a day in the life of ...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

02.24.2010 Wintersleep


I never thought I'd get to see another small venue (under 200 cap) Wintersleep show in Canada again, but thanks to the Olympics, Wintersleep was booked to play at the Backstage Lounge as part of a series of concerts put on by the Atlantic Canada House. To avoid another BSS situation, or worse, I figured I'd arrive at the venue at 3 pm to watch the Canada vs Russia Men's Hockey game at 4:30. Mind you, the concert portion of the night had doors scheduled for 10:30 and Wintersleep going on at midnight. On first thought, maybe I went overboard on the getting there early part, but as it turns out, it wasn't such a bad idea. When I got in line there was about 30 people in front of me. At that point they were already at capacity (around 150 cap). When the game started at 4:30, I was about 15th in line. When the game ended, I was able to get in. I think a lot of people who actually watched the game inside also stayed to see the show. I didn't go back outside, but I know for fact they left a lot of people standing outside.

Before the opening act, Shaun Majumder came out and did a rehashing of his Crosby numerology bit.

First act up was Chris Kirby. He reminded me of younger version of Wide Mouth Mason, if they had a piano and not a guitar. He played a loooooong set. I thought he was pretty good. He definitely knew his way around the ivories. My interest in him quickly started to wane after an hour into his 90 min set. The crowd seemed to love him though.

If you read this blog regularly, you'll know that I've seen Wintersleep more times than I really need to. So I'll just mention things that were different. There was a change in the bridge before end of Miasmal. I think John Samuel seems to added some different vocal harmonies to some songs. They played a new song, which people have been calling "Black Camera", the setlist calls it "New Inheritors". "Black Camera" is still sung in the chorus though. Loel added a sampler to his kit. So the stomping/clap intro to "Weighty Ghost" sounds more like the album now. Mike's playing a black Rickenbacker 400x now. Their set was over after 70 min, no encore. I talked to the band afterwards and they mentioned they'll likely be touring Europe and then the U.S before coming back to Canada.


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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

02.21.2010 Coeur de Pirate

The Maison du Quebec or Quebec House, is pretty much a 4 sided tent without a roof. Inside is a stage and a medium sized cafe. Food coming out of said Cafe looked really good, but probably really expensive.


Coeur de Pirate or Beatrice Martin's set started immediately after Canada's loss to the US in the Olympic prelims. Her music probably helped the mostly Canadian crowd forget about the crushing defeat only moments before. She was in fine form, playing everything off of her debut album. After the first song, she asked if this was an English or French crowd. I think they decided on bilingual because she ended up doing both French and English banter. She also played a new song called "Place de la Republique", which I believe is the same song I heard at Hillside last year. Actually come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if she's been playing the same setlist night after night. She prefaced "Pour Un Infidele" saying that she had been stood up by someone today and that he was a douche bag. She also threw in two covers to fill the set, Etinne d'Aout by fellow Quebecers Malajube and Umbrellas by Rhianna.


After the set, she announced another set at 8 pm, which was 20 min from now. I figured I might as well wait it out.

The biggest difference between the first set and the second was a habs sweater.


The setlist was the same as the first. This time when she asked the crowd if she should speak French or English, they decided on French. So the banter was pretty much the same as well, aside from it being in French, though near the end she started speaking in English again. I think my only complaint of the night was that this venue an open air venue, and I think I'm catching a cold waiting in line for all these free shows.


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02.21.2010 Broken Social Scene


One of the drawbacks of free shows is that you have to get there early in order to guarantee your entrance into popular shows. For some reason I figured since they'd only announced the show the day of, there wouldn't be that many people lining up. I got there at 7:30 (show at 10, doors normally around 8:30) . At this point there were about 400 people in front of me, at least 200 behind and probably 100 or so already inside. I was told at my position in line, it was unlikely I would get in before the show started. Still, I was hopefully because with the high odds of seeing Emily Haines, Feist and Elizabeth Powell, it would be worth the wait. So I did. Man I feel like a chump. I'm not sure it was worth it.


I got in. There were about 50 or 60 people in front of me when they cut the line off at show time. However, the people running the show left 200 spots open for vips and other guests. Unused spots would be given to the people in line, 3 songs in. My first indication that something was up was when 2 songs in they played Shoreline, traditionally a Feist song. She wasn't singing it, Lisa Lobsinger was. I don't dislike her singing, in fact I think she's gotten a lot better at filling the large role she's been thrown over the years. She still has that dazed like look on her face though. Was a little surprised Jason Collett didn't show up. Andrew Whiteman wasn't around either. Mid set, Julie Doiron was brought out to help on a Neil Young cover. I sort of saw this coming because she was pretty friendly with the BSS members at the Hal Wilner show a few days ago. Sam Goldberg also helped with the vocals. To my disappointment they played Anthems, without Emily Haines, who was in town (again). Instead vocals were handled by Lobsinger and Doiron.



Julie was brought out again to perform "Consolation Prize" backed by BSS. To be honest the rest of the show was pretty uneventful. They pretty much rounded out the set with less popular newer songs that don't depend on female vocals. Most of them from the "BSS Presents..." albums. I wonder why Elizabeth Powell, who should still be in town and has put in time with BSS, was oddly absent. By the end of the set I had to reluctantly let go of the hope that this show would be like one of the classic BSS shows that gave them the reputation they have now. In fact, I have a feeling that this is probably a new stage in the band's life, one that does not include Feist or Haines and probably others. I'd love to see Julie Doiron in more BSS shows, but if she's going to re-join an ensemble, I'd rather see her play in Eric's Trip. After 90 mins the show was all but over. The crowd wanted more, but Kevin Drew came out with bad news claiming there was essentially a curfew. He did lead the crowd into singing a few lines from U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."


$25/0 + 3 hours of my life

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Monday, February 22, 2010

02.19.2010 Stars / Hey Rosetta

I should preface this review by saying I suppose the fact that the guy who I bought the ticket from sort of dicked me a around and wound up meeting halfway through Hey Rosetta's set, whom I really wanted to see. I think the worst part of it was that while I was waiting, a scalper tried to sell me a front row ticket for the same price.

From what I saw of Hey Rosetta, I was pretty impressed. They've got a pretty good live sound with a nice layering of sound complimented by a string section. Well a cello and violin player. The crowd was really into it, especially their radio numbers. Suffice to say much like Two Hours Traffic and Said the Whale, there is good number of up and coming Canadian indie bands.

I've Stars a good 6-7 times in the last 3 years or so. I suppose I really shouldn't feel the need to be surprised, I was hoping for something special about this show; this being the olympics and all. Unfortunately, I suppose when you hit a market so many times, the surprises become less and less. Most of the setlist were standard Stars staples from the last couple of years. I think "Ageless Beauty" was reworked a little with an addition of an extra guitar from Evan Cranley, which left the song with out a bass part. I wouldn't exactly say it was an improvement. Actually, what I was most disappointed in were the handful of new songs that were played. Granted "In our bedroom after the war" was a pretty good album, the new songs far from memorable. In fact, aside from "Dead Hearts", I don't think I can recall what the other new songs sounded like. Negativity aside, I'm sure 99% of the crowd left happy, so what do I know.


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02.19.2010 Sam Roberts Band / Dan Mangan / The Arkells

Ah Surrey, haven't seen a show in Surrey in a couple of years. Apparently all the stereotypes are true. Lineup getting in at around 7pm wasn't that bad. Just about 10 min.


I thought The Arkells were pretty good tonight. I'm not going out of my way to see them, their shows just happen to be very convenient. As much as I imply otherwise, I still think, they put on a good show. With a shortened set, they played most of their faster tempo 'rocker' songs. Crowd was into it, no surprise there. They ended their set with that "I'm John Lennon in '67' song.

I really liked Dan Mangan's set. He was very humble in his demeanour and the crowd was very receptive to his folky singer songwriter type songs. He ended his set with "Robots" which had everyone singing along.

Oh look it's a Sam Roberts show where I didn't bail before he got on. Live he's as good as everyone says he is. He played all his radio hits, keeping the Surrey crowd happy and even found time to round out his set with a mind boggling really long jam that bordered on self indulgent. I have to give him credit for that, I wasn't expecting that from him.



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Friday, February 19, 2010

02.18.2010 Hal Wilner's Neil Young Project

I don't think I would have gone to this show had I not been offered a ticket at a veeeeery reduced price. I was told this show was sold out. A week before I was checking available seats and noticed that you could pretty much get any aisle seat you wanted on one of the sides for the second night.

Glad to see two Canadian ladies that I really like, have a large role in this event, namely Julie Doiron and Elizabeth Powell. Julie was as energetic as ever and Elizabeth sang "Don't Let it Bring You Down" near the beginning of the set, which was well received by the crowd. When they weren't doing main vocals, they were doing backup vocals for other artists, so they were pretty visible the entire night.

Sam Goldberg does a pretty good Neil Young impression.

Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw did a beautiful version of "A Man Needs a Maid" that would make Neil himself proud. Emily sung while Jimmy provided keyboard support.

People really liked Lou Reed. A lot of "Loooooouu" chants were heard every time he entered and exited the stage.

Elvis Costello was as expected, a crowd pleaser.

I've never really heard of Joan as Policewoman, but I was impressed by her violin playing. The one solo she did was electrifying.


I've never heard of the poet Eric Mingus, but it would be hard to forget him after seeing him. He did a song with a such a dirty roots-blues intensity growl, he had to remove his glasses mid verse. He also performed a spoken word interpretation later in the set.

For some reason I always thought Sun Kil Moon was a she, he's definitely not. There were a lot of highlights this night. Elvis Costello had a blistering guitar solo towards the end of the night that almost lead me to believe that his guitar would catch on fire. He actually received a standing ovation for that. I can't imagine myself paying the amount of money it would take to see Costello now, so it was nice to see him at the top of his game.

In another show stealing performance, Jason Collett (if memory serves me) got the crowd to participate in a musical version of the wave, using hand rubbing noises and thigh slapping and floor stomping.

Fucking Up was a group song which featured an intense playing James Blood Ulmer on guitar. His axe chops gave Costello and run for his money.

The night closed off with a sweet rendition of "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" featuring Kevin Drew and Julie Doiron doing a duet (with a handful of people and of course the audience doing backup). I'm glad they didn't decide to take the easy way out and use the almost cliched cover "Rocking in the Free World".



The whole gang


The man who brought it all together, Hal Wilner.

Oh yeah, the majority of Broken Social Scene is in Vancouver right now. The Ontario Pavilion is has a show that's TBA. My money is on BSS playing.


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02.17.2010 The Arkells

This concert was held at the Ontario Pavilion, which essentially is a really large tent, among a bunch of other tents for Saskatchewan, Molson Canada and Quebec. The deal is before 9 pm, there's some information stuff there, but afterwards they clear out all the minors and start a concert. Actually I didn't find any of these tents that great, except maybe the Molson one, but that one costs an absurd amount of cash to get in.

Today it's the Arkells from Hamilton, ON. There seems to be a lot of Arkells fans out in BC. Two songs in and they have the crowd dancing to that Hugo Chavez radio hit. The lead singer looks like Paul Murphy. The Arkells really seem to like Motown. There were a couple Temptation's snippets and teases scattered throughout the set. I found the sound in the tent to be okay, not really that great. It looks like the majority of the people came to party, because at the end of the 75 min or so set there were a lot of holes in the room. I may not be the biggest fan of their music (it just doesn't do anything for me), but I can't fault them for their stage presence. They know how to work a crowd with their rock show antics. And since it didn't cost a penny, it's hard not to have a good time.


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02.12.10 Malajube

It's hard to believe that it's almost been 5 years since I've seen Malajube. I found it amusing that when I arrived at Performance Works in Granville Island and asked when Malajube (I said "Malajube" in an distinctly lazy-anglo accent) would be on, one of the french-speaking workers replied with "who?". For kicks I threw in my best french interpretation of the correct pronunciation ("muluh-ju"), and that seemed to work. Anyways, crowd was a mix of hipsters, people looking for free shows and french speaking canadians, probably a lot who've spent time in Quebec at one point or another.

Since it was free, I was expecting somewhere between 30 min to a 1 hr set. Surprisingly they played just under 90 min. The lead singer seems to have a thing for hats on stage. I should try and catch them play a set in the summer time to see if he continues this trend. The band was in fine form. Maybe it's just me, but I found that their sound was really tight this time around. The heavier rocking chorus parts had more of an edge than I remember from their albums. The crowd was really into it, saw a lot of crowd surfers and after the encore even a large pit. The song selection was a mix of the last 3 albums. I'm mainly familiar with the Trompe L'oeil album, so it was nice that they played pretty much everything I wanted to hear off that album.


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

02.06.2010 Do Make Say Think / Charles Spearin's Happiness Project / Years

The opener for this night was Years, which in Ohad's words is a previous incarnation of Do Make Say Think. I actually thought they were really good, as they were for the most part a stripped down version of Do Make Say Think. The first couple of songs were either Ohad solo or Ohad and someone else doing accompaniment. The solo songs were mostly Ohad with a guitar and looper. Ohad dedicated one of the solo songs to his daughter, as it was her guitar she was using. The last couple of songs were pretty much Do Make Say Think, the whole ensemble.

Charles Spearin's Happiness Project followed. It was self described by Charles as a science experiment exploring the idea of happiness and putting music to it. Basically what he did was record interviews with his neighbours. Afterwards he would play them back with instruments. So if you recall in the "Peanuts" cartoons when the kids would talk to the adults you'd have a saxophone playing instead of the voice. Well same sort of thing but you'd hear the voice as well. The most interesting interview was from a girl who was deaf for all her life up until a few years ago. I don't think I'd pay to see a headlining set, but as a opener it was fairly entertaining. Obviously with a project like this, some things worked, others, not so much.

Since this was an early show, it seems like Do Make Say Think put an extra emphasis on giving the near sold out crowd as much bang for their buck before curfew. They played the entire Do, Make, Say, Think in it's entirety, though not in order. I think the saxophonist from the Happiness project was a new addition because I don't remember her from last time. Highlight of the night was definitely "The Universe!" which had both the band and the crowd rocking out. Throughout the set, Justin kept apologizing for the shortened set because of the curfew, though I didn't think it was that short, maybe short for a DMST set. They still managed to squeeze in about 90 min set. The funniest part of the show was when Justin exclaimed "We're going for gold! Bitches!". At the end of the day, I suppose if you like Do Make Say Think, then I guess this was a pretty good show.


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Sunday, February 07, 2010

01.29.2010 Great Lake Swimmers / Jon Rae Fletcher

I first saw Great Lake Swimmers about 2 or 3 years ago when they were opening up for Final Fantasy. At the time, Onigara had just came out and I was pretty big on their single "Your Rocky Spine". To my chagrin, the crowd was being too busy having a conversation with themselves to care. What a difference a couple of years make. Despite playing in a much larger venue, the crowd was almost silent throughout most of the set.

Opening the set was Jon Rae Fletcher. He played a 45 minute set of mostly folk, roots and rock. The crowd loved him. While this is probably due to the fact that he is from BC, his performance was engaging. In fact, he even got a 1 song encore from the crowd.

After a quick change, Great Lake Swimmers hit the stage with "Everything is moving so fast" from their new album Lost Channels (which is very good by the way). Drawing from their previous works, the Swimmers played a pretty varied set. At about the halfway point of the show, singer Tony Dekker, played 3 songs acoustically. Not surprising to anyone, and not taking anything away from the rest of the band, it's Tony Dekker who is the real star of the show. Playing stripped down versions of some of these songs, really punctuated how good they really were.

Towards the end of the show they played a trio of their best known (radio hits) songs, "Pulling on a Line" and "Still"; which I suppose is the main reason why they sold out the theatre. As an extra special treat, during their 3 song encore, they played "See you on the Moon". Aside from being rarely played, it was a song that is most well known for being in the style of a children's song and yet not patronizing. This was obviously the icing on a superb night.


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Monday, February 01, 2010

01.23.2010 Julie Doiron

It kind of took me by surprise to see Julie onstage after they opened the curtain for the first band. Someone was telling me that she would be headlining this gig. On this tour she was actually the opener, but as I was told she's a bigger draw in Vancouver. Oh well, I thought to myself as she started into "Wrong Guy", at least I'll be able to leave early.

Last time I saw Julie, she played, backed by a full band. This time however, she was only backed by a drummer who I didn't recognize. Said drummer also played accompanying guitar for a couple songs as well, even though on most of the songs she was the only one playing guitar, she really rocked it out. Some songs sort of reminded me of the classic grunge style songs. Clean to mild distorted verses followed by heavily overdriven choruses. Midway through the set, Julie mentioned that they had been listening to Ladyhawk before doing a cover of "Teenage Love Song". I think the drummer forgot some of the words. Some would say they butchered it, Julie laughed it off, apologizing to Ladyhawk afterwards. I dunno if they were in attendance.

This show was actually an early show. Funny enough, there was another show afterwards, Attack in Black. This would probably mean Julie would do a couple of songs with them afterwards like I saw them do at Hillside. I guess to return the favour, the singer for Attack in Black, played drums for a couple of songs while the aforementioned drummer and Julie played guitars. It's actually quite amazing when you think about how different this set was in comparison to the set she did only 6 months ago. Normally, I don't expect too much for 90% of most bands opening sets. This particular set exceeded my expectation.

I left before the Bowerbirds. If I didn't have somewhere else to go I probably would have stayed.


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