15 minutes after doors opened and the place was a ghost town. We grabbed some chairs and bought some iced teas (work night) and settled in. Somehow, I still wound up with an obstructed view. I texted Mark and Other James and invited them to join us, but both were busy. As was, apparently, most of the rest of Regina. By the time VanGaalen started, there were a little over 100 people there – I did a quick count. Still lower than I would have expected, but respectable and the place no longer looked so empty.

The opener was Faith Healer, who I only knew of from seeing tweets retweeted by… Six Shooter Records? Mint Records? Someone else entirely? I don’t know. Anyway, our version of Faith Healer was a five-piece, but I gather from some internet reading that the band is basically lead singer Jessica Jalbert and whoever she collaborates with; primarily Renny Wilson on the album. I have no idea what he looks like and if he was part of the band at our show. Not knowing this probably makes me look dumb.

But here is something that makes me look dumber. Having never heard Faith Healer, I didn’t know any of their songs, except one. When they said “this is a cover song,” I was hoping for something like… I don’t know. Imagine, maybe? Thriller, Hey Jude, something super familiar. “We just want to clarify that this is a cover song; we did not write Twist and Shout ourselves.” But no, it was a song called Cry that was a hit on Canadian radio in the 90s. I was 99% certain that this was by the Philosopher Kings, but when I looked it up right now, I found out that it was a cover when THEY did it and the song was originally by Godley & Creme. I had no idea. I feel like I have been living a lie since 1997.

Anyway, I realize that this doesn’t say anything about Faith Healer, but they were good! Would go see again. Maybe listen to their album, or even buy it if you have $7 Canadian lying around. I just started streaming it right now and I’m enjoying it.

Chad VanGaalen’s band was called either the Beach Wipes or the Bleach Wipes, depending on where you read about the concert. He never actually called them by name, though, so I don’t know if it matters all that much.

As we’ve established, I don’t know much about VanGaalen, so I don’t know whether we saw a typical show and can’t tell you what he even played. Mika is more likely to know his songs but she is outside raking leaves right now and I do not want to risk interrupting this endeavour, lest the leaves become my problem. His second song was about a giant penis made of rocks and sticks and clay, if that means anything to you. And he told stories of the tour, the boringly easy highway and the noisy van and the humanoid at the Co-op station. In other words, it was a show. Enjoyable and a fun night out but not one that stood out in any real way.

SLCR #213: Danko Jones (April 10, 2015)

April 21, 2015

 

 

I think you can click these guys to see them full-sized.

Danko SLCR part 1

20150410Danko2